Monday, September 29, 2014
I went to Dublin this past weekend...WHAT a truly awesome city, with so much history. Hopping on a nine a.m. bus along with my three program study partners, we arrived about three-and-a-half hours later. I totally got car-sick at the end, however. Part of the problem was that there was a lot of road construction coming into Dublin, with many jerks and stops, and the other problem was that I decided to use the toilet in the back of the bus in the midst of it jerking around like that. Yeah, bad idea! Should have taken the dramamine. So I got off the bus all nauseous and with a headache, as we met up with our director and walked to the hostel. Our rooms weren't ready yet so we had a few minutes to grab a bite to eat or whatever before our excursion into the city. I walked to the supermarket right close by and grabbed some pretzel sticks and ginger ale. That did it, and within a few minutes I was feeling much much better. Soon the Galway girls arrived,(those in our program who are studying there), as well as the Dublin boys, and we adventured off into the city. We crossed a pretty foot bridge and walked down street after street, hearing musicians sing and play, artists with their incredible handiwork, illusionists, and a great mass of people of all ages.There was just so much to see that I literally couldn't see it all.
After some time we came upon the Garden of Remembrance, where many Irish men fought for their freedom, and where the Queen of England came to give a speech two years ago and actually bowed to the Irish people's hard-earned independence. While we were visiting this garden, it was also interesting that there was a pro-abortion rally going on. I hadn't realized that abortion hasn't yet been legal here, and I was thinking that they have no idea what they are getting themselves into. I cringed while walking past signs that said, "Get your rosaries off my ovaries". They need prayer. Needless to say, it shook me up quite deeply, especially as this same group was later marching up to Dublin's headquarters. In contrast to this I also saw numerous expectant mothers while walking down the streets, as well as parents enjoying their kids. At least there was a little joy on the scene.
We trotted through the city park on our way to Trinity College. It was most loveliest of lovely. A river curved through, with big trees on the banks and large lawns about, people sitting and lying everywhere, to catch the afternoon sun rays. I heard electronica-type music playing loudly from somewhere in the center, and it echoed all about. I stopped along the river to snap some photos of the swans and other birds having fun on the water.
Standing in the main court of Trinity College, it felt very "scholarly". The building structures are very British. I thought it looked like a cool place to study. The Trinity College has the Book of Kells library. It was really inspiring to see all the old manuscripts and to learn about the conquest of Brian
Boru many hundreds of years ago. It was very beautiful in the library. We also visited the Dublin Castle nearby, and gazed upon the entrance gates where many Irish rebels were shot to death as they tried to march into the castle courts. There is an old fashioned part of this castle and a modern one. President Obama has apparently come to visit this place before. I realized that it is a great gift to stand in such rich places of history.
My Friday night in the city was spent with my new friend Raquel, who's also from Michigan. We had a very nice introductory chat in the hostel about our families and life back home. Then we went out and toured the city together, getting Starbucks smoothies first and then just walking around all the little shops. Walking the streets at dusk, we were shoulder-to-shoulder with all the local Irish people returning from that evening's hurling match nearby. I enjoyed checking out their jerseys and fan decker. Hurling is a big deal for the Celts and apparently it costs a lot to go to a game. So there was no way in heck we Americans could afford it. Thankfully the game played on TV just like our football games do. Anyway, Raquel and I had dinner at an off-street place called Lemon Jelly, which I highly recommend. I had my first crepe there: a banana-nutella-ice cream one, and I can't tell you just how good it was! The chefs were super polite and it wasn't nearly as hard to order food as it would have been at a pub, since the pubs were packed. We went to a couple pubs later, hitting only the ones with good live music. My favorite was The Merchant, which had a traditional Irish band playing called "Reely". They played a number of jigs, my favorite being "Galway Girl". I couldn't believe just how much fun it was to stand there and listen to them; the people all around were so jolly too!
The next day we toured the Guinness Factory. I had never tasted the stuff so I couldn't say I was a fan, but I am totally a fan of great businesses and hearing their stories, and this of course was one of them. The Guinness headquarters is at least seven stories high, so you slowly tour all the way to the top. Learning about Arthur Guinness, the founder, was very impressive. I'd heard he was a Christian man, but what I didn't know is that he and his wife Olivia gave birth to twenty-one kids and buried eleven of them. Wow! That means she spent sixteen years of her life in pregnancy, woah. Anyway, the tour of the factory involved floor after floor of walking through the Guinness-making process, such as barley-growing, boiling, hops-growing, and so forth. I already knew some about brewing, so I'd say my favorite process was actually the barrel-making, watertight to store the Guinness on ships. The company actually bought a good number of ships over the years and had replicas on display. On the sixth floor, I got in with a group of older French guys and participated in the Guinness Academy lesson all in French. The men were hilarious and I enjoyed every minute of that. On the top floor I finally did try the beautiful barley drink, but honestly did not like the taste at all. Sorry to disappoint.
Our final tour in Dublin was the National Museum. I definitely recommend this place! It has SO much incredible old stuff, dating back into the B.C.'s even. My only wish is that I had nore time to see everything. I spent too much time reading the descriptions of things, because I didn't want to walk by without appreciated things for what they were. And what amazed me is that Ireland is so much older than America, with SO much more history. There was a lot of gold and gold things, as well as bronze. I learned that people were 'decked out' back in the day, with bronze or gold collars, bracelets, clothing fasteners, rings, etc. This was pre-medieval. I also extremely old texts of the Psalms, called the Psalter, from somewhere between one and two thousand years old. I thought that was very cool. One of the freakiest exhibits there, however, was the Bodies of the Bogs. These are real people, who died a very, very long time ago, but were somehow naturally preserved in the sediment of bog quicksand. They are preserved so they look bluish-green in color, and are a bit thin-pressed but have their flesh and facial features still intact. Yikes, I couldn't believe that one one the guys I looked at still had wavy red hair on his head. So, if you want to see the resemblance of your ancient fathers, that's the place to go I guess! But I could stay there long or even look at them all because it did freak me out a bit. I still can't get their dead faces out of my mind. Very neat experience, however.
Well, by the time I made it back to Cork that night, it felt like coming home actually! Funny, but a good, good feeling. I got of the bus and was like, "oh, my city!" Thankfully this city is much smaller than Dublin, though I loved it there and would totally recommend it to any person visiting Ireland.