Trip in Dublin, Ireland
A return in 2014 to the country that changed my
life in 2001.
worked out that, after my nine weeks in
Ukraine, Stefan and I were able to go to Ireland together. I hadn't
been to Ireland
since 2001, and on that trip, after visiting
New Grange in Slane and having one of the best days of my life, I met
a German guy on a motorcycle - and he's now my husband. This 2014 Ireland
trip was because of my work, and I was thrilled that Stefan could come with
me, he could see Dublin at long last, and we could spend some MUCH needed
We had a horrible
time getting out of Germany, which I've detailed on my blog - no one
has replied regarding this complaint
about security at Frankfurt airport as of the date that I'm publishing
this blog, which just makes their behavior that much more reprehensible.
I have to admit that I wasn't charmed by Dublin when I visited in 2001. I
liked it okay, but it just didn't really grab me - I preferred Kilkenny and
New Grange so much more. But this time, I LOVED DUBLIN. I
loved the canals, the bicyclists EVERYWHERE (Portland, Oregon is not a
bicycle town - Dublin, Ireland is!), the architecture, the museums - I loved
it all! It rained almost the entire time and I didn't care. I love Dublin!
Pay me big money, and I could live there.
I wonder if part of the reason I loved being in Dublin this time is because,
earlier this year, I paid for the
Ancestry.com DNA test, and what I learned as a result. While I was
devastated to have no American Indian/Native American heritage whatsoever, I
was thrilled to learn I'm 29% Celtic (Irish/Scottish), 22% Scandinavian (an
ancestry that comes from Sweden, Norway and Denmark) and just 16% English
(because I AM IRISH, DANG IT). It's not that I think heritage really
matters: we are one global human family, and we should celebrate all
cultures, because we are all related, and all cultures are human, and worth
appreciating. Also, no one in my family ever talked about our European
heritage at all, because we had no idea what made up our mutt background, so
I cannot say going to Ireland brought me closer to the cultural heritage -
just my genetic heritage. Still, there was something about being there and
knowing my genetic line came from there (even though, ultimately, ALL humans
come from what is now Africa), that made this trip more special. Also,
starting when I moved to Connecticut back in 1988, I have been told again
and again that I look Irish...
My presentation for the NGO that brought me to Ireland was in the conference
room at the Chester Beatty
Library (which is actually a museum) at Dublin
Castle, and was followed by a scrumptious catered meal from the Silk
Road Kitchen, the restaurant in the museum. I wore my Ukrainian blouse
and the owner of the cafe asked if it was from Palestine - I love how
textile designs in one country can look so much like textiles in a country a
few thousand kilometers away! The museum is such a fantastic place, Stefan
and I stayed there for the next two hours, enjoying the exhibits and the
gift shop. Had it been sunny and dry, I would have been content to just sit
out on the grounds and read for the rest of the day.
What also made the trip super special was being there with Stefan. When
we lived in Germany, we would talk about how we should go to Ireland
some day together, but never
did. It was so nice to finally realize that dream - especially after
being apart for nine weeks in Ukraine and almost a week in Germany.
It is so awesome that state-run museums in Ireland are free - it not only
makes them incredibly accessible to EVERYONE, but it means a clean bathroom
is always rather easy to find! I do think they should charge just a pound
though - maybe just a "suggestion." While I realize that Irish citizens have
already paid, through their taxes, us foreigners haven't.
also went to Trinity College to see the Book
of Kells. We went in the late afternoon and there were just two or
three other people viewing the book with us! Last time I went, back in 2001,
it was a bit crowded, and I didn't get to spend long looking at the pages.
This time, we got to take our time. The library is like a dream... it was
just as impressive as the first time I visited. Note: there IS a charge for
this museum, as it's not a national museum, but I think it's totally worth
it. The gift shop is terrific as well.
We stayed at the Mespil Hotel,
which I highly recommend: comfortable, quiet, clean rooms, excellent
breakfast, helpful staff. The building is nothing scenic, and the wi-fi
is super slow (and sometimes impossible to use), but the hotel is in a
great location: about a mile from the National Museum of Ireland -
Archaeology and other museums, just about 500 meters from an Aircoach
bus stop (cheap, comfy transportation to and from Dublin
airport!), and just 650 meters from the School
House bar, which is in a former chapel - great place to watch
Germany lose in the last seconds to Ireland in soccer. Seriously, the
clams were to die for, and Stefan said it was the best fish and chips
he'd had in a LONG time. I had some Jameson Black Barrel whiskey and it
was dang delicious...
We walked a LOT. A bit too much, in fact. It's great to walk when
touring a city, and I love walking, but sometimes, while walking saves
money, it eats up a lot of valuable time, and you can end up spending
hours walking through boring scenes when you could enjoy being
somewhere instead of trying to get there. We walked 4.5 kilometers to
the Guinness storehouse, and the same back to our hotel - that was more
than three hours of walking, quickly, to get to and from somewhere,
through not-so-scenic areas. Cabs are expensive - but sometimes, they're
Speaking of the Guinness Storehouse Museum: skip it. It's one long
commercial for Guinness. I love Guinness, I so do, but I don't need an
endless commercial - and I certainly don't need to PAY for an endless
commercial. You don't ever get to see Guinness actually being made, you
just get to hear about how it's hand-crafted from different ingredients,
over and over and over and over again via videos and signs and videos
and signs. We have been on distillery tours in Scotland and Kentucky,
and we've really enjoyed them - but the Dublin Guinness tour? No. I will
say that the cafe on the second or third floor is really good - buy one
dish and split it, it's PLENTY of food, and it's quite good. And I will
also say that the Guinness poured for you on the top floor will probably
be the best pint of Guinness you've ever had, no question. But 18 Euros
for an endless Guinness commercial? Nooooo. It blew our minds to see
people taking just one sip of their pint of Guinness and then placing
the full glass back on the bar. Unbelievable!
We also made a pilgrimage to the Oscar
Wilde statue at Merrion Square. It's positioned so that Wilde is
looking at his old family home at number 1 Merrion Square (the house is
CLOSED to the public) - and the fact that the statue is in a park, and in
such a provocative position, has to mean something as well... I spent our
time there trying to explain to Stefan who Oscar Wilde was. He at least
now knows why, every time we go through customs in an airport, I say,
"Nothing to declare but my genius!"
We weren't sure where to go next. I looked up and saw "Archeology Museum"
on the tourist sign pointing to various sites, and said, "Let's go there!"
It turned out to be a highlight of the trip. The
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology is wonderful, and what we
particularly enjoyed was seeing items that had been found in New Grange
and Knowth, the sites that are responsible for us meeting back in 2001.
The collection is outstanding - the Neolithic and pre-Christian items are
the best, but some of the medieval stuff is excellent as well. We skipped
the Egyptian items because we've seen SO much, in Egypt, in London, in
Germany... we need a break for a while. There was a film about the Viking
invasions in Ireland that we watched a bit of, and I made lots of
distasteful, inappropriate jokes that my great, great, great, great,
great, great, great, great, great, great, great Viking grandfather raped
my G11 Celtic grandmother and I'm suing SOMEONE.
spent our last night in Dublin meeting my friend Kirsty. I went to Ireland
to visit her back in 2001 - I knew her because of the Postcard 2, or P2,
alternative country online community, and when I moved to Germany, she
invited me to visit Dublin. We
visited Kilkenny together, which I LOVED, and she strongly suggested
New Grange, so I did - and after I'd visited the site, I met Stefan
at the bed and breakfast where I stayed. I hoped that, upon meeting her,
Stefan would hug her, rather than punch her. Indeed, he hugged her! It was
nice to finally
get a photo of the two of them together. We had a lovely reunion -
it was great seeing her and hearing about her life and blabbling about
mine. Kirsty helps book country and swing bands around Dublin, including
at the Ubangi Stomp
Club, and hosts the American
Music Show on 103.2 FM in Dublin, which you can listen to online
Fridays, 11pm - midnight Dublin time (that's 3 p.m. Oregon time).
We took the Aircoach bus to the
airport on the evening of our last day - that bus is SUCH a great deal! We
were also thrilled to find that Dublin airport security is friendly and
efficient - in stark contract to Frankfurt, Germany. The Dublin security
went through my bins quickly, and the staff member looked up at me,
nodded, and said, "Perfect." I know how to travel, I know how to be a
good, cooperative traveler, and I'm glad when that's appreciated.
I fell in love with Dublin on this trip. Ireland remains a very special
place to me. Hope I don't have to wait another 13 years before I go again!
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