Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weekend in Dublin Part One

So, I have finally crossed another city off my list of places I want to travel someday. If you weren't already aware, this is because I spent this past weekend in Dublin!

Maddy and I booked onto a trip with the Exeter History Society, so we didn't know anyone, but we were all at least students and it was nice to travel with a group. We left from the St. David's train station in Exeter at around six and spent the next twelve hours traveling (first on the coach for seven hours, then on a ferry for about 4 hours, and then the last leg on the coach again). We arrived at Isaac's Hostel at about 6:30 in the morning and, suffice to say, we were all pretty exhausted. I got about four hours of sleep and, compared to some of my other traveling companions, that was quite a lot. Luckily, although we couldn't check into the hostel and get some well deserved shut eye, we could leave our luggage in a locker (so no one had to lug around a suitcase all day, not that I brought a suitcase for a weekend trip).

We lounged in the common area for awhile, because of course nothing was actually open yet, and finally left at about 8. Maddy and I decided to stick with the others, at least for awhile, so we could get our bearings a bit more. We stopped for breakfast at O'Brien's, which was a lovely little cafe across the street from the Trinity College campus, and I had an amazing raspberry scone and some hot chocolate.

Afterwards we walked around the Trinity College campus, which is absolutely gorgeous by the way, but we didn't stop into any of the buildings at that point. We did, of course, stop to take a couple of group pictures, before walking over to St. Stephan's, a nearby park. the park was absolutely beautiful, it helped that it was quite sunny out (though unfortunately also rather cold). 

We then wandered back towards the college campus to visit the Archaeology branch of the National Museum of Ireland. The museum was really cool, lots of interesting old jewelry that was simply listed as being found in a "hoard" which I suppose makes sense considering Dublin's rich Viking history. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside the exhibits, so all I have is a pictures from the atrium (which was still quite pretty).

We then walked to yet another park, this one with a memorial to Oscar Wilde. I personally think the statue of him looks rather smarmy, but that might just be me. The other two statues which had quotes written on them were very cool however.  On our way out of the park we passed by the house in which Oscar Wilde lived on Merrion Square.

We walked into the Temple Bar district around lunchtime. The district is right on the edge of the river and many of the buildings have some pretty fantastic graffiti/art painted on them.

Maddy and I wandered for a bit, before eventually joining some of the other members of the group for lunch at a pub called the Porterhouse. I got Traditional Irish Stew which, to my dismay, came with a leg of lamb which was somewhat difficult to manage. It was delicious, so definitely worth the work.

We then walked over to the Christchurch Cathedral, which I personally preferred (aesthetically speaking) to St Patrick's Cathedral (which we came across later in the day), before splitting off from the group in order to head over to the Guinness Storehouse.

Even if you don't like Guinness, which I have discovered that I most certainly do not, I would have to highly recommend the Guinness Storehouse if you are ever in Dublin. The museum is located in the St. James' Gate Brewery, where at one point they performed the fermentation process involved in making Guinness. The first thing you see after buying your ticket and entering the museum portion of the building is the 9000 year lease on the brewery signed by Arthur Guinness for the building (yes I did say 9000, so he was certainly in it for the long haul). Also the central section of each floor of the building (which is like an open glass atrium all the way up) is apparently designed to be the largest pint glass in the world and, if filled, could hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness (or, more pints than there are people in Dublin)

There were lots of other cool things too: portraits that started to move and talk when you stood in front of them, examples of different advertising from different time periods, a set up where you could take a picture that made it look like you were featured in a vintage Guinness add, and a tasting room where they taught you how to properly drink Guinness in order to taste the four flavors. 

After finally making our way up to the 7th floor, where there was a bar with amazing views of the surrounding city, we got our obligatory pint of Guinness. I suffered through about half of it before admitting defeat, Guinness is much too bitter a drink for my tastes.

Afterwards Maddy and I wandered around the city a bit, getting somewhat lost in the process (and it was at this point that we came across St. Patricks), before eventually figuring it out. After finding our way to Grafton Street, which is the main shopping district in the city, we went in search of dinner.

We ate back across the river at a place called the Epicurean Food Hall, think a more upscale food court, where we settled on Mediterranean for dinner. I had a falafel sandwich, plus the essential of Irish food, chips (ie. potatoes).

Finally we made our way back to Isaac's only a little before 7:30, where we decided to relax for a bit before calling it a night. It was certainly a long and busy day.

To be continued...

(I've always wanted to do that) 

But seriously, I'll post the second half of the trip soon, it seemed like a bit much to make into just one.

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