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    Jon's Ireland Vacation Travelogue - May 1998

    Day 1

    16 hours on three planes from LA to Dublin left me sore and tired. I tried to doze off a few times but it was no use. Plane seats are just to narrow for my shoulders. I end up all scrunched up for hours.

    The last leg of the flight from New York to Dublin wasnít quite as bad as the rest. There was plenty of free Guinness, and they had lots of movies. Still cramped, but much friendlier on Aer Liugis.

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    The sun came up just as we started descending to Dublin. It was great to see all the fields and hedgerows from the air. In fact I donít even remember seeing the city, just stone walls and green fields as far as I could see.

    We rented a car and struggled to figure out how to drive the thing. Driving on the left side of the road sounds easy enough, but itís hard to break years of unconscious habit. It also doesnít help that we didnít have a good map, the roads are to narrow for two cars to pass, and streets change names from block to block. The transmission on the French car we rented also sucked. Reverse, first, and third all seemed to be in the same position.

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      It was wild to be actually standing in front of the General Post Office after just getting off the plane. I'd been reading some Irish history to get into the mood and had seen lots of pictures of the GPO in various states. This is where Irish Republicans made their stand against the British in a failed bid for Irish independance. We went in and bought some stamps. Cool.

    After driving into Dublin we made our way to OíConnell Street and the general post office. It was amazing to see all of the old buildings. Everything is quaint over here. Narrow streets, little pubs with cute names, all the chiminys.

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      A quaint street.

    We had a traditional Irish breakfast at Flanniganís. The service was great though the place was mostly empty. Then we made our way over to one of the markets on Moore Street. We got lots of produce and chatted with some friendly merchants.

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      Shopping on Moore Street

    Then we made our way out of the city and over to Enniskerry where we had an apartment at a bed and breakfast. It was out in the county a few miles from Bray.

    It was also very quaint. They have a meter that you have to feed coins into for electricity. Since the ambient temperiture is around 50 degrees at night, we spent lots of time bundled up. It also took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to work the shower.

    Day 2

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      This is one of the DART stations in Dublin. We rode the DART back and forth from Brea for the first three days of the trip. Very clean, quiet and comfortable.

    The next day we took the DART into Dublin and made our way to Trinity Collage. It wasnít all that stunning as far as the architecture was concerned, but we did get to see the Book of Kells and The Book of Darrow. The old library where The book of Kells is now was really very cool. "The Long Room" in the old library is quite impressive. Unfortunately they donít let you take pictures of any of this. The oldest lute in Ireland was also stored there. Itís the one thatís on all of the Irish coins.

    Trinity CollageBrian Boru's harpThe Book of Kells

    After some shopping we went to Temple bar and had some great Irish food at Gallagerís Boxty Café. A boxty is one of the 3842 ways of cooking potatoes in Ireland. You know the scene in Forest Gump where the guy goes on for days about all the ways to cook shrimp? Same sort of thing with potatoes over here. Unfortunatly they only know one way to cook vegitables: boiled, no seasonong.

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      National Museum

    Then we went to the National Museum where we spent lots of time looking at per-Celtic and Celtic artifacts. It was very cool. It doesnít seem all that large but we didnít manage to get through it all. It had some of the best exhibits Iíve ever seen in a museum. Maybe Iím biased about that, most museums donít have all that much Celtic stuff.

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      Brea Head

    Then we when back on the DART and had some dinner at a pub in Bray.

    Day 3

    I didnít have too much trouble with jet lag. 48 hours pretty much took care of it.

    After taking the DART into Dublin we walked to Dublin Castle and went on the guided tour, which consisted of the staterooms, the courtyard and some excavations. The latter showed three levels of development on the castle: The original Viking work, the later Norman moat and outer wall, and the final wall that stands now. It doesnít look anything like a castle any more. The Norman castle burned in the 1700s.

    The excavations were the most interesting part. The original fortifications which was at ground level when the Viking fort was built (~900) was about 30 feet below present ground level.

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      Custom's house and the Liffy river

    After the castle we made or way over to what we had heard was one of the best fish and chips places in Dublin, Burdockís. We had some trouble finding it, but eventually we noticed several people standing on the sidewalk here and there eating out of paper sacks. "Must be Burdockís".

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      Trinity college on the left, The Bank of Ireland on the right, Burdocks is straight ahead.

    We were lucky enough to get in without any queue, maybe because of the rain. At any rate 4£40 bought me a huge slab of fried cod (at least a pound), a large pile of chips, and some garlic mayo for dipping. All wrapped up in paper so we could take it to one of the near by pubs to eat with a Guinness. We opted to eat it out in the street like the locals. It was great, nothing like the breaded blechth they call fish and chips in the states. The fish was about a foot long!

    After eating three pounds of food each we decided to get some beer after all and popped into Lord Edwards for some pints. The pub was about the size of a large closet, but later in the trip we saw about 30 drunk people crowded into the same size room.

    After we were finally able to walk, we went over to Dublinia which was a self guided audio tour covering some of the history of Dublin. Unless youíre bored, do not go to Dublinia. They actually charged us for this silliness.

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      Christ Church Cathedral

    Finally finishing the Duvblinia multimedia catacomb, we crossed over to Christ Church Cathedral (1172). The most interesting part of the cathedral was the crypt underneath that is supposed to be one of the largest in the British Isles. At one point the Norman, Strongbow, was buried here but the tomb was destroyed in the 1600s.

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    Then we did some window shopping in a large walking mall. Nothing too special there, just the usual touristy stuff. I managed to find some gold knotwork earrings I like though.

    Before making our way to the Pearse street station, we stopped off at Davie Burns Pub, the moral pub of James Joyceís Ulysses, for some Guinness and dinner. Mom had the Irish stew, which they always call "Traditional Irish Stew" even though the traditional version is suppose to be made with old, nasty mutton and bland broth. Momís wasnít all that traditional and was quite good. I also tried some draft cider there, which I highly recommend.

    The bathrooms here are worth a visit as well.

    Day 4

    Getting off at Tara station, we made our way back to the National Museum, since we hadnít gotten through everything on the first day.

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      National Heraldry Museum.

    On the way we stopped off at the Heraldry Museum. This was quite small (one room), but we were surprised to see a plaque with the OíSullivan Beare arms. Very cool.

    Back at The National Museum we got around to all of the exhibits we missed the first day. The two most spectacular pieces are the Tara Broach and the Aragh Chalice. The intricacy of the gold work on both of these is so fine that itís hard to make out all of the detail with the naked eye. Unfortunately they donít let you take any pictures of this stuff.

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      This is it!!! The Liffy river, where every glass of Guiness starts. The water is the color of Pepsi from all the peat it drains out of. I was tempted to bring back some peat and put it in my homebrew just to see what would happen.


    For lunch we stopped off at Fitzerís for some good California cuisine. The food was quite good here and the atmosphere was very Californian, right down to the yuppies and mineral water. The only thing that didnít seem California was the prices, which were about half the SoCal versions.

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      A Dublin street

    Then it was off to the national gallery to view some paintings by European masters. Several sections of the museum were closed so we didnít get to see as much as we would have liked. Very nice stuff though.

    While waiting for rush hour on the DART to end we had a Guinness at OíDonehueís. Dublin pubs were a surprise to me. First of all they are so small that you can barely fit in the front door. The absolute widest part of the bar will be maximum 10 feet, but typically the room will only be about four or five feet across. When you walk in every single person in the place will turn to see whoís coming in. Every one Iíve been in has been tiny.

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