On our third day in Dublin, we got up super early. I am notorious for sleeping in very late, but even I can be roused out of bed if it means doing something fun … really fun. The smells of breakfast wafting up the giant staircase from the first floor helped a little, too. The thought of taking another shower in the little shared stalls didn’t, but what can you do? The hostel breakfast buffet was tasty and very filling. Many European hostels/hotels I’ve stayed in contained the same basic breakfast of cheese, meat, and bread, so it was nice to have something with a lot of variety.
We decided that on this day, we’d make it a point to see some of the historic sights we’d outlined in my big Frommer’s guidebook (which I hauled around everywhere, by the way).
One thing you’re guaranteed to see plenty of in Dublin is cathedrals – really beautiful ones, at that. Being that I only had a horrible, cheap little Panasonic 35mm with me, I wasn’t too eager to take pictures. The camera kept opening up randomly, exposing my film to light and ruining most of my photos. So, I repeatedly asked Crystal to capture the cathedrals that we passed. Since she is an exceedingly good-natured person, she was happy to do so! Thanks Crystal! Here are a couple that she caught:
We were all eager to see Dublin Castle. I couldn’t believe it when we got there and saw that this ancient relic (first built in 1230) was sitting right in the middle of a parking lot! It was surrounded by modern buildings and businesses all around, although of course it wasn’t completely closed in. The building itself is very well-preserved, with at least one medieval tower still intact. I think this is a good example of how Dublin is a very modern city that still retains its historic pride even in the face of change.
After Dublin Castle, it was on to Trinity College Dublin, founded in 1592. We had hoped to see the famous Book of Kells, which contains the Four Gospels and dates from the early 8th century! We were very sad to arrive at the Trinity College Library and find that the Book would not be on display in time for us to see it; it was off for routine upkeep of some kind.
After walking around campus trying to blend in with students, it was time for some lunch! We found a little place called Cafe Sol right around the corner from the campus. It appears to be a small Irish chain. We stopped there again the following day. Each day I would purchase an Irish Times newspaper from the friendly staff along with my meal. It happened to be Thanksgiving back home in America, so to commemorate the occasion Crystal ate a HUGE cranberry, turkey, and stuffing sandwich! I had a giant brie, ham, and mustard sandwich. (Remember how I was telling you about the big deli sandwiches at Cafe Kylemore that we saw on Day 2?) My appetite was way bigger back then, at 25 years old, but I could still only eat half of it – although I managed to polish off a drink (my favorite Coke Light – WAY better than American Diet Coke), yogurt, and chips too!
Next, we decided to visit the National Gallery of Ireland, just for Beth. None of the rest of us are too crazy about hanging around art museums for hours. I like them, but I’m the type of person who likes to get in, see what I want to see, and get out. After a couple of hours, I get tired and cranky. But we were all on our best behavior so Beth could enjoy herself, and I did see some paintings by Caravaggio, a favorite artist of both Beth’s and mine. Crystal and I saw a painting of Lucretia stabbing herself that was beautiful, however sinister the image. Crystal gestured at it to show it to me and then we stretched out on a big bench right in front of it. A few moments later, a big guard came into the room calling, “Ladies, sit up please!” We sat up and he asked us if we had touched the painting. We said no. He told us the painting’s silent alarm had gone off and gave us a lecture about not getting too close to the artwork as even sudden drafts can trigger it. After he left, Crystal sheepishly admitted she had accidentally brushed the painting with her hand when she pointed it out to me! I was reminded of elementary school field trips where my mother served as an overly patient chaperon to wild kids who kept setting off the alarms at the Smithsonian!
After all of this traipsing around on relatively little sleep, we were ready for another nap. We took one and then set out at night to meet up with Leigh’s friend, Paul, a native Irishman who lived and worked in the city. He was eager to show us some of his favorite spots and first took us to Wagamama, a Japanese noodle bar with locations in Dublin and County Cork. At the time, it was an exclusively European chain; shortly afterwards it became “hip” for U.S. celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher to sport Wagamama T-shirts. Today there are some U.S. locations as well. There was a huge line waiting to get in, but it went quickly. The restaurant itself was a big cafeteria-style room with long tables and stools. Our group sat at the end of one table along with multiple other people we didn’t know. I had a huge bowl of noodles along with some tasty, salty edamame.
Paul cleverly paid the bill for Wagamama when we weren’t looking, then said we could pay him back later. We headed on to a place he frequented called Cafe en Seine – WOW. This splendorous, cavernous pub was full of professionals and executives and boasted gorgeous decorations, including a beautiful ceiling and glass atrium. We spotted a grand piano, numerous busts and sculptures, and tall, living trees. At the same time, it felt very unpretentious and I found myself not caring that I was wearing a sweater, old jeans, and my tried-and-true clunky traveling boots.
At the end of the night, Paul had to head back home since there was work the next day. We went to split up the check, figuring we’d cover Paul’s Guinnesses since he was so kind to show us around. But he had already gotten the tab! We tried to pay him, but he ran off laughing! What a sneaky, generous man, that Paul.
We went looking for a club and wound up in some giant basement dive. I have no idea what it was called. I think it might’ve been called Shindig, or at least the event was since the word kept flying around a giant screen. I’m going to sound pretty old here, but it was soooo loud, and packed really full so that you could barely even move. The music wasn’t good either, so we left. Paul had mentioned a place called Copper Face Jacks to us earlier. We went in there and it was very lively. It filled up quickly with mostly young people. We met several who said they were teachers or nurses. We danced with a few. Two big dudes got into a fight over who was going to dance with me. (No, I am not making that up!) Crystal and I stayed there the whole night looking after one another and did not have to pay for a single drink all night. I’m not sure I would recommend it to anyone older than we were back then (mid-early 20s). Also, although no one really invaded our space, there were definitely some weirdos there. We had a good time though, and when we left about 30 people waved and yelled “BYE!” On the way back, our feet hurt so Crystal stopped by a police car and tried to get them to give us a ride back to the hostel by pretending we were lost and couldn’t find it. She even said she didn’t know which direction the River Liffey was in, hahaha! They didn’t fall for it.
And that was how we spent Thanksgiving of 2006! Next – our last full day in Dublin with a little bit of everything, including a visit to the place I’d been anticipating the most – the original Guinness Storehouse at St. James Gate! Truly a short, whirlwind trip, but I think we got a nice variety of things in!