Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our Trip To Dublin

I'm finally sitting down to write this post about our trip to Ireland!  Hopefully, it won't get too lengthy :)  Oh!  To see my photos from Dublin, just click here!

Day One, Thursday

We arrived on Thanksgiving Day to a windy & chilly Dublin, but nothing our coats couldn't handle!  We took the bus from the Dublin airport into the city center & proceeded to look for our hotel {without more than just the street name it was located on, I might add!}.  We're getting good at this! We found, or more like stumbled upon, our hotel before long & were so happy with its location!  Plus, as you'll see in my pictures, the hotel itself was a lot of fun!  Funky, over the top decor that was really pretty lovable!  I liked it a lot!  So, we checked into our room, freshened up a bit, & then headed out for some exploring!

After checking out the Trinity College campus {beautiful!  I wanted to Study Abroad here!}, we walked to Grafton Street, the hub of Dublin shopping & the home of the Molly Malone statue {which we took our pictures with, of course!}.  It was very crowded with people doing their Christmas shopping, carrying many bags of presents they had already purchased.  It made for fun walking underneath the beautiful Christmas decorations, soaking in the Christmas spirit!

By this time, we were ready for some dinner!  We found a great Pub called O'Donaghue's & settled in for a drink & Thanksgiving Dinner!  Don got a Guinness & I had a Bulmer's Cider.  Mmm!  The Ciders were actually more expensive than the beers!  A crazy €5.20!  I had Fish & Chips for dinner, Don had a Goulash.  It was delicious!

We walked around some more after dinner, stopped for the most delicious cup of hot chocolate, & then went back to the hotel to get some sleep!  We had a busy day coming up!

Day Two, Friday

We purchased tickets for the "Hop On, Hope Off" bus that goes around Dublin, & it was well worth it!  We used it pretty much all day & it saved us from doing a lot of walking in the cold!

We first went to the Guinness Storehouse, which was a fantastic tour & a complimentary pint!  The best pint of Guinness in the world, they say!

After that, we headed to the famous Jameson Distillery, where we had another tour & another complimentary drink.  Jameson is triple distilled, smoked over anthracite, stored in wooden kegs first used for Port or Sherry...we learned a lot!  Very fun :)

For lunch, we headed out in search of the pub The Brazen Head, which my Mom told me about because it is mentioned in a cookbook of hers!  Apparently, they have delicious mussels!  Well, thanks to our awesome skills in finding places, we walked straight to The Brazen Head!  What a neat pub!  It's supposedly the oldest restaurant in the country, if not all of Europe!  {We went to a restaurant in Salzburg with Don's parents that also made this claim.  Hmm...  I wonder which one really is the oldest!}  I loved this Pub!  Low ceilings, dark wood walls covered in old posters & flyers.  And thanks to my Mom, we knew about the mussels, which were absolutely delicious!  Don & I agreed that they were the best we'd ever had!  Don usually prefers clams to mussels, but he said he'd take The Brazen Head's mussels anyday!  Mmm, I wish I could have them again right now!

We jumped {or hopped, I should say!} back onto our bus to continue the tour of the city's famous landmarks.  Then, at my request, we headed back to Trinity College to look at their Old Library.  I had seen pictures of this library & it looked gorgeous!  I love libraries, & Don knows this :)  When we arrived, they told us the library was closing in 20 minutes.  And the entrance fee was €9 a piece!  We'll come back tomorrow, we decided.  But while browsing the Gift Shop, we overheard the man at the ticket desk tell another couple he'd let them in for half price!  Yes, please!  So that's what we did!

On display in the library was The Book of Kells, a manuscript of the Four Gospels that dates back to about 800!  It's completed with beautiful & intricate drawings that were amazing to see!  How incredible to think that this was all done by hand!  From Wikipedia, "The Book of Kells (Irish: Leabhar Cheanannais) (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS A. I. (58), sometimes known as the Book of Columba) is an illuminated manuscript in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was transcribed by Celtic monks ca. 800. The text of the Gospels is largely drawn from the Vulgate, although it also includes several passages drawn from the earlier versions of the Bible known as the Vetus Latina. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure."

Then, after a quick look at The Book of Kells, since we were on a time crunch, we headed up the stairs to look at The Old Library's Long Room.  Oh my goodness, I think my heart started beating faster.  This has got to be the most beautiful old library I have ever seen!  It was absolutely beautiful.  From Wikipeda, "The Library of Trinity College is the largest research library in Ireland. As a result of its historic standing, Trinity College Library Dublin is a legal deposit library (as per Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003) for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and has a similar standing in Irish law. The College is therefore legally entitled to a copy of every book published in Great Britain and Ireland and consequently receives over 100,000 new items every year. The Library contains circa five million books, including 30,000 current serials and significant collections of manuscripts, maps, and printed music. Six library facilities are available for general student use."

By this time, it was quite dark & cold & we wondered what to do next.  So we headed back to O'Donaghue's!  Not a bad idea at all!  We enjoyed a drink, soaked in the atmosphere, & then headed back to the hotel.

Day Three, Saturday

We enjoyed the hotel's Irish Breakfast {sausages, eggs, scones & croissants, blood sausage, black coffee...}, went back to The Old Library gift shop {where Don bought me a beautiful scarf with Celtic designs in the embroidery!}, & then caught our tour bus that was going to take us into the country!

The tour took us to Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow.  How beautiful!  We grabbed some soup from the restaurant & then bundled up to walk around the gardens.  It was so pretty!  We took quite a few pictures here, as you can see in my photo album!  From Wikipedia, "Powerscourt Estate (Irish: Eastát Chúirt an Phaoraigh), located near Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland, is a large country estate which is noted for its house and landscaped gardens, today occupying 19 hectares (47 acres). The house, originally a 13th century castle, was extensively altered during the 18th century by German architect Richard Cassels, starting in 1731[1] and finishing in 1741. A fire in 1974 left the house lying as a shell until it was renovated in 1996.  The estate is today owned and run by the Slazenger family. It is a popular tourist attraction, and includes a golf course, an Avoca Handweavers restaurant, and a Ritz-Carlton hotel."

After touring Powerscourt & enjoying the beautiful scenery around us as we rode back into Dublin, we were a bit tired!  We went back to the hotel to rest up for a little bit, & then we went out for Sushi!  I know, not very Irish, but we haven't had Sushi since we moved to Germany!  Not so easy to find here!  So it was a bit of a treat for us.

We spent the rest of the night casually walking through Grafton Street again, taking our pictures with the statue of Molly Malone, & relaxing in our hotel room.  It was so nice to not only be able to explore the city but also to be able to relax together!

We had such a wonderful time!  Ireland is such a pretty country, & the people are so nice & friendly!  I'd love to go back!  Next time, we'd like to find a B&B in the country & explore an entirely different side of Ireland!  It's fun to know that we're nly a 2 hour plane ride away, so going again is completely possible!

We're going to travel to some other places first, though :) So far, we've been to six countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Czech, & Ireland!  Not too bad!  Where should we go next?!

Much love to you all!  I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of this lovely Holiday Season!  We are really looking forward to being home for a while & seeing some of you!  Much love to you all!