Uk March 2010: Dublin to Galway

Let's start with a list of my favorite things about Dublin (no real order):

Chester Beatty Library
Kilmainham Gaol
The ease of having random conversations with strangers
Tea on demand
Watching television in Irish (Gaelic)
Mary Gibbon's Newgrange Tour
Learning three words in Polish (I'll forget by the time I get home, don't quiz me) from my new friend, Miarana, on the Jameson tour
The view from the gravity bar at the Guinness store house
The flood of green on St. Patrick's Day that wasn't in a green beer Boston kind of way

My last day in town was where I finished up my site seeing. I had two items on the top of my list to cover-- The Chester Beatty Museum and Trinity College. With my tendency to wander on purpose and accidentally (some people call this 'getting lost') I still had to stay on track. My hotel room fridge was stocked with food-- Indian leftovers, bread, cheese, apples, grapes, yogurt--this makes it easier to get up and go. Apparently, I've managed to eat (along with buckets of tea and pounds of cookies) 1,500 grams worth of red grapes and six super large apples. I eat some bread or yogurt in the morning, stuff my pockets with apples and grapes and face the brave outdoors.

I got to Trinity college first, easily found my way to the Book of Kells. It was just as amazing as you heard, but I found it equally amazing to walk through the other historical books on display there and ended up spending a big chunk of time in the Old Library. Lined with old books and dark wood shelves to house them from end to end, the pathway in the middle littered with glass display cases full of history, it was a tremendous experience. One of the highlights of the library itself is from the 1916 Rising-- the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. This is one of the first things you see when you walk in the doors. Housed in the college that British soldiers used at the time to fire on the rebels.

A big fan of gift shops, I browsed and browsed around the shop at Trinity until deciding on a cd rom of the Book of Kells, all of it. I figure I'll have everyone over and we can stare at my tiny laptop screen and look at it together. All around 680 pages of it. Pack a lunch.

After being set out of the shop. I wandered around the campus and then took off to do errands. I was supposed to meet the Germans around this time to do some site seeing together. I met the Germans on the small tour to Newgrange. We talked for awhile and then made plans to meet. We talked about many, many things that day but somehow, oddly never bothered with names. So, on the bus we had the French guy, the Germans, the Boston women, the two hungover girls from New York, the party people at the back of the bus, the woman that ran a small hotel in Greece and me. The Germans sat next to me, a mother and daughter team. The daughter was staying near Cork and working as a nanny, the mother was here for a visit and they were touring the island together. We chatted most and then made plans to meet and if it wasn't for my uncanny ability to get lost in a paper bag, we probably would've met up and had a great time. As it was I took a wrong turn, it took me awhile to realize it and with the back tracking I arrived 20 minutes late. Sigh. I liked hanging out with them and I really felt like my plan to stay in touch and suggest visits to each others home towns would've been well received. Now one of you will need to put me up in Hamburg and show me around town.Thanks in advance.

I still got up the energy to continue on to the Chester Beatty Library. I’m still puzzled why more visitors to Dublin don’t find their way to this nice gem. It’s in the middle of Dublin Castle, easy to find when you are looking for it. And it’s free. The library is from the private collection of Chester Beatty, an American with a penchant for world travel and Asian artifacts that made his home in Dublin. There were two temporary exhibits on during my visit. One on narrative and figurative paintings from China during the 15th-20th century. These paintings and scrolls were visiting from the Shanghai Museum. The other exhibit was about the lost religion of Manichaeism. It was a very interesting story about this religion which most people did not know a lot about since most records were destroyed. Then these books got found in the early 1900's and they were found in very poor condition. One by one the pages, stuck together by dirt and salt for centuries are being separated from each other, preserved and translated. A whole complex religion that bases itself on the duality of good v. evil and dips into Buddhism, the complexity of stars and the night sky, and links this all to Christian belief structure is being unraveled and pieced back together, page by page.

And wait, there's more. The Library is best known for the collection of ancient religious texts, from many different paths. The collection of around 260 Qur'ans is supposed to one one of the best in the world. They are amazing to look at. And there is a lot to be learned. The materials in the Library help break down the different texts and where they are from, how they were used, but also educates you on the religions themselves. And then a step further, breaks down some different paths within the religion. A broad overview of the differences in Islam between Sunni and Shi'a beliefs, the three main types of Buddhism and the orgin of each. The collections of bibles is wonderful. Biblical Papyri from the second century AD including the oldest known copies of the four gospels and Acts of Apostles. Then they explain the difference in the apostles, their backgrounds and what their writings focused on. I spent a lot of time wandering around the collection, reading the texts, staring at the illuminated manuscripts, watching the interactive videos. I am more than a little interested in going a bit further and taking some comparative religion courses when I get home. There is something about those treasured books, how much went into their creation and how important it was to have them-- the process to create the paper, make the ink, the knowledge and study it took to be able to decorate and write one. And then the way they were treasured, for the words, the meanings, the connections people had to the spiritual world through them, and the sheer beauty of the books themselves. Reverence.

And yes, to answer your question, I did go to the Guinness Tour. I was not so much looking forward to it. The hungover and newly drunk again teenagers, well that was getting old. Still, I do like Guinness and I wanted to sit in the gravity bar with my pint and stare across Dublin. It was a pretty clear day. It was pretty amazing. I managed to sift through the crowd and get a seat. I spent a very long time there, staring around the city and getting lost in my thoughts. They only problem was I was out of grapes and getting hungry. I don't care what the old advertisements say, Guinness is actually not a meal. Well, maybe in my twenties, but not now. I shifted off the seat, climbed down a million stairs and went back through the streets of Dublin to the hotel.

This was my night of relaxation. I loaded pictures on my laptop, washed out clothes in the sink and put them on the heated towel rack to dry, massaged my sore feet, soaked in the bath until the water went cold, and began to pack.

My dear friends at the world's crappiest airline, Ryan Air, had done a number on my suitcase. This is a roller bag that I was not planning on taking home. I stuffed this smaller bag inside my bigger suitcase. The plan was to use the smaller bag in Ireland and donate it to a thrift store in London when I got back to Tessa's house. I have another similar, but better bag at home. But now the handle was half broken. And then in the middle of crossing a street, it became fully broken. Let me pause and mention that pedestrians do *not* have the right of way in the London or Ireland. I am smart enough to have figured out how to jimmy the removable shoulder strap from my purse to use with the suitcase. It still sucks, but at least I don't have to carry it. Now I have to decide if I am even going to bother with taking it one to London or dump as much as I can out of it and use the small duffel bag I take with my on travels. Apparently being overly prepared does have it's occasional advantages. Of course the dream was I would stuff it full of some treasured gifts for all of you. Instead we are looking at my collection of rain gear filling the bag. Hope you all like the used umbrellas you are getting for Christmas!

So, the bus ride to Galway was simple and easy. Sit, access wifi, load photos, arrive in Galway around three hours later. Still, I looked a little torn up. Wearing my traveling attire which is marginally better than what my clothes look like after camping for three weeks, pulling a broken suitcase with a homemade strap apparatus on it, hair falling out of the barrettes. You get the picture. Then I arrive in my really, really nice hotel. Where there is a fancy, fancy wedding reception going on. And the lobby is littered with guests all in nice suits and beautiful bright jewel toned designer dresses. I could not have felt more out of place.

Still, I can clean up well on occasion. I grabbed the new dress from Dublin, fixed the hair, went downstairs and had a water in the bar watching the pretty people party.

This being my day of rest, I sat outside and stared at the people picking up groceries, pulling in to pubs and then back inside for a nice relaxing night with a long, hot bath and more confusing Irish TV.

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