Category Archives: Life

10 Ways in which Dublin has changed me

Aston Quay, Dublin

Aston Quay, Dublin

Having moved to Dublin from the Netherlands a bit over a year ago, people sometimes ask me if I have changed anything or much since. In general, I don’t think I’ve changed all that much (although I’m also not a 100% sure if I’d be the best judge of that). But there are some things I do differently now, and here’s a list of them.

1. I kiss people less often.
Okay I should probably explain that right? In the Netherlands it’s custom to kiss each other three times on the cheek (left, right, left) if you haven’t seen the other person in a while, if it’s someone’s birthday, if you’re happy to see someone, or just because you feel like it. In Ireland, I still haven’t really discovered THE way of greeting someone. I think it’s two kisses, but not always and since I was so used to three, I’ve had quite a few awkward encounters in which I was suddenly kissing the air or bumpin’ heads.
Instead, I now opt for a high-five or just spread my arms like wings ready for take-off, so people know hugs-a-comin.

2. Money talk.
Dutchies tend to be a lot more secretive about money stuff. Here, straight up questions like “What did that cost?” are a lot more common and I’ve become more open discussing money stuff too. “12 euro on sale, New Look.”

3. My parsnip intake has increased by a 100%.
It’s just not a hip and happening vegetable in the Netherlands. Good story.

4. I walk a lot, lot more.
Even when I had a bike here, I opted for walking most of the time as not all the roads are bike proof. Also, the public transport is complicated and terrible.
Walking is the way to go.

5. A sea of tea.
I drink more tea with more milk, and leave the teabag in my cup so it gets nice and strong. This has nothing to do with someone telling me that “taking your teabag out is for wimps”, btw.
Also, I bulk buy tea now. In the Netherlands there’s usually a lousy 20 teabags in a packet, over here the small packets contain 80, and regular packets of tea 160.
Favourite tea? Barry’s. Runner up? Tetley’s.

6. Face paint.
I’ve started using a lot more make-up. Women tend to wear more make-up here, especially in or for their jobs, and I started to feel shabby and bare without any, as if I had put less effort in.
Also, eyebrows are life.

7. I play the lotto now.
Had never played it until moving here. The Irish are partial to a gamble and there’s countless betting shops about. Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Boyle Sports. I’m not even sure if those type of shops are a thing in the Netherlands.
Since in Dublin prices-for-everything are rocketing through the roof (just an example: 6,50 euro for a pint, no problem), I might as well join in on the hunt for a pot of gold. Also, there’s a bit more of a buzz around the lotto here. Especially when it’s announced there’s been a big local win, there’s quite some speculation going on.

8. I eat more pureed soup.
In the Netherlands soup is usually almost see-through with big chunks of vegetable. I enjoyed the Irish pureed soup a lot more, until that time someone said they thought it resembled baby food. Oh.

9. Jaysus.
A few classic local expressions are now incorporated in my day to day vocabulary. The favourite among the dance mums in the class, “Ahh jaysus”, was first to escape my mouth. “Ahh lads gowan…” and “that’s gas” followed soon after.

10. “This will make for a good story.”
The Irish attitude towards bad luck and unexpected events made me more relaxed about certain situations. I’ve seen two of my teachers chuckle over a lost house key: “Oh dear, what are we to do now?” A group of dancers had their car break down on their way to the World Championships and all the while laughing they told me the adventures they went through to get there in the end. “It wouldn’t be a proper journey without at least one car breaking down, right?”
Been on a pub crawl with a group of friends and lost several items (a phone, a coat, money, glasses)? No problem, we’ll just do the whole pub crawl again tonight and get our belongings back.
Things that would upset or annoy a lot of people, the Irish don’t seem to be bothered about too quickly.
Why worry about things you can’t control? They are adventures and they’ll make for a good story.

A fine ol’ Sunday

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It’s Monday and I am already longing for the weekend, when it was a just simpler yet sweeter life. To savour as much as possible, lemme just jot down this incredibly peaceful didnothingmuchanditwasheaven Sunday.

I strolled to Blanch Shopping Center, which now only took me 20 mins instead of an hour, thanks to my flatmate who showed me how it’s done. Went into Argos and finally bought a bedside lamp. It’s cheap and plastic and blue and close to horrifying. A real nightmare come true. But until now I only had a “big” light that could only be switched off from across the room, so getting to bed in the dark was quite an adventure. This bad boy is gonna save me either some bruises from bumping into every piece of bloody furniture while getting across, or save me from crawling which is what I opted for after my legs had turned 50 shades of purpely blue from trying to walk the route.

Discussed the possibility of having some naughty leprechauns somewhere in the house. My flatmate told me her keys had gone missing twice. Both times she was forced to jump out of her window (she’s on the ground floor, calm down) in order to get to her job in time, and both times she found them back in a place where she had already looked several times. Since I am on the first floor and jumping out of my window is not an option (well only the one time then, and then I’d be pretty much stuck anyway), I am now sleeping with my keys.

I finally finished reading “The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year” by Sue Townsend. I got it as a bday pressie back in October but due to some busy times I only managed to get through it now. I don’t read a lot of books at the moment, or at least not quite as much as I used to do before and while doing my bachelor in Literature (*gasp*). Nevertheless I really enjoyed this one. It’s an interesting piece that’s incredibly funny, even though the underlying tone and context (dealing with life’s disappointments) is quite sad and even sinister. I liked how the book formed, besides describing main character Eva and her dealings with the world, a framework for countless of histories, background stories and anecdotes. Not one character is boring, and not one character is a 100% likeable which makes it all the more interesting.

Other things I have done this Sunday

-Tried to sort out socks, make ’em matching. Remembered Dobby’s opinion on the matter. Stopped and watched more HIMYM.

-Discovered “we” have a Lidl. Bought stuffed mushrooms and salmon and courgettes.

-Had a lil bag of Randoms. Unfortunately there were no foamies in there. Sob.

-Skyped with my folks.

-Saw Esmee Denters the Voice UK audition. What a comeback. Rock on girlo.

-Played more Hearthstone, obviously. There was one extraordinary draw situation in which I won in the very last moment with just one point difference. Victory.

4 things that happened in the past week #4

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Gastonishing
Seems one of my favourite (loveable no, entertaining yes) Disney characters is going through a rough time. In a few weeks time two videos of a Meet ‘n Greet with Gaston in Disney World went viral. In the first one a little girl named Isabella totally put him in his place, telling him “the Beast is gonna beat you and he is gonna marry Belle!”. In the second, a guy challenges him to do a push up-battle (which totally turns against him in the end). These videos sparked me to find more vids on YouTube in which this Gaston is featured and they all entertained me big time. Like the character, the actor walking the park as Gaston behaves like a total self-involved douche, but in the most funny way possible. There’s some signature lines he does that I find really amusing. After a meet and greet he often says stuff like “Pleasure to meet me, the honour was all yours.”
My, what a guy, that Gaston!

Hearthstone
Apart from some Tetris now and again, I have never done much online gaming or video games. As a kiddo we did have a Nintendo and I remember playing some Super Mario, a Darkwing Duck platform game (“Let’s get dangerous!”) and some Lion King Pinball thing which I thought was superfun. But, having two very fanatic older brothers meant I often ended up watching. In the past week I got into playing Hearthstone, a free online card game developed by Blizzard. It’s kind of a strategic game in which you let minions, beasts and other character “battle” with each other until you can “destroy” your opponents hero. Sounds lovely init? For me it has a similar feel as table top game Citadels, to which I got quite addicted to this summer (even when I kept losing). Best thing about Hearthstone is that you can chose a hero from 9 characters, and they all have different kinds of powers and different spells. There’s also loads of cards and decks to chose from, so it won’t get boring anytime soon. Oh, and it’s terribly addictive and awesome.

Soul Food
During my stay in the Netherlands over the Christmas holidays I went out for dinner at De La Soul, a small restaurant in the center Leiden. They serve what they call “soulfood”, which is, what I understood, a mixture of Creole, Caribbean and Cajun food. Whatever it exactly was it was absolutely savage and I can’t wait to go back there. De La Soul serves small dishes with a small-ish price tag so it’s a good idea to order a few dishes, much like eating tapas. Among other hings I had Chicken and Waffles for the first time in my life (I did not know this was a thing!) and some mac and four cheeses. Especially that last one was OMGSOYUMMY and I easily could’ve eaten like six bowls of that, no problem.

Bye, Bye Coat
My flight back to Dublin wasn’t my favourite one to date. After watching some HIMYM (yes, I have proceeded to do that!) at the gate I stood up to board, during which I must have forgotten to grab my coat to queue. Realizing I forgot it four minutes later, I confidently walked back to the bench I was sitting before to grab it, but it was gone. I spoke to a few staff members but nothing was turned in and there was no cleaning service around, so I can only assume someone must’ve taken/stolen it. It’s an odd feeling stepping onto a plane knowing there might be people there that might have taken something from you, unintentionally you start to look different to people.
Coatwise, it was a snazzy black and white TK-Maxx bargain and I felt really classy in it. Wherever you are, you will be sadly missed.
To cheer myself up I got an Aer Lingus snackpack that contained cheese, hummus, breadsticks, crackers and a Lily O’Brien chocolate. Not too shabby.

My utterly ridiculous and unattainable wish list for 2015

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          In the clouds (somewhere over England)

Well hello!

The new year has begun and blogs are buzzing with lists of resolutions, goals and wishes to make it a dashing 2015. My realistic wish list would probably be very much alike most of them. Wishes for world to be a more calm and peaceful place. Health and happiness for my loved ones. Personally, try to sleep more (there’s just so much to do!). Keep fit. Eat healthier (first meal of the year was an after midnight monster sandwich involving brie, ham and bacon so yeah, ’nuff said).

But besides those, what would I wish for in an anything can happen magical world?

1. That I finally got my Hogwarts letter (About time!)

2. Grow some natural curls in my hair

3. Finding a golden ticket to visit Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory

4. Beat my boyfriend at a game of chess (it seems it just can’t be done)

5. Beat my boyfriend at a game of Carcassonne

6. Or any game really (except for Yahtzee, I am a Yahtzee queen)

7. Build or buy a tree house (I don’t have a garden or a tree)

8. Land a career as a Couponing queen

9. Being asked to judge on X Factor

10. That no characters will die in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones (I haven’t read the books (sssssssshh) so I’m both excited and mortified for the new season)

And you, what would you wish for if anything was possible?

4 things that happened in the past week #3

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…Except that I’m a total liar and this is actually about like 2,5 week ’cause life’s crazy and I’m totes behind on this one and #yolo and okay I’ll just get cracking ’cause I’ve been taking so long to write this one up already.

Breath.

Christmas Shopping
Christmas is almost here, but the crazy Christmas shoppers have been around in Dublin town for quite a while now. Hunting for bargains, stocking up on mince pies and causing great hullabaloo over anything Frozen or One-Direction. These mad shoppers are often lugging around big trolleys that seem to just love anything feet. But who needs their toes around Christmas anyway, eh?
I made this picture in the St. Stephens Green Shopping Centre – it looked absolutely breathtaking there. Also, I thought it’d be relevant to start my Christmas shopping there as the Irish call Boxing Day (or “Tweede Kerstdag” in Duch) St. Stephens Day.

Epic Twitter Convo
Somewhere, somehow I ended up in a 2 hour long Twitter session with two gals that I used to study with. We were purely reminiscing about the good aul days we spent in Leiden, studying Comparative Literature. Although, as also came up in the conversation, we started out studying Comparative Literature but as the department decided to change the name of the Bachelor course halfway, we ended up with diplomas saying “Film and Literary Studies”. Allrightie then. Our classes were usually quite small so we really got to know our fellow students, and the lecturers were often quite interesting slash peculiar people. A few of the most noteworthy memories were…
-A lecturer we used to call “Cowboy” because he graduated on Western Movies.
-Coming out of a class and all we really remembered was the lecturer telling us that Samuel Beckett slightly resembles a bird.
-Whenever telling people that you study literature, they usually respond with “Oh, guess you have to read a lot then?” or “What can you do with that anyway?” (and occasionally, “What do you think of Twilight?”).
-If people were mad at each other all they would ever say was “You are just like a sick beech”, because it was a line from one of the first poems we analysed and it just sounded silly
-The lecturer who asked us what we were going to cook for diner. And told us we should definitely watch UP as it’s amazing.
-Everyone repeating lines from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” to death because it was the first novel we had to read in our first year (and we were also slightly traumatized by it).
And the list goes on. It was an interesting time.

Tortelloni
I went to diner with my friend and her granddad in a pub and had, very  much unexpected, the best plate of tortelloni I ever had in my entire life. It had ricotta and mozzarella and mascarpone, sun dried tomatoes and olives and mushrooms and so basically pretty much everything that makes life beautiful. Exaggerating much? Nah, maybe. But it did result in me having a grand resolution for the new year.
Eat more tortelloni, obviously.

HIMYM
One of those sitcoms I never really got into. I watched one of the episodes last year (or was it the year before?), but it didn’t really do much for me. Mostly because it’s just not Friends, I assume. I just started watching it again and this time around I seem to appreciate it a bit more. I’m now at episode 11 and I think I’ll end up watching the whole thing in the end…Although I’m also slightly discourages by some peeps telling me not to get my hopes up as the end is supposed to be sooooo unsatisfying. Hmmmm.

That’s all, folks!


Rosita does not move but I just did

rosita Hello y’all! It’s been a wee while since the last time I was on here but life has been pretty bloody busy.

I just spent an amazing weekend watching Irish Dancing Championships in the City West Hotel – I didn’t compete myself as it was a regional championship and not from my own region, but it was pretty awesome altogether.  My age group is usually the last to get to stage in a competition so I never have enough peace to just sit, watch, enjoy and absorb everything that is going on but since my only task for the weekend was supporting fellow dancers I had enough time and calmness in me to do just that.

Yesterday morning I finally moved into my new place – a house in Coolmine (that means I’m a Coolminion now, no?). As I needed to be at the championships ASAP (and with needing I mean that strong urge to be there) my friend who has been so good to help me move and we just threw bags into the room and I got the hell out – leaving the actual settling in for later. And here I am, sat in my new place on a brown barcalounger in the living room. So far so good.

Talking to my flatmate we discovered pretty much straightaway we have very similar life stories. Meaning we both got sorted into Slytherin by Pottermore, even though we strongly felt we belonged in different houses (me in Hufflepuff, she in Ravenclaw). There’s also a shared interest in mindless reality tv and pasta, guess it’s safe to say we get on so far.

My new room is spacious and bright and I’m just thinking about where to put my stuff or if I should rearrange some of the furniture. The silly thing in this house is that there are so many light switches that I’m accidentally creating a mini disco every time I try to find the right one.
Also, ever since arriving to Ireland I have had bad luck on the Wi-Fi front.  The connection broke off pretty much every 10 minutes in the first B&B I stayed and I have just gone a year without Wi-Fi in the house, the only internet came from (expensive and limited) dongle. This time around the Wi-Fi is a dream come true, until you walk up the stairs to my floor and it’s gone. I should be able to sort it out with an extender/expander (?) so I’ll be on the hunt for that.

If anyone can remember this blog and is curious about me moving my stuff: it did fit into one car in the end, and nothing broke after all. I just seem to have lost my sun glasses but since it’s kinda winter and obviously Dublin I reckon that’s no biggie.

4 things that happened in the past week #2


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Soup and Trackies
Winter is coming and so I need a a bucket of soup, if not more. Soup is my best bud when it get’s chillier out and fortunately it’s very easy to make plenty of it in one go. I had so much to do this weekend (mainly finding pressies for my family) that naturally I decided to postpone everything, stay in, put on my trackies and chill out. Surely I’ll regret it later when I’m doing shopping and find myself in the middle of the crazy Christmas shoppers, but it was a beautiful weekend.  I made this broccoli soup (Simple recipe – click!) and it was just delish. I also made what I find one of the best starters on the flippin’ planet: filo pastry filled with some goats cheese, some pine nuts and a tiny bit of dried thyme. Do try, it’s savage.

Jason Segel movies
So…When you guys want to watch a movie but don’t know what you want to watch yet, how do you search for inspiration? By genre, year, director? I tend to go to IMDB and look through movies per actor or actress that I liked in a movie I saw before. Just finished with a Jennifer Aniston phase I decided to look for movies either written by  or starring Jason Segel. Forgetting Sarah Marshall has been a favourite of mine for a while and I wanted to check what else he made. The Five Year Engagement was quite fun too though very long, though I should’ve seen that coming really with a title like that. On a side note: he seems to appear naked in most of the movies he wrote himself. Swag, Jason. 

Knitting
I just started learning to knit today – and my god do I find it fun and addictive. I found myself “just doing a few more stitches” and then ending up two rows further having to force myself to stop. I just started a navy blue scarf, but who knows someday I’ll finish a majestic Weasley jumper.

Twitter
My Twitter account has been very quiet for a few years… Until last week. A few years ago I just sent out one Tweet, followed Evanna Lynch (fangirl, me) and a few others, but got bored after a few weeks and never looked at it again. Since last week, the lil white bird is the first icon I click whenever on an electronic device. I don’t know what exactly caused the switch but I’m having a lot of fun with it. Since actively starting to tweet last week I’ve had a discussion about gigantic Jaffa Cakes, had fun making up and posting puns, had a convo with a total stranger on the delivery time for parcels, seen the funniest and most stunning picures floating by and was kept very up to date on any news.

Want to say hello? You’ll find me under @AntwaV – or click on one of my tweets at the right of this blogpost :).

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4 things that happened in the past week

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1. Corner Shop I saw this fabulous name for a corner shop located in just a residential area. Took this picture from a moving bus, that’s why the quality isn’t as good as this shop deserves.

2. Mr. Cab Driver My apartment hunt led me to meet one of the most lousy cab drivers ever. It was early morning and I was running late for a viewing (as my bus left without me before that, sob), and because I didn’t know the area very well I decided to hail a cab, ’cause you know, cab drivers usually know their way around and I would be much quicker. When I told him the address he barked at me that he didn’t know that address, it was not his neighbourhood. He started driving up to the estate that I mentioned anyway but after that there wasn’t much progress and at some point we were just going back and forth on the same road. “Do you have any mapping system?” I asked innocently, thinking he might have maybe just forgotten about that option, though it would be kind of strange. “No, why?” he barked back. “Can’t you look it up on your phone?” He then procedeeded to ignore looking at my phone while he shouted at every person that was passing for directions. FML.

3. Silver Polish* When already packing up some stuff for a competition weekend I discovered the silver cup that I had won the year before and now needed to go back had turned to a vile dark brownish/blackish colour, making it look like a piece of Voldemort’s soul had been living in it for the past year. Since I didn’t have any silver polish at hand and not much time the next day I had only one option and that was trying to find some in the spare half hour I had between work and the leaving of the bus towards dance class. I zig-zagged my way through Talbot Street, asking in any shop that I thought could or might have it. I got mixed answers to my simple question, ranging from “Just use vinegar” to  “Our candles are in aisle 4”. But my favourite was “What, for shoes?” Yep, uhu, that’s me, I wear silver shoes. *If you ever find yourself looking for silver polish in Dublin, head for Dunnes Stores and ask for Silvo.

4. MSN Messenger Due to my laptop breaking down and me switching to my wee aul’ Netbook, I was happily reunited with MSN Messenger when a pop up greeted my while starting up. It has been years since I last logged in and I decided to have a look around to see who was actually still uses it. I securely counted and there was no one there… But seeing the screen again made all the memories come back. Sentiment! The attention seekers who logged in twice per minute just so their name would keep popping up, jokers logging in under “Anonymous”, the people with a line from a song in their name, people with a heart and a date behind their name, overused smilies, songs or pictures that took three hours to transfer… Probably my best memory from Messenger was the group conversation with my whole class on the day we got our exam results and the chaos it caused when someone kept silent all of sudden as we knew he or she was getting the result at that exact moment. Today’s youth don’t know what they’re missing…

More sentiment: MSN sounds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z30oQIEzzvo Do you have any funny or noteworthy Messenger memories to share?

See yas! xx  – We All Live In A Yellow Submarine 😉 😀 🙂 !!

Lost in a cornfield and chased by zombies…

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…Doesn’t really sound like a dream scenario, right? And yet, since I went to Farmaphobia in 2013 I couldn’t wait to go again this year’s Halloween.

So what is Farmaphobia? It’s an annual Halloween event in county Meath where a farm gets turned into this majestically creepy place with four big attractions. Last year I kinda tagged along with my friends to see what it was like, not expecting to actually be amazed or creeped out. I mean, I was 24, just moved across the pond and started my big new first official job. Bitch please, what could possibly scare me?

Turns out, in a place like Farmaphobia, even a malformed tree or a chunk of your own hair will scare you. And it’ll be amazing.

Last year, the indoor maze called “Contagion” caused the biggest frights. You are obliged to wear some kinda gas masks in this maze whilst using a paintball gun to shoot the already infected zombies before they catch you. As if this wasn’t nerve wracking enough there was the unfortunate fact that the masks kept coming down our faces, blocking the already not so clear sight. My tactic was to just cling onto a friend hoping for the best (totally forgetting about the paintball gun and just trying to scream the zombies away. Smart.). My other friend had it worse, all deserted in the middle of the chaos she kept bumping and walking into a wall, not being able to see because of the mask. Help came from unexpected direction: one of the zombies couldn’t face this situation any longer and guided my friend into a non-wall direction.

Needless to say, we didn’t find the much needed antidote to save all human kind from the virus. Sorry lads.

This year the walk through a cornfield was the most creepy experience. Getting lost, being chased, feeling hands in your neck and whispers in your ear… You really bond with the people you are walking with. Until roughly the end of the route. As my friend put it: “Once you hear the sound of a chainsaw approaching, it’s every man for himself.”

So long, Farmaphobia. Until we Meath again.

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This cutie was so good as to pose for the picture… Before he started chasing me down the premises.

Oh honey, I went to this hipster pizza place near Temple Bar and saw that it was good

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Reviewing Skinflint, Crane Lane 19, Dublin 2

Around two months ago my colleague Izzie and me decided to do something completely out of the ordinary; instead of planning the usual friday-after-work-drinks (that I usually miss because of dance class), we decided to start painting the town red on a Monday. To give the Monday that extra bit of umpf that it so desperately needs (seriously who likes Monday?). After skipping to the closest pub we sat down for a jacket potatoe, some profiteroles and approximately 2 glasses of white Pinot Grigio each. One more than we planned. Thus, Pinot-Monday was born.

After a few visits to this same shabby pub, that we found served a very dodgy kind of salmon, we decided it was time for a change of venue. Izzie proposed Skinflint, a hipster-ish pizza restaurant in the center of Dublin. I had my doubts. I knew their sister-restaurant Jo’Burger and wasn’t sure how I felt about their drinks menu, that mainly consists of fruit/herbed bubbled water. If there was no Pinot, how could we honour our modern traditions? “No” wrote Izzie to me in the work chatbox, a strictly professional tool. “Everywhere has wine.” My doubts cleared instantly.

Skinflint can be found on Crane Lane in Dublin 2, close to a pub called The Snug. You have to take a double look cause you might not see it the first time, it’s small-ish and the decorum doesn’t really scream attention from the outside. The atmosphere is lovely, the music funky and the food tasty.  We ordered cheese sticks as a starter and they were just savage. The pizzas have girl names and so it happened that I ordered a Celine for the main course (a pizza with rocket, mushrooms, parmesan and garlic confit). In Skinflint, every table has big bags of napkins on the table and it is only while you are eating your mains that it becomes clear why. Next to salt and pepper you can find honey as a third condiment on your table, and you are meant to eat that with your pizza. Yeah, let that sink in.

Personally, I find pizza and honey the best combination since… Harry & Ron? Ant and Dec? Chocolate and peanuts? It was amazing and I’ll be returning to get myself some more of that.

The only things about Skinflint that I didnt like as much were the chairs that weren’t very comfy and the fact that the pizzas weren’t very cheesy. Though the fact that they were very thin and crispy (which I prefer above doughey pizzas) almost made up for that completely.

Pizza prices range from 8 to 13 euro, and it’s 2 for 1 on the Monday!

More info: http://www.joburger.ie/skinflint

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Thinking back I couldn’t tell why the restaurant is called Skinflint. The Cambridge Online Dictionary says a Skinflint is a “a person who is unwilling to spend money”. I didn’t know that, so that’ll be the second thing (after learning that honey on pizza is awesome) I learnt from this pizza place visit. If I ever find out why it is called Skinflint exactly, I’ll report back to you guys.

Also, this would be a great moment to make some sort of “Joey likes pizza and/or doesn’t share food-joke”, but I can’t think of any. Must be the Pinot.

xx