Its always time for a...

Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
Trip End Jun 05, 2008

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Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Sunday, April 27, 2008

Now its time to tell you all about my second week of break!! It has taken a little longer to start because this past week has turned out to be a busy, homework filled week...more on that later.

To start, after my parents and I parted ways in Paris early Friday morning, I headed off for the Champs Elysées in search of the SFR store to charge my cell phone. It, quite suddenly, ran out of life the day after I had charged it. Being silly, I don't have a proper watch to tell the time, so I was just a little worried about missing my bus. But, I had enough life to make it to the bus station for the airport. The SFR store ended up not being open (silly Champs Elysées and the ridiculous open at noon hours). I took the bus to Beauvais for my cheaper flight via RyanAir to Dublin! About three hours later, I was in Dublin! Going through customs was a breeze and I soon found all my buddies in the food court. This is where I had the embarrassing realization that Ireland was on the euro. I knew it all along but I think the idea of going on the pound was really stuck in my head. Funny story, I pulled out the nutella and crêpes, which I miraculously got through the airport, for a snack to share with my friends. They all said that they just fell even more in love with me and that I was "such a mom." I am still not sure how to take that...I hear it often though.

Anyway, we made our way into Dublin and found our hostel. It was a great hostel, it had a decent kitchen, free linens, a lovely breakfast of soda bread and jelly, and the location made it very easy to get around town. We had bought bus passes assuming that Dublin would be too big to walk around but we were wrong. It wasn't a huge deal, it rained off and on so much that having access to the buses made it quite nice.

I don't know now where to begin. Overall, we had a wonderful time. We all bought two-day Dublin passes that gave us access to all of the major attractions AND we got to hop the queue. It felt so weird to be surrounded by English. After almost three months of seeing French and other foreign languages, the comfort of not having to second guess what I heard/read was very welcomed. We all experienced a little culture shock because all the Irish actually look you in the eye, they say hello and smile to you, they even say 'sorry' when they accidentally run into you in the street. I actually felt like a snob because of the habit I've forced myself to adapt in France. I still have problems not looking people in the eye and smiling because it is a big non non in France. The French don't do any of that. The whole city had this warm, comforting feel after our first hour there, despite the cloudy, at times rainy, weather, we really enjoyed acting like our normal selves.

Another story and then I'll jump into the details of our trip. Since we were on vacation that meant that all of France was, yet again, on vacation as well. I feel like I heard more French in the streets of Dublin and London than I heard English. It was a weird experience. Both of our hostels were full of French natives as well. We felt a little weird when a word of French would pop out of our mouths and tables of people would turn their heads in our direction. That only enriched our experience to hear French constantly...maybe its just a sign that I can't escape French. : )

So, we were in Dublin for four full days. I am really glad that we made that decision because London was big, crowded and expensive. I'll get to London soon.

Right after we left our hostel, we wandered around town looking for famous landmarks. As we wandered, we found Trinity College. We went inside and right away, all my friends were like "Can I come study here?" It was really neat to stand in the courtyard and think of the history, the people and the stories that walked through it everyday. I can't imagine going to school there, it'd be so neat. We found the museum district, a park and then our stomachs started grumbling. So we headed out with the intention to find some yummy Irish food. Along the way, a slightly happy Irishman invited me (and company) into a bar for a pint of Guinness. It was funny because I had joked around with all my friends, at home and in France, that I was going to try to get a free drink. I was joking entirely and having this random person offer us a free one kind of made my day. I would not have taken him up in any case, so don't worry. We did find a great restaurant and had really tasty fries and burgers. I typical for Americans to pick burgers over an entire menu of choices, but they were a good choice. We even had milkshakes to go with them. Yum!! After, we went out to discover the nightlife of the Irish. All I can say is wow...the streets were packed and everyone was singing. I loved seeing the random musicians singing Irish tunes in the street, it was really cool. We tried to go to the Temple Bar but it was so full that we had to go somewhere else. I don't remember the name of the bar, but it was fun. I admit to not being very good with bars...I preferred working at the one in Norway than just going to be there. I love hanging out in cafes more even though, in France, a bar functions as a café. We had fun people watching and headed back to our hostel around midnight. It was fun to walk home and see Dublin lit up. I was really excited for the next day of exploration.

Saturday, we woke up early, ate our small breakfast, discovered 1-euro smoothies and headed off to use our Dublin Pass. Our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse. It took a good hour to find it but it was worth it. We 'hopped' the queue of about 80 people and immediately greeted by the gift shop. I've never seen that much apparel and random items before. We skipped the gift shop and headed inside. In the storehouse, you start at the very bottom and work your way up about 5 levels to the Sky Bar for your free pint of Guinness. I was actually really impressed with the design of the factory. It is like a museum and we learned about the entire process and history of Guinness. We saw the water, the barley and the hops on the first floor with a little taste test. We learned about each step in the process of making Guinness, all the original advertisements, bottles and commercials. We watched a video on making the barrels that they used to put the beer in. There was also a wall where you could write a message and leave it up, we had fun writing one and saw at least three messages from Brittany. That was neat to see. About an hour later, we made it all the way to the top and enjoyed our free Guinness. Luckily, the weather had cleared up enough that we had a very decent view of Dublin. It was then I realized that I like Dublin...a lot.

After the storehouse, we went to Christ's Church, the Dublin Castle and City Hall. They were all really interesting. Christ's church was beautiful, the floors were decorated with Celtic designs and there was color everywhere. The crypt was beautiful as well, bigger than I expected and there was a museum with gifts given to the church by the royals. There was a video playing in the museum, I sat down to watch it because I had heard Handel's Messiah playing struck me as odd, so I wanted to find out more. Also, I'd seeing pictures of Handel everywhere. Turns out, Handel's Messiah was first performed in Dublin by the choirs of both Christ's Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral. I was pretty ashamed that I didn't know it, especially as a music person. But now I know and I think that it is really cool. Our tour of the Dublin Castle and city hall was interesting. It lasted about an hour and we had a guide lead us through the all the important rooms and we learned a little about the history of the buildings and how all the rooms are still used today. One thing we learned was that each leader/president of Ireland actually gets their very own coat of arms. When the term is finished, their coat of arms is placed in the grand foyer. Pretty neat. I'm glad to because we had been walking all day and by the time we had our tour, we were tired.

We headed back to the hostel and left about 10 minutes later to go shopping for dinner. Here is where it got interesting...we thought there was an oven, so we bought a huge Shepard's pie that needed to be reheated, two pizzas and an ice cream cake. Split between five and it wasn't that expensive. But, when we got back to the hostel, it turns out that there weren't any ovens, but microwaves and toasters. Luckily, the toasters were like toaster ovens and after an hour or two, we had dinner. It was a long wait but a lesson well learned. We had the intention to go out again that night, but we went back up to our room to "repose" and, who knew, we all fell asleep. Michelle and I woke up around 1030 and got ready for bed and just slept. What made it even better was that we all kept saying that we should get up and go out because we were in Dublin. I guess it went through one ear and out the other. It was fun.

We woke up well-rested Sunday morning and headed of to St. Patrick's Cathedral. This is the day that it rained and we got rightfully wet. The cathedral was under restoration but was really beautiful. Even better, there was an all girls choir practicing so we all got a free concert with our visit. They sang some beautiful Irish hymns. I was really happy to hear it. After our visit, we found our way to the Irish Writer's museum. It was really interesting, but I found that there was too much writing and the audio guide just repeated everything that I had read BUT nonetheless it was fun to see. There were a lot of authors that I had read excerpts from that I didn't know were Irish...but now I do. There seems to be a theme of lots of realization on my trip, no? haha. By the time we left the museum, we were starving; luckily I spotted a café just behind the museum, that thankfully, had wonderful sandwiches and coffee. We were happy to stay in the warm indoors.

After lunch, we split up to go to the National Museums. Sarah went to the National Gallery, I went to the museum of Archaeology (because the main exhibit was about Vikings) and Sophia, Michelle and Mark had anticipated on going to the Arts museum, but it was closed for renovation, and I ended up running into them at the museum. It was a good museum, the exhibit was good but they had another exhibit on humans they had discovered in bogs...some of the bodies still had the skin on them! It was crazy and there was this woman that just happened to be in every room I was, even when I tried to avoid her, and all she could say was "Look at the skin!" It got a little annoying after awhile but I managed and laughed a lot. We finished the tour of our museum a lot sooner than expected. We sat on an extremely comfy couch in the café debating on what to do next. We ended up deciding to find the 29 House Museum (Georgian House) and headed off. I was really glad we went because I like the style of the Georgian houses and it was neat to see the inside of one of the first few built. We even had a ghostly introduction by the original owner of the house via movie. It was funny but added to the tour.

After the tour, we headed back to the hostel, had pasta, sausage and garlic bread for dinner. Which was really tasty. For dessert, we made hot chocolate and added a little bailey for a touch and had a yummy, Irish dessert. We went out later that night and I can say that I have heard live music at the Temple Bar. It was a pretty good trio that sang a pretty good cover of Flogging Molly and Third Eye Blind as well. They did some other covers, but I don't remember all of them. We also heard them sing traditional Irish bar tunes and everyone there was helping them sing. It was fun to see.

We had thought about going to Galway for the day but we found out that it took about 3 hours to get there and back. So we decided to save it for our next trip (whenever it is) and I insisted that we take the D.A.R.T (train) to the coast. All my friends gave in, so we bought lunch goodies for a picnic and headed out. For 4 euros round-trip we headed to a little fishing town called Howth. It turned out to be a beautiful day, the sun came out and the wind was just right. We had a great picnic on the dock and went on a little hike. It took about 15 minutes, shorter than expected; nonetheless, the view was worth it. We could see up and down the coastline and, wow, I just love moments like that. Yellow flowers and green bushes covered the valley; there was a little creek and beautiful houses all around. We sat on the grass and just stared out for a good hour. Here, I will interject that I am super excited to go hiking this summer but I am even more excited to put mountains in the view. I sure do miss those mountains. After our picnic, we headed back to Dublin, walked around some more, said hello to random strangers and went to the hostel. We split into two for dinner that night. Sarah, Sophia and I bought grilled cheese makings with tomato soup with more milk for hot chocolate. It was the best grilled cheese sandwich I have had in four months. Maybe because it is the only one I've had, but it was amazing.

A wonderful last night in Dublin.
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