In Dublin's Fair City...

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

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Where I stayed
The Morgan Hotel, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some down time in Dublin this week (though Dublin is never down it seems).  I checked into the funky Morgan Hotel in the happening Temple Bar area of the city on Monday and have been having a great time meandering around taking in the history and culture and sights of the city this week.
My room at the Morgan is incredibly white.  This is a boutique hotel that features rooms that are almost entirely white with a dramatic splash of color here and there for effect - very fresh but you are a bit afraid to accidentally mark the pristine furniture!

Monday was a bank holiday here in Dublin and the Dublin Marathon (a 26 mile race) was held in the outskirts of city with runners crossing the finish line in the city centre.  I stopped to join the crowds of onlookers for awhile and was moved by how incredibly positive the supporters were toward the runners.  They stood and clapped and cheered and urged them on for several hours and continually called out 'good girl' for female runners and 'nearly there, well done' for all.  It was a great feeling being part of it.

I met some tour friends on Monday night and we roamed through the small streets and alleyways of the Temple Bar area to find a spot for supper.  There are lots of people about at night in this area, heading to the dozens of bars and restaurants along the cobblestone streets.  We ate at a nice little Italian restaurant, La Caverna.  Yummy food served in the wine cellar - very atmospheric.

Yesterday, I visited the National Gallery of Ireland which houses the largest collection of art in the country.  Interesting to see the Irish art exhibits and also some of the famous European works.  Their feature piece of art is Caravaggio's 'The Taking of Christ' which is an amazing painting that has such beautiful chiaroscuro or strong contrasts of light and dark.  This painting was apparently given to one of the churches in Dublin years ago and hung there for quite some time in obscurity, then when the church sent it to art restorers to have it cleaned, it was found to be an original Caravaggio and is now hanging in the National Gallery.  Other highlights in the gallery included pieces by Picasso, Rembrant and Vermeer.

Dublin is an easy city to 'go walkies' as they say and I've been taking the time to catch some of the local sights.  As you walk across the River Liffey (one one of the 17 bridges that cross the river in the quays area), you can't miss the amazing monuments as well as the Dublin Spire on the north side of the river.  The spire is a 400 foot high stainless steel spike which is the world's tallest sculpture.  Dubliners being Dubliners like to give their monuments and statues irreverant nicknames and the Spire hasn't escaped their wit.  It is locally known by several naughty names but some of the cleaner ones include "The Stiletto in the Ghetto" and "The Rod to God". 

The National Post Office is across the street from the Spire on O'Connell Street, the city's main thoroughfare.  This building featured prominently in the Easter Rising of 1916 as it was the headquarters of the leaders of the uprising.  The British Forces damaged the building extensively in their battle with the Irish Republicans and bullet holes can still be seen in some of the statues in the area from this battle.

I took one of the hop on/off city tours today that featured the Guinness Storehouse at St. James Gate (or 'Mecca' to some beer drinkers), the 2 city cathedrals, Phoenix Park and the shopping streets and historical buildings of the downtown core.  It was threatening rain throughout the day today so it was a good afternoon for a nap in my comfy white bed before heading out this evening for the pubs...

Actually, it was a literary pub crawl readers, which will make oodles more sense for those that know me well (as a non-beer drinker but avid reader)!  This was such a fun tour - I highly recommend it.  Professional actors lead you through several pubs and they perform snippets from major Irish literary works as well as giving you entertaining tidbits about some of Dublin's famous authors such as Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan and of course, James Joyce - the most famous home-boy!  Two hours of literature washed down with a little Guinness - what more could a former English Lit major want?

There's much more to see and do over the next few days (washed down with a little Guinness of course).  Stay tuned!
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