Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Europe Day 4

Well, I didn't do a whole lot today.  Somehow I managed to sleep in until 1pm.  I wasn't overly tired, so I'm not sure how that happened!  I quickly got ready and then headed into town again.  Tomorrow is my last day in Ireland, so I wanted to make sure I got to see things outside of Dublin.  I booked a County Wicklow day trip that leaves tomorrow morning.  If you're a fan (or just have watched) P.S. I Love You, Co. Wicklow is where they filmed the parts in Ireland, specifically that gorgeous scene where that one chick and Gerard Butler meet.  After that, I went to the Decorative Arts and History branch of the National Museum.  Instead of spending time figuring out bus routes and time tables, I opted to just walked there.  Turns out it was about two miles away.  Whoops!  Oh well, I got my exercise in for the day!  They had all sorts of exhibits there, from military history, to the history of Irish coins (super exciting, that one was!), to interior design, to clothing throughout the years.  Some of it was kind of boring (the coins), but some of it was pretty cool.  When I finished there it was fairly late but there were still a couple of places I wanted to go.  By the time I walked all the way over to where they were, I had kind of had it.  I was tired and I'm not a nice person when I'm tired.  I did walk more around Temple Bar because I wanted to have a pub meal, but in the end I couldn't bring myself to go in by myself.  Lame, I know!  Instead, I walked back towards where I catch the bus and grabbed a quick dinner of fish and chips.  The fish and chips were good, so all was not lost.  I then caught the bus back to the apartment.  I want to make sure I get to bed early tonight so I don't run the risk of oversleeping in the morning.  Somehow during the day today, my phone got all screwed up and the clock is off by about six and a half hours.  The calendar also says that it's December 31, 2004.  Not sure exactly what happened!  I'm hoping that once I get back to the States and take it off of airplane mode, it'll fix itself.  We shall see! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Europe Day 3

I actually took pictures today!!!  Hooray!  I slept in again this morning (I am on vacation, after all!), then went back into the city center.  The first thing I did was stop and get a tattoo . . .
I had been planning on doing this for a while and had already picked out what I wanted, so I went prepared.  It didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would and it only took about 10 minutes to do.  After that I walked over to the Famine Memorial on the banks of the River Liffey.  This was one of the things I was most looking forward to seeing . . .

After that I joined up with one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours.  I skipped the first few stops, but got off at Christ Church Cathedral.  The highlights of Christ Church, for me, involved dirty laundry and a dead cat and rat.  In the crypt of the church, they had some of the costumes from The Tudors, which had apparently filmed scenes there.  Seeing Jonathan Rhys Meyers' dirty laundry made this whole trip worth it.  Sorry the pics are so dark, but like I said, we were in a crypt.  There tends to not be a whole lot of light down there.

And here are the cat and rat.  I guess curiosity really did kill the cat!

Next I went to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was the site of something else I had been looking forward to seeing; The Door of Reconciliation.  You can read the story below.

A few other pics from St. Patrick's:

After St. Patrick's, I hit up the whole point of the bus tour:  Kilmainham Gaol.  I won't go into the whole history of the place, but there were many political prisoners held there, including many who were executed for the Easter Rising in 1916.  Parts of In the Name of the Father (which is a great movie and book, btw-seriously, look it up!) were also filmed there. 

One thing about the jail that I thought was kind of interesting was that the prisoners could only use the spiral staircase.  They specifically designed it with that staircase because you can't run, get into fights, or otherwise cause problems as easily on a spiral staircase.  By the time I got to Kilmainham, the weather was starting to turn pretty cold and after being in this limestone, freezing-cold building for an hour and a half, I was ready to head home.  I finished up the bus tour, which thankfully let out close by where I pick up the bus.  I warmed up on the bus a bit, so I stopped at a Chinese restaurant around the corner from the apartment, and had dinner there.  I love that in Europe they always seem to have early bird specials where you can get a starter, main dish and dessert for a set price.  Given the price of decent restaurants in this part of the world, it makes things a lot easier on the pocketbook/credit card! 

P.S. For the record, I'm not going to be revising any of these traveling blog posts as I'm too tired by the time I write them, so I apologize for any errors they may contain!

Europe Day 2

I slept in yesterday morning, then caught the bus in to the city center, which was a little bit scary, given I had no idea where I was going, other than the destination my hosts had told me to go to.  I made it though, and basically just started walking around, trying to get my bearings.  It felt like I walked for miles, but I'm sure it wasn't quite that much!  The first place I went was the National Gallery.  Unfortunately, a lot of it was closed for renovation, but they had kind of the cream of the crop, I guess, available to the public still.  What I was really excited to see was a painting by Vermeer, who is my favorite artist.  I've seen some of his works in New York and Paris and it is now my life's mission to see all of his paintings in person.  Fortunately he wasn't very prolific-I believe there are only 36 known works.

Next I went to go to the National Museum of Ireland, but mistakenly ended up at the Natural History Museum.  I should have known by the large group of children that were lined up outside, that this was not what I thought it was, but I went in anyway.  For those of you who went to BYU or are from the Orem/Provo area, it's basically the Irish version of the Bean museum.  It was entertaining for a few minutes.  Then I went around the block and found the actual museum that I had been wanting to go to.

The National Museum of Ireland has a great collection of Irish historical items.  My favorite part was the bog people.  They had bodies (or rather, parts of bodies) of people who had (mostly) been murdered and had their bodies thrown into the bogs.  They were amazingly well preserved.  You could even see the red hair on one man.  The skin looked just like leather handbags, which is what I will now think of any time I see someone who has spent too much time in the tanning bed.

After hitting up the museums I grabbed a quick lunch at a cafe, then walked over to Trinity College.  I walked around the grounds a little bit, which was kind of cool, then went to see the Book of Kells.  All of the guidebooks warned about huge lines to see the Book of Kells, but I was able to walk right in.  I don't know if I would have waited for hours to see it, so it worked out quite well.  The book, itself, was neat, but once you spend a minute looking at it, you're ready to move on.  Or at least I was!  Upstairs from the book, there is a big, long library that's full of old books.  There's some law that requires that they receive a copy of every book that is published in Ireland and, I believe, in the UK as well. 

Next I walked around Grafton Street for a while, which is a pedestrian shopping area in Dublin.  When my parents were here, they said there were lots of people out playing music, etc. on the street, but I only saw a couple of people.  Maybe it was because of the time of year?  Who knows . . .  Anyway, after walking around there and a little bit around the Temple Bar district, I headed back to the apartment.  I was pretty worn out by this time!  And, just like in Paris, I had a huge blister on the bottom of my feet.  Unlike Paris, though, it wasn't too bad and it wasn't a blood blister, so I can't complain.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Europe Day 1

I guess this technically is about days one and two since I left Utah early Friday morning.  I had to be at the airport at 5:30am, which sucked, but due to my lack of sleep, I was able to snooze on the flight from SLC to Chicago.  Unfortunately I had a 7 hour layover in Chicago, which was never-ending.  I took myself out to lunch at Chili's and walked all around the entire airport to kill time.  I also tried to get some work done, but they don't have free wifi in the Chicago airport.  Lame!  I bought a one day pass, but the connection was horrible, so I didn't get much work done.  I finally boarded my Aer Lingus flight for Dublin and was pleased to find out that the plane was only about half full.  I had plenty of room to stretch out and relax.  After watching Taken 2, I finally did get some sleep, although it wasn't hugely restful, as you can imagine. 

We arrived shortly after 9am local time.  I made it through immigration, got my bag and caught a taxi without any problems.  I'm staying in the apartment of a couple named Liam and Aisling.  They're both super nice.  Upon arrival, I took a shower and a nap that went on for several hours longer than I had planned.  I decided to take things easy today and not really do any sight seeing.  I did walk around the neighborhood, locate the bus stop and visit the grocery store, though.  I love European grocery stores!  They always have such interesting stuff.  As I type this I am eating King Prawn Cocktail flavored potato chips.  They are delicious!  While at Tesco, I also picked up the latest and last Maeve Binchy book.  I wanted to wait to buy it here so that it would be special.  If luggage weight and money weren't an issue, I would go buy a copy of all of her books just so that I can say I have all Irish copies of them.  Yes, I know I'm a dork!  After getting back to the apartment, I had a migraine come on pretty suddenly and started throwing up, so it was a really good thing that I chose to take it easy today.  Fortunately the migraine didn't last long and I was able to sleep it off.  I spent this evening chatting with Liam about the problems Ireland is facing and different locations in the States that he wants to go.  He and Aisling both have a family member who has or had a disability, so we also talked quite a bit about my work. 

Other than my moment of being sickly, today was nice and relaxing.  I'm really glad I took the day off; I really needed it!  Tomorrow I'll be on the go all day and keeping busy, I'm sure.  There's a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Dublin that I want to do tomorrow.  I think it'll be a good way to get the lay of the land and one of the places I really want to go, Kilmainham Gaol, is further out on the other side of the city, so this will be the perfect way to get there.  I also want to go out for some proper Irish food.  I'm thinking a nice stew or chowder at a pub for lunch tomorrow.