Exploring Dublin

November 27, 2014 – The worst part of arriving into a new city on a red-eye is not having any sleep during the flight, and having 8 hours of daylight before sleep is even an option. The best part is having a full day to explore the city that would have otherwise been taken up by the plane ride.  That is why we prefer red-eyes, despite the sleep deprivation.

Taxis are out bright(?) and early.
Taxis are out bright(?) and early.

We started the day with a bus ride into the city from the airport, where we drove past much of the city center to College Green.  From there, we walked to the Luas Green Line and eventually arrived at our hotel to drop off our bags. We decided on the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road (formerly the Doubletree at Burlington Road) because of a great rate and good reviews. (Tip: By booking early, we got a rate that was about half off the normal rates for the area. That’s why we tend to check rates early and often when booking hotels.) The location did have us walking a bit more than normal on the weekend to catch some Intercity trains, but we’ll dive into that more later.

We saw the first hint of sun just after 8:00.
We saw the first hint of sun just after 8:00.

After regrouping (without our bags), we decided to get breakfast around the corner at Cafe Java. The best part of mornings in Ireland and the UK is the traditional “full breakfast” that can be found in many restaurants and B&Bs. Most of the time, they will appear on the menu as a “Full Irish Breakfast” or “Full English Breakfast” depending on what country you’re in. Just be mindful of where you are, and maybe don’t order a “Full English Breakfast” when you are in Ireland or Scotland. Louisa did enjoy the crispier, thick cut bacon in Ireland compared to other bacon (still thick cut, less crispy) that we’ve had in past trips to England.

We took a shortcut through St Stephen's Green.
We took a shortcut through St Stephen’s Green.

After breakfast, we spent much of our time on foot and walked through St. Stephen’s Green to Trinity College. No, we didn’t have the dreaded 8:00 Intro to Computer Engineering class to get to. (Maybe grab a coffee if learning JK flip-flops before 9:00.) Instead, we wanted to see The Old Library & Book of Kells exhibit.  The Book of Kells is amazingly preserved, and there aren’t many places where you can see a work from the 9th century presented as well as this. The Old Library is just as spectacular and is not to be missed.

The book on assembly instruction sets is just up there on the right. No, not that one. The one next to it.
The book on x86 instruction sets is just up there on the right. No, not that one. The one next to it.

After leaving the library, we took the LONG way around to the Museum of Archaeology because we had issues with map and sign reading. We may have been just 50 feet from the entrance before going around the ENTIRE block. And by block, we mean a 0.8 mile walk. After finding the entrance, we spent a good few hours examining their well-designed exhibits on Irish and Viking history. All of the museums around that large block are well done, and are worth at least a quick visit.

Go ahead map, rub it in with your clearly marked museum location.
Go ahead map, rub it in with your clearly marked museum entrance location.

Next stop, pub. We found one of our favorite pubs of the trip, called the Brew Dock, by walking over the River Liffey and by the Custom House. While we definitely got our fair share of Guinness and Smithwicks on this trip, we were also happy to find a place that served great food (curry and potato soup with bread in this case) and a nice selection of craft beers.  An aside: If you are traveling to Ireland for the first time, we’d recommend reading up on pub etiquette before you go. The toughest thing for us to figure out was deciding whether there was table service for food, or if everything is ordered through the bartender. If you are just getting drinks, claim a seat and just go up to the bar to put your order in.

Next stop: Four Courts.
Next stop: Four Courts.

After the pub, we took a ride on the Luas Red Line to Four Courts, and walked through Dublin Castle area. On the way, we stopped briefly at Christchurch for some photos and toured the Chester Beatty Library. There were quite a few great exhibits at the Library, and it is worth a visit if you are walking through the area. By this time in the late afternoon, we were starting to really feel the all-nighter from the plane ride. So, we did what any overly tired person should do when the fatigue sets in: the Guinness Storehouse.

We know you've all been waiting for it, but this is not a photo of the Guinness Storehouse.
We know you’ve all been waiting for it, but this is not a photo of the Guinness Storehouse.

Overall, I thought that the exhibits were pretty well done and full of information about the history of Guinness, and a good summary of the brewing process.  That being said, it is a pretty loud experience and perhaps not the best thing to do on little to no sleep. The view from the Gravity Bar was great though (this is the last stop on the tour), and seeing the sunset while drinking some Guinness was a good end to the first day. The only downside is that it does get pretty crowded, and seating is pretty limited as a result. Overall, it was a pretty good tour, but we’d pick a time when we are more well-rested to go through the storehouse.

The views from the bar were quite good.
The views from the bar were quite good.

After the factory, we made our way back to the hotel for a picnic dinner courtesy of Spar. Normally, we’d go to a pub or restaurant for dinner, but we were just too tired and wanted to get something quick. An added bonus of getting back to the room was that we got to watch some Thanksgiving NFL football with cold cuts and cheese. Gobble Gobble.

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