We hadn't booked rooms with breakfast at the hotel, but we'd spotted a nice place just around the corner yesterday, so we decided to start the day at this place. ‘Munchies’ had a great choice of foods and I settled for a toasted bagel and chocolate muffin to get the necessary sugars for another day of walking. This morning the weather was drizzly, but nothing extremely uncomfortable. As a matter of fact the sun would be out again in the afternoon and Dublin would be cozily warm again.
Our first planned sight was DublinCastle, but since we had to wait for the next guided tour we first had a cup of coffee at the Queens of Tarts café across the road.
Dublin castle is actually more of a palace; only one tower remains of the original fortress from the 13th century. The Vikings had built the earliest version of the castle and remains of their work were discovered during excavations in 1986. We visited this old section at the end of the tour and saw the fundaments of the old PowderTower, the stairs leading down to the original moat and part of the subterranean River Poodle that runs under Dublin.
The rest of the tour was basically a walk through the palace rooms that are still used by the Irish government after it was taking over from the British in 1922 after 7 centuries of their reign.
Facial protection at Dublin Castle.
Darrin, the tour guide, seemed to aim for a new world record of squeezing as many trivial details in 45 minutes; the number of facts about the rooms and furniture was a bit overwhelming to say the least. There were some impressive rooms though that gave a glimpse of life in the Victorian age. I especially liked the decorated plate that enabled the ladies to sit near the fireplace while keeping the wax (which paled their faces according to the fashion of that age) from. Most of the rest of the tour was 'okayish' but a bit underwhelming. Probably because it was a bit dry and devoid of humor.
Passing the Upper Yard of the castle, with its Figure of Justice in the grass, we made our way to the Chester Beatty Library 'next door'. This place had been awarded with both the ‘best museum in Ireland’ and ‘Europe’ titles in recent years. New York mining magnate Alfred Chester Beatty had gathered a stunning collection of old books, scrolls and paintings from all over the world, all on display in this building.
The first floor focused on the art of creating books and their covers with exquisite examples of leather bindings and calligraphy. You'll have to see it to believe it, really. The second floor focused on religious texts and arts from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and (most interesting for me) Asian traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Deciding that this was as much culture as we could take for a day (or at least until the end of the afternoon) we headed for the Duke Pub to get tickets for this evening's Literary Pub Crawl. Unfortunately tickets were only sold at 7 in the evening, so in order not to have wasted any time we grabbed a pint at this place. And without too much effort from the waitress we were convinced to have another one. ;-)
We walked through the MerrionSquarePark back to the hotel, in a rather good mood now we had downed our first beers and the sun was out again.
After freshening up we got back into town for food and the pub crawl. We made our way back along the Liffey, the river that runs straight through Dublin and is one of the best sources of orientation. Taking a couple of turns we finally arrived at Lemon, a pancake restaurant close to the Duke Pub. An excellent place it turned out to be; in expensive Dublin it's hard to get a drink and fulfilling meal at 10 Euro per head, but Lemon is certainly one of them with excellent 'crepes' with countless varieties of fillings.
Waiting at The Duke for the Literary Pub Crawl to begin, we got our first pint for the evening. By this time I'd become totally hooked on Guinness, delighted at the creamy taste of the black stuff.Some 50 people were ushered into a small room for the start of the tour, which featured three guys. Two of them would perform pieces of poetry, scenes from stage plays (like ‘Waiting for Godot’) and give us loads of details about the lives of Dublin's writers.
Darrin at the Viking's foundations of Dublin Castle.
A third guy would sing excellent Irish folk songs accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. At the nine Euro we paid with the DublinPass, this in itself was already top-notch entertainment and something dear Darrin of the DublinCastle could learn a thing or two from. The way the whole thing was presented was so spiced up with humor and fun that I can strongly recommend this to anybody who visits Dublin.
This being a pub crawl there were several pubs to be visited as well.
Where do we go from here ?
Starting at The Duke we passed through Trinity College and visited 3 more pubs, where we grabbed half a pint or full pint (depending on the time we had) to balance out all of the literary knowledge we'd gathered along the way. The tour also featured a quiz based on the topics discussed along the way and of course the 'Inferior Zulu's' wouldn't be the ' Inferior Zulu's' if we wouldn't win a pub-related quiz. So we actually did! BJ had shouted out all answers we'd gathered to the quiz questions and won the pub crawl T-shirt. Luckily for me it wasn't quite his size!
After 2,5 hours of pure fun (and gaining some literary knowledge about blokes like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats and more, and with new appreciation of Dublin's writers and their sense of humor) we continued grabbing more pints in Duke Street until the pubs closed three hours later. All of this got up to the point where the humor got more and more dry, while our beer coasters got more and more wet. After downing our last pint we decided to walk back to the hotel, checking if we passed some decent food along the way.
Upper Yard, Dublin Castle.
Nothing suited our appetite but when we got to the hotel and ordered the last pint of the evening the barmen suggested we'd order a Chicken Panini with our beers. What a splendid idea (we hadn’t seen the price of the damn things at the time)! So flicking through the TV channels, sipping our beers and chewing on our Panini’s we finished the second day at Dublin at .
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