Thursday, aka that was today?
We got up a bit earlier than we had been, and struck out at about 9:45 to… well, just sort of wander.
We were going to explore what was labelled on our freebie map as the “Medieval/Viking District”, only to discover that there really wasn’t much to explore. We spent a bit of time in an old churchyard and walking along the river before we decided to walk to the Guinness storehouse just to say we’d been.
It was a lot farther than we’d thought, and the route was incredibly circuitous, and when we finally got there — nothing, not even a gift shop to giggle at, just a bare room with minimal decoration.
Escaping, we walked back to the hostel to regroup and decided to go to the National Gallery, because it was free.
We took our lunches (from that grocery store again) to Merrion Square (the one with the ridiculous Oscar Wilde sculpture), and ate lunch and watched the pigeons be stupid before going to the gallery, which… proved to be mostly closed, because they’re refurbishing it. So we visited the two rooms they did have open, wandered through the gift shop (why did they have yarn in an art museum gift shop, seriously?) and then left.
Our last proper stop was a tacky tourist store, where I bought Christmas ornaments and ran myself out of euros. Then it was onward to the airport and hence to Edinburgh, which is where we are now!
WEDNESDAY, aka if we’re going to be tourists, let’s be TOURISTS.
Because we are terrible English majors who have no particular interest in James Joyce, we bypassed the eight million different Joyce-centric attractions in favor of the Dublin Writers’ Museum, a small exhibition tucked away in a beautiful Georgian townhouse. It was definitely worth the visit — while it was a small museum, it was full of fascinating stories and artifacts, a fitting and slightly eclectic tribute to a wonderfully rich literary tradition.
After we’d had our fill of geeking out and had paid a visit to the fantastically literary bookshop, we headed down to the old Jameson Distillery, got sandwiches and tea, and had a minor crisis involving a missing wallet.
Crisis resolved, we proceeded to the distillery tour, which began with a needlessly (and hilariously) overdramatic movie and continued through recreations of various steps in whiskey-making, and, of course, a bar.
Bleah, headaches caused by absentmindedly drinking half the glass.
Molly says it was probably psychosomatic.
We continued from there to the other National Museum of Ireland, featuring Decorative Arts & History, although we really only had enough time to see furniture, fashion, and coins. There were lots of pretty things, though — the exhibition of furniture from different historical periods was especially interesting.
The walk back took half an hour, and we ended up grabbing dinner at an Irish hamburger chain. Delicious, delicious grease.
We are responsible adults.
Tuesday was weird.
We started the day by walking through the shopping district to St. Stephen’s Square. It’s still weird for me to see these huge, beautiful swathes of green space just sort of appear out of the middle of a city, and after a satisfactory amount of wandering/hanging out/finding statues, we continued on.
Molly had seen a place called the ‘Cake Cafe’ on an online list of things to do in Dublin, so we went off in quest for it —
and went completely the wrong direction.
Eventually we thought we were on the right track, but the city kept getting sketchier and sketchier — closed-up shops, graffiti, etc. Then the street we were supposed to turn onto turned out to be an alley.
"Okay, we can go down the sketchy alley if you want to," I said.
So we went down the sketchy alley, past high walls and graffitied shopfronts, and finally Molly spotted a sign for the cafe.
Turned out that it was down a sort of close, cut off from the sketchy alley by walls and some trees, and it was… actually really adorable! They served all kinds of tea and cake and had cute mismatched china and we had to sit outside so we got rained on a little, but it was okay.
Full of delicious sponge cake and jam, we retraced our steps back to St. Stephen’s Square and walked in a great big circle past the museums to our next destination, the house Oscar Wilde grew up in. Cue fangirling.
There’s a university headquartered there now, so no tours, but Molly took some pictures, and then we crossed the street to the park, where there is the most ridiculous memorial statue ever.
And then: museums! We went to the Archaeology museum, where we saw all sorts of prehistoric artifacts, Irish goldwork from hoards around the country, and the national gallery of treasures — brooches and cups and intricate, beautiful crosses, plus bits of a book that was pulled from a bog a few years ago.
There was also an extensive exhibit on bog bodies, which was a bit creepy but fascinating all the same.
It was already getting dark by the time we left the museum, and so we decided, hey, why not, let’s go to the Natural History museum.
We discovered, upon entry, that that was a bit of a misnomer. It was, in fact, two enormous floors filled with nothing but taxidermied animals, most appearing to date from the late 19th century.
In fact, the entire museum seemed to exist in a weird time bubble that had somehow transported us to 1880 or so.
It was thoroughly creepy.
We returned to the hostel, wet and suitably weirded out, and gave up and went back to the greasy pizza place for dinner.
End day 2.
My camera broke about a week and a half before we left. No problems, thought I; I’ll just use my iPhone. It was fully charged Sunday night, and when I picked it up Monday morning, the battery was dead. So much for that.
Basically what this means is that I took no pictures in Ireland. However, I spent a good portion of the trip pestering Molly to take pictures for me, so once we are back they will be up on the Book of Faces anyway.
And tomorrow morning I am going to the Argos that is literally around the corner from the Edinburgh hostel and buying a cheap camera, because there’s no way I can be here and not take pictures.
- - -
We got to Dublin after a relatively painless airport expedition, and found our hostel at about 1pm. It was right on the river, pretty much in the center of town; however, I really didn’t lose anything by not being able to photograph it, because it basically looked like whoever furnished it had robbed an Ikea. Its only aesthetically redeeming features were the large portraits of Irish writers — Joyce, Wilde, Shaw, Yeats — in the stairwells.
We had a little over an hour to kill before our room was ready, so we struck out to find lunch, only to discover that trying to eat in Temple Bar would be more money than we wanted to pay. After considerable wandering of little cobbled streets surrounded by absurdly pricey restaurants, we were heading back to the hostel when we found a tiny place on a corner where three euros bought a bigger-than-your-head slab of delicious greasy pizza.
It was awesome.
Since we still had time to kill, we crossed the Ha’penny Bridge and looked for shops to wander into! Of course, the first one we found was the Woollen Mill, which sold yarn, which meant that I left with four small skeins of utterly beautiful red Donegal tweed — and a considerably lighter wallet.
After a stop in a discount bookshop with nothing interesting to offer and a return to the hostel to lay claim to a bunk bed, we decided to go to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells.
It was fascinating — the exhibition talked a lot about medieval bookmaking and Irish scholarship of the time period, among other things, and the manuscript itself was beautiful. What stuck in my head, though, was a line in which a poet described the act of writing, which they used to title the exhibition--turning darkness into light.
The ticket, much to my delight, also included admission into the Long Room of the old library, which — well, I’ve wanted to go there ever since I saw a poster of it on my middle school English teacher’s wall, and now that I’ve seen it I want to live there. It’s just unbelievable.
By the time we’d finished walking around Trinity, it was a bit later in the afternoon, and since it gets dark so early here we decided that we’d just walk down into the older district. Molly wanted to see Dublin Castle (former governmental seat), so we went, although we decided not to pay for that particular tour.
Dinner ended up being random foods from the supermarket down the street from the hostel. This will become a recurring theme.
Result, blistered feet. Also trip to Spitalfields Market. Today, toured Lincoln’s Inn (law court). It was somewhat dull but not terribly so.
Also, how is anyone supposed to take the WEE-OOO two-tone police siren seriously, seriously?
kelseyfindingbeauty asked: Michaela, I'm so jealous of all your wonderful London stories! I hope you're having the time of your life! Enjoy your time there. :) This is Kelsey, from BHS, by the way. haha. :)
Hi Kelsey, and thank you very much! :)
I’m absolutely loving it here so far. It really is an amazing city!
I spent most of my weekend writing a nine-page paper on Malory’s use of Morgan le Fay, hence why I have not posted — because I only left the dorm on Friday to go to the library and get books for the paper and on Saturday to go to Tesco and buy food.
Yesterday, though, I’d finished, so I took the #11 bus to Ludgate Hill, passing through sections of the city I hadn’t seen before, before walking up to St. Paul’s and directly into a lot of police officers, a lot of tents, and a bunch of people hanging around on the steps with signs, some of them in Guy Fawkes masks.
IES cardinal rule #1: no protests.
I went on my way, stopping at a news agent’s to buy a bag, before going on to my destination, the Museum of London, which is, as the name might suggest, a museum of London’s history.
It was enjoyable, although perhaps not quite what I was expecting, and I spent three hours or so going through the galleries, watching short films about the Black Death, and playing a game that seemed to be a Choose Your Own Adventure book crossed with a treatise on late-medieval slums.
There were also Romans in the Roman gallery. As in, a bunch of men dressed up in Roman uniform, complete with plumed helmets.
I never found out why.