this bird can sing.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ireland 2014, Part One

We woke up bright and early on September 19th, around 5:30am. We got everything together and headed toward London Gatwick. We returned our rental car and made it to the terminal. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed. The board kept saying that the gate would be announced at a certain time, and then the time would come, and it would be pushed back. Hubby picked up the English version of Airborne for me while I sat with our luggage.

Finally a gate was announced and we made our way down there. We had heard horror stories about Ryanair and were worried about our carry on luggage being scrutinized, but no one batted an eye. Our flight finally left around 11:00am, and was only about one hour to Dublin.

The Ryanair plane was large and packed. They board from the front and the rear. It's great for budget travel, and an hour on the plane was fine. But it's not really meant for comfort.

We landed around noon and hopped right on the Air Coach bus. The bus will take you into downtown Dublin, which is far preferable to driving. It dropped us right near our hotel, which was about a block off St. Stephen's Green. The room was up about a thousand flights of stairs, and was the size of a matchbook, but we were fine with it due to its convenient location.

View from our room.
We checked in early and then headed out to explore. We were starving, having not eaten a proper meal yet, so we found a pub right off St. Stephen's Green called Sinnott's Bar. I again confused a server by ordering "diet soda" and we scarfed down some lunch.

After lunch, we walked around the area and did some window shopping. On the way to Trinity College, we passed the Molly Malone statue.

We arrived at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. We skipped this last time, so we wanted to check it out this time. The exhibit is really interesting, and we learned about Irish history and the people who transcribed the Book of Kells. You can't take photos in the actual exhibit, but we did get to see pages from the Book of Kells and the Book of Armagh.

We proceeded to the long room at Trinity's library to view an exhibit on display about Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf.

I walked around reading about the exhibit and also just gawking at the beautiful library. This is a must see spot for any bibliophile.

There are a number of busts of literary figures, and you can also view Brian Boru's harp, which is the national symbol of Ireland.

The artwork displayed depicting Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf was really colorful and cool as well.

 At some point, we learned that this evening happened to be Culture Night in Dublin, so there were events going on all over the place. As we walked out of Trinity's library, we saw a line wrapping all over the place to enter (you could view the same exhibit for free a part of the events). Glad we had just paid the admission fee and didn't have to stand in a long line, we looked at the event options for the evening. It was starting to rain at this point, and of course we didn't bring an umbrella.

We ended up walking by Dublina, an exhibit on medieval Dublin that we missed last time, but the line to get in was massive as well. Not wanting to spend the entire evening in line, in the pouring rain, we decided to check out St. Patrick's Cathedral.

They were doing tours of the cathedral. We saw the outside of St. Patrick's and Christchurch on our last trip, but we were interested in seeing the interiors as well.

We connected up with a tour group and got started walking around the cathedral.

The church is really beautiful and dates from about the 1200s. 

Jonathan Swift was the dean of the cathedral and is buried there, so we learned about his life as well.

At St. Patrick's, you can light a candle and write in the prayer book. I lit a candle and wrote in the book in the memory of my Dad and my Uncle Jack. I knew they would like that and that they were there with me in some way.

We walked the short distance down to Christchurch Cathedral after our tour. There was some sort of street fair with food trucks going on outside, but we decided to look inside first. We walked around the cathedral. I didn't find it to be quite as pretty at St. Patrick's, but they did have an organ player.

We were also able to walk down into the crypts and look around, so that was cool.

We were hungry, and it was wet and crowded, so we walked back out into the night and stopped at the little street fair. We ended up getting an order of chicken pad thai to share. It was hot and good, although it was too wet to really sit anywhere to eat it. It perhaps wasn't the most mobile food we could have ordered, but it was tasty.

We thought it would be fun to check out The Brazen Head pub, which is the oldest pub in Ireland, established in 1198. We walked down there and found a table in the music room. It looked like they were getting ready to play music, although we sat there for some time, and they never started.

 We sat in the warm pub, out of the rain, and ordered pints, my first in Ireland on this particular trip. We shared a traditional fish cake with Irish bread. As we sat, we became more sore (my Fitbit told me that I finished the day at about 11 miles). Although we really should have just taken a cab back to our hotel, we decided to walk back, which was not a short distance.

We trudged up the flights of stairs and right into bed.

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