Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ireland: Day 2

Prepare to be overwhelmed with pictures! I did quite a lot on my second day in Dublin! Also it took long enough to write this, I'm now too lazy to edit so you can consider any typos/grammatical errors as creative flourishes.

Day 2

So Day 2 (Saturday) started with a complimentary breakfast at our hostel (Jacob's Inn, if any of you are interested), which for a free breakfast was pretty good. Orange juice, coffee, toast with butter and jam, corn flakes, milk, perfectly good especially considering we were only paying about €12/night to stay there. After breakfast we heading out on a walking tour. Most walking tours are advertised as free but then you tip them at the end based on how much you enjoyed it (anywhere from €2-20 depending on the quality/length of the tour), which is totally fine because it shouldn't be completely free but it's something that people sometimes get confused about.

Our tour guide was amazing! We met in the Mercantile (the pub from the night before) where we were able to get free tea/coffee and then we went to City Hall and Dublin Castle. The best part about this tour were the anecdotes, because Irish history is actually really interesting, depressing, but also in some cases ridiculous (as the irish seem readily willing to admit). For example, City Hall was taken over during the Easter Uprising in 1916. Which actually happened the day after Easter because there were issues getting the arms because the boat carrying them from Germany was stopped. But they decided to have the uprising anyway a day late. So the English had been somewhat aware that the uprising was going to happen so a lot of soldiers and guards were forced to leave their families and work on Easter only to have nothing happen. However, in exchange for having to work on Easter they were guaranteed Monday off. Those leading the uprising were planning to take over different parts of the city, one being Dublin Castle. However the less than 20 people who stormed the castle found it pretty much empty, which they found eery and thought it was a trap so they left and took over City Hall right next to it instead.
City Hall
Unfortunately we weren't able to actually go in Dublin Castle because the EU presidency headquarters (or something like that) are currently housed there for the next 6 months.

The Gates to Dublin Castle
It doesn't even look much like a castle
Which the Irish are more than willing to admit
We did walk around to the gardens on the other side and were able to get a better view. It's really interesting to see the different style of architecture. I'm no expert so please excuse my very primitive descriptions, but there is the more middle-age era tower, a more gothic church-like building, and then a more modern building on the left.

Dublin Castle
There is also another section to the left of what's shown in that picture. When it was painted or renovated or something along those lines, it was painted several very interesting colors. There is no symbolic meaning to any of them. When the man who chose them was asked why, he just responded that he thought they were pretty. Because sometimes you just shouldn't overanalyze things.

It's hard to see it but there is a green section,
and there was also a red part but it didn't fit
in the picture.
The garden also had an interest design of really thin brick paths running through the grass, which we learned forms a Celtic symbol when seen from above. Since the area is sometimes used as a helicopter landing pad when leaders from other countries come to Ireland, the first thing they see is this symbol.

Obviously it was kind of hard to get a good picture,
but you get the general idea of how it looked
Near Dublin Castle there is also a plaque for Jonathan Swift, who was born in home where parts of the castle are now. Best known for his satires (at least that's how I knew of him) he was also dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Sorry it's hard to read!
I forget the exact order that we saw things, but I do know that at some point soon after seeing Dublin Castle we saw the Wall of Fame of Irish musicians, with the biggest picture being that of U2. Of course. Unfortunately I forget most of the names of who is who, but there were others that I knew (obviously) and I remember Sinead O'Connor was up there, because she is kind of hard to forget. Our tour guide went through all of them which was helpful, but even more helpful was at the end when he noted which were dead/alive/mostly dead because that was kinda what I had been wondering the whole time (I hope that's not too morbid).

This doesn't show everyone but you can
see the artwork. The big picture in the left
corner that is cut off is U2. Of course.
Then we moved on to the bridge section of our tour. Which was probably my favorite, because it was beautiful and the stories were great. First we crossed the Ha'Penny Bridge (because that's what it used to cost to cross). It's one of the oldest cast iron bridges in Europe and it was renovated by the same company that built the Titanic. Fun fact. There was more to it's history than just that but I forget the rest. Sorry.

The Ha'Penny Bridge
We then walked along the Liffey River until we got to the O'Connell Bridge, which is on (surprise) the famous O'Connell Street. Well, I'm not sure if it's really that famous but it's a big road in Dublin. But the bridge is really cool for several reasons. First, it's the only traffic bridge in Europe that is wider than it is long (by a whole 5 meters). The second reason it is cool is because of a plaque you can find on it. In 2004 several people thought it would be funny to put a plaque on a bridge dedicated to Father Pat Noise, who drowned in the river "under suspicious circumstances" in 1919. Which is funny because the guy never actually existed. Also because it took the town two years to notice it and take it down. However, after it was taken down there was a campaign to have it returned so now the plaque is back on the bridge, in memory of the nonexistent Fr. Pat Noise.

O'Connell Bridge
The plaque for Fr. Pat Noise
From O'Connell Street we headed over to Trinity College, which was built during the reign of Elizabeth I for the Protestants in Ireland. The Catholics were even threatened with ex-communication from the church if they attended, even after the school was opened to students of any religion. It is only in the past few generations that Catholics starting attending the school.

A rather unimpressive picture of Trinity.
Legend has it that if you walk under the arch on the way to
your finals you will fail them.
Anyway, that's where we ended the walking tour after about 2 1/2 hours. There were a lot of other small things that we saw but it would be impossible to mention everything here, plus I kind of forget the details about some of the other stuff. This is what stood out to me and what I found important. Not sure why I'm defending my choice of blogging considering I don't think anyone was really questioning me. I'll be quiet now...

After the walking tour we grabbed lunch and then headed to the Old Jameson Distillery to take a tour. It was all good fun. Nothing much to say about it. It was kind of like an extended version of Chocolate World (since the whiskey isn't actually made in that building anymore) but with whiskey at the end, and there wasn't a ride. Also you had to pay.  But it was really interesting and we got to try Jameson at the end. Several people even got chosen to do a taste test between Jameson Irish Whiskey, Jack Daniel American whiskey, and some fancy sounding Scotch. I was jealous. Also no one like Jack Daniels the most so way to go USA. But if you are ever in Dublin, it's definitely a tour worth taking.

Awesome chandelier in the lobby made from
bottles of Jameson.

Some old casks from on the tour.
Notice the years (if you can see them), although they might be lying

Let's see... after the Jameson tour we went to this burger place called BoBo's where I had one of the best burgers in my life! It was huge and delicious and awesome! Plus they had good chips (aka french fries for all of you confused Americans)! From there some of us went to a Literary pub crawl (after I made us late by going the wrong way down the street but it all worked out in the end). We basically went around to different pubs mentioned in books or frequented by authors and it was led by these two actors who would occasionally out scenes or recite parts from books/letters/poems, you name it! They were amazing and knew so much about the literary world in Dublin. Another thing you have to do if you ever are in Dublin! But yeah, one of the pubs we went to was O'Neill's, which is how we ended up there for the second time. But that's ok because it's a cool place.

Afterwards we stopped by this American 1950s style diner for milkshakes and then headed back to the hostel because the next day we were going on a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher and the Paddywagon (aka our tour bus... more on that later) was leaving at 7am (which ended up being 7:40, but once again, more on that later). At the hostel I checked into my new room (because I was in a different room the second night, still not with my friends), where everyone was luckily asleep so I hung out in my friends' room until I was ready to go to sleep. I wasn't able to steal the extra beds that night because there were actually other people staying in the room. An American who teaches Irish (only foreigners call it Gaelic fyi) in Brittany, France, an Irish (I think guy), and someone who became known as the creepy UK guy. For several reasons. Also he stole all the hangers to wash his clothes in the sink even though the hostel has washers.  But whatever. It was only annoying because 8 girls needed to shower and use the bathroom. The joy of hostels.

But yeah, that was my second day in Dublin. Stay tuned for more fun, and my adventures on the Paddywagon and at the Cliffs of Moher!

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