The Isle of Green. After arriving in from London it was a relaxing bus to our hostel – the best hostel that we have stayed in so far. One thing that became immediately clear is the sheer volume of bars that occupy Dublin. As our tour guide the next morning said the Irish stereotype of them liking a drink is very true. There are over 3,500 bars in Dublin alone, if you went to a different bar each day it would take 10 years to visit them all.
Dublin was a remarkable place, really friendly people, really quiet city, with enough to see and a spectacular vibe. Our first night saw us on a pub crawl out meeting loads of new people through Dublin. The pub crawl was a great chance to get our first taste of some traditional Irish music and some dancing while we met new friends from around the world.
We ended the night dancing our way to 4am which was an impressive feat for a Monday – in fact I was surprised that there were still places that were open so late on Monday night. We had loads of craic that night – such a good time.
The next morning was a little rougher on the back of no sleep despite that we headed out for a walking tour of Dublin, visiting all of the key spots around the city – Dublin Castle, Christchurch cathedral, the Temple bar area and Trinity College.
Unfortunately, most of the afternoon turned into a rest and work on my blog time – but once we were sufficiently well rested we decided to seek out Irelands oldest pub for a quieter night out – The Brazen Head. A traditional Irish Stew (best in Ireland awaited) and a pint of what could be considered the national drink – a pint of Guinness.
It is funny how quickly a quiet night can turn into something much bigger, and when you are travelling how quickly time can pass. Before we realised the night had gotten away from us and it was 10:00 and we were drinking with 3 of last nights friends from America coming up with different excuses to keep drinking, enthusiasm for Irish dancing, singing, and American politics chiefly among them!
We spent our time in the temple bar area – a very well known tourist area, also a more expensive area than the rest of Ireland. If you visit – expect to pay around 1euro more for drinks. We wound up that night at 3 – having spent a fantastic night attempting (miserably) to replicate the beautiful Irish dancing, and belting out classic tunes in time with the live band. Another great night with so much craic had!
The next day – we set out to explore some of the sights of the city in more detail. First stop was Trinity College – although a slight detour through the main shopping district uncovered a hidden museum of natural history, laden with a collection of native Irish fauna and flora. Badgers, fish, birds and a remarkable skeleton of native Irish deer with perhaps the largest antlers I have ever seen on an animal – incredible.
From the museum we walked on towards the world renowned Trinity College – a fascinating tour of the college introduced us to some of the traditions of this beautiful institution of Irish education. My favourite traditions that have stood the test of time are the graduation (commencement) ceremonies still being recited in Latin. The second tradition I think is well suited to a college with the reputation of Trinity – every night at 6:15 free dinner over 3 courses is served for all academic staff, alongside the very best students at the university, as decided by optional additional exams.
The centerpiece of the university is however the Book of Kells – an early copy of the Bible that was illustrated with some of the most ornate detail I have ever seen. This volume was truly incredible, especially when considering that it has survived the test of time – originally written over 1200 years ago. We take for granted that it has survived, and will into the future in its climate controlled box – but to survive all that time is quite remarkable.
Another treat following the tour was a walk through the largest single chamber library in Europe – and is it ever a sight to be seen, the books are largely filed according to size, making it more difficult to find books, but given the nature of this particular library – I would be surprised if they got much use these days.
Following the college we wandered to the cathedral to get a few nice shots of a cathedral with an amazing history, everything from town trading market, to pub and distillery and, finally back to church.
That night we did keep our word – and had a quieter night, with a little bit of flair. With our American friends we checked out some traditional Irish music and dancing in a show called Gaelic Nights at the Mercantile Hotel. The musicians were nothing short of amazing. Their ability to improvise, and play on the fly was fantastic and the dancing was captivating – the coordination with each other and the perfection of their choreographed routine was fantastic.
We even got a chance to try (again) a bit of Irish dancing – this time having been shown by the professionals – it was at this point (without the encouragement of a couple of drinks) I realised exactly how exhausting it was doing this type of dancing.
I know I have said this a lot as I have written this blog – but this city is incredible – unbelievable nightlife, plenty to see during the day, and more many amazing people. Next stop Oslo – an expensive city but also a chance to get a little R&R before we head to the east, partying and sightseeing awaits.