Well, I’m back from vacation. We went for an end of the school year trip to Ireland. This has been on our list of places for travel for quite a while. Thanks to lots of friends who have been there recently, we had plenty of recommendations. The best one was to get the comprehensive insurance for the car, but that’s a story for later.
People always ask how I plan for travel and if I use tour companies. I have nothing against tour companies, and for folks who might not be comfortable operating independently overseas, they can remove a lot of the hassles involved with travel in unfamiliar places. Especially if you don’t speak the native language or you need to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. What you trade for that convenience is flexibility. I find the ability to linger in a pub or to wander in back alleys more appealing. Fortunately sites like Trip Advisor can help tailor your travel plans to best suit your requirements.
Our Irish vacation really broke into four phases, which will lend itself to these blogs. Our first stop was the great city of Dublin. I love cities which encourage you to walk around. Directly across the street from our hotel was Christchurch Cathedral.
Down in the crypts they had some interesting sculptures.
Their most popular artifact are a mummified cat and rat who got stuck into the pipe organ.
Being a historically Catholic country we visited several cathedrals and churches on our trip.
One of our stops in Dublin had to be that true Irish landmark – The Guinness Beer Factory tour.
Each phase of the brewing process and Guinness’ historical roots were proudly showcased in the tour. All of the classic advertising icons were shown and the final stop was, of course, the bar where you collected your pint-sized reward.
On day two we went to Trinity University to see the incredible Book of Kells and, for us, the equally amazing Long Hall Library on campus. This was why I wanted my wide-angle lens. I purposely shot bracketed seven-shot sequences with express purpose of creating HDR images.
The range of natural light from the open windows, the deep shadows of the books in their shelves, and the rich textures of wood and leather needed the full range of the camera.
We stumbled across the famous statue of Molly Malone plying her wares of cockles and mussels.
Our route to collect our rental car (did I mention get the insurance?) purposely went past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the national shrine of Ireland.
The artifacts of the original founders – including Jonathon Swift – to the mercenaries of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives across the British Empire lend a solemnity and majesty to the grey stones.
Across the river we found ourselves ready to take on our next liver-endangerment opportunity – the Jameson Distillery tour.
While this delectable concoction is no longer produced in Dublin but further south in County Cork, the tour and comparison tasting make up for it. Key historical employees like the lead grain storage pest control specialist were part of the display. (This is the actual cat. They leave that part out of the tour unless you ask – too many animal rights activists disapprove.)
However, tours are limited and timed. After purchasing our tickets we realized we had a couple of hours to kill. We opted to stroll over to the James Joyce center to see the actual home at the address of the fictional Leopold and Molly Bloom from his book, Ulysses.
We finished our day in the Temple Bar area of Dublin.
It was crowded with Scots in their kilts (no, we didn’t ask) who had come over for the Euro Cup qualifying match.