Monday, September 5, 2011

Dublin, Day 2 - 23 Aug 2011

Slept like a rock! After breakfast in the hotel this morning we boarded the bus for our first tour of the vacation: a city tour of Dublin, which includes a visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Phoenix Park, lunch, and a tour of the Guinness factory.
Dublin is Ireland's largest city, with a population near 2 million.  I"m not a big-city person, but I really liked this place. Tons of history, friendly people, and safe.  We rode through the town, taking in the many historical buildings and monuments, such as the Oscar Wilde Memorial, Daniel O'Connell Monument, King Edward's Door, and the Central Post Office.  Jaime, our tour guide for the morning, was both informative and a crack-up.  The kid could keep us entertained with his take of the "Irish" way of doing things.

Click on image for slideshow
 We then drove past Christ Church Cathedral before arriving at our first destination: St. Patrick's Cathedral. I was unable to get a shot of Christ Church through the bus window, so I took my frustrations out on St. Patrick's..:).  Legend has St. Patrick baptising converts at a well in the park alongside the cathedral, which has existed since the fifth century.  The interior of the cathedral is as impressive as it is large.  Historical figures such as Jonathan Swift, and countless others associated with the history of "Ireland's Church" seem to be memorialized or entombed here.  I had a grand time taking hundreds of photos of the place.  Click on the image at left for a slide show!

We then took a quick spin through Phoenix Park, a 1750 acre park with 7 miles of walls, making it the 2nd largest 'enclosed' park in Europe.  Here, we saw the President of Ireland's House (look familiar?), the Wellington Obelisque, and Pope's Cross. We only had a few minutes outside of the bus, so I ran into the woods looking for birds.  I could only find a pair of Blue Tits, several Woodpigeons, and of course, flocks of Jackdaws and Rooks.

At about noon we stopped for lunch at the Brazen Head Pub (est. 1198), Ireland's oldest operating pub!  Robin and I enjoyed a hearty meal of stuffed chicken, irish stew and a Guinness.  Stuffed, I walked around to get a few pics of the place before we left for our next stop.

Our next stop of the day was an optional, guided tour of the Guinness Storehous in Dublin.  After a review of the history of the place and its founder, Arthur Guinness, we learned how they make their famous stout (no, they don't use water from the River Liffe outside).  We were then free to walk around and check the place out.  Robin and I went upstairs to become 'Certified Guinness Pourers'.  After a few minutes instruction, we both poured the perfect pint!  They even instructed us on the proper way to drink a Guinness.  It was the freshest stout we will ever drink!

Returning to the hotel, I had a small accident, tearing the strap off my Collette Vacations Backpack.  Without a way to carry all my camera crap I had to forego a nap and head back into town to look for a new backpack.  So I wandered down to Grafton St. at quitting time (crowds!!!!) and found a shop selling backpacks.  I got back to the hotel in time for us to grab a quick dinner in the Cairo Restaurant at the hotel.
Afterward, we headed back to the room to pack for tomorrow's next destination: Killkenny and Waterford.

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