The difference between Vilnius and Dublin in attitudes is palpable. Although the young woman who narrated our tour in Vilnius said that Lithuania was experiencing an economic downturn, it wasn’t visible–shops and cafes were bustling, there was significant construction and restoration activity, and everyone we interacted with seemed upbeat.

In Dublin, by contrast, the shops are all plastered with sale signs, there are empty shops even on Grafton Street, the “fancy” and expensive shopping thoroughfare, and both our cab-driver yesterday and a salesclerk in Marks and Spencer’s today volunteered that Ireland is experiencing a depression. (Their terminology.)

The taxi driver also volunteered considerable anger at “the bankers” who are giving themselves bonuses after their actions bankrupted the country. People are losing everything, he said, and those who brought on the crisis are still living high. One of these days, he predicted, someone with nothing left to lose will shoot a couple of them.

Sobering realities, and not so far from those we left at home–although I haven’t heard so direct an indictment elsewhere.

Last evening we strolled around Temple Bar and ate at a traditional Irish restaurant called Gallaghers. We had Irish boxty–the Irish version of Knish, with some variation. (It has been a theory of mine that every culture has similar dishes that are simply named differently–kreplach, ravioli…).

Tomorrow we are taking a day train out into the Irish countryside, and quite early on Tuesday we head for Berlin via Birmingham, London, the Chunnel and Paris. It will be a long travel day, and I anticipate no time for blogging until we are in Berlin.

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