Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ireland: Dublin, Glendaloch, Kilkenny

So finally a chance to write about my trip to the land of Eire.

I departed Southampton around 630 am on a bus to London after not getting any sleep because of drinking a whole 2 liter bottle of coke during my 4-5 hours of finishing my Shelf Seas paper.  After hoping a bus to Gatwick airport I was seperated from the other 3 of us americans because I failed to book my flight at the same airport...  The flight times were exactly the same!  After arriving on my Ryanair flight in Dublin I passed through passport control and customs with ease and sought out the information center to find where i was supposed to be picked up by the bus.  A bunch of stuff i couldnt understand..."It stops behind the church.."  What?  Wheres there a church near an airport??  But i thanked the lady and went off in search of this church.  I assumed she knew what she was talking about because she answered quite quickly.  Sure enough i crossed the car pick up lanes and there was a small outdoor chapel.  Soon after arriving, i was joined by Jordan, Ajeeth and Marissa, all who booked at the same airport...

The church
We had no idea what kind of bus we were looking for just that it was called the paddywagon... after much second guessing that we were in the right place it pulled up... Couldnt have missed that...
While aboard the Paddywagon we met these two other americans who we'd run into throughout the next couple days but really never truely spent alot of time with.  We immediately checked in and began wandering aimlessly through the city looking at anything that looked interesting.  We did pick up a map when checking into the hostel.  There was this giant needle in the middle of the road whose use was unapparent at the time (turns out it doesnt have one and locals hate it(they have many fruitful names for it like "The Erection in the Intersection"... i cant remember the rest).

After a long day of traveling we sought out a place for dinner and due to the indecision of the others i took it upon myself to walk into the first pub that had a sign out advertising food.  This pub was really cool and initially the waiter was not to keen on serving us (to be discussed later), but after joking around with us a bit he was quite friendly and even invited us behind the bar for a picture.
Jordan, Ajeeth, Myself, and Marissa behind the bar!
I got Bangers and Mash for dinner and it was excellent because it reminded me of a not quite as spectacular version of mom's mashed potatoes, roast beef and gravy.

After dinner we continued walking around aimlessly until we decided to aim for a pub that had real Irish music playing.   We finally found one, called The Stags Head... What are the odds...  It had 3 floors and a bar on each with the band due to play on the bottom floor.  We were there super early because we didnt feel like walking anymore but we got ourselves a nice booth in the corner and chilled and had a few Guinnesses.  When the band started the place was packed and we were already tired.  At midnight Ajeeth turned 21, so dispite our lethargy, we stayed till then and waited for him to buy his first drink as a legal US drinker... a Guinness... go figure.. its the cheapest thing here.  After downing that we all headed back to the hostel for a good nights sleep.

Day 2 (4/3/11)

The next morning we slept in a bit but awoke to catch the end of breakfast at Paddy's Palace and walked down to city hall where we planned to catch a free tour that left twice daily.  Our tour guide, Dave, was super animated and enthusiastic.  It was here i was made aware of my ignorance towards history... Dave told us about the strife the British had imposed on the Irish for hundreds of years, to which i was unaware...  This explains the waiter's persona when we first arrived because i was wearing a sweatshirt sporting the Union Jack... (see photo behind the bar).  We carried on through the city seeing tons of places including Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, The National Bank of Ireland, the Temple Bar area (not shown), Trinity College and a really nice park, where we concluded the tour. (in that order)


We learned so much history on the tour that I'd love to convey to you/ actually remember but this is such a small space and i should really be writing a paper instead of this anyways...  Dave really has a thing against Jack Black for his role in Guliver's Travels and Sam Stevenson's architecture (he designed the civic center of Dublin and Trinity College's library).  The general Dubliners consensus is that his architecture is hideous because of his use of concrete in an attempt at a modern style.

After the tour we ate a bit of lunch on a little hillock in the park we finished in and headed to the Guinness Storehouse before it closed.  The Gravity Bar was due to close soon when we arrived so we went straight to the top to get our free pint.  The bar has a near 360 degree view out over the entire city of Dublin and is really cool.  After enjoying the view and the Guinness we headed back down to work our way up through the beer making process.  We worked our way through the ingredients, the fermentation process, the barrel making process, transportation through the ages, and advertising through the ages.  There was a taster session half way which was kinda lost on us because we had already had our pints...  there was also an opportunity to pour our own pints but that was closed... oh well...  We hit up the gift shop then walked home with our new american friends.

We hit up a pub called O'Shea's for dinner and then went to a pub, that was promised by Dave to have good authentic Irish music, called O'Donehughes.  Since it was Sunday, our stay there was quite short but enough time to write our respective school names on a dollar bill and give it to the bar keep to stick up on the wall with hundreds of other bills that were there before us.  We did not see any other PSU or UNCW bills so we dedicated ours to our institutions.

Day 3 (4/4/11)

Today we arose early to go on a free bus day tour from our hostel for staying more than 2 nights there.  The trip was to Glendaloch and Kilkenny and i had no idea what to expect from either (to busy with shelf seas paper to do research).  First of all the Irish country side is full of beautiful rolling hills much like England.  We arrived at Glendaloch and the only part of the driver's speech i was awake for was when he explained that the name Glendaloch means the lake between two mountains (essentially).  We disembarked in the spitting rain and folllowed the path to the lake.  The whole area was really amazing the lake was immediately surrounded by wetlands and also surrounded by the afore mentioned two mountains.

 Ajeeth and I were enthralled with the prospect of exploring up the mountain and just kept climbing higher and higher until we reached a very nice, picturesque spot.  Also we wanted to be able to descend safely in time to get back to the bus so we didnt climb any higher.
Yes it was raining the whole time during the climb and initial exploring...  We headed back to the bus and were told that we had an extra hour to explore so we walked around the lake and on the path that led through the wetland.  The whole area was really amazing and the most nature i have seen since camping last fall.  After our time limit was up we boarded the Paddywagon and headed to a site that was a small stonehenge-esque grave of some king that was in a farmers field.  Then we continued on to Kilkenny which is a small town about an hour and a half from Dublin.  They have a very nice castle that doubles as the civic center so much of it cannot be explored.  We ate lunch and walked around the town for a bit and had a pint of Kilkenny's own microbrew, which after drinking Guinness for the last few days, tasted like water...pity... 

 The bus departed and headed back to Dublin.  We had dinner at a more artsy pub and went back to O'Donehughes to see if our dollar had been put up yet.  It haddent... we mosied back to the hostel and went to bed.  Jordan and I would leave early the next morning to catch our flight to Nice!

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