The Half Day Dublin Frenzy - Ireland Day 6

(aka What to do in Dublin when you don't have a ton of time).
September 17

What the Shelbourne lacks in warmth, it makes up for in breakfast. I was finally able to have my Porridge. I mean, I eat oatmeal all the time at home, but here I am in Ireland and I've had oatmeal that was just a little, meh. Today though...Porridge with Milk. Then, the cream to add on the top. Add a scone and some tea and I was a happy camper. Breakfast made up for the fact that I am (or we both are) an idiot.

This morning as we were getting ready, I went to try to plug in the adaptor. It wouldn't fit. It seemed that the holes were just a smidge too small. Oh well, we had the power supply from the other outlet that used the US voltage. No problem. When we tried to plug in the flat iron, it didn't fit. I thought it was because the flat iron had one of the plugs that was just a bit larger on one side. We both started to panic, cause without the flat iron, we run into problems. So while I figured out how the shower worked (took a bit of figuring out), Mom called downstairs and had a dude show up with a converter. He took what we had first, shoved the plug into the outlet with a bit of force and said, "Here you go!!". Yes, apparently all we needed to do was to use some force. We both hung our heads in shame as we walked through the lobby, so hopefully the guy wouldn't recognize us.

I ran through my plan for the day with Mom. We didn't have much set up in Dublin with the group, but I still didn't really plan for what we were going to do. I also didn't want it to seem like I was making all of the plans and she didn't have any say. I know she was worried about walking everywhere. Maybe it would be too far?? Maybe we would be out too long?? But we checked with the Concierge to make sure we were going in the right direction and that these areas were walkable. He confirmed my belief that this was all doable and he even agreed with where I marked the map for lunch. Yay!!

We started our morning around 930a. Turn right, then do some walking to St. Patrick's Cathedral. While I may have certain views about religion (which I heartily won't go into here or anywhere, really), I do love the architecture of churches. This one was no exception. It looked very Hogwarts-ian from the outside. We chose not to go inside, cause we really didn't want to spend the money, but we hung around the outside of the church for a while. They had a lovely park with some beautiful flowers.

The flowers have been consistently surprising here. The weather will change on a dime and there isn't a ton of sunshine. Yet the flowers thrive here. There are flower beds still flourishing in mid-September. And Mom can't get over the hanging baskets of flowers that seem to adorn the storefronts. The tour guides call the rain "Liquid Sunshine" and say that is why the flowers look so beautiful. This explanation works for me.

We walked a few blocks to the Dublin Castle. We decided to take a tour of this one and I'm so glad we did. The castle was once a castle, but due to an error in judgment (it seems), most of the castle was destroyed in the 1690's The castle was rebuilt shortly later, so it doesn't feature bricks and mortar, but styles that are more along the lines of the 1700's. This is where we learned that the Presidential Seal is a harp with a blue background. This is different from the Guinness logo, where the harp is facing a different way. Also, the last 21 years of Presidential rule has been with women. The last two Presidents have been women named Mary. While the President is mostly a ceremonial position, the President does uphold the constitution.

For 700 years, the Dublin Castle was the seat of British power in Ireland. Now it houses tax and police offices. They were doing some remodeling as they will be electing a new president in the next few months. The president will be inaugurated in the castle and they're trying to spruce some areas up before this happens. It was cool to be in the room where the past presidents have been and the future presidents will be inaugurated.

The tour guide did show us an area of the original castle that is still standing, then we went into the catacombs (the Undercroft), where excavations have been going on for years now (I think since the 1980's). The excavations have shown walls from the original castle and areas from when the Vikings took over the city.

The Vikings have been the most surprising part of Dublin. I just didn't expect Vikings would have such a strong tie to this place. Now I can't think of Vikings without thinking of Eric from True Blood. So when I hear about Vikings, I picture Alexander Skaarsgard plundering the area. It's not a bad visual, I have to say. But the Viking's story also brings a wave of Viking tourism. The Duck Boats that we always see at the Dells are here in Dublin. But they are themed around the Vikings. People taking the tour have to wear the Viking hats and shout things from the boats as they drive past people on the street. Why?? Cause you're on a fun tour and you have to have fun!! I looked at Mom at one point and said that I didn't want to do anything less in my entire life than to take the Viking Tour. One of the couples in our group were talking about taking this tour. I shudder to hear if they did...

After the castle, we saw where we wanted to have lunch. It wasn't time t eat yet, so we kept walking. There was an open-air market I wanted to find called the Cow's Head Market. It's basically people selling their wares. Kind of a craft show...outdoors. I love stuff like this. I rarely buy anything from them, but I love to see what people make. There were a few things I liked, but I didn't do any purchasing.

We also finally saw the River Liffey. This river separates Dublin into the North and South. Our hotel and everything we were planning to do was on the South side of the city. But we stood on the Grattan Bridge for a while and took in the views.

It was finally time for lunch. I don't know where in saw it first. Maybe TripAdvisor. Maybe the Rough Guide. But I wanted to eat at the Queen of Tarts. They had sandwiches and tarts and desserts. Plenty of desserts. They were hopping. And I was so happy we were there. We had a soup and sandwich and a tart. Then a lemon meringue tart. I don't like meringue, but this was great. They also brought whipped cream for the tart. We both looked at the whipped cream and wondered why. The tart didn't need whipped cream. But when we tried a bite with the tart, we knew it was given for a reason. So good. That's been a surprising part. The whipped cream seemingly has no taste by itself. But when added to scones or tarts, it just elevates the dish to another level. That has to be the difference between whipped cream in Ireland versus the United States. Ours already has the sugar added, so it just adds more sugar to whatever. But the cream in Ireland doesn't. It adds a flavor. This is just one more thing we need to figure out how to make (that blog will happen near the end. Don't worry)

We walked a few blocks and found a grocery store. I got my Jammie Dodgers and yes, I only bought them because of the Doctor Who references. Then we walked a few more blocks back to Grafton Street. I found a place where I wanted to buy the claddagh ring, but the sizing stopped a half size too small for me. Boo. Then I found a Birkenstock store. I found a pair of shoes that looked great and could possibly work post-surgery, but they were a half a size too small. Son of a... And then it started to rain. So I started feeling discouraged. But then, a light came down from the heavens and brought us to Avoca.

I had read about Avoca. It was a store with all Ireland items. I don't know what I expected. Some high end departments, maybe. Like the Killkenny place we went to yesterday before dinner. But I walked in and said, "Is it my imagination or are we in Anthropologie??". It was seriously the Irish Anthro!! I went flitting around between floors and looking to see what I could find. There were tons of cute things, but I also knew I didn't need anything. I still want a ring, but even if that doesn't happen, I'm fine. I would also still like a piece of Waterford crystal. Who knows, we might find all of this crap at the airport.

At this point, we were getting tired and it was still raining. We did another quick run down Grafton Street (much better to do that yesterday since people were packed up and down the street), then I dragged Mom through Trinity College. I mean, it was right there. We kind of had to go. We didn't see the Book of Kells (neither one wanted to pay for it), but we saw the campus. Then we couldn't get out of the campus for a while. And we walked a few blocks back to the hotel. It was time for a break.

We had a "Welcome to Dublin" Cocktail Dinner planned tonight. Good lord, no one really wants to eat anymore. And I think I'm almost wined out. Plus, cocktail attire?? I won't lie, I was dreading the meal a bit. It all turned out really well though. Everyone slicked up pretty nicely. Really, this is a super sweet group. The meal itself was just great. The hotel manager came out to thank us for being here and introduced the hotel's executive chef. I think he could be my Future Foreign Husband. Sadly, he is unaware of his new title. Oh well...

Our last full day in Ireland is tomorrow. I think we're both going to be ready to hit the road. If only because it'll be great to eat like normal people again. Seriously, I don't know how much weight I've gained, but I can't imagine it is only a few pounds. Food Detox is sure to happen shortly...


    Hello, Carrie! I have really enjoyed your Ireland blog posts, you have great insight, and are pretty funny also. However, I feel I must offer a rebuttal to the “Viking-Mobile” comments. I can totally understand the person who said that riding the aforementioned Viking-Mobile might be fun (or, at least, funny). That could have well been me. Wait, that WAS me. If that Viking-Mobile had : (1) been free; (2) available in our free time, of which there was precious little; (3) and included PINK Viking helmets, instead of the ugly brown ones, I would have been all over it. Yes, it was the ultimate in ‘tacky’…bright yellow, open-topped, with much loud yelling being encouraged. However, having arrived in town aboard the giant TOUR bus, we were already branded. I always swore I would NEVER be on one of those cattle boats, I mean, tour buses, yet here we were. (Disclaimer: Since the trip was free and included stays in five star hotels plus 42 free meals in 6 days, the tour bus did not seem too much of a trade-off). Here in the South, we have genteel Viking Boat tours: we have horse-drawn carriages with Civil War costumed drivers taking tourists around Savannah, Wilmington, & Charleston. No tacky yelling, no cool helmets. I’ll go with the Viking-Mobile any day of the week. If we find ourselves back in Dublin at the same time, we’ll have to put it to the test. You can take the pictures, as yours turned out much better than ours. Hope they get pink helmets before then.


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