Ok, first of all… I realize I probably provide a few too many details in my blog posts, but this is all for my sake (of remembering everything) as well as for all of you… So bear with me 🙂 Hopefully you don’t mind!
So Ireland.. In short—Amazing! To be honest, the decision to go initially was really a “hey, it’s close, and it’s cheap” kind of decision. However, in the end it turned out to be the favorite trip of my life so far!
We flew up Thursday night after classes and Alexander’s friend Kristine graciously picked us up from the airport and drove us to her flat in Malahide where we’d be staying. We actually booked the tickets initially knowing the Looneys were going and having no idea what the hotel arrangements would be, and then it just worked out perfectly that one of Alexander’s friends was in town that weekend and had space available for us. Kristine and Jon own a flat in London, and rent a flat in Ireland and the two of them fly back and forth a lot for work purposes. We were very fortunate to catch them on a weekend they were in Ireland! However, another couple was already coming the same weekend for a birthday celebration… So it was tight quarters with 6 people in a 2 bedroom flat, but we all had a great time!
Malahide is a small coastal town to the north-east of Dublin, pretty close to the airport. Although we didn’t have time to do it, you can walk along the ocean up to other villages and it’s a really good walk. Malahide really contributed to how amazing and relaxing the trip was because we were essentially staying in a posh, cozy little beach village for the weekend. I loved it!
The first morning, Alexander and I walked down to the Malahide marina, and I committed the cardinal sin of traveling outside of the U.S.: I bought a latte from Starbucks. Kristine and Jon’s flat is actually only a couple blocks from the entrance to the grounds of the Malahide Castle so then we walked through all the winding grounds back to the Castle. The Malahide Castle was built in the 1100s and was occupied by the same family for over 8 centuries—up until the 1980s I believe… Now it is a tourist spot. You can pay to walk through the whole thing and the rooms are all decorated in “period furniture.” There are also some crazy small doors- seriously- doorways at or below my neck. How short were the Irish back in the 1100s??
After the castle, we caught the DART (which is the train in Ireland, but don’t let “DART” fool you, it’s in no way fast) down to Dublin. My friend Margie told me about a “big and tall” women’s store in Dublin, so we went looking for it… Sadly, it turned out to mostly be a “big” and some of the bigs came in tall. Too bad I’m not an obese tall girl, eh? 😉
Along the way we saw this giant spire and could not figure out what it was for because there was no sign. Later, we asked a taxi driver and were informed that it doesn’t have a name or purpose. He said many locals call it the “BFP” (which stands for Big-____-Pole… you can use your imagination!). We stopped to get lunch at an Insomnia Café (an Ireland coffee chain?), and then headed to Trinity College. Alexander convinced me it was worthwhile to see the Book of Kells exhibit, and he was right! I looooved it! It’s basically an illustrated version of the 4 gospels that was created around 800. The exhibit also had a lot of history of the beginning of Christianity, writing, etc in Ireland. I really want to get a book on it now. I did buy a Book of Kells book but it’s just all about the book itself and what the symbols mean, etc. Still very interesting. And I feel so bad for the city of Kells! It’s timeline basically consisted of being pillaged and burned down every couple of years.
After that we stopped by the Northern Ireland tourism office to find out about possible day trips up to Northern Ireland. The lady was extremely informative and helpful, but she insisted we needed to see some building in Belfast that is apparently really famous, that neither of us had ever heard of. And, also, apparently people in Northern Ireland are in love with Bill Clinton? I can’t remember how that fit in, but there was something about a Bush hating mural and love for Bill. Whenever people find out we’re Americans, they always comment on George Bush. Luckily, people rarely guess I’m from the states which keeps the angry “Do you support Bush?!?” questions at a minimum.
After that we caught the DART back to Malahide so we could freshen up and pick up a birthday gift for the other couple that was coming into town. We had never met them, but we knew we’d all be going out to dinner for the birthday and since we were essentially “crashing the party” by showing up on the same weekend, we wanted to bring a little gift along. The couple—Ollie and Jamie—were from London and we had a great time with them and Kristine and Jon. We had appetizers and champagne at the flat and then went out to eat at a Michelin-starred Thai restaurant for dinner in Malahide which was DELICIOUS. I’m not uppity enough to even quite know what michelin ratings mean, but apparently even getting one star is a very big deal… and there are 4 one-starred Michelin restaurants in Malahide (and I think 6 total in all of Ireland?). Afterward, we walked home and we all went to bed!
On a random note… British people that I’ve met tend to ask affirming questions a lot at the end of their sentences like “isn’t it?” “doesn’t it?” “wasn’t it?” As a result of spending so much time with Ollie and Jamie, I was already catching Alexander and I saying things like, “He didn’t leave much room to get around there. Did he?” “That was delicious. Wasn’t it?” Those aren’t very good examples, and probably don’t make any sense typed out (rather than heard in person). Oh, and also… They say “brilliant” a lot, so that word has now slipped right into my vocabulary as well.
By the way, my last post has links to both of my albums of Northern Ireland (which were all from a daytrip we took on Sunday). I’ll link to my two Ireland (dublin/malahide) albums in my next post, where I recap Saturday.