Friday, October 7, 2011

Scotland and Ireland Day Seven - The day we walked our legs off...

We had planned to get up early, really, we did, but it ended up not happening. I don't know if jet lag had finally caught up with us, or if our brains realized that we didn't have to drive anywhere, or what, but we ended up sleeping in an hour later than we planned and completely missed the complimentary breakfast the hotel offered. Once we were finally up the husband and I caught another cab to take us to the airport. We had bought Dublin City Passes the night before (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THESE GETTING THESE!) which get you into a number of locations around the city for free or at a discount and the closest Tourism office we could pick them up at was at the airport.

After dealing with the cabbie who had no idea where he was going the night before, I was a bit leery about catching another cab. The hotel offered a shuttle service to the airport, but it was nine euro a person, and extremely crowded. We thought if we grabbed a taxi it would be cheaper and easier because on the internet the hotel didn't look like it was that far away from the airport.

The internet lied to us. Taking the taxi was not cheaper than the bus, in fact, it was a little more expensive. However, the extra euros were worth it because our cabbie was a really nice guy who knew where he was going, and chatted our ears off the whole entire time. He gave us advice on where to go to eat, to buy gifts, and what sites we should visit before finally dropping us off at the airport.

Once we picked up our Dublin City Passes, we hoped on an Airlink bus that took us to the city center and dropped us off near Trinity College.

Supposedly there is a teacher or a dean of the college from way back in the day who swore that girls would only go to Trinity College over his dead body. The Husband had heard a rumor that his body was buried under the entrance that the girls used to use when they were eventually allowed to attend college here. However, I don't know if this is true or not. We went looking for it, but couldn't find it, and we just missed the tour the students of Trinity College run. 

The city pass got us in to see the Book of Kells, an illuminated bible that was written around 800. It's actually four different volumes, and two are set out at a time for guests to view along with two other illuminated books (or all of them may have been out - the signs weren't exactly clear) The artwork in it, and several other books out on display is stunning. The Husband was a bit annoyed that we couldn't take pictures - but only because looking at some of the designs in the books were giving him ideas for tattoos. 

Once you are done viewing the Book of Kells, guests are directed up to the library's Long Room. While we were there they had an exhibit on medical texts available

Near Trinity College is a street that has been closed of for shopping. The Husband and I stopped for lunch, and then decided to walk over to Dublin Castle. 

We were expecting to find something like Edinburg Castle, but we were clearly wrong. The original castle had caught fired and were demolished in the 1600, and all that remains of it is a tower near the chapel, a gate and a bit of wall. 

The castle is a government complex nowadays, so there's not a lot to look at (and by look at I mean exhibits or museums) There is a nice garden in the back, and you can take tours of the state rooms, but by the time we got there the tours were sold out.

We wandered around and visited the chapel and the gift shop before finally moving on to the next tourist spot: Christchurch Cathedral.

The church was originally built around 1028. It was rebuilt around 1180, and renovated and rebuilt again in the 1800s. 

Parts of the Tudors were filmed at Christchurch, so they have costumes from the show in their crypts.

The church also has a relic - the embalmed heart of St. Laurence O'Toole, which is preserved in a chapel on the East side of the South transept. Having heard of but never seen a relic before, the Husband and I were both intrigued by it. 

But I think the best part of the church is some of the tombs. I know that sounds morbid but, believe it or not, the next best place to study period clothing other than portraits and fragile museum pieces is to look at the details of the decorations on older tombs.

Once we were done wandering around the crypts and looking at relics, tombs, and stained glass, we walked across the street to visit Dublinia, which is a museum about Viking and Medieval Dublin.

Dublinia is more for kids than anything else. The first floor covers what life was like for the Vikings and how Dublin looked while they were there. There are a lot of hands on exhibits, videos, and locations where you can try hats and bits of clothing on:

The second floor covers what life in Medieval Dublin was like. You can walk through a replica of a merchants house, see what the docks would have looked like, read about what was imported and exported (again, all hands on)

In another room you can wander through an exhibit on a fair where you can feel fabric, try on clothing and armor again, and there's even a fake dog that barks at you if you get too close to the plastic food displayed on a cart.

If you follow that room all the way through they eventually cover what punishments were like for certain crimes in the Medieval ages. This room is complete with a dummy that you can throw stuff at, and set of stocks that you can try on for size.

And finally the exhibit ends with some history about what medical care was like back then, and, of course, information on the plague.

The final floor of Dublinia is devoted to archaeology. There is information on digs that have taken place through out the years and there are artifacts available for viewing. 

By the time we left the museum most of the places we wanted to visit were closing so we walked from Christchurch to Trinity College and then over to the Temple Bar district. 

After wandering around for a bit we finally settled on a restaurant to eat dinner at and ordered some stew and a couple of pints. When we finished we visited a couple of souvenir shops and walked along the river for a bit.

Then we discovered that Dublin's bus system is just too confusing for tourists like us. When we had picked up our Dublin City Passes earlier in the day we were told that we could catch a certain bus behind Trinity College and it would take us straight back to the shopping center near our hotel. We found the bus stop for this bus, hoped on, and then a few minutes later the bus driver told us that we had reached the end of the line and that we had to get off. He told us to go to a bus stop down the street and to catch a different bus. Supposedly that one would drop us off at the shopping center. We waited, boarded the correct bus, only to find out that unless you sit on the left hand side of the bus you have no idea where you're going or what stop you're getting off at. On top of that, the stop that was supposedly at the shopping center near our hotel was actually at a medical center a few blocks away from the shopping center. Oh, and it was on the high way. 

We got off at the next stop and pulled out the GPS to find out how to get back to our hotel. We figured that if we had gotten off one stop past the stop we were supposed to get off on it shouldn't be that long of a walk back to the hotel. Sadly, we were yet again wrong - it was about 45 minutes away. We sucked it up though, and started walking. 

From that point on the Husband and I swore off the Dublin bus system. We decided that if we needed to go anywhere we would take one of the hop on hop off bus tours, which take you right to where the tourists want to go, and we decided that from there on out we would be taking taxis to and from the city center. Both solutions were a bit more expensive, but a LOT easier to deal with, and well worth the money.

We finally made it back to the hotel, took showers, and then promptly collapsed on the beds. 

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