Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Days in Dublin

Well, that plan to update you all on my trip fell right through from the get-go, didn't it? We've been so busy that uploading a collection of snapshots from my phone is the best I could before my eyes couldn't stay open anymore!

We have been here in Ireland for several days now, but are taking today as a bit of a rest day - so I thought I'd try and recap the trip so far.

Wednesday

We began the trip in Eugene with an hour's delay -- which, of course, made me a little antsy about getting to our conneting flight. But we made it to San Francisco with plenty of time to spare and were on our way to Dublin.

Joel broke his TV about 3 minutes after sitting in the chair, and despite the flight attendant resetting it, it was out of commission for the rest of the trip. They started our Irish trip early by fee
ding us shepherds pie for dinner. It was weird to be fed on the airplane -- I never go on flights where they do that anymore!

I really didn't sleep much... I took a 2 hour nap, but the melatonin and muscle relaxers I brought were in my bag in the overhead bins -- and it seemed too difficult/obstructive to get them out. so I just didn't go back to sleep after that.  But I was too excited to sleep anyway.. Instead, I spent most of the night flight waiting for the sun to come up.

As it did, I watched the bed of clouds beneath us...  They looked like a never-ending horizon of marshmallows.  And I thought about how this was a "Someday" trip.  The thing that you say, "Someday, I'm going to..."  And how my Someday had surprisingly become a Today.  And maybe how many things are there that I think of as Somedays that could actually be Todays with a little work and creativity.

Thursday-- Arrive and walk about Dublin

We arrived about noon in Dublin (which was 4am Seattle time), sped through Customs, and made our way into town to check into our hotel, the Ariel House. It's located in the Ballsbridge neighborhood -- in the shadow of the Aviva Soccer/Rugby stadium.  I loved both the area and the hotel itself...  It was originally 3 Georgian townhomes all side by side, built in the 1800s -- and the neighborhood was quiet, away from the city center -- but near the DART station and within a 20 minute walk to Merrion Square.

We enjoyed tea and scones in the downstairs drawing room before taking a stroll into the city.  Much of this day, we just sort of walked around and took everything in.  We wandered a bit up the canal, and through Merrion Square before stopping for lunch at a pub just south of Trinity College where I had my first fish n chips and first Irish Guinness of the trip.

We wandered over to the grounds of Dublin Castle, through the Chester Beatty museum... strolled up Grafton Street, and into Christ Church Cathedral.  After that, we meandered our way up to Old Jameson Distillery, which was just about to close, so we found our way over to the Black Sheep pub for a couple beers before we wandered back home for a somewhat early sleep.

Friday - Dublin Day

Today, we woke up and got dressed, and then made our way downstairs for breakfast. The dining room was set into this lovely sun room at the back of the house and felt so elegant. I'd heard good things about the breakfast at Ariel House and wasn't disappointed at all for our first experience of Irish breakfast (on crack). When you walk in, there is a table laden with all kinds of stuff... cereals, milk, natural yogurt, chopped fresh fruit, scones, cakes, fresh banana bread.  You name it. It's there.  On top of that, they had a menu at every table that you could also order off of...  We both started our first day with the "traditional Irish breakfast."  I hope they don't have this for breakfast every day... I feel like i'm eating Thanksgiving dinner every morning!

And yes, I did try the black pudding.  It's not awful...  but I do like the white one better. Also, Irish bacon is 50 times better than American bacon. Why doesn't our bacon look like that??

After breakfast, we wandered over to the soccer stadium and took a tour. Our tour guide was this dear older man who used to play rugby there, and I liked him lots. Okay, really, I just love old men. But now they're Irish. So... adorable old men with accents.

We took the train into town and visited Trinity College for general wandering, a gander at the Book of Kells (which was generally "eh", but the exhibits before you got there were quite interesting), and a trip through the Long Room. Oh, if only I had a library that looked like that!  After a turn through St Patricks Cathedral, we got on one of the Hop On/Hop Off buses out to Kilmainham Gaol.

I was glad that I had read that book on Irish history -- though I'm sure it's simplified a lot of things (and left me with my own questions yet unanswered), I feel like it's given me a good base so that I've been able to understand the historical significance of the things we'e seen.

The tour at Kilmainham was quite interesting... and I appreciated the emphasis they put on the role of women in Ireland's history.  Afterwards, we made our way over to Guinness Storehouse. I'd purchases tickets for their swanky "Connoisseur Experience"... and I was glad that I did.  Before the meeting time, we went through the self-guided tour and stopped off at the Gravity Bar for our included pint -- as they told us that the building's last call was about 10 minutes before our session would be over.  The Gravity Bar was cool... but it was SO crowded with tourists that it was difficult to enjoy it.

The Connoisseur Experience was the complete opposite.  You  are in a group of 16 people, max, and they take you back into a dark private bar for an in-depth Guinness tasting session.  It feels like a "gentlemen's experience".... very serious, very classy. Honestly, I loved it.  We tried samples of five different beers, learned a lot about the history of the Guinness company and their beers, and all got to pull our own pints -- which was fun, but made more difficult by the fact that I hadn't had lunch and HAD just drink two pint of beer.

Afterwards, we had a whole pint to drink yet, so made our way back up to the Gravity Bar. Nearly all the tourists had cleared out by that point, so we were able to find a seat at the windows and enjoy the gorgeous views until they kicked us out.

Then, I made Joel feed me.  We found a pub and I ordered a bowl of Lamb stew -- which is probably my favorite thing to eat here. Sorry, Lambs. You are cute, but you are tasty.

On the way home, we walked through Temple Bar... but it was Friday night in the summer.... and really too party-y and busy for my taste.  So I enjoyed the experience of walking through, but didn't feel like stopping anywhere.

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