Last Time on 3.5 Weeks
We had found our way from San Diego into Dublin, and even managed to locate our hotel.
Dublin, Ireland - 27 May 2010 through 29 May 2010
Inside the hotel lobby at last (via the side door) they informed us that the front two sets of doors were legally zoned as in a bar, so they weren't legally allowed to be unlocked this early. The staff member who had pointed me to the side doors joked with me ("I see we'll have to keep our eye on you, after you tried bangin' down the doors"), but I was so tired that I didn't realize it for a few hours. Yay, we had made it to our room, which sort of had a view of the River Liffey. But boo, it sort of had a bad smell (clearly had been a smoking room at some point in its past), and boo, I couldn't sleep yet.
servalan, having slept some on the flight, was the more awake and so decided to ask for a recommendation of someplace to get coffee (and probably lunch in a little bit). Normally I listen carefully when anyone is saying directions, because a sense of direction is not amongst my wife's virtues... but I was essentially sleep-walking at this point. I let her drag me around, for some reason believing that she knew a) where she was going and b) how to get back. We did find food (at some point), possibly at Caffe Cagliostro (it was whatever is at the Bartholomew end of the Dublin revamp of The Last Supper), which revitalized me a bit. We wandered around in the shops area in Dublin 1, and eventually I woke up enough to realize I had no idea where we were... and she assumed I knew where we were. We eventually found our way back to the river, and from there the hotel. We did a little bit of computer time, and then went exploring some more.
Over in Dublin 2 we found what looked like a "gruel special". It turns out the name of the restaurant is Gruel. We found some musicians playing in Temple Bar square, had a bit of a listen, and then let ourselves accept a sponsored recommendation for The Quays Restaurant where I had my first order of fish and chips for the trip.
I don't really remember anything after dinner, we may have zombied it back over to the hotel and gone to sleep extremely early.
We started off by going to a Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) in Temple Bar square for lunch. Readily apparent was that the upright-bass that a street band we had listened to last night was still on the street corner there, which seemed a bit odd (and, upon closer inspection, pretty much all of the gear). What that meant, though, was that as we were wrapping up lunch the band showed back up for an afternoon performance. We listened for a few songs, then decided to walk around a bit more. Just around the corner was a palm-tree bench. We found Fleet Street (but no suspicious barber-over-a-meat-pie-shops), and traffic signs we didn't understand.
Over near Trinity College we passed a pretty door-within-a-door at the Bank of Ireland building. We used our bus passes to get on a hop-on/hop-off bus tour of the city (the only time we used our passes), went 3 stops, and got off at Dublin Castle, where security was lax. For the most part it doesn't look "like a castle", and then I found nearly the worst thing ever... they cut into a turret to put a non-castle building in! Then, around the corner... it was worse. They had painted the castle, hiding the beautiful work done by stonemasons whenever ago.
The Dublin Castle gardens have a nice twisty-brick pattern where the ends are made to look like snakes. Since the Republic of Ireland is very grass-friendly (a sign at the airport said "Welcome to Ireland - Please Play on the Grass" instead of 'normal' "Please Stay off the Grass") we decided to walk along the snakes... which works until you reach EOS (End of Snake).
The Chester Beatty Library is right there, too (it faces the snake thing); and we decided to check out some exhibitty stuff there. Nothing spectacular, but the religious works section did explain to me the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims (in short, is the leader of Islam elected (like the Pope, Sunni), or hereditary (like a king, Shia)). Of course, Google could have done the same thing, but the exhibit made me actually be interested in knowing the answer.
We walked back to the hotel, where I finally remembered to take a picture of our room key. It was some weird possibly magnetic key that you just slotted in like a keycard. I've never seen anything like it before, or since. I have a deep suspicion that we took a nap.
Eventually we headed back out into Temple Bar, and had Italian at Botticelli. Then we hung out in Temple Bar square listening to the musicians (both in bars and on the street). The corner which had the band we had found entertaining the night before (and that afternoon) was empty, but someone had started setting up (and took a while to do so). But they were pretty good once they got started. I was very impressed by the drummer, who was playing drums on a box that he'd tilt for differing sounds. And instead of a hi-hat drum, he had bells on his left shoe. Someone else had tried to argue that it was their corner at some point, and a member of the Garda kept his place in the corner of the square just watching out for trouble. After the matter resolved itself (the latecomer found somewhere else to play) the Garda-man started walking a patrol. When there was a sign between him and the band, and a tree between him and most of the crowd, he was singing along with the cover the band was doing... and went back to a serious face once he had left cover.
We had to be outside an old stone church in Dublin 2 (which is a Tourism Office now) to catch a tour bus up to Northern Ireland, which we were using for transport to Belfast. It being a tour, though, we'd have entertaining tour things to do on the trip, instead of just hurry-up-and-wait of getting from point A to point B. It was a really good idea of servalan's, and we will probably try to do more things like it in the future.
So our last day ends very quickly... we never made it into West Coast Coffee (Dublin is on Ireland's east coast, so it's not even a reference to where it is in Ireland), and we got completely drenched on the way to the church.
To be continued...