We took the morning bus to Dublin from Belfast (1 1/2 hrs). Dublin lies in the independent country of Ireland, which is part of the European Union and uses the Euro, whereas Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. and uses the British pound. There is no border crossing between these two countries because they are still part of the EU. We have heard much talk of Brexit while we have been here, which is pretty controversial . Brexit is essentially the anticipated 2019 U.K. departure from the EU. There are strong feelings on both sides for staying or leaving the EU, seeming mostly to do with economics.
After locating our beautiful BnB and chatting with our hostess who works for the Irish Times newspaper and films documentaries, we deposited our bags and took off on the bus for center city to meet up for another walking tour, not wasting any time and practically jogging to make it on time as usual, poor Mum. I told her we can rest when we get home and soak her aching feet in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
These free Walking tours we’ve been doing since I discovered them in New Orleans
(most major cities have them now) are a marvelous way to get an overview of a city before setting off on your own. The guides are not salaried and earn only tips. Because of this they really put their heart and soul into educating and entertaining you. Our Dublin guide,Stephen, was the best one yet -a part time actor who was entertaining and historically knowledgeable. He was raised in Northern Ireland as a Protestant so we got a bit more history of the troubles but with a Loyalist slant. He told us how his father was in the British military and how he needed an armed escort to walk him to school everyday. He didn’t have much of an accent and neither did our hostess as opposed to our friends up north , so I asked him about the different Irish accents he did a great montage of the different dialects (all very distinct) and then went on to say the all time worst Hollywood Irish accents were Brad Pitt from the Devils Own, Gerard Butler in PS I love you, and Tom Cruise in Far and Away. He then proceeded to do a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Henry V which
was very impressive.
We walked around the Temple Bar area, the famous pub district, and got a pot of delicious mussels and listened to some traditional live Irish music at Oliver St. John Gogarty’s. Temple bar is the equivalent of Bourbon St., full of drunken tourists, expensive drinks and loud music but fun nonetheless. We had seen numerous groups of men dressed in drag and silly costumes such as a baby in a diaper at the airport. Come to learn it is a tradition for stag parties prior to men getting married to essentially make an ass of themselves by them and their mates dressing up and going out.
The following day we slept in, our first lazy morning of the entire trip. We opted to not do any long day trips out of Dublin and to just spend a day in the city after seeing how much there was to do and how beautiful it was. In the late morning and took a tour of Trinity College and viewed the Book of Kells and the famous Long Room Library (the most photographed library in the world.) The Book of Kells is an illuminated bible, Ireland’s national treasure
and the worlds most famous medieval manuscript because of its perfectly preserved ornate Celtic artwork. A little interesting side note , at Trinity graduation you receive your degree according to your gpa , pity the poor student who gets his diploma last. What an embarrassment, but then again you are graduating from Trinity after all.
Afterwards we went to the Archaeology museum to see the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibit with the “bog men,” mummies who had been preserved in peat bogs. We have found all national museums have been free in the U.K. and Ireland, which makes a nice addition to sightseeing if you have some extra time.
The tall ships were in town for their annual visit and were visible in the river that runs rights through the center of Dublin. We finished out our day in the beautiful seaside fishing village of Howth, on a peninsula just north of the city. We ate a smokie (smoked mackerel), some fish chowder and fish cakes and met the celebrity grey seal named Sammy who hangs out in the harbor begging for fish. I learned afterwards that this seal is so popular he even has his own
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