Day 1 - Chicago to Dublin - 21-22 Aug 2011
Rebecca was waiting for us just outside the terminal, and directed us to the parking lot where we had a short wait for our bus. Apparently flight delays would not be bringing the rest of our tour group into Dublin until well after noon, so it was just us, for now. As we waited for the bus, I took the opportunity to scan the airport property for birds, finding a large flock of House Martins (Delichon urbicom) roosting on the control tower. I would also see the first of many Woodpigeons (Columba palumbus), Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) and Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) of the trip.
Trinity Capital Hotel in downtown Dublin. The hotel was situated just across the street from Trinity College (est. 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I), and within walking distance of shops, museums and parks. I was hoping to get a copy of Collins' Birds of Europe and Ireland, so Rebecca directed Robin and me to a couple of book stores just around the corner from the hotel.
Upon arrival to the hotel we immediately realized that we had the wrong converters for our electronics. Ireland uses a 3-prong outlet, and we had brought the standard European 2-prong converters. No problem, though, we were able to buy a couple of them from a vending machine in the hotel lobby. In order to use electricity in the rooms our hotel keycards had to inserted into a special card slot, a good example of Ireland's committment to Green Energy.
Hodges Figgis. They didn't have the Collins' guide, but I was able to pick up Dempsey and O'Clery's "The Complete Field Guide to Ireland's Birds". While there, Robin asked for a recommendation for a place to eat.
Book of Kells were on display. This early 9th Century book contains the oldest known copy of the 4 Gospels, and is lavishly illustrated using ancient colored pigments. Some images of the book can be seen here.
We were then treated to a walk through the Long Room, the main chamber of the Old Library at Trinity College. Photography was not permitted, but image walking through the great hall at Hogwarts, with thousands of ancient books and manuscripts lining gallery bookcases and barrel-vaulted ceilings. 14 marble busts guard the collection on either side of the hall. Click on the link above for a 360º panorama of the place (its worth the download wait).
St Stephen's Green (est. 1663), a 22-acre park situated in the city-center. Manicured lawns and a large canal brought large crowds of people from all directions. I walked around, looking for birds.
Gulls were also present. I managed some nice closeups of the Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), which in their basic (winter) plumage look similar to our smaller Bonaparte's Gulls. Note the bright red bills and feet.
Robin (Erithacus rubicula) and a pair of Blue Tits (Cyanistes caerulens), but these birds were too high up in the canopy to get clear shots.
With the arrival of the rest of the guests, we loaded a bus at 6pm and headed off to the Manor House for dinner and old-fashion irish entertainment that included folk-singing and dancing. The show was great, but looking around the room I could tell that everyone was suffering from almost 24-hrs of travelling. Still, we had a great evening, and even got share stories w/ another tour group that had come from London and were essentially experiencing our itinerary backwards.
Tomorrow's itininerary includes a city tour of Dublin, followed by a tour of the Guinness factory!