For her twenty-somethingth birthday, Lizzie decided that she would like to go away with her boyfriend (that’s me by the way) for a couple of days. So we booked a couple of days off work and started to look at destinations. We quickly ruled out winter sun destinations as too expensive for a 2 night trip and started looking at European city breaks. We eventually settled on Dublin as neither of us had been to Ireland before and there were some good deals on flights. We booked a hotel and a restaurant for her birthday dinner and all was set.
Then the weather started to get bad. England was once again paralysed with snow and flights were being cancelled all over the place. Several days before our departure the airport was closed for most of the day. Eventually however, the English worked out how to deal with the snow without hiding in a corner and on the day all transport worked very smoothly. We did learn one thing on the bus to the airport; the bored sounding woman fastidiously announces all the stops (including a maintenance shed by the runway) except for the departures hall which the driver had to yell out from his seat in front!
We flew with Ryanair and as with all previous Ryanair flights, the boarding and seating was a bit of a shambles. Fortunately we were at the gate quite early and so were able to get on the plane and get a seat together without having to trample any grannies or babies underfoot to do so. The flight was quick and uneventful and the transfer bus from Dublin airport to the city centre was efficient and stopped right outside our hotel, excellent. Unfortunately, we missed the hotel and wandered down the road too far but we got to see a bit of the city before checking in!
After checking in and dropping off our bags, we asked at the desk for a recommendation for dinner and headed out in search of a restaurant. We settled on the recommended place, a small italian restaurant called Toscana. We were starving by now and the food was pretty good but the service a bit lacklustre. After dinner we staggered back to the hotel to sleep.
We stayed at the Arlington Hotel in Temple Bar. As we found out early in the morning, this hotel is currently being refurbished with all the accompanying loud banging, sawing and drilling!
Lizzie was excited about opening her presents and cards so we got up early and she opened them in bed before breakfast. Here are some pictures of her being excited by all her lovely cards.
We found out yesterday that breakfast is included in the price of the room, not separate like the late rooms website stated. Unfortunately instead of saving us money this meant we had to pay the €20 per day for the breakfast so we decided we were definitely going to take advantage of it. The hotel offers a full cooked breakfast (but fails my test of offering you more of something you do like if you ask not to have something you don’t) and a buffet style continental breakfast of toast, jam, pastries, yoghurt, fruit etc. After a large helping of breakfast we were ready to venture outside into the city.
Our first destination was Trinity College, just a few minutes walk down the road from the hotel. We wandered around the campus for some time stopping to look at some of the lovely old buildings and some interesting sculpture. Most interesting was a moving sculpture “Sphere Within Sphere” outside the Berkeley Library. When we first saw it it was stationary but when we came past later it was spinning and we were a little disappointed that the internal sphere does not seem to spin at all.
After Trinity College, we went shopping in the Grafton Street area where Lizzie found every shoe shop ever created(!) before grabbing a coffee and chocolates at Butlers Chocolate Cafe and returning to Trinity to watch the world go by and drink it. We sat in front of the Arts Building/Lecky Library and watched people heading to and from lectures and wondered whether they could tell we were tourists or not.
As we finished our coffee we remembered that we wanted to check out the Powerscourt Town House shopping arcade and decided to head over there next. Powerscourt is a roofed over courtyard with shops in the buildings surrounding it and cafes and restaurants in the courtyard and on mezzanines around it. The shops are mostly little independent ventures and are mainly arts related with vintage/home made clothing, haberdashery, dress shops, leather goods, wooden toys and a huge number of small jewellers all nestled together in one corridor. We spent a long time looking round the shops, particularly in A Reubenesque, This is Knit and Bow. We had a rather larger than necessary lunch at Lost Society before heading back past the hotel to Dublin Castle.
Unfortunately, on arrival at the castle, we found that due to Ireland’s presidency of the EU the tourist parts of the castle were closed until the middle of the year. Still, after we eventually found an open entrance we were still able to access the gardens and the Chester Beatty Library. Unfortunately there is no photography allowed in the library but I did manage to get some nice pictures of the gardens.
Parts of the castle are painted pretty colours. This is the only part of the old castle remaining, it hasn’t been painted pretty colours! This is a memorial garden for members of the Garda who have died in service. Paved snakes in the grass The wear of people’s feet has produced a forked tongue effect around the snake heads. This is a monument to all the volunteers who helped with the 2003 special olympics The names of 3000 volunteers are written on brass plaques on 3 sides of the central fountain.
The library contains an amazing collection of old and rare books and manuscripts ranging from Chinese silk printing and Japanese scrolls to illuminated bibles, qur’ans and other religious texts. It is definitely worth a visit if you are interested in books, printing or art. There are some great pictures of the exhibits here: http://www.cbl.ie/Image-Gallery.aspx
We spent so long admiring the exhibits in the Chester Beatty Library that once we were out we hurried back to the hotel to change and get ready to go out for dinner. The restaurant I have chosen for dinner is FX Buckley Grill on Crow Street which does excellent steak and local seafood. It also happens to be only a 6 minute walk from the hotel. The food was excellent and we ate and drank far too much then waddled back to the hotel for a lie down. After a bit of a lie down it was obvious that we had eaten far too much to do anything else that day and so we went to bed.
On the second day, despite the enormous dinner of the day before we still headed down for breakfast bright and early to make sure we got our money’s worth! In the hotel restaurant/bar they have tables where you can pour your own Guinness (or Carlsberg) and we were seated at one of these for breakfast. It felt a little odd sitting and eating toast and marmalade in front of a massive beer tap.
After breakfast and packing, we checked out and left our bags in the care of the hotel reception and headed off to look at Christchurch Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Christchurch is literally seconds from the hotel and the more spectacular so we headed there first. There are some lovely stained glass windows and a great organ, I’d like to hear it play some time. Photography is allowed in the main cathedral but not in the crypt where they have some very old exhibits and the gift shop.
Christchurch Cathedral Some Kind of archaeology going on outside the cathedralLizzie and I loved the ornate hinges on this door.A bit of a gloomy shot of the interior of the cathedral, I wish I had my tripod with me.The place is filled with beautiful tiled floors like this one.And also stained glass windows like these.Carvings on the pulpitGloomy altarA new looking organ, there is an older one behind me too.These shots are the result of me messing about while Lizzie was on the phone to her mum. Not particularly pleased with them but not too bad for a first attempt and done without preparation or a tripod.
After wandering around the ground floor of the Cathedral and taking the above photographs, we wend down into the crypt which is apparently one of the largest and unusual for stretching the entire length of the building. You can see the foundations in places and the bases of the pillars holding up the roof. They also have exhibits about the history of the cathedral and a gift shop.
We realised as we left that there wasn’t going to be enough time to visit a second cathedral so we went in search of lunch and then collected our bags and headed back to the airport. Ryanair boarding wasn’t as shambolic as usual but we did have to stand in line for quite a long time so that we could get on and have some choice of seat. It was pouring with rain as we left Dublin and just starting to snow as we arrived back in England. Fortunately we both managed to get home safely before the weather got serious and were able to start preparing for Lizzie’s party tomorrow.