It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... well if not quite the best, better at least in Belfast where you can get more bang for your buck.
A trip to Dublin? Only if you have a bank balance that can bear up to a battering.
That said, a weekend away in either city is not for the faint-hearted these days.
Today we take a look at the tale of the tape of Ireland’s two main cities. And it shows that the winter of despair failed to evolve into a spring of hope with the cost of living crisis showing no signs of slowing.
Top travel guide Lonely Planet has a warning for city-breakers should they fancy strolling alone the banks of the Liffey. Try the Lagan instead!
Any way you look at it, it’s not great news for the hospitality industry. It has suffered more than most through Covid. Businesses had no option other than closing their doors to customers. Those who have managed to get them open again breathed a sign of relief, but that relief was short-lived. Soaring prices have scuppered many city breaks.
Dublin in particular is finding the rising costs hard to contain. You do have to wonder if, amidst the tourism rebound from Covid, there’s too much being asked of the paying public to make up the difference.
But it’s not just that. The cost of everything is rising at such a fast rate that hotels and restaurants simply can’t keep up. There’s little future in a business that charges less than what it costs to run.
While there are those who have been starved of their weekends away, and they will pay the price of a tasting menu in top Dublin restaurant Chapter One (170 euros per person and 105 euros extra for wine), too many are being priced out of the market.
Street vendor Molly Malone’s cockles and mussels aren’t to everyone’s taste.
There are plus points for Dublin in the Lonely Planet guide. There’s always good craic in the Fair City. It just costs more than it used to. Up and up and up it goes, where it stops nobody knows.
But if governments are serious about bringing some sense of stability to the hospitality industry, attracting people to cities which were thriving as tourists came in their droves just a couple of years ago and supporting the shops and business that rely on their trade, something needs to be done to protect their interests.
Otherwise people, families in particular, will be saying ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done’ when they decide to cut their losses, stay at home and spend the money on the essentials of life which many are already struggling to afford.