Greeting from the land of lucky Charms.. Dublin, Ireland! I could live here, I may never come home. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Emerald Isle, it houses all of my favorite things in one city: Flogging Molly, whiskey, and charming accents. From my limited experience, I've come to enjoy the warmth and friendliness of the Irish people. It's a nice change from the aloof English Ive dealt with the past 2 weeks.
I'm super thankful that my cousin Lauren was able come with me to Dublin! She lives outside of London and has been a godsend with helping me plan and get around, I couldn't have done this trip without her.
1/5/13 Our trip started at 4 A.M. for the drive to the airport, followed by the lovely 6:30 A.M. flight. The earlier flights are cheaper on the airline we were flying called Ryan Air. It's pretty much a tin can with wings. Ryan Air has very cheap flights to most European cities, but with the low fares come high annoyances. For example, there is no assigned seating, or checked baggage. Passengers just line up and sit where ever they want, there is no first class. There is also no basic "amenities" like beverages or peanuts, but you are more than welcome to buy a can of Pringles for $7. If you happen to be able to fall asleep amongst the never ending radio commercials playing overhead, the cattle call song of "Charge!" blasts when you land, almost challenging everyone inboard to run for their lives to customs. Indeed, RyanAir, indeed.
We landed in Dublin and the weather was great! It was high 40s for most of our visit, which is positively tropical. First off, we decided to do the hop on/hop off tour like I did in London. We visited Dublin Castle, but it was closed because some king was there or something. But the guards were nice enough to let me get a quick peak of the courtyard and snap a photo.
The next place we visited was the Natural History Museum, or as the Irish affectionately call it, "the dead zoo". The building is a ‘cabinet-style’ museum designed to showcase a wide-ranging and comprehensive zoological collection, and has changed little in over a century. Its 10,000 exhibits provide a glimpse of the natural world since the doors opened in 1857. It's super cool, and I have an appreciation for the skill level that goes in to preservation and taxidermy.
We skipped around to the St. Patrick's Cathedral, a gothic style church founded in 1109 and then to Christ Church Cathedral founded in 1030. The crypt of Christ Church is the oldest surviving structure in Dublin and one of the largest crypts in Europe. Housed in the crypt is the Treasures of Christ Church exhibition, as well as the beautiful original costumes from 'The Tudors' television series, much of which was filmed in the Cathedral. If you are a fan of historical dramas, the Tudors is a must watch show!
All that holiness made us thirsty so we headed on over to the Guinness Storehouse. Dublin is the home of this famous stout beer, and the brewery was founded in 1902. Arthur Guinness, the creator of the brew, believed in his product so much that he signed a 9,000 year lease to the building. Good thing he was optimistic, the brewery produces over 3 million pints a day and its the most well known stout beer on the 20th century. The storehouse is 6 levels tall, filled with anything and everything you could hope to know about brewing Guinness. Some of it was interesting, but most of it was just ok. It was funny to people watch and notice how most of the guys were fascinated by the exhibits and the girlfriends and wives looked utterly bored. The advertising section was the most interesting, but the best part was the Guinness beer you could enjoy from the top of the building, displaying panoramic views of the city. It's a pretty good beer, but it won't replace my gin anytime soon.
1/6/13 We started our day off with Kilmainham Gaol, the Irish prison from 1796. It played an important role in the Irish rebellions and housed many war criminals and civil leaders throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. A guided tour led us through the narrow walkways, cold cells, and spiral staircases. I am so glad I live in 2013. The history is fascinating, and it's haunting to know so many people spent their lives here. The prison is also a film set for many movies, none of which I had seen before haha.
After that, a lovely visit to the Dublin zoo was in order! The zoo started in 1830 and is the fourth oldest zoo in the world. They had some of the best exhibits I've seen in a zoo, and the stroll through the grounds was beautiful.
We stopped for lunch at Ryan's Bar, which is a Victorian pub that retains almost all of the interior of 1886, including gas lamps and whiskey barrels. They were so much classier back then.
Resuming our day, we walked the grounds of Trinity College established in 1592. Former students include Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde, and it is also the home of the Book of Kells. The library is massive, as they obtain a copy of every book published in Ireland every year. Each year, they have to find a half mile of new shelving to accommodate all of the new additions. The campus was gorgeous, my cosmetology school definitely didn't look like this place! :)
We decided to end our day getting positively smashed while bar hopping in the area known as Temple Bar. It's a cross section of the heart of the city, filled with all of the bars and restaurants frequented by locals and tourists alike. Lauren took me to her fave Irish cuisine eatery, The Boxty House. A boxty is a traditional irish meal that basically is a potato burrito filled with whatever you'd like. I chose a chicken one with the most amazing sauce I have ever tasted and finished with a Baileys cheesecake slice.
We were also staying in that area, so it made for an easy stumble home.
1/7/13 Sleep was welcome after our whirlwind walk of the city from the past 2 days so we were in no rush to get up. We spent the morning walking down Oconell Street, which was the main through-fair and the heart of the Irish Rising in 1916. You can still see the bullet holes embedded in some of the statues and buildings. We also decided to check out a cute little cafe called Cake, which was in a courtyard. The place was tricky to find, but the treat was worth it. Everything is served on mismatched crockery, and all the goods are baked in house. It was time to end our trip to Dublin, but I hope to return someday.
It's a delightful city with an amazing spirit (and spirits).
PS- I'm trying to list photos in order, so people can follow along easily. Also, I swear I am not a depressed person, despite touring all of the prisons and dark places. I just love history in all forms.