Sunday, October 30, 2011

Barcelona: Day 66 : A First Glance o' Dublin .

So today was the first day in Dublin, unless you count just getting here last night, and I have to say it was absolutely wonderful. Despite the fact that the bloody train runs directly by our window and we have to endure the sound every 20 minutes or so, it was great to go to sleep knowing that you're finally in a place you've only dreamed of. So we started off the morning on an early note, getting in a nice little breakfast around 830 or 9. And then on to the days activities: The plan was to hit Dublin Castle when it opened, then hop on the bus to go to Glasnevin Cemetery, the National Botanic Gardens and Griffith Park.

Well, it started off with a hitch right off the bat. We found Dublin Castle just fine, after walking down the River Liffey through Temple Bar and past City Hall.
However, unfortunately there was some sort of ceremony going on inside the castle, as it is still used for events and things of the like, so we weren't able to enter, and it wouldn't be open again until 2pm. So, with one swing and a miss, we decided to just head to Glasnevin Cemetery near Finglas. After a little confusion regarding the bus service (let's be real, there is no proper map and only some of the stops are labled with which lines it serves) we just hunted down the right bus we needed to take on Westmoreland Street. A short bus ride later, we were hopping off right in front of the massive cemetery of Glasnevin.

Walking through was surreal, as there were so many gravestones. It's hard to even put in proportion how many there were, but there were a ton. It was interesting to see so many Irish names, some more than, and especially the size of the gravestones. One person in the front of the cemetery literally had an entire miniature church over their grave. I can't imagine the sort of money that people spend just on these tombstones. It was super quiet inside; the entire cemetery is completely walled off. It was a gorgeous day to boot, which I never would have thought given that we were in Dublin, where it literally just got done downpouring for days straight. I'd talk more about the cemetery, but there are other things to move on to.
The National Botanic Gardens is right behind Glasnevin Cemetery, but since it is walled off we had to walk all the way out and around. It's hard to say what town this was, but from the map, it's kind of central between Finglas and Drumcondra. I suppose it's a bit of both, on the in betweens. It was the quaintest little houses that we passed by on the way to the gardens, and it was so great to see these. I'm already wishing I could live here... The gardens was certainly amazing. Instantly when we walked in there were about 5 giant greenhouses within sight. The rolling hills instantly made you want more and the grass was so green it looked fake. Even the fact that the day had become cloudy couldn't put a damper on our spirits. Along with the greenhouses, we also saw the lake, the rose garden, and walked along some really nice paths. It was one of the best park-like things I've ever been to. I'm not much for putting scientific names with shrubbery, but taking it all in was quite lovely. We decided to grab a bite to eat there as well, in a warm cozy room with windows all round looking over the gardens. Couldn't have been a more perfect spot. Pretty soon, we decided it was time to head on over to Griffith Park, so we could indulge in that and then try to catch one of the last tours at Dublin Castle, since we missed it in the morning.
Griffith Park was just a little last minute thing we decided to tack on to the day's activities, mainly because it was just a short walk away from the Botanic Gardens. It was well worth it though. Built on a skinny little stretch of land, Griffith Park has a river that runs through the entirety of its length and beyond. The grass is greener than green and the paths wind their way through the hills and beside the river, with benches along the way. A particular favorite part of mine were the weeping willows, which I haven't seen in forever. There was also a pretty sizable playground as well, and there were a bunch of kids playing on it. Just so you know, little kids with Irish accents is about the cutest thing I've ever heard.

We hopped back on the bus back to City Centre and got off near Grafton Street and Trinity College, walking back up the road to Dublin Castle. It's pretty nuts -- Dublin really isn't that big, so you can pretty much walk to anywhere if you really wanted to. And after conquering Barcelona with Kathrin on a weekly basis, it's hardly difficult to complain about a 30 minute walk. We actually thankfully made it to Dublin Castle in time to catch a tour, and we got a chance to walk around with a guided tour for only €3.50. Not too shabby. The tour guide was quite informative, and honestly, who can complain about listening to a lovely Dublin accent for a good 45 minutes? Turns out, also, that elections for a new President were yesterday in Dublin! We didn't even know. They are announcing the new President at 8pm, and the inaugural ceremony is inside Dublin Castle. They were setting up for the ceremony while we were walking through. This is a pretty big deal -- the Irish presidential term is 7 years long, and they are allowed 2 terms; this is the first time in 14 years that Dublin will have a new President! Pretty exciting stuff, I think. We are a part of history right now. Speaking of being a part of history, we actually also walked by the Central Bank of Ireland, where there is a protest going on in regards to something the EU was doing with taxes; I can't remember what exactly, but I do remember it was a bit of a big deal, and there were people camped out all over the grounds in front of the building. Needless to say, I took a picture.

Afterwards we headed back to Isaac's, and let me say, there were a ton of people out! I don't know where they all came from, but it was definitely pretty insane. The plan is to hit up a pub crawl tonight, so hopefully everything works out smoothly and we'll get to experience a very real bit of Ireland and Dublin in particular. Our schedule is not too packed, but I'm definitely exhausted -- super excited for Glendalough tomorrow!

On a sad note, the rain is supposed to return for the next three days. However, it only says chances of showers, and I'm hoping that that's a good thing -- We'll just have to wait and see what happens. Dublin is great, regardless, despite the rain, and I'm just looking forward to seeing so much more and learning about everything. It's been a real experience so far, and it's only been one day! I'm just doing my best to savor every minute of it -- and savor the time where I actually get to speak English to people too. Goodnight all, from Dublin.

Griffith Park, a little perfect slab of green just outside City Centre.

one of the many gorgeous areas in the Botanic Gardens

These signs are everywhere -- gotta love Guinness!

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