Wednesday we flew into Dublin and bought bus tickets. We were told by several people that Dublin is not the best walking city, so we should get a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket. These buses go to all the main tourist attractions. We found a guy selling them right outside the airport, and we found out that there several different companies that give them. We bought tickets for the green bus because that’s what he was selling. Looking back, I wish we had just done the city bus. Our bus only went one direction on the route, so if we wanted to go the opposite direction, we either had to ride for over an hour or walk 15 minutes. We ended up doing that a lot. Also, they don’t run 24 hours, so we couldn’t use it early in the morning when we started our day. The only reason I would think those buses would be good would be if you planned your day around the bus schedule and route. The city buses, from what I saw, had many more stops, longer hours, and went both directions.
Once in Dublin, we headed straight for the Guinness Brewery. Guinness is THE Irish beer brand, so it was a good start to learn about a company that is a big part of their culture. It had some neat museum-like exhibits, a room where they teach you the correct way to drink a Guinness, and a skyline bar. Included in the tour is a full pint, which I learned to pour myself. I got a certificate and everything. I’m still not a huge beer fan, but the Guinness was definitely my favorite so far.From there, we went to the castle, but didn’t end up taking a tour because we were on a tight schedule. We stopped in the Chester Beatty Library, which is very close, to see the illuminated manuscripts and prints. The library was free, which was really nice, and I would definitely go back to spend more time there. From there, we dropped by St. Patrick’s cathedral, which was beautiful. It had a lovely park/garden. Also, I think Jonathan Swift is buried there.
The next day, we took a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. We took a pit stop in a little town that was the ancestral home of Barack Obama of all people. He had a visitor center and exhibit in the gas station that was named after him. I got some really delicious yogurt with berries there.
We rode a little ways more and stopped for a couple pictures in Limerick. As we left, one of the passengers fittingly told a limerick (rhyming poem) that her mother wrote.
We drove a little ways more and were at the Cliffs of Moher, which are on the complete opposite side of the country from Dublin. They were absolutely stunning! There was a pathway that took you pretty close to the edge going both ways, and you could venture even closer if you were willing to brave the strong winds and slippery mud and grass. We really lucked out with the weather that day! Who knew it could be so sunny in Ireland?We walked around and took pictures for a couple hours, enjoying the view. The cliffs were so high up, but somehow there was sea foam scattered about that the wind had carried up. There was also a cool tower there. From there, we went to Doolin for lunch, where we ate at McGann’s. I got fish and chips and an Irish coffee, which were delicious. We then stopped by this old little abbey that was basically just ruins. There were graves inside the church. They still use it as a cemetery.
That night, we went to the Temple Bar, which is very touristy and very crowded, but still pretty cool. We were about to leave when the band started playing “Wagon Wheel” and we decided we had to stay. We somehow managed to get seats right by the stage. The band was two Irish guys, one playing the guitar and one the banjo. They were amazing and played songs we knew, like Journey and Johnny Cash.
The next morning we visited the Kilmainham Gaol (jail) where the leaders of the rebellion against England were held and executed. It took way too long to get there,but it was neat to learn more about Ireland’s independence.For our last taste of Dublin, we visited Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, a Medieval copy of the Gospels, now bound into four books, rather than the original one book. They were beautifully decorated, and they turn a new page each day. After that, we sped off to the airport to catch our flight to Copenhagen! We were very excited that we got stamps in our passports, because when traveling in the EU, they don’t usually do that. Of all the places I’ve been, Ireland is the only one that I feel like I have to go back. Dublin was not a very pretty or walkable city, but I fell in love with the culture, food, accents, countryside, music, all that. I really wish I could have spent more time there, but it will be even more enjoyable with my family or friends from home.