Today was our first full day in Europe. We woke early to go to O’Connell Street to buy tickets for the “hop-on hop-off” bus tour. We were too early (a first for Jen) so Jen used her handy-dandy WiFi detector (thanks Boris!) and found wireless at a cute café on O’Connell Street. After some terrible tea and a quick blog update, we were on our way around Dublin, sitting atop the double-decker bus.
We curved around narrow streets with ease while an Irish bloke gave a history of the millennium spire, which, according to him, was the biggest waste of taxpayers’ money in the history of Ireland. The General Post Office is the most impressive building in terms of size. It’s a tribute to Roman Ionic architecture, complete with granite sentry atop the roof.
Our first stop off the bus was to take a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green. It is larger than Central Park, but no comparison in size to Dublin’s Phoenix Park, which is Europe’s largest public park. It was nice to see some greenery in St. Stephen’s, along with a cute pond and footbridge.
We moved onto our next stop – the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Housed in the former Royal Kilmainham Hospital, it was host to a fantastic sculpture exhibit of Barry Flanagan’s work. I really enjoyed his theme of bronzed hares, and loved spotting them throughout Dublin.
Just beyond the MOMA, was a green promenade leading directly to Gaol Kilmainham, Dublin’s most infamous jail. Many of the men involved in the Easter 1916 uprising were jailed and executed here. We took an hour-long tour through the jail with a very knowledgeable guide, Rory.
Next was my favorite part of the day – lunch. We walked a short distance to a pub, The Patriots Inn, delightfully filled with only two tourists – us! We had another meal of toasties and our first pints of Guinness of the trip. I don’t like Guinness any better than I liked Kilkenny.
After lunch, we jumped back on the tour bus and rode on to Christchurch Cathedral. We toured the crypt and the inside of the Cathedral. The floor was redone in the style of the original medieval tile. The grids and spirals with glazed designs were breathtaking.
We wandered the streets of Dublin, searching for dinner. We happened upon a restaurant in a restored church, St. Mary’s, that I read about on the plane. The organ in the choir loft was gilded and the wood was stained dark mahogany. There was a restaurant, out of our price range, in the loft, and another in the basement. We stayed and ate on the main floor, which centered around an up lit copper bar. The food was good, and we headed back to the hostel after we finished eating. We have an early cab ride to the airport tomorrow – 5:15am!