day seven - One jam-packed day in the friendliest, coolest, most fun and amazing city of Dublin!
Dublin Travel Blog› entry 9 of 11 › view all entries
I woke with a start in my top bunk at Barnacles hostel, a little disoriented and totally oblivious to the time. From what I could see, it was still early as all the beds around me were still filled. There were 9 others in the room with me. I forgot to set my traveler's clock and my mobile phone's battery was nearly dead so I waited in my bunk a bit, unsure if I should get up. It was definitely light out, but not a whole lot. I waited for someone else to stir first before climbing (trying not to topple) out of the top creaky but comfy bunk and heading to the ensuite bathroom for a shower. As I was climbing out of bed, I pulled out my earplugs and realized just how noisy the room was with all the snoring! I didn't hear any of it. It's a GOOD thing I brought those along.
The shower was hot and the water pressure perfect. Thank goodness for that. I came out feeling refreshed and ready for a full day. After changing and getting my purse together, I quietly headed out of the dorm room to check my email in the common room and hopefully find the time. 7:15am. Not too bad. Early start to a busy busy day. I also had to check TravBuddy for any messages from Owen. My phone wasn't working in Ireland (dying battery and I only got a UK sim card) so TravBuddy was one of the only means of communicating with my new Irish friend. Sure enough, there was a message waiting for me to meet him at the entrance to the Stephens Green Shopping Centre at the top of Grafton Street at 12:30. Cool. I had plenty of time to walk around and see a bunch of things beforehand.
I headed out, stepping onto the quiet Temple Lane street as the sun was rising on a beautiful day of clear blue sky. Temple Bar was quiet at that time in the morning but the streets beyond were busy with people running off to work and school. It was too early to visit any of the attractions so I walked around the streets, trying to orient myself and find all the sights as they were reportedly all within walking distance. I headed along Dame Street looking for Christchurch Cathedral and marveled as I rounded the corner and saw it towering before me. It was only a 5-10 minute walk from Temple Bar. Very impressive from the outside, I'd have to wait till later to have a look at the inside. Making a mental note of its location, I turned back and headed in the opposite direction, looking for Trinity College.
The college grounds itself was pretty quiet at this time of the day. Students were probably already in their classes and many of the people strolling through the courtyard were tourists. I made my way to the Library building to have a look at the Book of Kells exhibit. Unfortunately, we weren't able to take photos so I had to buy a few postcards afterwards. The exhibit itself was very interesting. I loved looking at the brightly-coloured panels featuring many of the detailed pages of the Book, as well as reading about the history of the Book and the manner in which it was created, from the pages and binding, to the ink used, knotwork and imagery.
After walking around the college grounds for a bit, I headed up Grafton Street in search of the Shopping Centre I'd be meeting Owen at later on. It was just starting to get busy with people shopping along the long street. I located the interesting-looking centre and then went off in search of the National Archaeology Museum of Ireland. I saw it featured on one of Rudy Maxa's Smart Travels shows and was interested in having a look at the Celtic artifacts myself.
The Museum was free to visit and I went in for about an hour, wandering the rooms and looking at the beautiful gold torcs, cloak fasteners, weapons and household items from the Mesolithic period up to late Medieval-Ireland. There were two special exhibits that I had a chance to see. The first was "Kingship and Sacrifice" that featured Iron Age mummified bodies and other artifacts found in bogs that seemed to be part of ancient sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age. Looking at those bodies...quite eerie and haunting. I am familiar with the 'hieros gamos', sacred marriage of kings to the land, and the implications of being sovereign of the land so this exhibit was quite fascinating for me. The other exhibit was "Life and Death in the Roman World" featuring a variety of Roman and Etruscan objects and architectural fragments.
Next stop, Stephens Green Shopping centre to meet up with Owen. I was early so I wandered around the shops for a little while before heading to the entrance to meet him. It was nice to see him again. We decided to head to Wagamama for lunch. I went once before in London and really liked the Asian food. Apparently, it's one of Owen's favorite restaurants as well. We settled in and ordered. I decided to try the curry chicken dish he recommended and ended up really liking it. Delicious! We talked a lot over lunch about life, travels, and what-not. He really is a fascinating person with amazing stories and a great sense of humor. I definitely vouch for him.
We walked along Grafton Street afterwards and down to O'Connell Bridge where he pointed out the Spike across the river.
When he left, I walked down Dame Street with the intention of visiting Christchurch Cathedral. Lovely place. Nice architecture and plenty of stained glass windows to look at. There was even access to the crypt where I saw a bunch of memorials and an exhibit of the Cathedral's treasures. I thought about looking for St. Patrick's Cathedral afterwards but decided against it, opting to visit the Guinness Storehouse instead. Of course!
The walk seemed long from Christchurch but only because my feet were starting to ache.
I found an internet café afterwards to log in to MSN and update my family and friends on my trip so far. I stayed for about an hour and then headed back to Temple Bar and the hostel to rest my feet and get my bags in order for an early morning and flight to Bristol. A 9:30 flight would mean I would need to check out before 7am. I'd have to be up at 6. Oi! Going out would make for an interesting morning.
I headed out to dinner around 7, deciding to try the Quays Pub Restaurant on the top floor. Apparently, it was quite a popular place as the restaurant and pub below were already packed and there was a waiting list to get in to the restaurant. I was in no rush and put my name in, table for one, and ended up waiting about 20 minutes before they called my table for one out and seated me in a nice corner of the floor with a nice view overlooking Temple Bar street. By then, I was starving and had already decided on my meal as I was waiting. I ordered a pint of Guinness to start while I waited for a bowl of the chunkiest, most delicious seafood chowder I have ever tasted and the juiciest, most tender lamb shank I've ever tried. What a meal! I took my time eating, savouring the meat and potatoes ad the pint of course.
I visited some shops afterwards, buying some souvenirs and all that jazz as it was my last night in Dublin. I stood with the crowds of people watching inebriated people try to ride a bicycle past a certain line without them realizing the bike had been rigged. It was quite amusing for awhile. I did meet Owen and we went back to the Quays Pub which was PACKED with people listening to the traditional Irish music. I LOVE the music! Next time I want to find a place where the musicians also play the bodhrans. There will be much dancing. We chatted, joked, and listened to the music till closing time and went to a club afterwards for some QUALITY people watching. What a riot. :)
He was nice enough to offer to take me to the airport in the morning which helped me out a great deal and I ended up checking out of the hostel that night at around 3am while he went on a hunt for kebabs and chips. We headed back to his place and ate while watching a Ricky Gervais comedy show (too funny!) and I crashed in his guest room for a few hours before having to wake up and head to the airport.
One actual day in Dublin and I think I did quite well. Everyone is so incredibly friendly! There's no doubt that I will one day return and there are definite plans to tour around Ireland. So many interesting places to visit! Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Wicklow mountains, Newgrange, Hill of Tara, Hill of Slane, Kildare, Killarney,... But for now, I am very happy I had this chance to visit (even if only for a day) and it's definitely another place I'll think of settling.