Dabblin’ around Dublin
This morning, we did something that we haven’t done all trip: we slept in and didn’t wake up to an alarm! (We did set an alarm, just in case we slept in crazy late, but we woke up before it went off.) We had a fairly leisurely morning (Pamela bought the hotel breakfast; I made tea in our room and ate a box of cereal that I stole from a previous hotel), and headed out.
We wanted to take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Dublin (run by the same company as the one we did in Cardiff). Pamela had a map and identified the nearest stop, which we walked to (passing about three of th buses along the way), only to find out that the stop was “closed”! So we went to stop #1, where a bus was parked, and bought our tickets…and were then told that that stop was closed too, and we had to walk a couple blocks to a pick-up point.
See, there’s some sort of event going on in town today – something to do with Formula One race cars – and they’ve closed a few roads in city centre to accommodate it. So the whole route for the bus tour was thrown into disarray. Our bus driver described it as the “mystery tour”, promising that we’d hit almost all of the stops but we’d do them in the wrong order and come at them from different angles (for instance, our first stop was stop 10). She was amusingly cynical about the whole thing, and kind of fun to listen to. (All our guides today had a good sense of humour.)
Some Dublin architecture. I believe this style is known as Georgian.
One of the stops that was closed was the one we wanted: the Trinity College stop. But there’s another one nearby, so we got off there; Trinity College was the one thing that we wanted to see today. We were planning on going to the Old Library to see the Book Of Kells, and we knew that that would cost €9. When we entered the College though (via the Arts Building), we saw a booth offering 30-minute walking tours of campus, including admission to the library, for €10. That seemed like a good deal, so we took it.
And that turned out to be a really good choice. Our tour guide was a fourth-year theatre student named Mark with a great sense of humour. He walked us around the various squares (Parliamant Square, aka Front Square, Library Square, and New Square), commented on the creativity in naming (Library Square is by the Library!), offered editorial opinions on the architecture, gave us information about the school itself (number of students, the process for becoming a Scholar or Fellow, etc.), and told us stories.
Mark, our awesome tour guide
Best story of the tour: In the 1700s, some drunk law students decided to annoy their professor by throwing pebbles at his window in the middle of the night. He responded with gunshots. The students went and got their guns and shot back. The professor ended up being killed, the students were expelled and went to court, they successfully argued their way to an acquittal, were re-admitted to the college, and graduated.
Then we went to the library and saw the Book Of Kells, which is an old (9th-century) illuminated manuscript of the four gospels. There was a whole exhibit about how books like that were made, what the symbolism in some of the illustrations meant, and so forth. It all led up to the room where you could see the book itself, plus two other less-famous books of similar age and content. Plus there was the Long Room of the Old Library, which was a beautiful room to walk through and had displays of interesting manuscripts, like Luther’s translation of the Old Testament and a page from one of the original Gutenberg Bibles. It was all a little nerdy, really…I loved it.
The Old Library at Trinity College
We finished off at the gift shop (I almost bought a harp but didn’t), and then got lunch at Costa Coffee…a chain we have become fans of, as something relatively constant wherever we’ve traveled.
We then caught the next bus for the bus tour, which was led by a very dry-witted driver. When we got back to our hotel, we got off…but because the road closures made the routes weird, I’m not convinced we actually saw everything. And for half the drive, a group of loud cackling British women were sitting in the back and making it very hard to hear what the driver was talking about. Oh well…with the cool weather we weren’t riding in the open top anyway, so we couldn’t see very well.
Dublin (and presumably the rest of the country) has come down with a serious case of politics.
That said, while the weather was cool and gray and damp, we were happy to have it, because the forecast was for “heavy rain”. That never materialized, and it never really got worse than a light drizzle at any point. And yet this still managed to be one of the worst days for weather we’ve had this trip (the other was in St. Andrews), which shows how lucky we’ve been.
After dropping some stuff off at our hotel, we took a final wander through the neighbourhood of O’Connell street. On one street, we saw way more 2nd-hand mobile phone shops than should really exist in a two-block stretch, as well as all sorts of ethnic food stores and restaurants. Pamela said it reminded her of parts of Manhattan, and I’d have to agree. Anyway, we wandered around, took some photos, and went back to the hotel.
Pamela didn’t buy this hat 😦
Once there, we sorted out everything for tomorrow: figured out who owes who what, made sure we knew what was in our bags and what we have to declare at customs, collected all our receipts, and so on. We both had extra space in our bags on the way out, but they’re a little fuller now!
We also discussed the weird time warp that this trip has been. It feels like we were in Liverpool a few weeks ago, and Cardiff feels like a trip we took last fall or something. It certainly seems like way more than two weeks since we’ve been in Winnipeg. Two weeks turns out to be an awfully long trip, especially when the days are as full as ours have been. We’ve had a great time – it’s almost hard to realize that unless we stop and look back on it – but we’re definitely ready to come home!
And of course that’s what we’re doing tomorrow. With flights from Dublin to Frankfurt to Toronto to Winnipeg, it’s going to be one last busy day to cap off a very busy trip.
We’re looking forward to seeing all of you again!
Look how pretty Trinity College is!