Yesterday, on my birthday eve, I slept in, though barely. Heidi and I had been out pretty late and I drank a fair amount, so I thought I’d sleep later. But I lounged around before getting ready for the day. Then I went to Starbucks for breakfast before going to Dublin Castle.
Dublin Castle intrigued me because it was the location of English rule in Ireland for 700 years. And it was the site where the English handed over rule of Ireland to Michael Collins in 1922. Michael Collins was late for the ceremony and the last Viceroy to be in power in Dublin said to him: “you are seven minutes late,” and Michael Collins responded, “we’ve been waiting over 700 years, you can have the extra seven minutes.”
My plan was to take a quick tour of the courtyard and the state apartments, but when I went in to get my ticket, they said a guided tour was starting in 5 minutes. Which was free with admission. So I waited for the tour and I’m glad I did. We first went to an outer building to see where one of the towers of the original castle that the English built in 1234 was. It was the powder castle, so it held gun powder. And it went up in flames during a fire in the castle. The tower came down and ended up getting buried. It wasn’t found until 1986. There was also part of the old city wall in this building. And part of the other river that flows under the castle into the Liffey. I can’t remember its name.
Then we went into the state apartments and got to see some really cool rooms. I loved that it was all decorated for Christmas. Lots of trees and I took pictures of all of them! There was some info on the Easter Rising (as Joseph Connelly was nursed there after the Rising but before his execution at Kilmainham…while he was tied to a chair because his leg was so infected he couldn’t stand…so they tied him to a chair and placed him in front of the firing squad).
I learned about Queen Victoria’s visit when it was still under English reign and the current Queen’s visit in 2011. The Presidents of Ireland are inaugurated there and I learned that their Presidents are elected to 7-year terms. I didn’t remember knowing that before.
After Dublin Castle, I went to a burger joint for lunch. I saw it as I walked past going to the castle. I realized I was craving a burger! I had actually been craving McDonald’s breakfast and fountain pop (after a night where I drank five and a half pints, that sounded marvelous), but I dilly-dallied too long and breakfast wasn’t being served by the time I got ready. So a burger seemed to tame that craving. It was a great lunch and a good deal. I learned later, from James, that it’s one of the best burger places in Dublin. Score!
After that I did some shopping (finished all of the gifts) and then hung out in my room for a bit before going back out shopping for a duffle bag. I will be working some packing miracles in my backpack before flying home next week and in order to do so, I needed a proper carry on. Thankfully I found one for only 15 euro. And I found a new-ish mall. The chick at my hostel directed me to Henry Street, which she said was a shopping street. I remembered Loren and I going to a mall in that vicinity, though maybe a little further away, so that I could get a hair straightener, but I never knew about this street. And the stores and the mall appeared new. But I don’t know if it was. There was a TK Maxx inside, so I went in. I thought I could find a bag there for cheaper. I didn’t, but I found sunglasses! And a store called “bag city,” which is where I got my bag!
Then I returned to my room to get ready to meet James. Loren and I met James randomly at a pub when we were here 2 years ago. We’ve kept in touch and we were able to schedule a night to hang out. We met at a bar called the Grand Central, which is a favorite of James’. It was a lot of fun! Lots of catching up to do and he educated me on some of the politics of Ireland. Firstly by telling me the proper pronunciation of the parties. The only one I knew was Sinn Fein, the others I was horribly off on! It was fun to talk about Irish current events with someone who lives here, because I just read about it in the Irish paper every day. It was good to get his perspective on some of the issues.
Because James frequents this place, the staff know him. One manager in particular joined our conversation at times. He looked like he was about 12, which I said to James. James said he was turning 13 today! And when James told Christopher that, Christopher responded, without missing a beat, “I’m making my first communion, too!” They bantered back and forth several times and I loved it. I could probably listen to that all day long. So funny. Though you wouldn’t think that an Irish accent is hard to understand, considering we’re both speaking English. But it is! And it’s not because Americans have ruined the English language, as James tried to argue! Even if I can’t always understand it, I love to listen to it!
We had so much fun over the course of the evening, we shut the place down. I think we each had 5 pints, but thankfully we also had dinner! I was worried about today, because that was two nights in a row of heavy drinking and I am certainly not used to that! James walked me home and we decided he would join me for my birthday breakfast at Bewley’s, which I had been looking forward to for months and months!
I was supposed to go on a tour of the Boyne Valley today (being picked up at 10:15). I didn’t get a chance to see Newgrange and the Hill of Tara the last time I was here and it was a priority this time. So James and I decided to meet shortly before 9am. Until I woke up at 7:45-8:00am. And felt like crap. I tried to push through and get ready anyway, but then messaged James saying, I’m going to skip the tour, let’s push breakfast back. But due to miscommunications, we just pushed ahead with the regular plans, only slightly later.
We had a great breakfast of scones and tea (I was happy to realize that the tea tasted the same as the Bewley’s tea I buy at home!). I also ordered a toasted bagel, thinking it was sort of a breakfast sandwich. I was again, unsurprisingly, craving McDonald’s breakfast! But it was a just a bagel with tomato and melted cheese. I just ate the tomatoes and cheese! We sat and talked for awhile and looked out over the activity on Grafton Street. And James gave me Starburst! It was the best! I had told him the night before that I couldn’t find Starburst at the stores I had looked at and I wanted them because they have different flavors. So he got them for me! (Of course he said they were in the first shop he went into on his way home the night before, but whatever! HA!)
It was so great to have seen him again, but I needed a nap and he needed to clean his house. So we said goodbye and I crashed. I didn’t actually sleep for that long. Not more than 30 minutes, but I stayed in bed for awhile, which helped. Then I got up and got some lunch and got some candy bars to bring home. I was going to read then, but it was such a beautiful, sunny day in Dublin, I didn’t want to totally waste it. So I walked down to St. Stephen’s Green and walked through park and sat on the bench for awhile. It was lovely, though it got chilly just sitting there!
After that, I decided to have this week’s viewing of Love Actually before getting ready to go out. Now it’s my birthday, so I felt the pressure to go out and have fun. But for some reason, I wasn’t really that into it. But I made myself go and got some bar recommendations from James. It was 8:00pm, but I needed something to eat first and the pubs I went into were in full Friday-night-swing. So I got food elsewhere and then attempted the pubs again. But it was very overwhelming. Each place I tried was packed to the gills with people. I even went back to Temple Bar, which is fun but touristy. That was even worse. I couldn’t even get into the places, let alone make my way to the bar. Not exactly what I was looking for. And this evening I had the first pangs of homesickness, so I decided to throw in the towel. Wednesday and my birthday eve were enough fun for one week! I crawled in bed with chocolate and a book. It was lovely! All in all, a fabulous birthday week in Dublin! Looking forward to get back out into the countryside, though not relearning how to drive over here. Fingers crossed!