My first full day in Ireland was a sightseeing adventure filled with a lot of sights (hence “Sightseeing”) and even more walking. According to my cell phone’s pedometer app I walked 13.14 miles in Dublin and burned 1042 calories while doing so. In one day! No wonder my feet ache!
And yet it was worth it! Now don’t think that just because I walked 13 miles that means that the sights are far apart, because they aren’t (minus the Guinness Storehouse). Actually most every major sight is within a 5-10 minute walk. So why did I walk so much? Let me explain…
Before my trip I had already mapped out what I wanted to see. I knew that if I could fit a lot of sights in on my first day, I could relax a bit when I returned to Dublin after I take my driving adventure. So this morning, I woke up and had my complimentary continental breakfast that my hotel provided. It was basically a full Irish breakfast plus extra things like cereal and fruit. And it was delicious. Cassidy Hotel is where I stayed. Minus the fact that the elevator was broken and I had to walk a maze to get to my room, they provided great service and had very nice and helpful staff. They offer different deals each week or each month online. Keep a lookout for a good deal with them if you want to visit Ireland. It’s not extremely central to all the sights but it’s not far from them either as it’s on Upper O’Connel Street.
After breakfast I headed to see the Book of Kells at Trinity Library at 10:00 am. I heard it was better to get there early before the lines and they were right! There were only a few people there and I actually had like 7 minutes to the Book of Kells all to myself!! It was so amazing. We really lost something as a culture when we stopped creatively decorating books. The illustrations were goregous. They had it open at these two quotes:
uidete uigilate et orate nescitis/enim quando tempus sit
“Take ye heed, watch and pray. For ye know not when the time is.” Mark 13.32-14.46
Xpi [Christi ] Cum
“Then were crucified with him two thieves.” Matthew 27.38
I thought these were pretty depressing quotes for the library to display but besides that I could get quite close to the book even with a glass cover. I just couldn’t take pictures. But I could take pictures in the Trinity Library. It was goregous by the way. Books stacked high with old wooden ladders. A woman was cleaning the bookshelves and I wondered does she ever open a book or two?
( He is reading priceless old books. Lucky. )
After the Book of Kells I headed to Guinness before it got crowded. Guinness was super far! I felt like the walk never ended. I eventually had to ask directions because I couldn’t see any signs that said “This way to Guinness” any longer and my map of Dublin was not helpful at all in finding Guinness. It’s also hidden behind some buildings and is not right off the street and the only thing that points you in the right direction is a sign high on a building.
Regardless, the factory was very high tech looking. It was a self-guided tour. Everything was pretty explanatory on how they made Guinness thanks to signs and videos. They also showed the advertisements of Guinness over the years. It was a very interactive tour. I also got to learn how to pour the perfect pint and then was allowed to drink that pint. First time to try Guinness and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I took my Guinhness to the rooftop bar which shows you Dublin from above. I didn’t finish my pint because it was strong, it was only 10:45 am, and I am traveling alone. Safety first!
Next was the Jameson Distillery. This was even more difficult to find. I really got lost going there and it is also hidden behind buildings. Lest, we forget the signs that point to it aren’t very effective either. However, the tour was good. Pat, the tour guide, was very knowledgeable and upbeat. I learned a lot about how whisey is made and why Jameson makes theirs the way they do. Then we had a taste test between Jameson, a Scottish whiskey, and Jack, the American whiskey. I don’t care for the smell of whiskey (it’s too sweet) but I must admit that Jameson went down smoother and tasted the best because it was the least sweet or woody. It tasted like vanilla. They offered a drink of whiskey after the shots but I couldn’t. I hadn’t eaten and I thought it would make me sick or make me tipsy.
After Jameson, I accidentally stumbled into The Brazen Head Pub. It’s the oldest pub in Ireland! It’s been around since 1198. It’s quite small with an outdoor courtyard. The staff were friendly, it wasn’t crowded, and the seafood chowder I had was very tasty. What makes it cooler is that James Joyce (Ulysses), Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), and even Robin Hood were reported to have visited the Brazen Head and maybe even frequently.
After eating I went and saw Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Christ Church had crypts which were pretty cool. They were both large and imposing churches and I loved that their age showed. However, it does cost 6 euros which is pretty steep since it doesn’t take that long to look at everything.
After that, I went to the National Leprechaun Museum. So MUCH FUN! If you want to feel like a kid, joke around, and hear some cool stories, go here! The tour guide, Sinead, was so fun and lively and makes you feel instantly comfortable. I loved the “Giant Room” with the large giant-sized furniture. I climbed on a chair surprisingly. I also learned a lot about Irish myth and lore that I did not know before and I loved the tale she told of us Finn MacCool. This was my favorite thing of the day.
After resting my feet at the hotel for a bit, I headed out to dinner. I went to O’Neill’s Pub. I got lost but finally found it and got out of the rain. There is a bar to get drinks and a cafeteria line to get food. I didn’t really like the waitstaff. They weren’t very nice; not outright rude, but not very helpful towards someone (me) who didn’t know what to do. Only one lady was nice to me. I also had to sit in a back room because everything was full in the main rooms. There were only a few people back there and we were all foreign.
Now, I’m getting ready for my driving adventure. I’m so scared and nervous for what it will bring. Driving on the left side of the road? Who had the stupid idea to create steering wheels on opposite sides and who allowed each country to choose what side to drive on? Couldn’t we have all just chosen the same side?
Regardless, wish me luck! I’m actually very excited about driving the countryside. It’s going to be the best adventure yet!