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Dublin!! [Oct. 23rd, 2006|06:38 am]
This weekend I went to Dublin. Our flight was at 9:30 on Friday morning, so it wasn’t as early as the flight to Barcelona. The flight was late leaving because of fog and clouds in Dublin, so that was annoying. We flew over the Alps, which were amazing even from above. I also saw more airplanes in flight than I have ever seen. One ever passed fairly close to us.

When we landed in Dublin we easily found the Airlink bus that took us practically to the door of our hostel. The Four Courts hostel is rated the best in Dublin and it was pretty good. It was huge, so there wasn’t much mingling between guests. It took forever to check in because we got there at about 2:15 and they said our keys would be ready at 3, but then they weren’t ready until 3:30. In retrospect, we probably should have just gone out and finished checking in when we got back, but we didn’t think of that at the time. Our room was a 16 bed dorm, 8 pairs of bunks. We were kind of annoyed that we weren’t in the same bunk, but it wasn’t a big deal. We locked our stuff up and headed out to explore.

Since we basically hadn’t eaten anything all day, were starving had lunch/dinner at 4. We went to the Gallagher’s Boxty House because I had seen it recommended a bunch of places. It had a traditional Irish food called boxty which is basically a potato pancake with filling in the middle, kind of an Irish crepe. We started off splitting a mashed potato pancake with tomato sauce that was delicious. Then for the main course, Mary had a chicken boxty and I had corn beef and cabbage boxty (therefore combining two Irish foods). They were soooooo good. Then we split a sticky toffee pudding for dessert that was pretty good. Since it was only 5 when we finished, we walked around Temple Bar a little, then walked up O’Connell Street which is the main street in Dublin. It has lots of statues of famous Irish people. And lots of stores! They have such good shopping in Dublin. There was an H&M, Zara, etc. We also went into Marks and Spencers to look at the food hall, which wasn’t quite as impressive as I had been led to believe but it was cool nonetheless. We wanted to go on this musical pubcrawl that I had found online, but it didn’t start until 7:30, so we went to go have a drink and rest our feet for a bit. We went to the Temple Bar Pub and I ordered a half pint of Guinness because I had to try it. I’m not a beer drinker anyway so this was vile. I barely managed to drink half of it, and Mary helped me drink that half. According to her, though, it tastes much better in Ireland than it does in the States.

Finally it was time for the Musical Pub Crawl, which was an excellent choice for the evening’s entertainment. We started off at the Ha’Penny Bridge Inn where I had a small glass of Bailey’s to get the Guinness taste out of my mouth. There were two Irish musicians that were absolutely hysterical playing and talking about Irish music and making everyone sing the chorus to songs. We were at the first pub for about an hour and then moved to a second pub that was out of the touristy Temple Bar area. I had some hard cider to drink which was a big improvement over beer. They played a lot of jigs and reels which I was familiar with from doing Irish dance and I must say it made me want to take it up again. Then they also did some unaccompanied singing which was lovely. At the end they recommended some other places to go to listen to good Irish music, so Mary and I went to one of the places with two guys we had met (one was from Santa Cruz of all places). The new place was pretty close to our hostel and the music was very nice because there were a lot more instruments. We stayed there until they closed at 12:30 and then went back to the hostel and to bed.

Saturday was our heavy sightseeing day. We ate the lame toast breakfast that the hostel had and were out by 9:30. Since the public transportation is Dublin isn’t that great, we signed up for a double-decker hop on, hop off bus that went past all the places we wanted to see. We started at Trinity College and the Book of Kells. We only saw a little of the college, but it was very pretty. The Book of Kells exhibit was fascinating. First you learn about medieval manuscripts and how they are made and then you get to see two of the Books of Kells (two of the four Gospels) and two other really old manuscripts. They are beautiful in pictures but absolutely stunning in person. It’s so amazing that such intricate designs could have been made by hand so long ago. Then you get to go through the old library that has all these really old books from the 1800s and it’s in a beautiful building.

Then we got back on the bus and got off at the National History Museum. There we got to see a lot of pretty boring Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age arrowheads and other such things. They also had an extensive collection of Celtic gold jewelry that was amazing. The piece de resistance was the bog bodies. I didn’t realize that there were so many of them, but this museum had 4 or 5. They were fascinating to look at because they were so well preserved but the skin had turned black and kind of shiny. I thought it was funny that they were kind of unceremoniously laid out on slabs under glass. It was really creepy to see their hands because the fingers looked so alive. There was also an exhibit on the Vikings in Ireland and a display of Medieval Irish objects like the Bell of St. Patrick.

Then we had a delicious lunch at a café, not particularly “Irish” but I had a really good sandwich and Mary had a breakfast crepe. Then we went to House of Ireland which is a store of Irish products. I was looking for some Beleek china, I found a mug I liked but it wasn’t in the shamrock pattern that I wanted and there was nothing else I really wanted, which was a little disappointing. Then we got back on the bus and went to Christ Church Cathedral. It was kind of nice to see an Episcopalian/Anglican church after going to about a million Catholic churches so far. It was really pretty inside, but the cool part was going into the crypt area below it which was huge. They were warming up for Evensong when we left so there was lots of pretty music adding atmosphere. For some reason, it took 40 minutes for the bus to come by the Christ Church stop, which was irritating because we had lots left to do. Finally it came and the next stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but we didn’t get off because they were having some sort of graduation ceremony and the church was closed to the public.

Our last stop was the Guinness storehouse. It was a pretty uninspired beer making tour, but it was fun and the displays were really good. You get a free pint of Guinness at the end, but I passed because I obviously didn’t like it. The views from the bar were very nice though, because their “gravity” bar is on the 7th floor of the building. We were going to go to the Jameson’s Distillery after that, but we were soooo tired all we wanted to do was go back to the hostel and rest. So we did. We took a little nap and then went out to find some dinner. We had liked the Boxty house so much, we wanted to go back, but they were full until 10:30 so that wasn’t going to work. We tried several places, but they were all full, being 7pm on a Saturday. We finally found a place that had room and had some delicious stews. We were still so tired that after dinner we just went back to the hostel and read and went to bed at like 10:30.

Unfortunately, the only flight out of Dublin on that Sunday was at 12:30, so we didn’t get to do anything other than get up and check out and go to the airport. We felt that we had had a very fun trip even though we only really had one day. I would love to go back to Ireland some day and do some trips out into the countryside because it seems like it would be a lot of fun.

Then the cab driver on the way home tried to overcharge us, but we resisted and won, yay!