July 18, 2012 Day 1: A full day of Dublin sightseeing at Trinity College, National Gallery, Random Socialist Protest, National Wax Museum, and Temple Bar.
From the window if the 737, I could already see the deep vivid green of Ireland. I was in for a treat of clean and fresh Irish air!
Arriving in Dublin, I purchased and popped in a prepaid sim then called Tammy, my friend who has so kindly offered to let me stay with her and her boyfriend Patrick. She will also unwittingly be my tour guide! 🙂
I jumped on a bus and met her at the station downtown Dublin. Looking out the window of the bus I thought I was on a Hollywood movie set of a street with stereotypically Irish named houses “Donnybrook Pub”, “O’Leary’s Store”, etc.
We met at the bus station and then dropped off my bags at their nice apartment. We went for lunch a nearby café serving wonderful sandwiches and soups! Then we took a stroll towards Trinity College. Unfortunately we got caught in a sudden warm thunderstorm, but it only lasted 10 minutes or so then cleared up as quickly as it came. That’s Irish weather for you. We also came across advertising on almost every bus we passed for Patrick’s granola company aptly named PaddyO’s Granola. Try it out, its amazing!
You can understand why this is Ireland’s oldest university, founded in 1592, when you see the ancient buildings. As the school was out for the summer, the main people strolling through the campus were tourists like me. We then lined up to get into the Library of Trinity College primarily to see the Book of Kells.
The Book of Kells was impressive because of the colorful detail and how preserved it was given it was created circa 800 AD. The book contains the four Gospels of the New Testament (what survived over the years) written in Latin on vellum (calfskin pages). There were two of the four books on display under a glass counter that everyone crowded around and awed at.
Then we walked upstairs into the vaulted ceiling library, holding 4.5 – 5 million volumes. There were two levels of bookshelves with the ladders to reach the hard to get books. There was a collection of marble busts of famous people in awkward expressions and positions, lining the library hallway.
Oh wait, did you already sculpt my statue? I was tying my shoe!
Next we walked to the National Gallery through St. Stephen’s Green, a public park where we saw a man dancing with dog-sized swans.
The National Gallery of Ireland
The gallery was smaller than I expected with a wing open for Irish painters and another to “masterpieces” which included works from Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and their most famous possession a Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ, which was found nearby in a Jesuits home according to the museum curator.
We happened upon a Anti-Capitalist protest marching through the street, so why not join in on the fun?! Traffic was blocked by police motorcycles for the protest and even an ambulance was held back for about the 30+ people protesting… really? After marching a block with them we continued on our tour.
National Wax Museum
We happened to walk by the National Wax Museum so we stopped in for a look. It was a Madame Tussauds like collection with a section on famous Irish people, monster scenes, children characters (TMNT FTW) and the grand finale, a bunch of random celebrity figures. The monster section included a pretty gruesome Silence of the Lambs exhibit. I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you went with children or you really wanted to kill some time.
Nightlife in Temple Bar
We then ended up in Temple Bar area for drinks and dinner. First stop was the Palace Bar where we pulled up a seat and sipped on the best Guinness I’ve had so far. Tammy’s boyfriend, Patrick joined in on the celebrations. Sitting in the back room looking at the pictures hanging on the wall, you were taken back to a time when Irish journalists and writers huddled around to exchange the latest news. Today, there were still groups of Irishmen sitting around having a chat over a Guinness and I noticed that none of them had their faces planted in a smartphone. I was in the REAL Ireland.
After drinks, we went to dinner at Pichet, an amazing French restaurant with the most tender lamb that I’ve had in a long time. The food, atmosphere and service were all top notch!
The last stop of the night was at Keogh’s a fun multistoried pub with traditional rooms and decorations. Unfortunately my jetlag was getting the best of me and I was becoming delirious with my last Guinness. I think I dozed off a few times while standing trying to hold a conversation with my friends. So we called it a night and headed back.
The sightseeing continues tomorrow!