Keeping with the tradition of London transportation being insane, we had several issues involving the tube, buses, and trains until finally getting ourselves to the airport. Even though we lost each other a few times, we didn’t lose our heads, and we were in Dublin in a few short hours!
The bus to the city took less than thirty minutes, and it dropped us off three minutes from our hostel, so Irish transportation was already winning. Since our room wouldn’t be ready for another hour, we went to O’Niell’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, which was recommended to us both by the Internet and the hostel desk.
Let me break down the weather by this point in Dublin: first it was sunny, then hail, rain, heavier rain, sun, hail, rain, sun. If this is any indication of how Ireland weather will be, this’ll be an interesting week.
After putting our stuff in our room we went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. It’s actually four books, one of each of the gospels. Two books are open at a time, one of text and one of illustration. Every three months, the books are switched and a new page is shown.
A floor above is the library, which smelled like ancient books and was totally cool. It had all sorts of genres of books, including English folklore which included Harry Potter.
We bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off Tour, and hopped on the last bus of the day and rode it the entire way to get introduced to Dublin. At the end we went into Penney’s, Ireland’s main department store, mostly to escape the cold.
When we finally braved the weather, we went back to O’Niell’s for dinner. We got chicken as an entree, and mashed and roasted potatoes, turnips, carrots, and broccoli, all covered in gravy, as sides. It was a lot of food, and it was all amazing.
Every night in O’Niell’s they have love music, and we had the perfect spot to watch and listen to a duo play guitar and violin and sing. They also took breaks and a couple performed some traditional Irish dancing!
Even though we were delayed by the presence of other people using the same 2×2 bathroom, we made it out and had a great day.
First we walked to Merrion Square, which is home to the most relaxed statue I’ve ever seen of Oscar Wilde. Surrounding the park are streets of businesses with bright, beautiful doors. Also the National Museum, National Gallery, and Leinster House, home of the Irish National Parliament. There was a guard there we talked to who didn’t seem too impressed (“It’s not the White House!”)
Close by is St. Stephen’s Green. It’s a huge park with a big lake, lots and trees and flowers, and a flock of tremendously sassy pigeons, ducks, and gulls. We got to the park at the perfect time; the only time that day where it was sunny and warm!
We hopped on a bus that took us to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s on the grounds where St. Patrick performed his first baptism in Dublin. It’s also the largest church in Ireland with a 140 foot spire. A concert was going on while we were inside. While we oohed at all the amazing stained glass we were serenaded by some beautiful music.
Down the road is Christ Church Cathedral, the older of the two churches and the seat of the Church of Ireland. Inside here there was a string orchestra of youngsters, so while we looked inside here we had music supplied too! Underneath this church is a crypt, which obviously has dead people but also a cat and a rat, the latter being chased by the former and both got caught in an organ and mummified.
Another restaurant recommended to us was Leo Burdocks, a fish and chip shop with a huge plaque on the wall listing all the famous people who’ve visited. We got our fish and chips also eaten by Jackie Chan and went to eat them by the river.
Then we strolled around the courtyard of Dublin Castle. We actually flagged down an out of service tour bus, but the driver let us on when we told him we were going to the Guinness Storehouse! He made us duck and hide when he told some other people his bus was closed, and then he took us straight there!
The Guinness Storehouse was originally a 4-acre plot of land with a 9000 year lease signed by Arthur Guinness. It’s since been paid off, and acres has been added to fill 65 acres of brewing madness. It’s the second largest brewery in the world, the first being in Nigeria, and also makes Guinness. Our private bus driver told us that Nigerian Guinness is 9% proof, whereas Irish is only 4.5%. Also, in the past workers were required to drink a pint during work, and could be fined if they didn’t!
The coolest parts of the tour were where we learned how to properly drink a Guinness to get the full taste (big breath in, mouthful of Guinness, swish, swallow, big breath out) and how to properly pour (tilt 45 degrees, fill 80%, let sit, fill the rest til the foam just rises above the lip). We took our hand-poured, complimentary pints up to the seventh floor where we had a panoramic view of Dublin.
Our intention was to go to Old Jameson’s Distillery to learn about whiskey next, but the last tour left at 5:15 and it was 5:05 when we were done with Guinness. Instead we got on a bus and slept through the route home. We went back to O’Niell’s for the third time in two days for dinner, then a cafe called Hippety’s for dessert. It’s owner is American, and he traveled the world for 15 years before settling in Dublin. We were allowed to stay in the cafe an hour and a half after it closed!
We walked around the Temple Bar area for a bit, popping in bars to get warm and listen to some music, then eventually made our way home in the rain to try to sleep before waking up early for our bus to Limerick.
The Irish are some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met. Liz and I would try to sneak past the front desk at the hostel, but would always get stopped by whoever was working there and end up talking to them for ten minutes. One of them even offered to print out stuff for us free of charge on the office printer. Every restaurant, museum, and church we went into was filled with Irishmen willing to lend a hand to us. We definitely had to answer the “where are you from” question several times a day! I also (blessedly) have barely had to worry about wifi. They have it everywhere, even in ancient churches!
Today we take the bus to Limerick and then on to the Cliffs of Moher, the eighth wonder of the world.