Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"When I Die Dublin Will Be Written In My Heart" - James Joyce

Hi everyone! Sorry it has take me so long to fill you all in on my Irish adventure, but I've been busy with actual school work as our six week period here in Brussels is winding down. I think I will do this entry like I did Paris and break it up by the days.

We started out very early Friday morning (we being Caitlin, my roommate, and I) even before the sun had risen. We had some minor setbacks in getting to the airport when we found out that public transportation wasn't running that early, we had to take a cab to the train station. From the train station, we took a bus to an airport that is about an hour away from Brussels. We flew on Ryanair, which is famous for its cheap flights and for crowding as many people onto a plane as humanly possible. The flight wasn't too bad. I think both of us dozed off a bit even though I was very uncomfortable in the center seat. We both woke up just in time to see us cross over the very tip of Ireland, which was an incredible sight.

We arrived in Dublin at around 7:30 local time (we gained an hour on our flight). At the airport, we stopped in at the tourism office and bought a Dublin Pass, which we paid a flat rate for to get into a bunch of attractions in Dublin instead of just paying for each individually. I highly recommend this if you ever go and are not going at a leisurely pace. I think we saved a bunch of money. But I digress... we used our Dublin Pass to get a free bus ride into the city. We ended up missing our stop, but we got off at the next one and made our way over to our hostel. We checked in and left our bags in the lockers at the hostel. From the hostel we walked over to O'Connell Street (one of the big streets in Dublin) and walked up towards Parnell Square. We stopped and had some breakfast and from there, we walked over to the Writers Museum. The Museum was fairly small, but there was a lot condensed into such a small space. There was an audio tour which came with your admission into the museum, which was great. The museum went through the whole history of Irish literature and covered all the literary greats, including Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and, of course, James Joyce. There were also some other lesser known authors thrown in there, which was interesting as well. They had a bunch of things from the different authors and first edition books and things of that nature, which was pretty neat. I really enjoyed the museum.

After the Writers Museum, we made our way down towards the older part of the city (or attempted to at least). We ended up getting a little lost, but we ended up in some sort of legal district, which was pretty neat because there were a bunch of men walking around in their robes and wigs.... quite a sight! We asked directions from a really nice Irish businessman who pointed us in not only the right direction, but towards the best walk. We walked across a bridge over the River Liffey, which cuts through the city and past Christchurch (which I later learned is one of the oldest buildings in Dublin) and we ended up at our destination, Dublin Castle, with no further directional problems. We walked around Dublin Castle, but didn't go inside because you had to go on a tour and we decided we had too much to do to waste time on a tour.

At this point, we were hungry again so we found a little hole in the wall restaurant, which was great. I got some tomato, pepper soup and bread. The soup was extremely spicy, but delicious. It was nice to have such a hearty meal with such large portions again.

After lunch, we started out again and headed across town to the Irish Modern Art Museum. Again we got a little lost, but not too much and after a really long walk we eventually found it. I wasn't too impressed with the museum, but I suppose that's probably because I have been spoiled with seeing the works at the Pompidou and the Tate. They didn't really have any famous works and the museum was badly organized and things were difficult to find.

Once we got done with the Modern Art Museum, we headed over to Guinness. Everything I had read told me that this was pretty much a must see for tourists. So we went and it was a little disappointing. I thought it was going to be an actual brewery and would be similar to the vineyard tours I had been on in Oregon a few summers ago. This wasn't what Guinness was like. It was more like a museum, with a little tour you go through telling you all about how Guinness is made, the ingredients that they use, etc. It was interesting, but not quite what I had expected.

After Guinness, we walked over the St. Patrick's, a church in Dublin. It was very beautiful and we just wandered around the church for a while. Afterwards, we walked over to Trinity College, which is in the center of the city, but once you get inside the walls feels like a college campus. All the buildings are really old and beautiful and there are wonderful green lawns. We went to the College to see the Book of Kells, but unfortunately, the building was closed. I was pretty disappointed, but I guess it will just give me something to go back for.

After Trinity College, we walked around and found a pub to have dinner at. We were exhausted so we just headed back to the hostel. The hostel was an interesting experience. It was my first stay in a hostel and we were staying in one of the dorm like rooms. There were eight sets of bunk beds in the room and Caitlin thought that it was pretty nice for a hostel. It was pretty much what I had expected except neither of us realized that the room was co-ed. It was basically like being at summer camp again. The bathrooms were the standard communal bathroom just like any dorm or summer camp.

We went to bed pretty much immediately even though it was still light outside (it was about 10 or so) and I slept well despite people coming in and out of the room all night.

That's it for day one... more later. Also, I posted my pictures from the trip if you get some time and want to check them out.

Love to all,

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