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Dublin….1st Stop On My Big Adventure

Author: Toni K N
Date of Trip: November 2008

I had the most incredible time!

Everything went great from the time Kent and John picked me up to take me to the airport. Great flights, fabulous new plane on Delta, great food (so great I way overate) and good company on the flight. We even arrived early in Dublin.

My first day, Saturday, I checked in to my hotel and it is adorable with a fantastic location. I unpacked and walked over to Temple Bar area and happened upon a Farmers Market with wonderful food that’s only there on Saturdays. Down the road a bit there was a craft and art show.

As I walked down to Christ Church Cathedral all 21 bells were tolling. Talking to a priest outside the church I found out that there was a Memorial service for a very important person taking place and the church was full of dignitaries from all over. The service was being performed by the equivalent of the Pope for the Christ Church of Ireland. The priest suggested I come back around 3 o’clock so I could tour the church and the crypt. He suggested I walk down to St. Patrick’s and check it out meanwhile. When I got there I could not go in , they were closed because of a graduation ceremony taking place.

On to Guinness Storehouse for a tour. Wow……I am really getting my exercise…I must have walked at least 15 miles and it’s all good! The tour at Guinness was so interesting, even though I don’t drink beer I now know exactly how it’s made . The history of Guinness and Ireland….really cool……not to be missed.

I walked back to Christchurch and did the tour…neat church with interesting items in the crypt. Went from there to a cute Italian restaurant for a lovely dinner seated at a window table overlooking Dame Street. Interesting people watching and good food…….a winning combination!

I got back to the hotel about 9 and was going to drop my stuff in the room , go down to the bar to listen to the band and dance . When I got to my room I realized I was right over the bar and it was really loud. When I went to the desk she did not even hesitate….gave me a key to 426 and told me to check it out. Much better…very quiet….smaller room but better view and more nicely updated. Moved everything over and went downstairs. I started dancing as soon as I got there and did not stop until I left around 12.

Boy….did I sleep well! Sunday I went to Dublin Castle and The Chester Beatty Library. Great tour guides and cool stories. Chester Beatty was an amazing philanthropist and donated all his amazing collections to Ireland. Really interesting exhibits of Asian art, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucian . I had a late lunch at The Silk Cafe and walked up to Henry St. Sunday night I went down to the nightclub at the hotel and saw the Irish Dancers Show. They were terrific, it reminded me of River Dance . Their feet were moving so fast ! I then went up to the bar to catch their second show and I was immediately hit on by a group of Irish Lads….it’s good to know the old girl still has it!

Monday , I can’t believe how much walking I did….I think I did a complete loop around Dublin. I walked down to Trinity College first and found out that the Book of Kell’s was closed on Monday…as were the National Museums I was planning to visit. Oh well, tomorrow will work just as well. So I went to the City Hall Exhibit, very interesting, then on to Saint Patrick’s. This Saint Patrick’s cannot compare with the St .Patrick Cathedral in NY.

A fella in St. Patrick’s gave me directions to Kilahmen Goal (jail) and said it was about a 25 minute walk. Oh yeah……right…….turned out to be an hour and 25 minutes . The good thing is I walked off the scones I ate. Boy was this an interesting place….you can’t believe the old jail and the newer east wing, from the Irish civil war and famines, was a big improvement. The east wing has been used in movies , one with Daniel day Lewis , and they use it as a venue for plays and concerts because the acoustics are wonderful. Strange thing to say about a jail!

When I left there I walked up and took the trolley, called the Luas I think , to the city center and went to a huge Cinema Complex and saw a very good movie….Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni and Greg Kennier. See it if you can, I think you’ll like it.

Today I went back to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kell’s. Wow! How fabulous ! When you see it and read how labor intensive it was to create and see the fabulous calligraphy , the scribes and the amazing artistry on every page , you realize it was truly the hand of God guiding every stroke. I was blown away reading how they came up with the colors they created to paint with. They used crushed lapis for the blue and they derived the red from withdrawing the blood of a pregnant insect. Can you imagine that !

When exiting the exhibit you go through the Long Room Library of Trinity College. Fantastic…high curved ceilings and walls and walls of old first additions with gorgeous wood sliding ladders.

Wed. addition: I did the Dublin City bus tour today and it was interesting to see how much ground I actually covered on foot. I cannot even begin to calculate how many miles I’ve actually walked. Since there is no scale for me to get on I’ll have to judge weight loss by how loose my clothes get. 🙂

I am soooooo blessed that I am doing this. This is only the beginning and I’m learning so much! Life is good!!! I can only wish you live your life with passion……..I know I truly am !

I can’t believe it’s only 1 week since I started this 4 month journey. There are only 2 days left in Dublin and then it’s on to Venice to start the cruise of Greek Islands, Croatia and Dubrovnik.

The last couple of days have been packed with wonderful adventures, new friends, great stories shared with me and an eye opening awakening of how America is perceived in this part of the world. It’s all good and the interest and coverage of American politics is just astounding to me. The headlines and the papers here are full of Obama and a renewed energy for the US. This is such a different attitude from 3 years ago when I traveled through Australia and every comment was negative when people spoke about our politics and policies. I’m loving this view of our country and the hope for our future.

Yesterday I took 2 different city tours, the red bus with pre-recorded commentary and the yellow bus with a live tour guide. I much prefer the yellow bus and even though we basically covered the same ground the stories and added personal tidbits added another dimension to the city. The guide pointed out the penthouse and the Hotel that Bono owns. I think it’s called the Clarandon, I’m not sure of the name. It is almost directly across the Liffey from my hotel, The Arlington.

After the tour guide commented on the Shelbourne Hotel facing Saint Stephens Green and the fact that Kennedy had stayed there as well as Bill Clinton, I stopped by. I was given a tour of the rooms and I must say the Heritage Suites overlooking the park are wonderful. High ceilings with beautiful moldings, very spacious rooms with sumptuous baths and goodies plus use of the Heritage concierge. Lovely would be putting it too mildly and not too badly priced to boot. They just did a multi million dollar renovation a few years ago and it is top notch.

Around the corner I visited Dawson’s Lounge, the smallest pub in Dublin, it can hold 20 people standing up or 10 seated. It was built by the man who built The Mansion house across the street which is where the Mayor of Dublin lives. Both are on….what else…..Dawson Street.

wicklow mountains hotel irelandToday I went on a tour out of the city to The Wicklow Mountains. 686 meters above sea level. The trip out was so interesting and we passed through many of the surrounding neighborhoods of Dublin. Embassy row is full of fabulous houses and beautiful tree lined streets with 300 year old Oak trees. Properties selling for $25-35 million.

We passed through an area where Microsoft, Dell and Hewlett Packard have built huge facilities employing thousands. One of the driving forces bringing them here is the amazing tax situation. They only have to pay 4% tax and if they had located in Northern Ireland they would have had to pay substantially more in taxes, I think he said in the 30% range. I would say this is a major incentive for them to locate their business here!

Driving through the Wicklow Mountains we passed where Mel Harris filmed Braveheart. We stopped at a site overlooking a gorgeous lake and mountains where there is one lone magnificent home owned by Gareth Brown. When Paul McCartney stayed there he wrote “Yesterday”. Most recently Michael Jackson tried to purchase this amazing property and was told it was not for sale and never would be. The lake it is on is called Loch Tay which means Gracious Lake.

We continued through the mountains and stopped at Glendalough and walked through the monasteries where we learned that the Vikings used to intermittently pillage the monasteries. You might ask what would they gain from pillaging monasteries. Well … those times all the riches were kept in the monasteries.

Our tour guide and bus driver, John, was a wealth of information. He had great stories, played wonderful music and even sang for us. I would strongly recommend using him if you visit Dublin!. I met wonderful people from Romania, Melbourne Australia , and I shared a seat (first row of course) with a girl from Catalan Spain who is also traveling alone. She is a 38 year old park ranger and we had a great time together over lunch. Her name is Marcelle and we were having a great time with languages. She even taught me a few words to use when I am in Prague since she was just there.

I purchased an all day ticket for the Dart, the train, for tomorrow and I plan to hop on and off at some wonderful scenic coastal areas surrounding Dublin for my last full day here.

My last day in Dublin turned out to be a real experience ! I took the Dart out to Don Leerie (phonetic spelling) which is a quaint seaside town and had an enjoyable time . I got back on the Dart and continued out to Bray…the scenic view was wonderful…seaside and golf courses all the way. When I got off the train I realized I had lost one of my possum fur gloves . It was a real bummer since I got them in New Zealand and they kept my hands really warm. The weather had changed, it turned really gray and rainy with lots of wind so I decided to go retrace my steps in Don Leerie and see if I could find the glove. I was sure it must have been in the last place I was at. Wrong !! Not there.

Oh well, back to the Dart and continue on to Howet, a little seaside fishing village for dinner and a walk around. Once again……..not happening. While I waited for the train the weather got really stormy and the lovely lady I was talking to advised me against going there in this weather. So….back to Dublin City center for my last hurrah! Sunday I shared a cab with a charming woman from Perth Australia to the airport and checked in for my flight to Venice. Thank’s to Lori’s brilliant suggestion to pack a second suitcase within my big suitcase I was able to check in 2 bags and not pay any overweight. Much more economical to pay to check 2 bags! Great flight, I like Aer Lingus and this proved to be my 1st flight on this airline but definitely not my last.

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