#KristinaTakesEurope: Dublin

Day 1:

*I’m not counting my travel day in this, since I arrived at around 9 pm.*

So first things first: I should have budgeted an extra day in Dublin so I could sleep 12 hours a night – the guest bed is AMAZING! Definitely hit the snooze button every morning.

After breakfast and chatting with the boys, I headed off to the bus stop to catch the Cityscape Hop-On Hop-Off bus. I’ve never actually done one of those, and frankly, I have mixed feelings about them still. It’s a lot of time spent on a bus getting a very fast overview of what you’re driving past. I will say that on a trip where one has several days to explore, those buses are a good way to spend the first day to take note of what you want to go and revisit.

So the bus took us past Donnybrook and the Georgian and Victorian homes of Dublin, to St. Stephen’s Green, where I got off to do some walking around. The park is lovely, with the leaves beginning to fall and geese and swans swimming quietly, it’s the perfect place to sit and read or grab an outdoor lunch. I could definitely live here. I then walked around Grafton Street, College Green and Trinity College, back around to St. Stephens Green to catch the bus again.

My next stop was the Guinness Storehouse, where I did the whole tour, became a certified pourer and enjoyed the awesome gravity bar overlooking the city. I know everyone ever has recommended that tour, but really, it’s very cool and completely worth it. I didn’t realize it, but you could really credit Arthur Guinness for being the founder of modern day Dublin!

Once back on the bus, I rode through back to the stop by the house, to get ready for dinner. I rode through several stops and learned about Dublin’s – and Ireland’s – history. Super informative and an interesting way to learn, when you have someone explaining as you’re physically driving past everything.

We went to dinner at a cute restaurant that someone had recommended, The Old Spot, about a ten minute walk from the house. A few gin and tonics, wine and a great meal later, we were sated and ready to go home.

Day 2:

Friday morning started with another family breakfast, figuring out our plans for the day. I took the DART to Pearse Station, and walked towards Trinity College to visit the Book of Kells. For those who don’t know, the Book of Kells is a manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament written around 800 AD. The book itself used to be property of the Irish Church, but is now on display at the Trinity College Library in Dublin. They have a sort of mini-museum there dedicated to the book, it’s history, the language used, the way it was written, and basically every other detail about it. Though it was a ton of information to absorb at once, and there is no photography allowed in the gallery, I still learned a lot and really enjoyed it. The history, preservation and creative details were incredible! I’d have to say my favorite part of the exhibit, though, was walking into the Trinity College Library’s ‘Long Room’ at the end. *cue Hilary Duff’s ‘This is What Dreams Are Made Of.’* As soon as I walked in, I wanted to find a way to bottle up that smell! This room has over 200,000 of the oldest of Trinity College Library’s 6 million manuscripts. Busts of poets, philosophers, novelists, doctors, and other brilliant minds are in between each section of books. I could have sat there all day!

I’d worked up hunger for lunch at that point, so I popped into The Bank on College Green for fish and chips. The food was good, the service was ok but THE BUILDING. Apparently it was a bank up until 2003, when it was converted to a restaurant. During the renovations, they found this beautiful mosaic tile pattern laid under the bank’s carpet and ended up keeping it. They also kept several vault doors in the basement level and the amazingly detailed ceiling. I sat there looking around in awe; I love hidden gems like that.

With a renewed sense of energy, I walked towards Dublin Castle and into the first courtyard. I didn’t quite have time for the tour, so I took some photos (despite annoying construction) and headed onwards to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The walk to the cathedral was lovely, lined with the old houses made into apartments with pretty red doors. The cathedral has a garden / park next to it, which would be a really nice place to sit and read on a weekend day. Walking into the cathedral was a bit odd, actually. I’ve been to several throughout Europe and the US, and I think this may be the darkest one I’ve ever seen. It was almost entirely dedicated to war veterans as well, with plaques and things all over the walls, which made it feel like a museum more than a place of worship. It was definitely beautiful in its own, very Irish, way. I did the self-guided tour, took some time for prayer, and headed towards home.

Friday evening Mau, Gareth and I went to the Bord Gais Theatre to see Rocky Horror Picture Show. I had never seen the movie or the live show, only random clips online, so I only had a small idea of what we were getting ourselves into. I LOVED IT! Sure, it’s a weird show. If you can’t enjoy crude sexual humor, don’t go. But it was so fun to see so many people dressed up and hear so many people shouting the audience participation lines throughout. It really is a cult classic!

After the show, we went to a fun bar called the Front Lounge for some drinks. It was a really fun night! We danced to 80s and 90s pop and really let loose. What was kind of unfortunate was walking through Temple Bar seeing all the drunk tourists and girls sitting on stoops or against walls vomiting. Yikes! Glad we didn’t go out in that area.

Day 3:

Saturday was a bit of a slow start, but that just goes to show how fun Saturday night was!

We drove out to the countryside, toward Wicklow Mountains National Park to see the cemetery and ruins of a cathedral. It was beautiful. The weather was chilly but it felt like a fall day in the Smokies, so I actually kind of felt at home there. We meandered through the grounds, grabbed a drink and got in the car again. We then headed to Powerscourt Estate to grab a late lunch and enjoy the views of the garden. It was beautiful and calm out there and I will definitely visit again!

The house actually closed so we headed back to the city to lounge around and get our official dose of fish and chips. They were delicious!

Overall, my Dublin experience was amazing and I think my next trip abroad will be a road trip of Ireland. Gareth and Mau were wonderful hosts and I can’t thank them enough for having me and giving me a wonderful weekend!

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