December 16, 2006

Dublin Day 6 - The Queen of Tarts (and London!)

This morning we got up early to try a bakery we'd heard was one the best in Dublin, "The Queen of Tarts." Across the street from city hall, it's a feast for the eyes as well as taste. Debbie tried a raspberry scone, while I had to try the almond raspberry danish. The scone was great, a well executed example of the art, but the danish was astonishing. Like no other danish I've ever had, it was a flaky yeast dough around a warm soft center.

We accompanied our pastries with a decent lavazza cappucino, but don't go to Queen of Tarts for the coffee - go for the array of tempting pastries and baked goods. They had raspberry cheesecakes on display that made me regret that I didn't have all day to spend here.

We later went across the river and tried Panem, which was decent, run by friendly people, and had good coffee, but Panem seems more like a lunch and food place, while Queen of Tarts is a bakery.

After Panem, I went to work while Debbie hung out, logged in, bought postcards and sat in a cafe writing postcards and mailing them. We met back at the hotel around 2:30 to pick up my nicely cleaned clothes, then off to the airport to catch our 6:30 flight.

Unfortunately our 6:30 flight got delayed, twice, and eventually left around 7:30. We arrived in Gatwick and had to disembark down stairs. I thought those went out in the '30s! Don't you have jetways? Anyway, after taking the shuttle to the terminal and then another shuttle to another terminal, we finally found the Victoria Express train.

We bought two one way tickets on the Victoria Express and were off to London. We made it to the Victoria station without incident, but were kind of tired. We got turned around trying to find our bus stop, then spent some time trying to figure out how to buy a bus ticket. (It turns out you need £1 coins, and all we had was bills from the ATM.) A helpful clerk in the book store (cute fat girl with a labret and bright red streaks in her hair - yay London!) told us to get Oyster cards, that we'd save the cost of the deposit many times over and that it's a lot more convenient. So after some wandering around I finally obtained Oyster cards for each of us.

We caught our 52 bus out to Knightsbridge, and with the help of some friendly passengers managed to figure out which stop was ours. (The bus driver was hopeless. When we asked where the stop was he just pointed his thumb at the back of the bus and said 'ask them.') Perhaps amusingly I noticed that while we had paid our
£3 deposit for the Oyster cards, that doesn't actually give you any value for USING them. You have to add money. When we casually swiped our cards I noticed the LCD saying "insufficient funds, invalid fare" or some such. Debbie on the other hand was blissfully unaware of this and breezed onto the bus. So I just followed quietly behind without saying anything, resolving to put money on them as soon as we could.

We got off at our stop and proceeded to follow the directions we'd gotten online. The directions had us following streets that seemed curiously indirect, but at this point we weren't in the mood to take any chances. I think the directions are driving directions and the oddities are to account for one way streets, but in any case we are finally here safely in bed AND THERE'S WIRELESS!
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