Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Holy cow, it was a long weekend.  But as it is kind of considered a rite of passage in the Riley family, I was a little obligated to see Ireland and enjoy it.  Don't worry, I did!  It's a beautiful country.  So I flew from Manchester to Dublin, a flight that took all of 1 hour.  I got to my hostel via bus, and had the rest of the morning and afternoon to start to explore Dublin.

First, I went to Trinity College, which has a GORGEOUS campus, is home to the Book of Kells, and boasts many famous alums (Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, etc.).

 Trinity College.  Beautiful campus!

More Trinity College.
Keep off the lawns! Also in gobbledegook, aka Celtic.  The grass really was that shade of green.

Next, I went to one of Dublin's many parks, Merrion Square.  Dublin is a very walkable city (in my view, but I think I have a higher walking tolerance than most), there isn't an outstanding bus, underground, or train system to speak of.  So, getting from one end of the city to the other isn't hard, nor does it take much time.  There was a statue of Oscar Wilde there, and I must say, it was pretty fantastic.
This statue of Oscar Wilde had more personality than a lot of people I know.  If you don't know much about Mr. Wilde, Wikipedia him.  He was...interesting.
Almost all green!
Next, I headed towards (guess what?) St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Another interesting building, but it wasn't very well kept as far as cathedrals go (at least of the big ones I've been to), especially since they charge four and a half euros in admission.  Still, it had a lot of cool stuff.
St. Patrick's.
I love how vague this sign is. haha
 Cool floor.
One of the oldest known copies of Handel's Messiah. Its opened to the Hallelujah chorus.  The Messiah was first performed at St. Patrick's back in the day.
 Stained glass.
 Ancient Celtic burial slab, you can just make out the cross.
I went back to the hostel after St. Patricks.  We're reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles (one of my favorites) in my lit class, so I did that for the rest of the evening, in addition to listening to the random, strange live music in the lobby of the hostel.
Friday, I booked a day tour of Newgrange for Saturday, which came recommended from Uncle Clark.  And it did not disappoint!  Newgrange (all one word) is in the Boyne Valley (Brú na Bóinne, in Celtic), about 50 km outside Dublin city centre.  Anyway, the first people that settled in Ireland were farmers that most likely worshipped the sun.  They're not positive, because they prehistoric and hadn't invented writing yet.  In the Boyne Valley, there are several ancient passage tombs, referred to as such because there is a short passage ending in a (or several) tombs.  Newgrange has 3.  It's huge, awesome, and astoundingly old-- built about 500 years before the Great Pyramids in Egypt.  Here are some pictures!

View from the entrance.

The wheel wasn't even invented at this point.  I must say, the mind reels.
 Can you see the megalithic artwork on the rock?  No one is certain quite what the symbols mean.  There are three rocks around the base that have these carvings.  The main, famous one is at the entrance.
The hole on top of the entrance  is called the "roofbox." For two or three days around the Winter Solstice (December 21) the sun shines directly into the passage tomb, illuminating it.  They have an annual lottery to see who gets to go inside and see it.  Sweet!
The Boyne Valley.  There hundreds of tombs in the Boyne Valley, but the other two large ones are Knowth and Douth.
This was in the Visitor's Centre.  We had to cross that river (I forget what its called...) to get to Newgrange.

So we got back to Dublin around 2PM, which gave me enough time to do some more exploring.  I went to the Guinness Storehouse next.  I didn't go in, because a) beer is gross b) it was a ripoff and c) beer is gross.  Yup.  But it smelled DELIGHTFUL around the storehouse.  Yeasty and fermenty and malty.  Mmmm.

Where they make the black stuff.
Mmmm, malty goodness.

I did some more strolling around Dublin for the rest of the afternoon.  

Dublin's Millenium Bridge.  Not *quite* the same as London's.
Bizarro building.

Potato famine memorial.  That's not depressing AT ALL.

There was more live music in the hostel that night.  So I read more of Tess, listened to the music, and went to bed.  I lead such a glamorous life.  
My flight left at 1:00PM Sunday afternoon, so I had more of the morning to walk around.

7 Eccles Street.  It is apparently in Ulysses by James Joyce.  I haven't read it yet, but its on my short (long) list of books to read.
Truly international cuisine spotted in Dublin, Ireland.
Neat church on a corner in Dublin.

So. I got the bus to the airport without incident.  I checked my flight on the departures board.  My stomach plummeted.  My flight was on 1PM Saturday.  I missed my flight, by 24 hours.  So I frantically went to the ticket sales desk and asked what I should do.  To get on the 1PM Sunday flight, it would cost 242 euros.  Er, nope.  She suggested I get online and get a cheaper flight off for the next day.  So that's what I ended up doing, I got a flight for 6:30 AM on Monday.  I would have gone back into the city, but I was fresh out of cash and I hate using my debit card over here (but don't worry, I had food with me!).  So, I stayed in the Dublin airport for 16 hours.  I have done a VERY close reading of Tess of the d'Urbervilles and I even met a girl from Pennsylvania who shows sheep and hogs.  Small world.  
There was actually a surprising amount of people who stayed in the airport that night. We slept in uncomfortable restaurant chairs, on the floor, etc.  We were quite creative.  The best sleep I got though, was on the airplane.  I was ZONKED.  So, that is my tale of adventure in the homeland, Ireland.

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