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.
17 March (sorry my American readers, I now exclusively use European/British numbering) has been a significant day in my life in the past. A decade ago, this was the day of my first skating competition. I won two gold medals as a twelve-year-old at the 2005 Shamrock Skate.
17 March 2008 was also the date I embarked on my first trip to Europe when I went to Spain with my high school Spanish class. This trip really opened my eyes to the fact that there was a whole world out there to explore and I've been obsessed with travelling (yes, I spell that the British way now too) ever since!
Looking through photos of that trip is amusing. My photography was blurry and absolutely horrendous! It also includes an amusing shot of my trip time on an underground subway in Europe! If you would have told me them how much time I'd be spending on the tube in London in seven years, I never would have believed you!
This St. Patrick's Day was fantastic as well because it included a trip to Ireland! I left Ireland the day before St. Patrick's Day due to classes, but the weekend leading up to St. Patrick's Day was just as festive. The night before I left, I realised that I had no green clothing! Luckily, such a place as Primark exists and I was able to buy a green dress for five pounds and the International Students House also gave us all a festive hat! I've never worn so much green at once!
We arrived Friday afternoon and started with a two-hour walking tour of Dublin. The entire city from the City Hall to Christchurch Cathedral to the Dublin Castle to the Bank of Ireland was bathed in green light. We were told that the city was decorated just for St. Patrick's Day, but a theory about a green ghost also circulated.
During our walking tour, the city was surprisingly empty. When we emerged from dinner, however, the entire city was suddenly filled with people dressed in green or dressed as leprechauns or St. Patrick. I learned that if you explore with someone dressed as a leprechaun while wearing an Irish flag,you get to meet lots of people from all over the world as they ask for photos with him (thanks Max.) Below is a photo with some random stranger who wanted a photo with Max, Lily and me. It was all good fun.
During the day, we got to explore some of the surrounding area. Ireland really does have the iconic rolling green hills! The photo below was taken at the Hill of Tara.
While at the Hill of Tara, I also nipped into an old book shop.
The elderly owner sat in front of an adorable little fire place. I bought a book of Irish Fairy Tales (to which our tour guide helpfully informed me were not actually true) because I have no self-control in book stores.
We also visited Newgrange, which is a Neolithic passage tomb older than the pyramids or Stonehenge. We were able to go inside as well.
We also visited Glendalough and the ruins of Monastic City.
I seem to be spending a lot of time visiting waterfalls in countries that start with an "I" and end with "-eland." (Not that you'd know that since I've been slacking on my blogging! Anyway, we visited Powerscourt Waterfalls.
If I'm rating the trips based on how much fun they were, this one definitely wins! It was full of amusing moments such as when we all decided to take photos of each other taking photos.
If you're wondering what my stupid moment of the trip was, it was probably when I tripped some random British guy at the airport. He told me he was afraid to walk by me again, so he walked out of his way to get back to his table. I think my American friends were more amused than I was, but at least I wasn't the one falling and bruising my knees this time.
And if you're wondering what my soundtrack of the trip was, it was Dropkick' Murphys and Flogging Molly of course! It's St. Patrick's Day after all!
I promise that my Italy, Iceland Part 2, and London updates blog posts are coming soon! (I actually mean it this time!)
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. 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 27 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: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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