Travel Journal

Erin Go Brach!

(Wednesday 11 August 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 1 – 8/5/10 Thursday - Dublin
We landed just before 5 AM on a Thursday. Customs was quick at that time and I converted about $40 to Euros to get us to the hotel. I knew the bus to take beforehand so getting the correct one was no problem.
The Garmin (GPS unit), which will play an important role with our leased car in mainland Europe, was flashing “acquiring satellites” for the entire bus ride into downtown. This concerned me a bit! The hotel address had been entered in the Garmin so we had to do it the old fashion way by asking directions.
We found it though with little problem and naturally the Garmin acquired the satellite as we were walking up to the door! I don’t know if it’s the unit or operator but we are getting spotting reception throughout Ireland. The hotel was closed but the night clerk let us in but said the hotel was fully booked so we couldn’t check in until 2 PM as we had expected so we dropped off the luggage and headed out to explore the city.
The Madron hotel was north of the river while most of the sights are south but it’s only a fifteen minute walk to the bridge. On the way we passed the Spike, or Stiletto from the Ghetto, or some other nicknames that can’t be repeated here. It a 120 meter tall silver pole with a wide base built to commemorate the new millennium. Naturally there were numerous delays and it wasn’t completed until 2003! It a handy reference point as you can see it from quite a ways away.

Trinity College was an easy choice to visit as it was close and the campus was open at that time. Most of the other sites didn’t open until 9 or 9:30. We strolled through the grounds enjoying the sights.

We had purchased a hop-on hop-off pass from Dublin Bus Tours which did a circle route in Dublin stopping at about 25 places of interest. There was a stop outside the college with a pickup at 9:15 so we decided to wait for the first bus to arrive. Looking at the map though, we saw the National Gallery was nearby and opted to walk there rather than wait. Naturally when we arrived, we discovered the Gallery didn’t open until 9:30 so we took a walk in the Merrion Square park across the street.

The Gallery had a fairly good collection but Julie wasn’t particularly impressed. I enjoyed the architecture of the building more than the works inside.

We did catch the tour bus and got off at Dublin Castle. I did want to tour this so we bought tickets for the 11 AM tour so we had to wait again. We exchanged some more money before entering the castle. I found the tour informative and interesting. We got a lot of history about Dublin, information about the independence of Ireland, and the history of the castle itself.

The next stop was St. Patrick Cathedral. Very impressive! I had not known Jonathon Swift – the writer – had been the dean there and was buried within along with many other dignitaries. The stain glass windows were beautiful but our photographs didn’t do them justice. All in all, a wonderful building and highly recommended for a visit.

At this point we were quite tired as we had not slept much on the 15 hour travel from LAX to Dublin. We pushed on though to the Guinness Brewery. The tour was a bit expensive but included a pint at the end. Very high tech and colorful presentation. I’m afraid our fatigued states didn’t allow us to fully appreciate the tour as we rushed through it. The Gravity Bar at the top of the brewery offered a panoramic 360* view of Dublin while having our Guinness. I still remember sampling Guinness in my youth and the first sip reminded me why I didn’t continue drinking the beer.

We had enough of the tour and took the bus to a stop just down the street from the hotel and walked back. We took a long needed shower and bath and then napped for three hours.
We awoke around 6:30 and headed down to the Temple Bar area for a drink and to get something to eat. I had a Harp beer (very good!) at Oliver St John pub which also had good Irish Music. We happened to sit next to another couple and, while chatting, discovered they live about two miles from where we live . . . or rather lived.

We skipped eating there and instead strolled through Temple Bar stopping occasionally to read the menus outside the restaurants. We finally stopped at Thunder road Caf� not because the menu was particularly appealing but we were famished by then. Julie opted for the Fish ‘n Chips while I went for the more authentic “Irish Hamburger”.

Afterwards I made reservations for the next day for round trip tickets to Cork and for Saturday one way tickets to Belfast. Then we got some more much needed sleep.

  • Pic Request by The Elder

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