Hello fellow readers! I returned from visiting the green island of Ireland a few weeks ago. I hope to take you through every area we visited in my next few posts. So keep in touch.
First of all, the Irish people are THE NICEST people I have ever met. I have traveled a lot (not to brag, but I have done a decent share – but that said, so much more still to see) and I have never had such a pleasurable experience with the people of a country. Not a single rude person. Everyone was friendly, helpful and most of all, funny. It was such a fantastic trip.
Let me just preface that I was traveling with my parents, not that THAT is bad! I just wanted you to know who I was with on this adventure. I love my parents and we had a lot of fun. Since moving to Europe ten (!) years ago, I have traveled with my parents a lot on this side of the pond.
So, let’s get down to it. Flying from Mallorca to Bilbao to Dublin I landed around 5:00 pm at the Dublin airport. And my first experience with Aerlingus. Nice airline – they had leather seats throughout the entire aircraft! And of course, friendly. Then I had to pick up the rental car from Hertz. And this was my first experience of the steering wheel on the other side and driving on the other side of the road. My parents had landed earlier in the day so they were already at the hotel. It was me and the rental car driving on the wrong side of the road together. YAY! Already friends.
Finally arrived at Clontarf Castle and went up to the room. Dad was still sleeping and mom was getting ready for dinner. We unpacked, talked about the trip to Dublin and went down for dinner in the hotel restaurant. Good food, good service and guess what – friendly people everywhere!! What is in the water? And can I get some shipped to the island of Mallorca?
Dad and I started off with a Guinness. Because if you are in Ireland, you drink a Guinness!! And by the way, have you tried Guinness with black currants!? DO IT NOW. You can thank me later. The most deliciousness of Guinness you will ever have. Yo.
We called it an early night because we had to begin the day around 8 a.m. (pretty much every morning for the rest of the week). I did like that we each had our own single bed. Usually when it is three people one person gets totally shafted and has to sleep in that crappy cot (extra) bed. You know what I am talking about, right? And it really sucks. And is really uncomfortable. And it is always ME that has to take this bed because I am obviously the youngest – but not that young!! But here at the Clontarf Castle we each had a lovely single bed. A good nights sleep if only my dad didn’t snore!
DAY TWO: Hop On – Off (HOHO) Bus in Dublin. Some people don’t like these buses but it is an easy way to see the city without paying too much money. Just as the name states, you can get on and off when and where you like and walk around for as long as you want and then get back on. Of course, keeping with the bus time schedule. I think they start around 9 a.m. and end around 8 p.m.
Clontarf Castle has a free shuttle early around 8 a.m. But we wanted breakfast and then took a taxi took the HOHO Bus. The first place we got off was Trinity College. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland’s oldest university. It was originally established outside the city walls of Dublin in the buildings of the dissolved Augustinian Priory of All Hallows, Trinity College was set up in part to consolidate the rule of the Tudor monarchy in Ireland, and it was seen as the university of the Protestant Ascendancy for much of its history. Trinity College is now surrounded by Dublin and is located on College Green, opposite the former Irish Houses of Parliament. The college proper occupies 190,000 m2 (47 acres), with many of its buildings ranged around large squares and two playing fields.
The main reason we stopped at Trinity College was to see the Book of Kells. This book is believed to have been created ca. 800 AD. Amazing, right!? The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin. It contains the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. The manuscript today comprises 340 folios and, since 1953, has been bound in four volumes. The leaves are on high-quality calf vellum, and the unprecedentedly elaborate ornamentation that covers them includes ten full-page illustrations and text pages that are vibrant with decorated initials and interlinear miniatures and mark the furthest extension of the anti-classical and energetic qualities of Insular art.
While they had two books on display (under bullet-proof glass) it was difficult to see with the amount of people trying to crowd in and look …. for hours. But I did get a peek and it was beautiful. A picture from a page in the Book of Kells from educationscotland.gov.uk.
.Connected to the area to see the Book of Kells is the Long Room. The 65-metre-long (213 ft) main chamber of the Old Library, the Long Room, was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. This was actually my favorite part of Trinity College. While the Book of Kells was so interesting and beautiful it also had so many people wanting to see it, read about it, learn every single thing possible. The long room was more calming and just so many books! My heart was happy.
Back on the bus! We drove past tons of gorgeous places – St. Stephen’s Green, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Dublin Zoo in the huge Phoenix Park. But then our next stop was the Guinness Storehouse. Did I mention the Irish people were friendly and funny? While leaving our guide mentioned to all getting off that the last pick-up from Guinness was at 8 p.m. Hilarious. 🙂 I thought we would be able to just go straight to the Gravity Bar at the top but you must buy a ticket to go there. Adult tickets are 18 euros each and you get a ticket for a free pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar. The self “tour” was fine, interesting if you want to know how they make Guinness. We went through it pretty quickly and headed to the top. Here you can receive your free (with your ticket) pint of Guinness and look out over all of Dublin. Great views!
Our last stop was Temple Bar. Not really to see the area – because it is mostly bars and retro clothes shops. Which if that is your thing, this is your stop! But there was a big hurling game happening and we wanted to check it out. What is hurling, you may ask? What you DON’T know!? What planet are you living on!? Okay, kidding. We had no idea but there was a big game and our taxi driver told us all about it. Hurling is called the fastest game on grass.
The objective of the game is for players to use a wooden stick called a hurley to hit a small ball called a sliotar between the opponents’ goalposts either over the crossbar for one point, or under the crossbar into a net guarded by a goalkeeper for one goal, which is equivalent to three points. The sliotar can be caught in the hand and carried for not more than four steps, struck in the air, or struck on the ground with the hurley. It can be kicked or slapped with an open hand (the hand pass) for short-range passing. A player who wants to carry the ball for more than four steps has to bounce or balance the sliotar on the end of the stick and the ball can only be handled twice while in his possession. It was a lot of fun to watch and to try to understand what exactly was happening. The big game was between two rivals Kilkenney vs. Tipperary. And it ended in a tie, something that is very unusual I was told.
.Flags flying for their/your favorite team. That concludes my first day of Dublin post. I hope you enjoyed it. Next up is Newgrange and surrounding area of Dublin. Please check it out. Good night!