Friday, November 14, 2014

"There was music in the cafes at night..."

 "... and revolution in the air." --Bob Dylan 
Up to now, I've documented our journey chronologically. But when we got to Glasglow, we didn't visit tourist sites, but mostly walked around and absorbed the atmosphere. While Edinburgh seemed very traditional and old, Glasglow felt young, edgy and full of energy.
The vote regarding whether Scotland should be independent had taken place only a week or so before, and my son, who teaches 4th grade, asked me if I could send him pictures of anything related to the vote so he could discuss it with his class in a lesson on real-life politics. We saw nothing regarding the vote in Edinburgh, but on the way through the West Highlands, we saw a tiny "yes" sign by the side of the road outside a small village. In Glasglow there was more evidence of it, as I spotted several signs in business windows, including this one at a traditional Irish pub.
 One of the delights of both Glasgow and Dublin was the street musicians. They set up on the streets, playing for the pounds or euros people toss in their instrument cases. Some of them are amazingly good. This two-piece band sounded like a full-on punk rock band. 
In Dublin in the Temple Bar district we saw similarly talented individuals and bands, including this group that was impressive enough to draw this large crowd.

 Most of the street musicians play contemporary music, everything from current hits to classic rock. But this young duo in Dublin entertained shoppers with the traditional bodhran and pipes. I wondered a bit whether their parents were unemployed and what they earned was perhaps an important source of income for their family. Among the well-dressed, prosperous looking crowds in the Dublin city centre, you also encounter panhandlers and homeless people who are literally sleeping on the streets. Ireland is still struggling economically.   
Dublin had its own political excitement as during our second weekend stop there, over 30,000 protesters demonstrated in the streets over a new charge for water. For the formal protest march, the police blocked off the streets, which meant our taxi driver couldn't through and had to drop us off about eight blocks from our hotel. While it was inconvenient (and a real workout) to drag our suitcases through the crowd all that way, the excitement of being in the middle of "history in the making" more than made up for it.

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