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Dublin and Ireland

 Tsk, yesterday, I was in a such a rush that I post a piece that I had posted the week before. So, here is a different piece on Ireland. First posted Oct. 14, 2007 on Blogspot
Now that I’ve been back for a few days, I’m starting to sort through my pictures. Dublin was the first real landing spot in Ireland. So of course there are many shots of the streets and the housing, which differs from Vancouver. Architectural history, barring the earlier dwelling of the coastal other indigenous people (and not many of those remain due to the deterioration of wood and leather) in most of Canada goes back about three hundred years. Yes, there are a few exceptions like bits of a Viking settlement in Newfoundland or the 16th century Basque whaling village, but all in all, our civic history is relatively young. So Dublin like many European cities has history steeped in history that can be seen in the shape of the streets and the buildings.

The link listed here connects to my photos of Dublin, with the exception of the two fox pictures from my friends’ back yard in Glasgow (where we first landed). Foxes are the local vermin in Glasgow but protected there now. Some of the pictures I’ve included are fuzzy. I was still learning the digital camera and in some cases the lighting was very low but I have them here out of interest.

Dublin’s one day included a trip to Christchurch Cathedral. Parts of it date back a thousand years. Some of the tile work is still beautiful and holds up well after thousands of feet walking over them and hundreds of years. Some of the tiles are originals. Others were redone in the 1700s. Interestingly there was a glass encased, mummified rat and cat, found in an organ that had been restored. Who was chasing whom, we may never know. We also went to the famous Temple Bar area, which is trendy but has some interesting pubs and restaurants. We ate at Fitzers which was very good and not that cheap. A drink of rum and coke and a cider cost about 15 Euros in Dublin. It’s 1.5 dollars CDN to the Euro. Dublin is supposed to be the most expensive city in Europe right now.

We also went to Dublin Castle, which like many structures has many centuries of history and more modern parts built on the remains of the older places. Still used today by Ireland’s president (who serves a seven-year term) the rooms are of 17th-18th century designs. Under the buildings are excavated ruins of the original walls and towers. We were told that they used to take the heads of the executed and stick them on pikes about the castle. Eventually the heads would rot and plop into the moat. How do they know this? Well, they found four hundred severed heads in the moat. Which spawned this drinking song that you can sing to “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Ninety-nine severed heads in the moat, ninety-nine severed heads.
You take one out, you toss it about, ninety-eight severed heads in the moat.
At which point, you could take a sip of said beverage and pass it down the line. More than ninety-nine heads though and it gets quite ungainly to sing. My sister and I had the opportunity to sing through all the heads to zero while stuck in rush-hour traffic in Cork. It kept us amused and even if our windows were open a bit, the people stuck in traffic beside us studiously ignored us.

Last was wandering around the River Liffey. This bisects south and north of the city. There are various car and foot bridges over the river and the areas between are called quays, such as Merchants quay, which gives you an idea of what it must once have been like before the advent of cars.

If you wish to use these photos, please ask. They are copyrighted.

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Filed under Culture, entertainment, history, humor, Ireland, life, memories, travel

Things to Know About Traveling

Here are my posts (originally on blogspot) about my trip to Ireland last fall. One of my most popular posts on this site is the two-part “Stones of Ireland.” I decided people searching those out might enjoy my other posts on Ireland. The first four were what I managed in two weeks while traveling. After that I’ll post the entries with pictures. This was first posted 9/27/07

Well we made it. Just slept like the dead in Dublin and we’re off to a slow start.

Backing up, it was a bit of a whirlwind beginning. My friend Lorna picked me up around 7 and my flight was leaving at 10:10 pm. Plenty of time, right? Well originally this flight had been leaving at that time and going straight to Glasgow, but along the way Air Transat changed it to Vancouver, via Calgary onto Glasgow. I looked at all the changes when my sister first sent them and thought the only change was Calgary, after initialing thinking they had shortened our flight by a day.

So here we are at the airport and there is hardly anyone there. I naively said, geez they say get here three hours early and there’s no lineup. We walk up to the counter and I tell them the flight. They say no it’s gone already. But then these guys (more airport security than the ticket people) say they don’t work that counter; go over to the Air Transat counter. We do and the woman says it’s too late, it’s gone, it leaves at 8:00!

At this point my stupidity is dawning on me. I misread numerous times 20:10 at 10:10. I know the 24 hour clock but my brain had been stuck on the previous time. This woman calls upstairs as I’m breaking into a sweat (literally) and finds that they can get me on the plane but not my suitcase because the plane is packed. I’m going, what can I do and she says nothing because it’s a charter flight and only goes out once a week with not agreement with the other airlines.

But somehow, bless their hearts, a guy comes down, checks my baggage, almost forgetst to give me the boarding pass and then I have to take my luggage to the xray machine. The guy there jokes that I have to wait a half hour. Then I speed through security, luckily without any additional searches and jump on the golf cart they have waiting, lacing up my boots as we go, thanking them profusely. I got on the plane but if we had been 5 minutes later I would have been hooped and my sister would have thought I was dead when she got on in Calgary. I was lucky and the plane was not late in taking off.

So then my sister gets on in Calgary and she’s put on 50 pounds in 6 months from thyroid issues. Let’s just say the small Air Transat seats are more crowded now. We got into Glasgow and went through the cattle gates for the passports with the customs guy joking that he wasn’t happy because we were going on to Dublin.

A note to people travelling to Ireland: you can’t very easily get a direct flight from the West Coast so it’s Gatwick or Glasgow for joining up a new flight. Glasgow really has two airports, which we didn’t know at first. Glasgow International only has Aer Lingus that flies to Dublin (about $150 CDN) and Glasgow Prestwick (about an hour away by bus and train) has Ryanair (only) and is cheaper. But if people tell you (even those that supposedly live there or are Irish and go all the time) that you can just book when you arrive from all of these different airlines, they’re mistaken. There are only those two and though we could have made it to Prestwick in time for the late night flight, there were no seats left.

So we had to take Aer Lingus, but first we met up my friend Erin who is doing her PhD in Viking archaeology in Glasgow. She fed us and let us freshen up (and we saw these lovely foxes, the local vermin, in their back yard). Then we caught a taxi back to the airport and caught our flight, an hour late because the plane malfunctioned and they had to get a different one. So we left at 11:20 pm instead of 10:15. We finally got to our lodge and into bed at 2 am.

Scary things: a phone call requires constant money put into the machine. A call of a few minutes cost about 2.5£. Yikes. About 5 bucks. Glasgow is pounds. Ireland is Euros until you get to the Northern parts. And now, it’s off to see what we can of Dublin after our late start.

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