Greetings yet again from Dublin! Since I talked a lot about my road trip, I think it's time for me to talk about my current home away from home: Dublin. I first came to Dublin *cough* years ago when I was studying abroad in London, a couple friends and I came for the weekend. Then I came here again a few years ago for work (which doesn't count since you never get to see anything when you're working). So I decided to base myself here. I rented an apartment near Christchurch Cathedral and was not only excited about the location, but that it has a washer/dryer. Seriously. You suburban folks with your washers/dryers have no idea what a luxury it is, I still have to leave my apartment back home to do laundry, it's a pain. So alas, I'm living the dream having a washer/dryer in my apartment (hey, it's the little things and being gone for four weeks, I was going to need to do lots of laundry since I only allowed myself clothes for 10 days!). ANYWAYS, when I got to the apartment, I couldn't believe the view that greeted me from the tiny balcony outside the living room.
I know, right? AMAZING! That domed building in the distance on the left is Four Courts, home of Ireland's law courts since 1796. And well, the big, beautiful building in front... requires a story. So I get in and see this and I think, "Oh my goodness, what is that?" I go to my handy Frommer's Ireland guide and nothing. It's not listed. I thought, "That's impossible. Look at it! It's old, it has to be something important."
To the left of said building is St. Audeon's Church, parts of which date back from 1190.
So I went to visit St. Audeon's today. It's very pretty and quiet in there. But I also went in to say, "What is the building next door? Do you know?" Alas, I got my answer. Said building is a newer church also called St. Audeon's that was built in 1849, so really, it's practically brand new in Dublin! No need to mention it at all in any literature about the city. Yawn. This cracks me up. I understand that there are way older things around, but in the US this would be considered super old and important. It probably also doesn't help that Christchurch is just up the street and parts of that date from 1038.
Okay, now that I've been able to finally figure out what's across the street (only took me two weeks!), I'll share with you some of my favorite parts of Dublin.
I've walked around Trinity College a few times since being here and one of my favorite moments came while in Trinity. On the day I arrived, I was jetlagged, I hadn't showered in what felt like days, and I couldn't get into my apartment until the afternoon. So I went to take a walking tour to help me stay awake. The tour started inside the gates at Trinity. I'm standing there and this kid walks up to me, "Are you a fresher?" Me: "Sorry?" Guy: "Are you a first year here?" Yes, someone thought I was a freshman in college. Made my day!
My first Friday here was Culture Night in Dublin, a nigh when various museums, churches, organizations, etc. open up their doors for free and put on special events. I totally took advantage of this opportunity. I went to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College Library, and got to see the stunning library itself. You aren't allowed to take photos in the library (see * below), but found this pic on the web to share since it's stunning.
From there I went to the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where they opened up the classrooms. I got to hear a string ensemble rehearse. They were wonderful, and I was struck by one of the violinists who is the spitting image of Emme from my upcoming novel Take a Bow. I really wanted to take a photo, but she was up on stage practicing (so Emme!). Then I went to Dublin Castle where I got to tour the grounds and was treated to a performance in the courtyard from a scene from (Trinity graduate) Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. From there, I went to Christchurch Cathedral where I took a tour and then listened as a choir performed (fun fact: some scenes from The Tudors was filmed inside). Needless to say, it was a busy night, but loads of fun.
While I enjoyed seeing the Book of Kells (hand-drawn manuscript of the four Gospels from circa 800), I don't understand why there was a huge line for that (which costs 9EUR) when the Chester Beatty Library is not only free, but has manuscripts and books that are way older. And if you want to see religious pieces, they have pages from the oldest known surviving bible from 250. That's the year 250. And at one point, the guide (there are free guided tours a few times during the week) pointed out one document and said, "This is from 1000 BC, so it's quite old." Um, probably the understatement of the millennium!! Honestly, if you are coming to Dublin and love the written word, you must go here!
Wow, there's so much that I did that I enjoyed: The Dublin Writers Museum, Kilmainham Goal (jail), St. Patrick's Cathedral... It's a good thing I've been here so long. I also did an Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl which was a lot of fun. We heard traditional Irish music and got to hear the history of Irish music. Plus, that was the only time I saw the inside of a pub. (And if you believe that, I've got some beans to sell you.)
Alas, my time in Dublin is quickly coming to an end. I'm off to a day tour of Newgrange tomorrow (a burial mound that is more than 5000 years old, so it pre-dates the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge!!). Then my friend Amy arrives on Saturday and we leave for Edinburgh and then Belfast. It's a tough life, folks, but someone's gotta live it!
*I wanted to just make a little comment about tourists. I'm fully aware that I'm a tourist here (as much as I try to hide it). But I can't believe how tourists sometimes act. I repeatedly saw people ignore the "No Pictures" signs and GUARDS telling them not to take pictures, because apparently that doesn't apply to them. When I was in Christchurch, I saw a woman lift a red velvet rope and placed her daughter on an extremely old bench so she could get a photo. I can see the argument that you can't understand a sign/guard, but a velvet rope? I'm pretty sure that's international for "stay out." Many of these places I got to see are hundreds of years old and have so far survived the test of time. But seriously, they aren't going to last even fifty more years if people keep treating them like their personal property. It's if purchasing a ticket allows them to ignore the rules. It drives me nuts. And I thought tourists in Times Square were bad. Nope, the guy who scaled a grave at Rock of Cashal probably takes the cake. Oh, no sir, please make sure you get a good picture, no need to respect this sacred ground and somebody's tomb. Okay, rant over. I've got some more sights to see! XO