February 2010

Uncategorized21 Feb 2010 09:35 pm

Got up early. Ate lots of toast. Hostel food gets boring quick. Try to figure out bus schedule. Find correct bus. Board said bus. Take bus to Kilmainham Gaol. End military speak.

            Kilmainham is the famous jail in Dublin where many a historical figure was housed throughout the ages. I would go into more depth, but we did a lot and I don’t want to wear everyone out early.

            From the Kilmainham tour, we went to the National Museum of Modern Art. It was at the National Museum of Modern Art that we learned we don’t really have an appreciation for modern art. Important lesson.

            From Modern Art, we went to the Guinness factory! Fun fact: this is the most visited spot in Ireland. It is also shaped like a giant pint glass. It is also 7 floors. That’s about 6 floors more than I ever need to know about a single type of beer. I was a little worn out by about floor number 5. I BARLEY made it to the top. It was almost too much to BEER. But I gotta tell you, the place was HOP-in. (Maura and I greatly enjoyed the vast number of puns one can make in the Guinness factory). It was here that I confirmed another lesson I already knew. Sorry Dad, sorry Uncle Steve, but even in Ireland, Guinness is just yucky. I had a much great appreciation for the Jameson Distillery.

The only reason I'm smiling is because I'm holding the Guinness and not actually drinking it

            We washed out the taste of Guinness with, what else but Coffee! Then it was time for event number 4- the Wax Museum. For some reason, the Wax Museum is pretty much the one thing you can find anywhere in Dublin – there may not be street signs, but you could walk a mile and still be seeing signs for the Wax Museum, it’s incredible. I advise anyone ever planning on visiting Dublin to go. And to go late on Saturday, when the museum is empty, because it allows one the opportunity to play in the children’s portion of the museum and to take as many photos with the wax figurines as you please, which, of course, we did.


Playing in the Children's tunnels!

            After a good deal of time spent with wax celebs, we were starving, so we scouted out Temple Bar for an authentic Irish dinner, but, failing to find a restaurant that appealed to us and our budgets, we returned to our favorite Pub Crawl pub for some Guinness Stew. (The beer may be gross, but it is delicious slow cooked with beef and potatoes). After digesting our massive meal, we took a self guided tour of Trinity College and then back to Jacob’s Inn for some hostile, I mean Hostel sleep.

Uncategorized21 Feb 2010 09:06 pm

Sunday involved another ambitious early rise with the intention of attending mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Although it was a valid attempt indeed, we did not make it to the Cathedral on time due to a) difficulty finding proper buses b) My slightly problematic inability to read a map (Maura took over after a bit) c) a massive swarm of Garda that forced us to take a detour d) great difficulty in finding the actual entrance to the Cathedral. Regardless, we still had a lovely morning walk, walked the exterior perimeter of St. Pat’s and made it to our next destination with plenty of time to spare.

 Saint Patrick’s Cathedral!

            And what, I am sure you ask yourself, could that destination possibly be? DUBLINIA!!!!! The interactive medieval Dublin and Viking museum! We were the first ones in the door, which gave us the ability to try on all the Viking helmets and medieval activities free from the judgment of other adults that are not as fortunate as Maura and I to be in touch with their inner child’s.

Knight helmet!Dublinia and Christ Cathedral

              Dublina conveniently connects via an overhead bridge to Christ Cathedral, so guess where we went next?! After sufficiently touring Dublinia, we awaited the opening of the Cathedral then took the grand tour. It was a very cool little tour indeed.  After this point, Maura and I began to lose steam. Having packed an arsenal of nutrigrain bars in attempt to spend the whole day touring without wasting time for trivial things like food, we thought we could make it to 6 pm when we caught the bus home. But we were wearing thin. Alas, great touristing crusaders that we are, we pressed on.

The Chester Beatty Library and the grounds of the Dublin Castle

            On to where?! Why the Chester Beatty Library and Dublin Castle, two large tourist attractions that were free and offered, in the case of the Lib, a free “present” with your Dublin Pass! How Grand! We embarked on the library exhibitions first, but before initiated the library viewing, we took a quick bathroom break. Now I’m sure at this point, you may be sick of reading about Dublin, or Ireland, or just reading my rambling, typing, but bear with me now, because I’m almost done. I’m sure you’ve been wondering why this post is entitled, “Flushing Dublin down the Toilet, A 3 part Saga”. Here’s what you’ve been waiting for, at long last, the answer to how I flushed the capital of Ireland down the toilet. Well, don’t beg, I’ll tell you. I knocked my 46.50 Euro Dublin Pass into the toilet in the third stall of the ground floor women’s bathroom at the Chester Beatty Library. And it flushed! Before I got my free present! And my free entrance to the Dublin Castle! I couldn’t believe it. And, to top it all off, the Chester Beatty library featured exhibits on ancient Asian storytelling, which I have absolutely no appreciation for whatsoever! In retrospect, this was actually rather comical (Although the vindictive side of me really hopes ol’ Chester Beatty had to deal with some serious plumbing complications with my credit-card sized Dublin Pass wedged in its pipes), but, exhausted and lacking my free gift (an art book that, alright, I’ll admit I really don’t need), this was the most catastrophic event in the world. That and I was sick of nutrigrain bars. So, at 2:30 that day, Maura and I headed back to Temple Bar for some real food. A delicious lunch/dinner of soup and tea later, we decided to cut Dublin some slack, because it’d had enough of us by then, and head on home.

            We boarded the 4 pm express back to Cork, tired, but (After I had gotten over the loss of my beloved Dublin pass) happy. It was quite a grand trip. Quite a grand trip indeed.

It's been good, Dublin, but now we must part

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Uncategorized21 Feb 2010 07:58 pm

Flushing Dublin Down the Toilet, My Three Part Saga (Part 1)

            Armed with guidebooks, brochures and a hostel reservation, Maura and I found ourselves on O’Connell Street headed towards the tourist center last Friday afternoon. Although there is many an O’ Connell street in the lovely land of Ire, we were in fact on the most famous of them all- we were in the center of Dublin! And we were ready to take on the city. Initially, we decided to purchase the oh-so-valuable Dublin Pass, which is essentially an all access pass to the city’s attractions. (Now this may seem like a useless bit of information, but it is essential in my story later on).

Ready to take on Dublin!

            We checked into our hostel, the lovely Jacob’s Inn, located just a few minutes’ walk from the Dublin bus station and headed off towards our first city attraction: A Pub Crawl! Now, since this whole blog is for school credit and since it is being reviewed by my Academic Advisor, and, since most of our travel tips come from our English-teachin’ former rowing coach, I will let all of you know that, it was, in fact, The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. It was run by two professional actors who acted out bits and pieces from Irish literary works as we walked around the Trinity College and Temple Bar area, weaving through a handful of historical pubs. At the conclusion of the tour, Maura and I duked it out with this Californian couple (East Coast .v West Coast!!) for the literary pub crawl quiz and the literary pub crawl prize. Alas, we lost to the West Coast-ers by a hair, but don’t worry, folks, Maura still won a complementary nip of whiskey! We hung out in our favorite of the pubs, O’Neil’s, for a few hours while sipping- uh…soda- and then headed back to the hostel.

Hostel Numero Uno

On the topic of hostels. Let me start by saying that I have learned, in the last 6 weeks, that I lived a very pampered travel life. Mom and Dad, you have spoiled me. I am, in fact, terribly domesticated. And, I am not too proud to admit, I like hotels. Hotels with big, comfy beds and plush, cozy comforters. The idea of a hostel terrified me. Perhaps it was the exhaustion of traveling, perhaps it was that “soda” at the pub, or perhaps it really wasn’t as bad as I was convincing myself it was, but I slept just fine and dandy for our two nights at the Jacob’s Inn Hostel, and, although I will still yearn for hotels, I think I can survive a few more hostels.

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Uncategorized05 Feb 2010 03:29 pm

Trying new things: A Irish Expedition

Well, I’ve decided to mix it up. I’ve found a new way to travel and see Ireland off the beaten path: Maura and I joined the UCC Mountaineering Club. In a burst of outdoor-sy-ness, I happened upon the Mountaineering club on the school’s website. Making a fairly snap decision, we transformed almost overnight into ambitious aspiring mountaineering folk, outfitted to the nines in some seriously attractive waterproof pants; thick, high socks, and of, course, the awesome boots.

Hiking the Paps!

This past Sunday we got up before sunrise and had a hearty breakfast before embarking on a journey to County Kerry for our first expedition with the UCC mountaineers. After wandering for quite some time down a scenic (but paved) road with some lovely sheep decorating the scenery (and by wander I mean practically jog- they like to wander rather quickly apparently), the road just sort of ended and we found ourselves facing a lovely green mountain: our destination.

on the way up...

Now I thought the guide was consulting where exactly the trail was, but to be honest I have no idea why he even bothered with the map, because it was at this point that I vastly broadened my mountaineering education. The primary difference between Irish mountaineering and our American ‘hiking’ appears to be that the Irish like to rough it, and mountaineering actually means that you will be exploring the mountain any way you choose, because there are no trails. This mountain at whose base we stood expectantly was one of The Paps, the two mountains we climbed that day. As we climbed the cliff, ascending from the green sheep filled fields literally into the clouds, our guide gave us a fun Irish cultural legend lesson.

Antarctica? Heaven? What did we get ourselves into?!

The Paps are actually twin mountains that were named for an ancient Celtic goddess of nature, and these mountains were said to be the breasts of the goddess. As some point, some association of Irish mountaineering-park ranger type people (presumably a collection of men with a sense of humor) decided to erect rather large stone structures at the top of each peak. This goddess-breast humor is apparently the sort that is international, because the American, Irish, French and German boys in the climbing group found this hilarious and made the event a highly photographed occasion. We reached the crest of the first breast- a rather rough challenging trek I must admit and found ourselves in apparently the arctic- there was ice and snow and high winds oh my!

I swear- its NOT fake! I also swear that this is the same moutain!

Quickly we descended into the cleavage (again, international male humor- many jokes made here). Then we climbed the second peak and stopped for lunch at the top- leaning against the oh-so-lovely nipple-esque stone pile. We made our way down after that at a leisurely pace through a vast diversity of landscapes- fields of hay and rocks and more snowy patches and a bog- pretty much any landscape I could imagine-  certainly there was no lack of things to look at! We reached the bus again, and stripped off mud covered layers (Again, the boots and waterproof pants were a very, very good investment). After a stop at a pub, we drove off to home in the sunset, fighting and being beaten by exhaustion as sleep and darkness enveloped the weary mountaineers. A fine day for certain, a fine day indeed.

tired indeed- but well, well worth it!

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