Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall Break: Dublin

The third and final city on our trip was Dublin. We only had a couple days there, but they were great! We arrived early on Friday morning. We checked into the hostel, grabbed some breakfast, and then hopped on a tour bus. Since Dublin is so small (and I really had no idea that it was so small), instead of buying public transportation passes, we bought two day passes for a hop-on-hop-off bus tour that made the rounds past all the major sights. The bus tour came with an audio guide and sometimes the drivers would just play the pre-recorded commentary, and sometimes they would do their own commentary. THAT was thoroughly entertaining. The things I can tell you about the Irish are three: they like to drink, they have funny accents, and they have a great sense of humor.

For the first day, we rode the bus through the whole circuit once to see all of Dublin and when we finished that, we rode through a few stops we had already seen to get close to a Starbucks. Now remember, this is on November 2nd. Do you know what happened on November 2nd? Yup. The Red Christmas Starbucks cups came out! Yippee!!! So of course we had to go! I had my first sip of a peppermint mocha from a red holiday cup while listening to Christmas music and watching the streets of Dublin. Love it. It was extra enjoyable too because of how unbelievably cold it was in Dublin. Supposedly we caught them in the middle of a cold snap, as to whether or not that's really true, I don't know, but I know it was cold. I think we topped off at a "warm" 45 degrees (F) during our whole time in Dublin. (And in case you're wondering, Dublin is level with southern Newfoundland, Canada.) So basically it's cold. Really cold. Once we were thoroughly warmed, we made the rounds of going into the major sights that we had just skimmed over, like Dublin Castle, Christs' Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Next, we went to visit Kilmainham Gaol, an old Irish prison. With the darkness setting in and the cold atmosphere, it was actually quite an eerie experience. We then took the bus back to our hostel and grabbed dinner nearby.

Starbucks in the beloved red cup

Dublin Castle courtyard

Dublin Castle guardhouse

St. Patrick's Cathedral 

outside St. Patrick's Cathedral

Saturday morning we had a bike tour around Dublin. It showed us most of the stuff we had already seen, but it was still very entertaining to see it by bike. We had great helmets and reflector straps to wear. We totally looked the tourist part. Even though it was cold, it was worth the experience. Even just trying to stay on the "correct" (left) side of the road made the bike ride worth the frozen fingers. After the bike tour, it was only sensible to warm up with some Starbucks. Our next big stop for the day was the Guinness Storehouse. Yes. Guinness as in the beer. Everyone knows that the Irish are infamous for their drinking capabilities, but in case you didn't know, in Dublin alone they have a Guinness Beer factory and a Jameson Whisky factory. Plus, your fun Irish-drinking-fact-of-the-day: only 2/3rds of the beer produced by Guinness in Ireland ever actually leaves the country. Yup. They drink the rest of it. So the Guinness storehouse was actually a very interesting and well designed tour. It was hands down the most engaging, innovative, and well thought out museum I have ever been to. If it wasn't a beer factory and wasn't in Ireland, I would bring all of my future students there. The culmination of the tour was on the 7th floor of the museum was the "Gravity Bar" with a 360° panoramic view of Dublin. The Guinness museum was the last major thing of the day, so we headed back to the hostel and grabbed dinner at a pub before turning in.

designated graffiti area of Dublin

St. Patrick's

rocking that scha-weet bike tour attire

Guinness Gravity Bar

The last day of our fall break and our last day in Dublin was a fairly simple one. We got up, ate breakfast, then ran out to walk around and snag some souveneirs from O'Connell Street (the main drag) before departing for Rome. We walked all down O'Connell Street and across the river into Temple Bar (which is not actually a bar, but rather a part of town known for it's culture and lively nightlife) which was comically deserted on this Sunday morning. But what else would you expect? The Irish had been hard at work the night before trying to drink away that 1/3 of the locally produced beer. We left Dublin proper around noon and caught our flight to Rome that afternoon and were back in our apartment by 9.

Undoubtedly, it was a magnificent fall break. We certainly had some hiccups here and there but oh my what I wouldn't give to do it all again.

Update on life currently, the weekend has begun! Yippeeeee!!! Tonight, we went to dinner with some of Lindsey's friends who were in town. We took them to Carlo Menta for some good, authentically Italian food and then ended up leading them on an aimless wander from Campo di Fiori to Piazza Navona to Largo Argentina to Piazza Venezia to the Roman Forum and finally to the Colosseum which was all lit up for the night. It was really quite enjoyable. It was the first time I spent a night just walking around Rome and soaking it all in. I think we must have walked around for something like three hours. And I loved every second of it. Now I'm finishing up this post and I'm all packed to go to Florence tomorrow for the weekend!! Can not wait to put on my shopping shoes. Oh. And see DAVID. So excited. Just so excited.


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