Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thanksgiving in Dublin

So much green!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 

Or at least it did in Dublin this past weekend. At school we had Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving, so two friends and I jetted off for a weekend in Ireland. Oh my gosh, it was such a fabulous few days! Odaliz, Sofia, and I took off ridiculously early Thursday morning, which actually ended up being perfect because were able to drop our bags off at the hotel by about 2:00pm. We bought the tourist bus pass, which was a perfect deal- it included a hop-on, hop-off bus tour around the city for two days and transportation to and from the airport. More to come on how that worked out later... We stayed at The Norseman, which was completely fantastic! It was a cozy little room right in Temple Bar, three steps away from streets full of amazing pubs (actually, it's right above one of the!), restaurants, and energy. That first afternoon, we wandered through our little neighborhood before settling in at The Quay's bar for a cider and a very talented guitar player/singer. We didn't know it yet, but from this minute forward every bar we'd go into would be full of incredible live music.

Our principal had told us before the trip to check out an American Thanksgiving dinner, and it ended up being one of the highlights of the trip! 

Such amazingly talented musicians!

Thanksgiving dinner!

Since my study-abroad semester, Thanksgiving has always been the time I get the most homesick. It's one of my favorite holidays- I love being surrounded by family, love, warmth, food... every piece of the holiday is just cozy and magical, so I'm so glad we found a way to celebrate. Dinner was at The Merry Ploughboy's, a 40ish minute bus ride from our hotel. The four musicians were outstanding- they taught us all kinds of traditional songs, including leading us through the choruses and clapping. This was perfect because for the next few nights, whenever our favorites played at other bars we were able to sing along! My new favorite pre-game jam: Whisky in the Jar (clapclapclapclap--clapclap). Irish dancers also put on a fabulous show. It reminded me a lot of flamenco! Anyways, dinner was delicious but not the same as it is at home. I firmly believe that there are no better mashed potatoes or stuffing anywhere in the world than the ones Mom and Aunt Judy make, and, if I do say so myself, I make the best pumpkin pie there ever was. That said, while dinner was not as good as my mama's, the seafood chowder was one of the best things I've eaten in my entire life.


Sometimes I think that the ambience of snuggling up with a gigantic mug of steaming coffee does more for me than caffeine. 

Taking a shot of espresso, while delicious, just isn't the same. Ireland was extra awesome because they have the chain I miss with all of my heart: Starbucks. Starting every morning with one of the Christmas season specials and a muffin was just wonderful. After breakfast on day two, we headed to the Guinness Factory for the day. It was phenomenal! We really enjoyed learning about the beer and in the end could appreciate everything that went into each tall, dark glass. The brewery tour was very well done, and towards the end they teach you how to pour the perfect pint! Apparently, the founder, Arthur Guinness, was so sure his company would be successful that he signed a 9,000 (not a typo, 9,000) year lease on the property and access to the water source. That kind of faith in your life's pursuit is something to be admired for sure! After the factory, we spent the evening people watching at Temple Bar (I guess the area is called Temple Bar, and one of the bars is also called Temple Bar... that's where we went). 

On our third day, we had very good intentions. 

We struck out earlyish wanting to make the full tour-bus loop before checking out St. Patrick's Cathedral, and Trinity College with the Book of Kells and Long Room. We made our way to the bus stop with our Starbucks, hopped on the bus, and settled in for the tour. After about 20 minutes, we started noticing that the tour wasn't staying in the city center but heading out to the outskirts a little bit, but we didn't think too much of it. Another 20 minutes later, and I wasn't recognizing any of the street names from my map, but we decided that the bus had to loop back around at some point so we stayed put. Unfortunately, it looked like we were heading further and further out of the city, so I took out my phone and using precious roaming data GPSed us. We were in the middle of nowhere. Unsure when (or if) the bus would turn around, we got off with absolutely no idea where we were. A very kind woman at the bus stop told us how to get back, then came and sat with us when a bus finally came and gave us our own little tour as we got closer to the city center. It was an adventure, but ate up quite a bit of our day!

Nervous about missing our top "Must See" of Dublin, we made our way to Trinity College as quickly as we could. 

Trinity College is so incredibly beautiful. I can't imagine going to a college like that- it looked like a castle! There was a sign pointing to one of the buildings that said "Dining Hall," and it looked like a princess should live there, not like it was a place hungover 19-year-olds spend their Sunday mornings. The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript containing four gospels from the New Testament, was amazing. The detail and intricacy that went into each page was just breathtaking; the fact that it has survived for all these years (it's believed to be written in 800 AD) is awe-inspiring and beautiful. Before seeing the book itself, there was a small informational exhibit that detailed how the books were bound (something to think about during Young Author's Day this year!), and what some of the illustrations meant. At first glance, one of the pages looked like just decorated with random designs but on closer inspection was full of all sorts of complex and elaborate religious symbolism and iconography. The more I see, the smaller and more insignificant I feel. I think I've mentioned this on here before, and I don't mean I feel small in a bad way, just that the world has seen so many stories before mine, while mine is happening, and will continue after I'm gone. The things that feel huge to me are minuscule in the long run, and seeing things like The Book of Kells remind me of that. 


After the seeing the book, we went upstairs to a room I've been dying to see: 

The Long Room, an extraordinary library at Trinity College. Remember in Beauty and the Beast when the Beast reveals his amazing library to Belle? That's what this was like; a two-story arched ceiling with little nooks filled floor-to-ceiling with shelves of books, rickety ladders reaching high shelves, and over 200,000 of the college's oldest volumes. It actually took my breath away, and we spent a long time making our way down the hall. Either side was lined with marble busts of influential authors, and there was an incredible exhibit of Celtic mythology in children's literature. One of my favorite series has many elements of the Children of Lir story, and I adore children's literature so it was the perfect exhibit for me! I'm so glad we were able to see such an astonishing place. 

Inside The Bank
Outside The Bank

That evening we went out for a fancy dinner at The Bank, which was very classy and Christmasy, before heading back to Temple Bar and Bad Ass Cafe for more music and cider. I just love the energy in Dublin. The streets and bars are full of music and life. Everyone was ready for a good time, and just so friendly! The people we met all were so quick and witty, two traits I love in others and sooooo don't have. The absolute best part was how much Christmas spirit there was; lights, trees, sweaters... it all made me so happy and eager to start the season!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the Long Room...looks...AWE-SOME! So big and antique and you hit the spot with the reference of the Beast library, it really makes you rememeber that scene! Although....I am a bit more geekish...the scene that came to my mind when I saw your picture was the Jedi Library from Star that one must have been inspored with the long room they are very similar...they even have the busts and all!

    The cobble streets in Dublin make them look like taken out from a fairy looks so great. I have always longed for getting inside a pub and hearing jiggs all night