Monday, January 21, 2013

Dublin day 6: cathedral and jail!

Sunday was another great day in Ireland, and sadly our last! We woke early to head to Dublin and go to mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is part of the Anglican Church of Ireland. I loved worshipping with locals and tourists and as Anglicans and other denominations.

There was an overwhelming parallel to ta catholic mass, like word for word, but I noticed subtle but important differences. There was a communication rail and the celebrants faced the alter, not the congregation. There was only one reading, and they stood more, and kneeled less. I was very glad we were able to attend. St Patrick's is the national cathedral.

Following the service, we took the bus back to the touristy area, temple bar. We got lunch at O'Sheas. It was a little dive, and I paid too much for my skimpy salad. We were also freezing by this point. I had to go to a gift shop and buy Ireland socks.

It was around 4:00 that we went back to kilmainhain jail that was built in 1780 as a model jail but during the potato famine and Dublin risings in 1916, it became overcrowded and corrupt. Children as young as five were arrested for stealing bread. The 16 men that led the uprising were all shot in the courtyard. Joseph Pluckett was able to marry his fiance in the  chapel four hours before he was killed. Grace Gifford was later held in the jail years later for the civil war in Ireland. She never remarried. I was intrigued with their love story. They even had her wedding band and the letter he wrote to grace asking her to marry him on display! This was my favorite visit of the trip.

To wrap up the Dublin site seeing, we went to Elephant and Castle in Temple Bar for dinner and had a hot totty at McGills before bed.

Flying home to Chicago then Cvg today.

What a wonderful trip to Ireland. A beautiful country, an a memorable experience with friends!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday in dublin: success!

After a wearing Friday, we needed Saturday to be better.

We all ate breakfast at the Ritz, which is always so fancy. Then we talked to the concierge and planned our day differently. We went by tram instead of train and bought tickets to the hop on hop off Dublin tour buses.

We started our afternoon at a public talk at the Archeology National Museum, which was interesting but slightly long and filled with local, cultured people. Then we did a 180 and headed to the Guinness storehouse. It was not a very interactive brewery tour, but the 360 bar after the tour, overlooking the city was spectacular!!

The jail was closed by this point, and it gets dark by 5... So we had dinner at the temple bar area and stopped into McDonalds after for a latte. Yesterday was cold, but very manageable compared to Friday. We did a little,e gift shopping, the returned back to the hotel. Much of the day is in the car, bus, or tram. We ended the night in the small town pubs- overall, excellent day.

Back into Dublin today for the last time of the trip. Time has flown by!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday in dublin

What a day!!

Last night was refreshing after our LONG drive to Powerscourt. We had a cozy dinner in town and met some New York girls also on a Groupon, maleri and Amy. We had some drinks at local pubs and came back to McGill's at the Ritz for some more socializing.

This morning (Friday) we slept in and enjoyed the Ritz breakfast which was delicious.

Then our adventures to Dublin began....

We drove twenty minutes to Bray, where we parked and caught the DART train to Dublin. The weather conditions were blistery. It was snowing and sleeting and frigid. This apparently happens once a year.

After surviving that with only water in my boots, I thought the day could turn around. Unfortunately, the weather got worse. I understand why no one vacations here in January....

We braved the rain and cold as best we could, with taking taxis and sharing one umbrella. We managed to see the book of Kells, which I enjoyed. It is the ornate book of the four gospels made in 800 as an alter decoration.

We also had the Jameson experience touring the original Irish whiskey distillery, and I volunteered with Emily to compare their triple distilled whiskey to scotch and jack.

We then attempted to take the train home but only got half way before floods stopped the train and we went on a bus. Roads were closed, we were freezing, and we were spent!

Tonight, after I had a bubble bath, we took it easy and enjoyed our free chips and fish meal at McGills. We are all tired.

Tomorrow is also supposed to be terrible weather. We will see if we manage a more pleasant day....


Thursday, January 17, 2013

This is crazy!

We just arrived at the Ritz Carlton outside Dublin and I'm in awe! This suite is three rooms, with remotes opening curtains, guest bathrooms, and has a rain forest bathroom!!!! Check it out!!

Driving here is insane!

See the picture as an example.

Videos of the roundabouts to come!

Cliffs of Moher - attempt 2

We were pretty bummed that we couldn't see the cliffs yesterday. This morning we woke up and had our breakfast at the castle, which was delicious again. Jess and I knew the protocol today and didn't look so awkward at the five star restaurant setting. When we were finished and all packed up for our drive to the Ritz, and called and found out the cliffs are visible today and the fog has risen. We were so excited!

It was bittersweet leaving the dromoland. It was the nicest place I have ever stayed at- the shower had amazing water pressure, we were given chocolates, robes, slippers, it was luxury! But I am excited to be closer to Dublin and more local establishments. The dromoland had 400+ acres and the closest restaurant and bars was over a mile away. We explored that area last night for dinner, eating at Hackers, a cozy pub with a fireplace and stopping in two other pubs for Irish stouts.

After coming back ton the hotel and planning for Thursday, I got hungry again and convinced the group to go back down to the town for takeout pizza and Chinese, which was luckily still open at midnight!

I may have regretted that sweet and sour chicken this morning!

The cliffs were absolutely stunning. It was chilly and windy but very clear today, and the view was breathtaking!

We stayed for an hour or so then made the four hr drive to Dublin. It was exhausting. So many small, windy roads. Jess even got a little car sick.

We stopped in a tiny town of Gort, I believe. We got some homemade, delicious meals and finished the drive!

See my last post on the Ritz :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday in Galway

Our high hopes for Wednesday didn't go as planned...

The cliffs were not visible due to fog, but we saw the Well of St. Brigid. It was neat to see the religious memorable that visitors have left in memory of loved ones or requesting prayers.

We then decided to drive to Galway. Galway had pretty much to do. It's a college town so we parked on the outskirts and walked to the center of town. We had a great pub lunch at An Pucan. We all enjoyed a cider or Irish beer and some good salads/fish and chips. I'm loving the food! The seadfood is fresh, and everything has great flavor.

We then went to our first Irish mall. I resisted clothes shopping, mostly because I don't have much room in my suitcase.  I got some souvenirs and my big Irish purchase for myself - a claddagh ring!

We found the original and only seller of Irish stamped claddagh rings, Thomas Dillon Gold. The tiny shop was so quaint, and we told Thomas Dillon in Galway is the only seller of real claddaghs. Emily, Jessica, and I all bought a silver one for 45 euros, which I thought was reasonable since knock offs are 20. I turned the ring inward since my heart is taken :) the shopkeeper, Katherine, was our favorite! She talked our arms off for a half hour and took our picture behind the counter!
For more on the ring!

We also went inside the St Nicholas Anglican Cathedral that was built in the 14th century- Christopher Columbus worshipped there in 1447!

By that point it was dark and and we got back on the road. We will probably will find a pub near the castle tonight and keep it low key. We drive to Dublin tomorrow!