Shamrocks and Shillelaghs

Trip Start Oct 12, 2010
Trip End Mar 24, 2011

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Where I stayed
O'Callaghan's Mont Clare Hotel, Dublin

Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Monday, October 18, 2010

An early morning start today - at Paddington Station by 4:30 and caught the Heathrow Express at 5:10 to the airport.  Check in was a dawdle but the marathon walk to my gate at Heathrow was exhausting!  At one point, they have signs indicating how far you have to go - it was a 20 minute walk to my assigned gate (I think my walk was longer than the actual flight)!  Cleared about 25 forms of passport control, security checks and customs but finally landed in beautiful Dublin!  I was catching a week-long organized Irish tour so I was picked up at the airport and deposited at our hotel - incredibly easy transfer, thankfully (and after my walk to Ireland from London, I was thankful for that).

Let me say that from the moment I landed in Ireland, I was hit by a wall of warmth and wit - every single person I have met has been incredibly dry, droll, witty and so incredibly nice.  I was very much reminded of being around people from St. John's - the same sort of warm interaction style. The Irish have the gift of the gab and listening to their patter is mesmerizing.  After checking in at my hotel, I did a walk around the city, hitting Grafton Street (the main shopping district, seething with pedestrians, musicians, flower sellers, tourists - a really busy and vibrant part of the city), Trinity College, O'Connell Street (the main street in Dublin) and the Temple Bar area (party central - a few blocks packed with pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and shops).  I walked past the famous statue of Molly Malone (selling her cockles and mussels and from her revealing outfit, probably a bit more than shellfish) and as I was cruising along, what to my wondering eyes should appear but..... a Tim Hortons!!!  I kid you not, readers.  I walked past, walked back, walked in and then walked away with a double double (I didn't even need caffeine at that time of day, but who could resist).  I then proceeded to practically spill the whole thing on myself a few drips at a time on my way back to the lodgings but that's OK because I AM CANADIAN! 

My group went on a city tour, seeing the highlights of this amazing area.  We saw both sides of the River Liffey, important buildings, famine statues, writers' landmarks - I can't wait to get back here in a week or so and dig in properly.  My fellow tour members are mostly American but get this, one couple I met are not only from PEI, but from the eastern end of the Island - we're practically neighbors!  We potato people have to stick together!

We were also given a tour of Trinity College by a local guide as well as a chance to see the Book of Kells - that was quite an experience.  These medieval manuscripts are truly religious art and are incredibly bright and colorful.  I think the monks who created these works must have had the 96 box of Crayolas (with the built in sharpener). 

After the tours, I joined two couples from my group at a nearby pub, the Ginger Man, for some supper - veg curry (minus the Guiness) for me - I have to muster up the courage to dive into that purely Irish drink.

I can't wait to surrender myself to the charms of this country, culture, music and especially these most welcoming and warm people.  Stay tuned.
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