May 19, 20 2011
Thursday morning : Today is my birthday and also our wedding anniversary!
We woke up to sunshine and warm weather; and an early breakfast! We told Jonathan that continental was fine since we had to leave early but he insisted that making cooked was fine with him. He was a very congenial host. We needed to drop the car off at the rental place by 9:00 so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. It was a good plan because we could not find the street we needed. We knew it was right next to the ferry terminal but we ended up in the terminal at first. We also had trouble finding a petrol station to fill up the tank. We really wanted to do this because they were going to charge us £120 if we brought it back empty! We went down the main road a bit and found a station. Phew! We filled up and asked directions. One of the men there lived right near where we needed to go. It was called Turkey Shore Road but when we went past it did not have a sign saying that so. But we turned down where we had been told, and at the end of the road was the Hertz office. They processed the return quickly and then drove us to the ferry terminal. We then had to wait for our 12 noon crossing.
I had pre-purchased the ferry tickets online before our trip. The crossing was very smooth across the Irish Sea and we arrived ahead of schedule, around 1:50. Everyone piled onto the shuttle bus that took us into Dublin, the bus driver was a comedian and gave commentary on the way.
It had been sunny and cloudless when we left Wales but Dublin was cloudy (but not raining!). We walked the long walk from the bus terminal to our Hotel, but I knew the way to go since I had been in Dublin in 2008. We stayed at Buswell's Hotel on Molesworth St, near St. Stephen's Green. It was a very nice hotel €113 per night. It is made up of 5 Georgian Townhouses and our room was large with big windows. The bathroom was a good size. The staff was very helpful and friendly. We asked about laundry service and was told they had same day service. If we brought our stuff down before 9:00 tomorrow morning it would be returned by 6:00. So we did that as it was the easiest method and we hadn't had our laundry done yet on the trip. But it wasn't cheap!
The best part of the day was when we first arrived at the hotel and they said I had some mail waiting for me. I couldn't think what it might be. It was birthday cards from our sons, Christian and Adam. That just made my day!
After checking in we strolled over to St. Stephen's Green to have a look. I wasn't able to get there last visit. Then we had supper in McDonald's of all places. We wanted to do some walking around and didn't want to spend the whole evening waiting in a restaurant for our food to arrive, so although it's not the best place for a birthday/anniversary dinner, it suited us that day. We had a whole month of eating out!
We walked up to the O'Connell bridge and found it blocked off by the Garda. I guess the queen's car was going to be coming through and they kept the crowds back. The queen came for her visit two days before we arrived in Dublin and was leaving the day before we left town. The American president was arriving a couple of days after we left Dublin, although they kept all the security in town in the meantime.
We waited to see if the queen came by but she didn't, so we went walking the other way. Then after a while lots of people started to pass us so we assumed that she had gone past. We turned around and went back to the bridge. It would have been interesting to see her, but we wouldn't have even if we had stayed. Her car was on the opposite side of the bridge and there was too much obstruction in between. I know a lot of people who stayed were disappointed that they couldn't see her.
We crossed the bridge and went up to the post office where the Irish proclamation was declared in 1916 and where there are still bullet holes in the building. I had wanted to visit this last visit as well, but we hadn't got to it.
We then crossed back over the bridge and walked through Temple Bar. It was very busy. Lots of places to eat. Actually there are lots of eating places all over the city.
On Friday morning we went out to breakfast as it wasn't included in our hotel rate. We chose Lemon Crepe & Coffee Company. I had the Fruit Traditional Crepe and hot chocolate and Mike had Apple Cinnamon crepe and coffee. €17.35 kind of expensive for breakfast, but it was good.
We headed straight over to Trinity College to go in to see the Book of Kells. We were actually lined up before the doors opened and there were already about 20 people ahead of us. There was an adult tour group and a school tour group that showed up and were let in ahead of the rest of us, so I suggested to Mike that we make a beeline for the book and see it first and then go back and read the displays. That's what we did. The pages of the Book of Kells are turned everyday so that they are all equally used. You never know what page you will be seeing. Unfortunately the pages that it was on this day were not its most elaborate or colourful. There were also two smaller illuminated books in the glass case.
I really wanted Mike to see all the interesting books upstairs in the Long Room. When I was there in 2008, there were lots of tiny prayer books and letters. I didn't realize that it was a changing display and those items were no longer there. This time it was all medicine books this time. Definitely not as interesting to me. I had been so looking forward to seeing those prayer books again so I was quite disappointed.
So we ended up going over to the Dublin Castle and visiting the Chester Beatty Library. It is free and well worth a visit. Here we saw lots of illuminated manuscripts and Korans. We also saw some of the earliest fragments that exist of the gospel, on papyrus. It was really interesting.
Photographs are not permitted at either place so we bought books with the photos of what we saw.
The History Museum was right across the road from our hotel so we visited there. It has a lot of gold artifacts and church artifacts. It was interesting but we were again disappointed as the Tara broach and the gold boat, the two most important pieces, were in storage while they renovated its spot! Why didn't they just display them elsewhere in the museum until their regular spot was ready?
For lunch we went to Eddie Rocket's. It is supposed to be like an American diner from the 50's. Mike had the Biker breakfast and I had 2 sliders and a milkshake. €20.00
Then we visited Christchurch Cathedral. There we saw Strongbow's effigy, both the old and new ones. The crypt was full of interesting items.
The sun came out after we left the Cathedral so we decided to go back to St. Stephen's Green for a while.
At 7:00 we went looking for a place for supper. It was Friday night which meant that every place was crowded. We finally found an Italian restaurant off of Grafton Street that was quiet. We both had spinach ricotta ravioli.
We walked around a bit more.
We then headed back to the hotel and repacked our bags. All of our laundry was cleaned and waiting for us in our room. We needed our bags packed properly to take them to the airport to pick up our rental car from Dan Dooley.