Dublin Day 2, or I Walk the Line, and Keep on Walking

08Oct12

We purposely woke up early on day 2 in Dublin for several reasons. First, we wanted to have breakfast. Breakfast was included in our package at the hotel, so we wanted to check it out. Second, we wanted to get an early start and do some sightseeing. Neither of us seemed to have much of a problem dealing with any jet lag or anything, although that could be because we napped the afternoon before. We both got up at around 7:30 AM and we ready to start the day. Okay so we were getting ready, but as I was getting dressed, I noticed that my legs did not look so good. They were very red and raw from the chafing that happened yesterday from walking in the rain. It hurt just to my pants on, so I knew wearing the braces would make for a miserable day. I decided to forgo the braces for the first part of the day and see how I would do. I let Michelle know about it and she agreed that it would be a good idea, but we would just have to take things very slow. it was going to be a lot of walking and this would certainly be a challenge for me, but I wanted to give it a try.

We got dressed and went down to breakfast. We were seated in the dining room and relaxed a bit before the waitress came over and asked if we would like coffee or tea to start our day. Michelle ordered tea, I went for coffee. Then they asked us if we would like some toast as well. We said sure, not thinking much of it, although it seemed a little odd to us, but what the heck, I like toast. We then took a look at the menu and both decided we were going to give the full Irish breakfast a try. Now, I had a vague idea of what this was before I ordered it, so I knew there was going to be a lot of meat on the plate. traditionally, the Irish would a very large breakfast to help sustain them through a heavy day of work on the farm in a cold winter. Well, that certainly would be true with what we got. I’ll go into more detail tomorrow on my cooking blog if you want more details about the breakfast, but it is safe to say that I might never eat a breakfast that large again, and probably a few things on the breakfast either, but it was a good experience.

We left breakfast feeling very, very full and we had plenty of energy to help get us through the rest of the day. We walked over to the Tourist Center and a few blocks from the hotel and got a couple of two-day passes on the tourist bus for us. These buses were great. They stopped at 24 different tourists spots and you could get on and off all day for two days The buses ran until about 8 PM. The nice thing about Dublin is, although it is a city, if we got stuck somewhere, we could walk back to the hotel. Nothing was really that far away from where we were located. It was still raining a bit when we left for the morning and this was a Wednesday morning, so everyone was going to work or school. The streets were quite busy with people moving about. They have a great commuting system in the city with lots of buses running constantly to bring people back and forth to where they need to go.

Once we were on the tour bus, we rode around for a few minutes until we found the first spot we wanted to stop at, which was Dublin Castle. We had high hopes that it would be more than it was, but we quickly found out that most of the actual castle isn’t there anymore and what is has been converted to be used as office space. It was disappointing, since we were hoping to see an actual castle in the city, but it was not to be. Luckily, Christ Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were both within close walking distance of where we were so we were able to walk over and see them.

Christ Cathedral was originally built in the 11th century and it was quite a marvel to see. The grounds of the church were quite nice even in the misty rain. We only ventured as far in the church as the entrance see they wanted 8 Euro a piece to tour the church. I can understand that they need to raise money to keep up the grounds and the church running, but we didn’t really want to pay to see it, so we moved on to St. Patrick’s. Here are a couple of pictures of Christ’s Cathedral:

St. Patrick’s was a few blocks away. A lot of this walk was uphill, and I was moving slowly. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that a lot of the places we were walking were old cobblestone streets that were also a little slippery from the rain. They also don’t have the same disability features like ramps in many places there, so everything was stairs to be walked as well. I moved very slowly and cautiously, but so far, so good.

It was a very nice church with beautiful gardens. The gardens were quite extensive, with many flowers blooming nicely and people sitting and relaxing, enjoying the solitude and quiet. We took a nice, leisurely walk around the gardens, with a pigeon following us most of the way. We saw the area where the well is located that St. Patrick purportedly used to baptize people. They also have plaques along the garden wall honoring some of the famous Irish writers. We didn’t go in the church either here, as it was the same and they wanted Euros to tour the church. Just as we were reaching the front door, a tour bus was stopping there, so we decided to hop on and head back towards Trinity College. Here are some pictures of St. Patrick’s grounds above.

Trinity College was a few minutes away, so we relaxed on the bus for a bit. By this time, the sun had come out a little and the weather brightened a bit, which was great for us. My legs were feeling a little tired, but for the most part I felt like I was doing okay. When we got to Trinity College, we walked through the gates and onto the campus, which was buzzing with students. The college has about 16,000 students, so it’s a decent sized school and the campus itself is very large. We wanted to go see the Book of Kells, a 9th century Gospel written by Celtic monks with very ornate drawings. It is quite a sight to behold and is the main attraction at the college. What we thought was better, however, is the library itself. The library at Trinity College is a copyright library, meaning it is entitled to hold any book of material that is published in Ireland. They have an immense collection of books going hundreds and hundreds of years that you can walk through. As soon as you enter the room, you can smell all the old books. They do have some items on display, but most of the library is sectioned off by velvet ropes so you can see the books, but you can’t touch them. Called the Long Room, it houses the books as well as marble busts of famous writers adorning the room. It’s amazing to see. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures anywhere in the library so we couldn’t get shots of anything, which is too bad, because you have to see it. I’ll always remember it.

By this time of day, it was about 3 PM and we were wearing down a bit from all the walking. We had skipped lunch because breakfast was so large, so we went back to the hotel to rest up a bit and figured we would venture out that night and maybe pick up some souvenirs for people along the way. We rested for a couple of hours and then got up and went back out for dinner. We decided to eat at the Hairy Lemon, a pub nearby, mainly because we liked the name of it. I’ll write more about it in my cooking blog, but it was quite a nice meal in a quaint little place. After dinner we walked out to Grafton Street, which is the big shopping area in Dublin. Just like areas of Manhattan, this is a pedestrian street so there are no cars allowed there. Not only is the street filled with shops and shoppers, but there were lots of street entertainers there as well. We walked up and down the entire length of the street, which is quite a ways, going into various shops to look around and check things out. There were lots of high-end shops that seem to cater to the tourist industry, but there were also some neat little shops down some of the side streets that we saw. There was a lot of jewelry, lots of clothing and lots of trinkets available. We were able to get some things for people, but mostly we just had fun and enjoyed each other’s company. We even walked down to St. Stephen’s Green, which is the big mall in Dublin that looks like a glass dome. By about 9 PM or so we were tired and had gotten everything we wanted to get, so we went back to the hotel, had an Irish coffee nightcap, and went to bed. Here are a couple of pictures from Grafton Street above.

I know it may not sound like the most exciting day, but we had a lot of fun and I feel like I accomplished something. When we fell asleep that night, I was exhausted and my legs hurt, but I felt good. I had walked miles, literally miles, without my braces for the first time in three years. It was a big deal for me. I was a little worried about what the next day would bring because I knew we would be spending the day at Guinness on our feet so it was a lot to ask, but for the first time in a while I felt pretty good about myself. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like I was starting to turn a corner that day, that maybe I was finally going to be able to move past this barrier, whether it was invisible or symbolic in those braces.

Okay, that’s enough writing for tonight. Tomorrow I’ll write some more about our trip and cover the great time we had that last full day in Dublin. When I am done describing the trip, I’ll talk some more about what my impressions of Ireland and the people and how this trip may have helped me turn a corner. So until tomorrow, enjoy your evening and try to do something creative today (or tomorrow, I know it’s kind of late tonight)!

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