Monday, 23 March 2015

On Monday, we started as usual at Starbucks, and walked to Kilkenneys, near Trinity College. We took the tour bus (tickets are good for two days!) to Dublin Castle and followed the self-guiding tour there.

Tower at Dublin Castle

Tower at Dublin Castle

Checking that the mirrors work

Checking that the mirrors work

A throne room

A throne room

A round room

A round room

The Chandelier in the round room

The Chandelier in the round room

We walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and looked around.

St. Patrick Stone

St. Patrick Stone

Seal outside St. Patrick's Cathedral

Seal outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral

Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Then, we hopped on the bus to the Jameson Distillery.

Outside the Old Jameson Distillery

Outside the Old Jameson Distillery

We were a little early for our 2:00 tour, so we had lunch at Christophe’s Cafe. I had a beef stew and an Irish coffee. Both were tasty.

We followed the Jameson tour and had a comparative whiskey tasting. The tour was interesting and fun. It was enlightening to taste the difference between Scotch, Irish, and American whiskies. We took the bus back to the hotel.

We walked to Merrion Square and then to the National Gallery, but it was about to close.

A Path in Merrion Square

A Path in Merrion Square

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

For the Android fans

For the Android fans

We then walked to St. Stephen’s Green, and to a nearby mall.

Building and street near St. Stephen's Green

Building and street near St. Stephen’s Green

Path at St. Stephen's Green

Path at St. Stephen’s Green

St. Stephen's Green

St. Stephen’s Green

Arch at St. Stephen's Green

Arch at St. Stephen’s Green

Then, we found ourselves at Wagamama for dinner. After Pad Thai and Gyoza, we walked to Neary’s for a pint of Guinness.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Morning

Sunday morning we got up at about 7, and went to Starbucks. We walked down O’Connell Street to Trinity College — down Pearse Street and around until we found an open gate near Lincoln Place. We walked around the sports field and to the area near the Book of Kells.
Sunday Walk to Trinity College

Sunday Walk to Trinity College

It wasn’t open yet, so we walked to another Starbucks in the Grafton Street area to wait until it was open. Then, we went back for the 12:00 tour.

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells exhibit is interesting, with a lot of interpretive signs and displays. The actual book is under heavy glass in the back, and we were only able to see a little bit of it. And photography was prohibeted. A little disappointing, but, then, so was the Mona Lisa in person. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see it, though. The Book of Kells tour ends in the Long Room of the old library, which was really cool. I want one.
Books!

Books!

The Long Room at Trinity College

The Long Room at Trinity College

Me in the Long Room at Trinity College

Me in the Long Room at Trinity College

After the Book of Kells, we walked to have lunch at Meat & Meet. We walked back up O’Connell Street and bought tickets for the Hop-on-hop-off bus (the green one). We took the bus around the Trinity College area, through Temple Bar, and near Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Then, we got off at the Guinness Storehouse.

The Guinness Storehouse

The Storehouse was pretty interesting — a survey of the beer making process and some of the old Guinness marketing campaigns.
At the Guinness Storehouse

At the Guinness Storehouse

We went to the Tasting Experience, where there are four dry ice plumes scented with the elements of Guinness — Hops, Beer Esters, Malt, etc. We had a tiny glass of Guinness to taste.
A Tiny Glass of Guinness

A Tiny Glass of Guinness

We skipped a few of the exhibit floors and went to Gravity at the top of the tower for our full pints of Guinness and for a pretty epic view of the city.
A Full-Size Glass of Guinness with Irish Flair

A Full-Size Glass of Guinness with Irish Flair

A Pretty Epic View of Dublin from Gravity

A Pretty Epic View of Dublin from Gravity

The Evening

After that, we took the tour bus back around the rest of its loop through Phoenix Park and back to O’Connell Street. The sun was setting. It was cold.
Chilly, despite the sun.

Chilly, despite the sun.

We walked to the Temple Bar area, and stopped in at Boxty for, well, Boxty. We had Gaelic Boxty, which is medallions of beef in mushroom gravy in a potato pancake. And it was very good.


Getting There (20-21 March 2015)

The Trip

My friend Mike and I decided to travel to Ireland for a week, and our adventure started early in the morning, as many interesting adventures do. We left Santa Barbara via train for Burbank, and then flew from Burbank to SFO. From SFO, we flew to Dublin.
Me in front of the Santa Barbara Amtrak station

Me in front of the Santa Barbara Amtrak station

Ready to take off

Ready to take off

The Arrival

We arrived in Dublin and set about finding out where to pick up our Dublin Pass, which Mike had pre-ordered. After a few trips around the arrival area, and questions asked of counter attendants that weren’t quite sure what we were talking about, we figured out that we had to pick up the Pass at the Tourism Information booth, which was located down a walkway, behind a bar. Tricky for tired travelers, but in retrospect, it makes sense.
We walked down to the Bus depot, and instead of using the AirLink bus that was included free with the Dublin Pass, we opted to take a bus that would take us closer to the Hotel we were staying at. €6 later, we were on our way.

The Protest

As we neared O’Connell street, the road was blocked by a protest about Water Rates — and so the bus let us off. We walked the rest of the way to the hotel. Mike reminds me to note that I was rather grumpy about this. I feel I had a good reason to be. I was tired, and I don’t like rolling luggage across brick walkways.
We got to the hotel, the Best Western Academy Plaza, and I was finally able to take a shower. The hotel had free WiFi. The window was surprisingly soundproof, and very effective at blocking the noise of the protest. I became less grumpy.

The Exploring

We took a few hours for a nap to catch up and set off down O’Connell Street to explore the area around Trinity College.
Saturday's Exploration

Saturday’s Exploration

Grafton Street is a pedestrian zone for shopping, and while Mike felt it was a bit Disneyland, I appreciated the pedestrian-ness of it.
Me standing on Grafton Street.

Me standing on Grafton Street.

The SIM Card

I stopped into a Meteor Mobile store to pick up a pre-paid SIM card for my iPhone — I opted for the €30 7.5GB data / Unlimited Voice plan, since I pretty much can’t exist without mobile data, and I want to be able to phone hotels or other places while here if need be. As it turns out, iMessage uses an SMS message to activate, so after messing around with my phone and wondering why I kept getting texts that said I was out of credit, I went back to the Meteor store and the sales guy added €0.40 to my account, to accommodate that one text message that I needed to receive. iMessage worked after that. Yay.

The Eating

We walked around Grafton Street and the surrounding blocks, and looked for a place to eat. We wanted to go to a pub but they were all standing-room-only due to sports watchers. We went to Pasta Fresca and had Italian instead. We walked back up O’Connell Street and stopped in at Gino’s for a crepe.
Most of a crepe

Most of a crepe

And then, back to the hotel.