When my sister came to visit me in Iceland at the end of November, it was her first trip to Europe! I know! The concept is so foreign to me. Anyway, we had long dreamt of exploring Ireland together. I only had two days off of work that we could make the trip, but we booked our flights from Reykjavik to Dublin and went for it!
We left on an early Friday morning and spent the day exploring Dublin. I had visited Dublin twice before, so I showed my sister around. There was one major different from my earlier (St. Patrick's Day 2015 and August 2016) trips - the Christmas lights everywhere!
We also made a stop at St. Stephen's Green and the shopping centre (where I had actually never been before!) in order for my sister to stock up on gifts that said "Ireland" on them.
On our second day in Ireland, we took a day tour with RailTours Ireland. At this point in my travelling, I don't usually opt for group tours, instead preferring to adventure on my own. Due to the lack of time and our desire to see more of Ireland, we decided on this tour. And we saw so much of Ireland in one day! We met at 6:40 AM, hopped on a train, and went as far as Limerick. Our first stop was Bunratty Castle.
The castle tour was nice, but I was most excited about the Inis perfume in the gift shop! I've used this for years, not originally even knowing it was Irish. It is hard to find, even in Ireland. Carissa, however, was more excited to meet this pigmy goat!
We stopped in the small town of Doolin for lunch and then saw the Cliffs of Moher! I had dreamt of these cliffs for as long as I could remember! If was misty and rainy, but that only enhanced their appeal. We then started the trek by coach to Galway.
The last stop was Galway, which was all lit up for Christmas and also had a Christmas market of its own. I loved the town and wanted more time to explore, but after a couple of hours, we went on a train back to Dublin.
As always, it went by too fast and we wanted to stay in Ireland. I might be back sooner rather than later though! I'll keep you guessing for now, but my next post will about my trip to London and Manchester the week before Christmas.
It was cheaper to book a flight from Venice to Dublin, pay for two nights in a hostel, and book a separate flight from Dublin to Reykjavik than it was to just fly straight from Venice to Reykjavik. So that was massively convenient since I was still annoyed that I didn't get to see the Book of Kells during my St. Patrick's Day trip to Dublin last year and also wanted to see what the city was like when it wasn't St. Patrick's Day.
My transportation plans are rarely at comfortable hours, resulting in me being that annoying person in the hostel who is always the last to get in at night and the first to get up in the morning. This was no exception, as my flight didn't even land in Dublin until 1 AM! I had booked tickets to see the Book of Kells right at opening time the next morning. Relatively early on a Sunday morning, the streets of Dublin were empty and cold (It was 60F/16C but in Italy it was 95F/35C). Even the campus of Trinity College was relatively isolated, until I turned the corner and saw the massive queue to get in to see the Book of Kells. Since nothing else was open yet, apparently every single tourist in Dublin decided to go see the Book of Kells at precisely that moment. Since I had pre-booked tickets I was able to walk right inside to the already-crowded room. At this point, I began to jokingly adopt a literary snob mentality. "Certainly all these people can't really be interested in Medieval manuscripts. How many of them have an English degree with a focus in Medieval literature? They're probably just here because they're trying to seem cultured. Let me have my time with the Medieval manuscripts!"
Anyway, my joking mentality was wrong about at least one group of visitors. In the upstairs library, there was a small case featuring Seamus Heaney's work. I eagerly eavesdropped as one elderly visitor, evidently with Oxford ties, talked about the similarities in Seamus Heaney and C.S. Lewis's careers (both Irish by birth, but then Oxford literature professors at the same college a few decades apart, and well-known writers), and then proceeded to tell the two people he was with that the next day when he was taking them to some special lunch at Oxford, that he would take them to this special room with both of their works. I had no idea there were so many hidden literature rooms at Oxford! I considered seeing if this elderly visitor's Oxford ties could get me into Oxford's English literature 650-1550 masters program, but decided they probably wouldn't appreciate sneaky eavesdroppers!
I unfortunately wasn't allowed to take photos in the Book of Kells exhibit and the photos of the Old Library did not turn out well, but even if my trip to Dublin consisted only of this stop, it would have been worth it. However, it was only 10:30 AM and I still had all day to explore.
From there, I headed to the Little Museum of Dublin, which was full of interesting artifacts of mostly the last century of Dublin history. 2016 is the centennial year of Irish independence so it was really cool to be there for that! If I hadn't checked museums on TripAdvisor, I wouldn't have even heard of it, and it's likely it is one of the best underrated museums of Dublin. There is a twenty minute tour through the house every hour, which pointed out many of the museum pieces I otherwise would have missed, like the printing press from The Irish Times or a newspaper piece about Queen Victoria's visit to Dublin. I realized that my only knowledge of Irish history was pre-1000 and that I knew barely anything about modern Irish history. It was great to learn about the Easter Rising and Ireland's independence.
There was an interesting American connection. Right after John F Kennedy gave his famous speech in Berlin, he flew to Dublin. In Ireland, politicians don't use podiums when giving speeches and the day before his arrival, they realized that American politicians do use podiums, so they converted a music stand into a podium for his visit, which is housed at the museum.
Another interesting story is that there was a ceasefire during the Easter Rising on St. Stephen's Green (right across from the Little Museum of Dublin), everyday so that the park's ducks could get fed!
I try to make it a point to visit a hipster coffee shop in every city I visit, so I visited 3FE and sat outside looking for an Irish fiance, I mean, watching the rain over the city, not at all eavesdropping on the American girl and her Irish significant other beside me.
I was not prepared for how rainy and cold Dublin was, but conveniently Primark originated in Dublin, though it is called Penney's there. So I wandered around in there for a while and found an inexpensive coat.
I also visited the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts and History, which had a really interesting variety of exhibits.
I really just spent a lot of time wandering around the rest of the day. At the end of the day, I clocked in at 15 miles! I had no idea I was walking so much all around Dublin!
It was a great second trip to Dublin, but I am eager to see more of the Emerald Isle sometime in the (hopefully near) future.
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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