Touring Dublin (rain, rain go away)

We woke up this morning to the ominous sight of people hurrying down the street, bundled up and clutching umbrellas.  Apparently, our fantastic run of Irish weather was at an end.  However, following the traveler’s motto of “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”, we bundled appropriately and headed out clutching our umbrellas.  We followed the Shelbourne Concierge’s recommendation for breakfast and made our way to Grafton Street and Bewley’s Cafe.  Well, there was at least one detour into the Clark’s shoe store to peruse the sale racks and make a purchase or two. (Mom, Vicki and I all subscribe to the philosophy that one can never have too many shoes.)

After the detour, we entered Bewley’s Cafe and were seated.  There has been a Bewley’s restaurant in Dublin since 1840 and the building has the most beautiful stained glass windows.  They were doing a bustling business and we had learned over the course of the last week that there really is no such thing as fast service in an Irish restaurant.  (On the other hand, they never rush you out the door either.)  Eventually, though, we were able to place our orders.  Mom and I had the Irish Porridge with toasted pecans and maple syrup.  We couldn’t resist ordering a scone as well and of course we washed it down with good Irish tea.  Vicki had the continental breakfast with yummy fruit and yoghurt and a crisp and delicious homemade croissant.

After breakfast, we bundled back up and headed out into the continuing rain. Several wind gusts later, we realized our cute, light-weight travel umbrellas were not really up to the task of handling the gusty conditions. Just on the short walk from Bewley’s to the Dublin Tourism Centre, our umbrellas turned inside out several times.  Once at the Tourism Centre, we purchased 3-day tickets for the Dublin City Bus Hop-on/Hop-Off tour.  Mom and I have found over the course of our travels that these tours are not only a good way to get from place to place but also provide a good overall orientation to a new city.  By the time we go once around the circuit, we’ve identified the sites we want to go back and visit.  These buses are almost always open-top double-decker but that was obviously not an option today during the rain.

We took seats downstairs and excitedly started listening to the friendly tour guide begin to point out the Dublin city sites…which we couldn’t see due to rain and fog on the bus windows.  However, we did our best.  After making almost a complete tour circuit, we decided our first stop would be the Book of Kells at Trinity College. We dashed through the rain from the bus stop to the college entranceway and asked directions of the cute college kids obviously placed for the benefit of us tourists.  They were offering 30-minute walking tours of the college…not a lot of takers on a day like today. We made our way through the rain to the Old Trinity Library.  We bought our tickets and began to make our way through the exhibits.  The process of creating illuminated manuscripts is fascinating and the amount of information they have been able to learn from the texts themselves is amazing.  Finally, we entered the room where the Book of Kells was displayed.  The texts are in a large library case that allows you to really lean down and get a close look.  The thought that we were looking at something created over 1000 years ago gave us chills.  After finishing our viewing, we headed upstairs to wander through the Long Gallery of the Old Library.  The Gallery was two stories high with bookshelves full of books floor to ceiling.  There was also an exhibit celebrating mystery writers that was right down Mom’s alley.  Finally, at the end of our visit, we browsed through the college gift shop where we gave serious consideration to replacing our umbrellas.

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Back outside in the rain, we waited for our next bus.  A cold 10 minutes later, we climbed on board and followed the circuit to our next stop, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Paying our entrance fee, we walked through the doors into the awesome splendor of this 900 year old cathedral.  The church has beautiful stained glass windows and many monuments and memorial plaques.  We also saw the grave marker of Jonathan Swift who was the Dean when he wrote Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal.

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Back out in the rain, we again waited for our bus and hopped back on.  Following the route back to the stop closest to our hotel, we got off and debated dinner plans.  Due to the fact that we knew exactly where it was, we again opted for Bewley’s for dinner.  Vicki and I had Tomato Basil soup and a salad and Mom had Wild Mushroom Penne pasta.  The meal was delicious and really hit the spot after a cold and rainy day.

Tired, but with a feeling of accomplishment, we returned to our hotel room for our nightly web cam call to Dad and then turned in, another day gone.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Kilmainham Gaol, shopping in Grafton Street and the Dublin version of “Art in the Park”.

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