The Emerald Isle
Trip Start Apr 10, 2009
10Trip End Apr 26, 2009
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The next morning we got to sleep in until 7:00 AM. We wanted to be up and ready to watch as we pulled into Dublin. We desperately needed an IV coffee infusion to jump start our day, but as they weren't offered as part of the breakfast menu, we settled for a few cups instead
We decided to explore Dublin on our own. The ship had shuttle bus service to the center of Dublin, a 15 minute ride from the port. We dressed for the weather, me in jeans, shirt and sneakers, raincoat, Bryan in shorts, sleeveless T-shirt and sandals. No matter what the weather, that is his choice of clothing, as long as it's not pouring rain. The weather was expected to clear up and hit 62 degrees. It turned out most of the morning was brisk and overcast, but the afternoon weather was warm and sunny. We've been very lucky with the weather this far...
As we made our way into Dublin, the city seemed like any other large city you'd visit in the US. There were skyscrapers, stores, businesses, chain restaurants, office buildings and condominiums. Every now and again we'd see a few old buildings. The people were dressed in their business attire, hurrying quickly to their jobs. One thing I did notice was the women didn't wear sneakers with their good work clothes...they wore high heels and boots, and walked very quickly
The bus dropped us off on Nassau Street, which is lined with stores. Shuttle service back to the ship was every 20 minutes. There were Dublin Tour buses offering hop-on, hop-off tours. They make stops at 23 destinations in Dublin, from Trinity College to see the college and the Book of Kells, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Guinness Storefront, where they offered tours, to Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) to learn about the history of the Irish potato famine and the reform jail. Bryan and I walked Nassau street and shopped in all the small shops. There was a Store of Names, where they research your name and find your family crest if there is one...and make a plaque with your family crest and story...very interesting. There was a tweed shop, where you can purchase a tweed suit of any kind. There was a sweater shop, with gorgeous Irish wool sweaters. I found a sweater there for myself. I had been looking for one for a year locally, but found nothing I like....I had to come to Dublin.
We stopped mid-morning for coffee at Kilkenny's...a department store. They had Waterford Crystal, chandeliers, and all the usual department store items on the first floor, and a very busy coffee shop on the second level. We just people watched....four 20-something girls laughing and talking with their Irish brogues (and having no clue what they were saying), a business woman surfing the internet on her laptop, an older woman sitting alone in her raincoat, sipping her tea, and buttering and eating her scone very daintily, four business men in their suits all serious and speaking in hushed tones
We decided it was time to tour the city by bus. We bought hop-on, hop-off passes for 15 Euros each. Such a bargain! The bus route takes 1-1/2 hours from start to finish if you stay on...but can get off at any stop and board again when done with a tour. They run every 10-15 minutes. We climbed aboard a bus and went to the top...which was open. It wasn't too cool, at first. We asked the man who sold us the tickets for recommendations for tours...and he gave us one...Kilmainham Gaol. As the bus drove and the sun darted in and out between clouds...it got colder...and I found myself taking my new sweater out of the bag and putting it on...along with my raincoat. Brrrrrrrrrr....it was COLDDDD. Bryan sat in his T-shirt and shorts, my polar bear.
We went on a tour of Kilmainham jail, which was led by a tall red-headed Irishman. He was fabulous...giving a detailed, vivid history of the jail, bringing the story of the Irish potato famine to life, and the life of the prisoners who lived there. We made our way through the prison exploring the cells, the halls, the outside exercise room. A young woman standing in front of me was overwhelmed, and got sick...and had to be escorted out of the building
From there, we toured the rest of the city on the hop-on, hop-off bus...our feet and legs aching from standing for prolonged periods, walking and climbing up and down the stone steps of Kilmainham jail. We saw the house of the US Ambassador to Ireland...with it's beautiful 12 acre parcel of land. We stopped to see the President of Ireland's residence. There was a candle burning in one windowpane for fallen Irish soldiers. The President of Ireland serves for 7 years, and like the US, can only serve two terms. We finished the tour on the Dublin Tour bus, and hopped on a shuttle bus back to the ship, which was departing at 7:00 PM.
The departure from Dublin was quiet...no fanfare, which was disappointing after the sendoff we received the day before in Scotland.
We had an 8 o'clock dinner reservation at The Painted Desert, a specialty steakhouse on the Grand Princess. It was our 10th wedding anniversary dinner. We dined on filet mignon and porterhouse steak, receiving excellent service from our waiter
COBH (pronounced Cove) - We docked in Cobh at 7:00 AM, which is south of Dublin. The morning was again gray and quite chilly...with a high of 50 degrees expected. We saw a smaller port, with a more country setting than in Dublin. Cobh is a quaint fishing village, where one can walk around and check out the shops and a museum. The museum pays tribute to the Titanic and Lusitania. Cobh was the last port of call for the Titanic before its ill-fated transatlantic crossing, and the Lusitania was gunned down and sunk 12 miles outside Kinsale in 1915 by a German U-boat.
There is a train stop right at the dock. We took a train into Cork, the second largest city in Ireland. We passed by small Irish villages along the way, with beautiful gardens and homes. Once arriving in Cork, we walked around looking at quaint B&B's and churches. We decided to head back to the ship at lunchtime, as the day was growing colder and windier, and it started raining as we departed the train. We had lunch on the ship, and took it easy the rest of the day. Our departure from Cork was quiet and uneventful.
As we sail to our next destination, tonight we have our third and final formal night. There was a farewell cocktail party with drinks and canapés in the atrium levels 5, 6 and 7. Everyone looked so nice in their evening gowns and suits. Photographers were there for taking formal pictures. There was a piano player playing a vast selection of songs...and waiters walking around serving drinks and snacks for everyone. A lot of people have grown very close during this cruise...all of us enjoying everyone's company. We had dinner after that, and then off to the final production show, Dance With Me. It was a great show.
We're off to Falmouth, England tomorrow...with an early arrival at 7:00 AM, departing at 5:00 PM. Off to bed I go to get some sleep.....
TTFN (in case you're wondering, it means Ta Ta For Now)
Patti and Bryan