Dublin is a fantastic place, just the fact that the main tourist ‘attraction’ is heading to the most authentic Irish pub you can find for a pint if the black stuff, should explain why Dubliners are so much fun. We had not been in Dublin fro two hours when we went for a walk and ended up in the middle of the Bank Holiday marathon. Thousands of women filled the streets and it made for quite an interesting day! In the evening we met and mingled with the Dublin student crowd at the local pub down the road.
We were lucky enough to be staying in Trinity College, a 400 year old university modeled as a continuation of the “Oxbridge” universities in England but now is Ireland’s premier tertiary education and research institution. Amandine, my very good friend from school days, put us up in her front court apartment on the top floor so we really got to see what student life here is like.
Her boyfriend, Barry, is also an excellent guide and he gave us the ’10 Euro’ tour for free with all the interesting facts thrown in. For instance, the two Oregon Maples in the front courtyard of the college are the oldest trees in Ireland! I wish I could remember more of the facts. The buildings at Trinity are amazingly beautiful, and quite majestic too. One building in particular that stands out is the building which houses the Long Room and the Book of Kells. The Long Room room holds over 200 000 of the oldest books owned by Trinity and is somewhat like a ‘book cathedral’. As you walk in the room you are overcome with an ‘old book’ smell and the beauty of the room with its dark oak bookshelves and vaulted ceilings. We snuck in at the last minute, as the guard closed off the one side of the Long Room, to see the original charter for Trinity College signed by Queen Lizzy the elder (QE1 for short). Of course, the Book of Kells is also really interesting to see as it dates back to the 8th century and is amazingly well illustrated for that period. What is most amazing is that in the 8th century Ireland was probably a pretty inaccessible rock in the middle of the Atlantic, so the fact that some of the red paint used to illustrate “the Book” came from a species of beetle native to Persia, is pretty remarkable. (Photos are not allowed in the Long Room but click here to see a 360 degree panoramic view of the room!)
One of the main attractions that Dublin had for us was to visit the place where Arthur Guinness started brewing Guinness Stout. It’s a vast facility that includes a step by step explanation on how the beer is (and has been) brewed for 252 years as well as displays on the Guinness advertising through the years, a tasting lab and most importantly… Somewhere that you can pour your own REAL pint of Guinness. The Storehouse, as it is known, is in the shape of an enormous pint glass of which the atrium stretches 5 storeys and to top it all off is a 6th level called the gravity bar offering not only panoramic views of the whole of Dublin but of course… more Guinness! It was excellent!
On the North side of Dublin is the GPO (General Post Office) building where you can now get your stamps, but used to be a stronghold for the Irish Republicans in the war of independence in 1916. The building was shot at and heavily shelled at the time and you can still some bullet holes in the columns in the front of the bulding.
In true Irish style we headed to the Porterhouse Brewery after dinner yesterday for a pint or two and some local music. Well, we certainly got more than we bargained for at this really great pub in Temple Bar – the name comes from a time when Jewish temples were banned in the area. Firstly, as you walk into the smallish front area and head for the bar you realize that above you are 3 other levels also housing bars and tables and even a stage for live music. The pub used to be a micro brewery and still has the copper boilers, pipes and brewing equipment running throughout the place, and on the walls there are hundreds of bottles of beer from all over the world. The best part about it was the live music, an Irish guy and his guitar. Needless to say the girls were melting at the sound of his voice and even the boys were singing along to his Bob Dylan and Counting Crows covers. Check Kris Finnerty out on iTunes to hear some of his original stuff!
Dublin has a great small train system called the Dart, nothing quite like the maze of tubes in London or the trams in Berlin, but we took it out to a small town called Killiney (Kill-eye-ney) that was suggested to us by a good friend Mike G back home. Dublin is a pretty small city and within about twenty minutes we were on the seaside and in forty five had reached our destination. The village is well known for being a haven for the wealthy, some notable celebs who have houses (or castles) there are Bono of U2 fame and also the celtic singer Enya who really does have a castle on the hill. Not knowing where we were going, we just went up and up with a goal in mind of reaching the monument on the top of the hill, which we did by walking up ancient passageways slippery with moss and the occasional but persistent shower. See pics!!!!
We stopped at the Druids Chair, a pub almost at the top of the hill, for a pint and some Wifi (that didn’t exist) and almost fell asleep because it was so cozy. Deciding that is was a good idea to go to another Dart station instead of the one that we arrived at was in fact a mistake and after walking for what seemed like hours we finally found Station Road and a completely different station that we had passed through a while earlier on the way to Killiney… great sense of direction on our part! We had a plan to stop in Dun Laoghaire (Dun Leary) for some fish and chips but it turned into a hunt for some public loos as the pints from the Druid came back to haunt us! No luck in the fish and chips department resulted in a rather disparaged couple of saffers jumping back on the train and straight to Temple Bar where we knew that we’d find some reasonably priced supper, incidentally also fish and chips, to bring us back to the happy place!
We had a special request from one of our avid blog readers, Uncle Viv, to take some photos in Saint Patricks Cathedral, and although we didn’t go in, as it was 4,50 Euros each, we got some photos from the outside in any case! If you would like to see something specific in a place that we are visiting, let us know, we’ll be happy to explore it for you and send the photos!