Saturday, June 30, 2018

2018 Ireland Day One and Two: Dublin

Inroads Ireland: Tours Off the Beaten Track
June 16, 2018 to July 10, 2018

If you have an interest in a small group, small van trip around the coasts of Ireland, you can take our recommendation to go with:
Inroads Ireland
1700 Westlake Ave N, Ste 200
Seattle, WA 98109 USA
1-888-220-7711 (USA/Canada)
1-206-577-2017 (World/Skype)

Saturday, June 16, 2018 (Chicago)

For years I have been working Milwaukee's Irishfest and hearing from other co-workers, musicians and attendees about how great Ireland is.  To our surprise, Ireland had also risen to number one on both Denice and my bubble lists.  So at the 2017 Irishfest Denice and I signed with Inroads Ireland for a three-week, three-excursion tour of Ireland on its backroads.

On the first day of the trip we left our house in Milwaukee at 10:15 a.m. by cabbing to the Wisconsin Coach USA stop on 13th.  When we got there we found out the 11:10 a.m. bus we wanted was late but so was the 10:10 a.m. bus.  By getting on board the late earlier bus we got to O'Hare earlier rather than later.

Really, if you cannot follow that you are going to have a hard time staying with the group.

Our direct Aer Lingus flight from Chicago to Dublin left on time (3:50 p.m. CST) and arrived in Dublin on Sunday morning at 5:05 a.m. (Dublin time).  Along the way we read books, watched TV and movies, ate two meals and did a little sleeping.

Sunday, June 17, 2018 (Dublin)

Once we got through customs and picked up our luggage, we taxied to our hotel: The Clarence.  The Clarence is located in the Temple Bar region of Dublin and it is owned by two members of the Irish band U2: Bono and The Edge.

Right outside the Clarence is the River Liffey.  Like the Seine or Arno, this river bisects Dublin into Northern and Southern districts.  Unlike the Seine or Arno, the River Liffey is not an attractive view at the water level.  There are two significant bridges that are connected to the river, but more on that later.

Of course arriving at the hotel at 6:30 a.m. means "no room for you."  We checked our bags and headed out into Dublin proper.

Often when I am on vacation I go for solo walkabouts to see the lay of the land.  This trip Denice got to experience one of these first hand.

We left our hotel, and wandered all over central Dublin from about 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m.


Christ Church Cathedral

Samples of the famous Dublin Georgian doors

St. Augustine and St. John The Baptist Catholic Church

One of my goals in all big cities is to find the street art.  We were successful as you can tell but hit the jackpot at this building.

By 9:00 a.m. I had planned for us to be at Trinity College for the Authenticity Tours campus tour and Book of Kelli tour.  Tickets for this were $14 (all of the prices on this trip are in Euros).  The tours are student led and we had a young man studying geography, working towards a Masters at Cambridge and perfectly capable of being a stand up comedian in the dry Irish way of wit.  Also, he had to do the tour in the rain which did not turn out to be as miserable as it sounds as the rain was more an Irish irritating mist.  I might as well tell you now (more on this later)--this is the only time it rained on us the whole three weeks we were in Ireland).

Not sure why--but all my pictures of the Book of Kells were lost either in the camera or in the transfer to my files.  The good news is that is a well documented artifact so nobody needs my photos.  Considering the age and history of this book, it is amazing to me to be able to stand by it and view its content.

As we left Trinity and headed to our next destination, we can across a family of ducks also viewing the countryside.  

We then strolled Grafton Street to no avail as the shops are not our type and they were still all closed on Sunday morn.  To our great surprise, so was St. Stephen's Green.  What we were learning on our first day in Ireland is that no one there gets up before noon having expended all their energies drinking in the pubs the night before.

Oscar Wilde by Danny Osborne (1997), Merrion Square

By mid-day I was exhausted, sleep deprived and over medicated on cold medicine.  Lunch was at No. 27 Bar & Lounge, Shelbourne Hotel, which turn out to be a lot more sophisticated than the name sounds. 

After lunch we made it the Huguenot Cemetery which is rarely open so we viewed it through the gates.  We walked to Merrion Square because on Sundays, artists hang their works for sale on the railings surrounding the park. It is comforting to know that you can travel thousands of miles and discover that many people fit in a box and stay there.

Then it was back to St. Stephen's Green where I promptly fell asleep on the park bench we chose to watch the birds in the pond.  This is not typical for me and I blame it on everything but me.

Despite my drowsiness (and I little head-bobbin' would occur here), we went back to
St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a choral evensong performance. This turned out to be more of a mass than a performance but the voice were angelic and we even enjoyed the sermon on how we need to accept each other's difference rather than create reasons to hate.

Now we were finally able to return to our hotel and check into our rooms.  After unpacking, plugging in devices and a general clean up, we were out into Temple Bar to eat at the Larder, a Irish restaurant run by Russians.  Despite the culture shock, the food was great and we were happy. For dessert I ordered The Port which was supposed to be The Pot, a chocolate lava experience.  When the Russian brought the Port we kept it but split the Pot anyway.  That is the way we roll when we are on vacation.

Then it was back to the room and in bed by 9:00 p.m.

Monday, June 18, 2018 (Dublin)

This morning we woke at 7:00 a.m. without setting an alarm, meaning we both slept in for ten hours.  This should take care of the jet lag. At The Clarence, we get a free breakfast buffet which turns out to be pretty good.

From the O'Connell Bridge

Today we crossed the Liffey River via the O’Connell Bridge and headed into northern Dublin. 

The Clarence Hotel from the north side of the Liffey

With traffic flowing in the opposite direction from home, we appreciate these reminders.

No matter where in the world I go, I find Marilyn...and The King.

Our first stop was the General Post Office which is historic landmark in Ireland because this is the site of the 1916 Rebellion against England.  It did not turn out to well during those days but eventually spurred Ireland to become an independent nation from England.  This museum will prove to be one of the best we will see on the whole trip.

To our surprise, the Abbey was one of the hot beds of the revolution.

We decided to get tickets for the current production running at the Abbey, James Joyce's Ulysses

Even Denice cannot resist the siren song of junk

We then strolled on the northern pedestrian mall street of Henry, Moore and Mary before crossing back over the River Liffey on the Ha' Penny Bridge.

We then visited the National Gallery of Ireland and saw its The Taking of Christ, a painting by Caravaggio.

After refreshing ourselves in our room, we walked back across the Liffey to the north side to eat at The Church restaurant.  We both had lamb pie.

The Church Restaurant

This night we went to the Abbey Theatre for a production of James Joyce's Ulysses.  This is there theatre's description: "After a sell-out run, our bawdy, vibrant and tumultuous production of James Joyce's classic is back by popular demand. Bloom’s odyssey is a pandemonium of live music, puppets, dancing, clowning, bowler hats and kazoos. It’s Ulysses as you’ve never imagined it before, a superbly theatrical homage to Joyce’s chronicle of Dublin life and the greatest novel of all time. Created by Abbey Theatre Director Graham McLaren, our production is absurd, brilliant and oodles of fun."

For me, not so much.  Bawdy to the point of almost juvenile pandering, I found the show overly clownish and not to my liking.  Enough said about that.

When we walked back across the Liffey River at 10:15 to The Clarence, it was still light out.  These are the longest days of the year in Ireland and it is pretty cool.

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