25 years and a recession can take a toll

I was on the DART - Dublin Area Rapid Transit - last week when I thought it was sad sign of how bad things have gotten here. I don't ride the train all that often, but I was shocked by the state of the train I was on: broken seats, graffiti and filth. I've seen one of those on a DART train before, but this was the first time all three seemed to be riding so comfortably together.

It was a far cry from my first ride on the DART back in 1985. Back then it was brand new and I, a student from New York, couldn't get over the difference between the DART and the broken down, graffiti-covered, filthy Subway. And even though the DART showed signs of age it never looked neglected. Until now.

On Friday evening I headed back into Dublin, but this time on the Luas - Dublin's light rail system - with my family. What a difference. The Luas is today what the DART was back in the mid 1980s. At least, I hope so because I saw the Luas as a sign that things would get better, that there is hope still. I felt a bit better after the Luas journey.

Later on Friday, we ate at Captain America's, which is older than the DART, but shows no signs of neglect. I've only been there twice before: in 1973 and during my student days during the mid 1980s.

Yup, 1973. We traveled to Ireland to visit my mother's family. A few weeks on the family farm in County Kildare. Great time.

One day during my stay my aunt took me into Dublin to see the sights. We finished with a burger at Captain America's. One of those great childhood memories, which probably explains why I've returned so rarely - didn't want to spoil the memory of that day.

Well, on Friday a spur of the moment decision found me back in Captain America's. I'm sure it's changed since the early 70s, but it wasn't much different than I'd remembered. And, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience.

The food was better than most places that serve a similar menu and the rock-n-roll memorabilia is great. Despite the name, I think Captain America's has a genuinely Dublin feel, unlike a similarly themed near-by restaurant that is part of a vast international chain.

Next time you're in Dublin ride the Luas and the DART - still has great views - and then go to Captain America's for a bite and skip the Hard Rock Café.

{Top picture is me behind a DART train (clears throat and mutters - inaudible) ** years ago.}

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