Wow what a crazy day! I didn’t sleep well due to tummy troubles (I’m hoping its not the Cryptosporidium outbreak). We went downstairs and met three other guests at our B&B: two Americans from Kansas, and a German lady. We had a nice conversation, although one of the Americans started to talk more history about the places that we were planning to see than even we could handle. Heath’s eyes started to look glassy, but that may have been because of our supremely greasy “traditional” Irish breakfast of deep fried eggs, super fatty sausage, greasy hash-brown, and bacon (which is fried Canadian Bacon for US readers). This really didn’t help my tummy at all.
We packed up our guidebook, and walked just a few houses down to another B&B to get 24 hour tickets for the hop-on, hop-off bus. The owner of this B&B was an incredibly nice guy.
Our walk into the city to catch the bus was long, but fairly interesting. We stopped on the upper section of the Royal Canal (no longer used), and looked at the lochs (did I spell that correctly?). And I got my picture taken with a life-like statue.
We got a little lost getting to the bus (again with the street signs being missing or sometimes only on one side of one building). Once we were in the right place, we found the bus with little trouble. One round of the city in the bus takes an hour and fifteen minutes, but you can hop on and hop off at any of the 21 stops on the tour as often as you’d like for 24 hours. It was a really good idea, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is visiting Dublin. If you are spending a few days in Dublin, they have a discounted three-day pass for 25 Euros a person. The name of the company is called City Tour. Oh, and another bonus of using this company is that they give you a coupon book that is good for a Euro or two off certain attractions in Dublin.
Our long walk and then the bus ride took up pretty much all of the morning, so we decided to get lunch at the first bus stop that looked like it would have some interesting food, and then aim for some sights. We got lunch to go at a local sandwich shoppe and then ate in Merrion Square (a few blocks from St. Stephen’s Green). It was very cloudy and cold, but the park was fascinating with high vegetation surrounding nearly all the paths, and interesting statues here and there.
We walked across the street to the Museum of Natural History. Normally, we’d probably pass it by, but the guidebook’s description intrigued us: “Very dusty, a little creepy, and utterly compelling…” The museum was built in 1856, and basically hasn’t changed since that time, other than a few dustings (and not any recently when we visited). The wood floors creak like they belong in a horror movie, the lighting is dim, and the whole museum is packed with super creepy, really old stuffed dead animals, a lot of them in very unnatural poses (Jessi – you would not be able to go more than five steps without bursting into tears). It was disgusting and disturbing and fascinating all at the same time. I almost cried at a display of a family of river otters, stuffed and posed against a plaster scene. Once you get past the ick factor, though, you can take the museum for what it is – a piece of history (hopefully not to be repeated). Many of the animals preserved in the cases are extinct, and there are about two million critters – from the land, seas, and sky.
One of the most impressive parts of the museum were two absolutely enormous preserved skeletons of Giant Irish Deer, that went extinct about 10,000 years ago. The antlers were huge – I think they said the largest ever found were 20 feet across. And the animal itself was larger than a Clydesdale horse. They made the tiny deer that wander through our yard grazing on our vegetables and roses look like guinea pigs.
We left the building (but it took a long time for me to shake the heebie jeebies), and lucked out by crossing the street and catching the very next tour bus. Our next goal was Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library. Unfortunately, the former only held guided paid tours and didn’t know how to run a ticket line to save their lives. We were told to wait in three different places, and finally, when they were ready to take money for tickets, the line was out the door with us at the back of it (don’t ask me how that happened, as we were only third in line in the beginning), and we didn’t want to wait for the next tour. We left the castle, and only took pictures of the exterior.
We got a little turned around trying to find the Chester Beatty Library (a collection of rare manuscripts and books), and happened upon a random courtyard with a very cool statue. I took some pictures of it. It is of a woman holding the Irish harp (I assume she stands for Ireland), and a very broken-looking man wearing what I think was a blacksmith’s apron half-collapsed in her lap. There was no inscription as to what the statue was about, and I probably couldn’t direct you there again if I tried.
We finally asked a guard how to get to the library, and once we got there, it was pretty cool. In front of the building is a massive lawn with a giant Celtic knot-work piece cut through it using bricks pressed into the ground. We got a good picture of it from the top of the library. Unfortunately, much of the library was under some renovation, but a very small exhibit was free, as was the roof access. The free exhibit consisted of artifacts from Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. It was very cool – they even had some scraps of an original biblical codex (can’t remember which one, but it was an important one).
We went up to the roof and relaxed for a bit, called our moms, took some pictures. Then, unfortunately, we got a bit lost going back to the bus. We tried to skip ahead to the next stop using directions from an old biddy at the desk of the library, but got turned around a bit, and ended up walking forever.
Unfortunately, by this point, we had to cut out all other attractions that we wanted to see if we wanted to get to the brewery and catch one of the final busses back to the jump point.
Oh, did I say brewery? I meant THE GUINNESS BREWERY!!! [Insert Halleluiah Chorus] Oh, yes, ladies and gents, the original sprawling brewery that is smack in the middle of the city. Yes, you do get a “free” pint at the end of the tour. But the tour costs a whopping $17.50 a person, so your pint will be the most expensive you’ll ever have poured for you. It was an interesting tour, learning about the history of Guinness and about brewing beer and about the history of the advertising, but it wasn’t worth $17.50 (especially considering the ostentatiously huge giftshop). 😛 Still, at the end, we got our pint of mother’s milk at the Gravity Bar on the top floor of the main building. Another bonus of going through the whole tour is the view at the end from the Gravity Bar – you get a 360 degree view of Dublin, and it really is very pretty.
After we’d slurped down our pints (and text messaged a few friends to get them jealous), we headed down to the massive Guinness paraphernalia shop (which you can access without a ticket, if you wish – they love raking in the cash). We got a few small souvenirs, and headed back outside to the bus stop.
Got the bus back to the starting point, and the walk home seemed far longer than the walk there. Pavement is so hard to walk on all day. We stopped and grabbed a bag of pretty nummy fish and chips, ate in the dining room of B&B. Got showered and crashed almost immediately.