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Old 05-31-2011, 03:05 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by corianderstem View Post
Oh, cool! Where are you going to be staying? Are you studying over there for a while or something?
I'm gonna be living in Belfast, I'm just gonna bum around. I have a place to stay for free, then I'm going to France, Germany, Holland and Belgium for 2 weeks.... Looking really forward to Belfast tho! I'll be there Canada day so I'm probably gonna FSU

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Old 10-14-2011, 03:41 PM   #137
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So, like, I went to Ireland. For those of you I know on Facebook, you've already seen some pictures. But I'm also typing up a tale of my adventures to send out to my family and posting in other places for those not on Facebook.

If anyone's interested, I'll be posting it in this thread as well, as I know there are at least a few pals who aren't on Facebook and wanted to hear about it, so if you're interested, read all about it, bits at a time, under the cut.

I'm putting it under a spoiler at least for now because I'm really effing long-winded. But in my defense, all of the Dublin stuff is in one entry and was four-days' worth.

 
Sept 17-21: Dublin

Getting there:

Flights were okay! It was definitely a long day, but there were no delays and very little turbulence. I flew into Newark and then to Dublin from there. Two long flights, but with a good 4-hour layover in between, so I felt like I was able to be off the plane for long enough before facing the next one.

Landed earlier than expected, still dark outside. I lagged behind the rest of the passengers, as I'd stopped in a restroom to change and freshen up. So they were already through to baggage claim by the time I reached immigration. Walking through empty hallways and having no line at the immigration station was a surprise. A little eerie, too. I was already fairly discombobulated, and this didn't help.

Got to the hotel via shuttle easily, it was early enough that there was no traffic, and even at 8 in the morning, my room was ready, which was a fantastic thing, as the first thing I did upon arriving was get sick and need about 2 hours of resting and napping. Turns out that overseas travel + very little sleep (I only dozed a little; I can't sleep on planes) + bad airplane food = Alicia is a Hot Mess.

Hotel (O'Callaghan Mont Clare) was nice, in a good location (by Trinity College and Merrion Square), within easy walking distance of most everything I wanted to see. Had no idea how to turn the lights on, and thankfully someone from housekeeping was in the hallway when I poked my head out, and she told me I had to put my key into the little box on the wall by the door. Good to know. Made it impossible to leave the lights on when you left the room, which I'm assuming was the point?

What I saw:

Kilmainham Gaol - took the bus there, as it was just a bit too far to walk, was very grateful I'd researched which bus to take beforehand, and very grateful I'd gotten some of my Euros changed to coins at the airport, as obviously a 20 Euro note was not going to help me get on the bus.

I'm really glad I went, even though I was damp and cold the whole time in that old limestone structure! I would recommend this to anyone interested in Irish history. A lot of fascinating (and horrifying) history there. The courtyard was chilling, with a couple of crosses marking the sites of some "important" executions, including one that turned the tide of public opinion toward the side of the rebellion in 1916.

Christchurch Cathedral - as pretty and impressive as you'd expect from a historic cathedral. I was more impressed with the outside than the inside, although the crypt had a lot of cool old stuff.

St. Patrick's Cathedral - this one, I preferred the interior over the exterior, although of course it was lovely. Nice park right next to it as well. Some cool stuff there, like the organ Handel used in rehearsals for the premiere of The Messiah, some old high crosses, and really gorgeous stained glass windows.

St. Michan's Church - best church I saw. The church itself isn't much to write home about, but if you're visiting, you're there to see the vaults. I took a tour with another American gal from Georgia, and our tour guide Rory was adorable.

The church has been rebuilt at least once over the centuries, but the vaults are part of the original structure and date back 900 years. They're limestone, so everything is kept cool, dry and preserved. You know what that means - MUMMIES! Rory let us take flash-less pictures, so they didn't turn out too well, but if you squint you can see the three mummies on display in one of the vaults.

In that vault, there's one that, as best they can figure, was a nun, another who was likely a thief (due to his hand having been cut off), and a very tall Irishman who may have fought in the Crusades. The nun and the thief are about 550 years old.

He let us walk in and touch the "Crusader's" hand. The other gal and I giggled quite a bit about it, as it was kind of creepy and the last thing you wanted to do was trip and fall on top of them, but we did it. It felt like very old wood.

Some of the vaults have been in use in recent decades, as there are still families in the parish who own the vaults. There was a story and history for everything Rory showed us. Very cool, well worth the visit, if you can make it there during their odd hours.

Chester Beatty Library - Call me a nerd, but when I'd read about this place, I knew it was a "must" for me. It's an art museum and library which houses the great collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by Alfred Chester Beatty. Its rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe opens a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world.

Where else can you go to see some of the earliest known records of the Gospels, on scrolls that would crumble to dust if you even looked at them sideways? For free!
Trinity College - I walked around the grounds, but ended up not going to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College because it was crowded, and my feet were killing me, and I was wondering why I'd pay 9 Euros to see two pages of a famous book when I'd just seen a ton of really old gorgeous religious texts for free? I'm sorry I missed the old library, though. But I'll catch it on the next trip.

National Museum: Archeology - there are several branches of the national museum, and they're all free. What a deal! I only went to the archeology branch, as I wanted to see old stuff. I had heard there were some mummies that had been preserved in bogs, but either I missed them, or they were in another museum. I did see an old wood and leather shoe that had been preserved in a bog, and snapped a picture before I saw a sign that said not to take pictures. Oops.

Lots of cool stuff, including Viking-era relics, some ancient high crosses and the famous Brooch of Tara, so it was definitely worth seeing.

The U2 stuff - come on, like I was going to go to Dublin and not see a few things associated with U2! There's a ton of locations and things that have some sort of U2 association in Dublin, but there were only a couple I was interested in. I walked to Hanover Quay, which is where their recording studio is. A nice walk along the Liffey River, and saw some things along the way. Stopped by Windmill Lane, which was the location of a former recording studio, and is now famous for having a ton of graffiti. I was a little underwhelmed, I have to say.

Hanover Quay was pretty cool. No one else was around - had the band actually been there, there likely would have been tons of fans hanging around, waiting to see if anyone would come out and say hello. I investigated the walls across the street where fans leave messages and other graffiti, snapped a few pictures and headed back to the city center.

Grafton Street - pedestrian mall full of shops and restaurants. Many buskers playing music. I swear at least half of them were playing "Wonderwall" by Oasis.
Temple Bar - the party neighborhood, full of pubs and restaurants. I walked around in the early hours one morning, so got some nice shots of some pubs without the throngs of people around. Popped down to The Clarence (boutique hotel owned by Bono and The Edge) one evening, ate at the restaurant there (The Tea Room). It was my one "real" meal in Dublin, even though all I ate was an appetizer-sized portion of pasta and some bread. Hey, I was determined to eat anything that wasn't a sandwich or soup. Also ran into a family from Seattle eating there as well. The first of many I would encounter in Ireland.

After dinner, I was walking back through the area, and some drunk guy roared at me. Like, an actual roar. I didn't even flinch, just kept walking. The guy walking next to me said "A bit too much drink, I think. That happens a lot in this country." Ha.

There was a big match of .... I don't even know. Not rugby, not football, something in between, apparently. Between Dublin and Kerry, so there were tons of people in all the pubs watching. I wandered through Temple Bar before the game started, and there were people spilling out the doorways of the pubs into the streets. And that was before the game - I'm sure during and afterward, it was even crazier. Dublin won, and the next night there was a huge celebration in Merrion Square near my hotel, with what seemed like thousands of people flocking to the park from every direction. From my hotel room I heard the strains of "Where the Streets Have No Name," so of course I answered the call of U2 and joined the crowd for a little while, just to see what was going on.

St. Stephen's Green - beautiful, 22-acre park. I took a few walks through and had a sandwich dinner there one evening, sitting on the grass.

Merrion Square - the area where my hotel was, noteworthy for the Georgian-style doors on buildings in the area. Also nearby, the Taoiseach buildings where the Irish government and prime minister are headquartered. Another nice park here as well.
Dalkey/Killiney - there are several seaside towns south of Dublin, easy to reach by the DART, and I'd read about a nice seaside walk that would take you through these two towns. Killiney is the "Beverly Hills" of Dublin, home to the wealthy, the rich, and the famous rock stars. Yes, it is indeed the home of Bono.

I'd told my U2 friends that I didn't really want to know where he lived, as I felt weird about walking by his home, but someone told me anyway. It's not like a big secret where he lives, right on a main road behind big ol' gates I'd seen pictures of online, and it's not uncommon for fans to just "casually" stroll by, snap a picture and leave.
So anyway, after my clinic visit (see below for my tale of woe and relief), I got to Dalkey, had some lunch, and started my stroll. Oh, it was great. So nice to be outside the city and start to see the anticipated shades of green and actual old stuff out in the wild (see pics of Dalkey Island).

Gorgeous views all along the way, from the lovely homes in Dalkey to the ritzy gated homes with fancy names in Killiney, and views from Sorrento Point and Killiney Hill Park. I wanted to explore the park, but when I reached the gate marking the entrance, I realized that you-know-who's home must be nearby, so I walked a little further until, sure enough, there were the gates.

No one was around, but I'm sure there was someone noticing me on a security camera somewhere, so I snapped a quick pic and then headed back to the park. Here endeth the sole Bono-Stalking story of my trip.

I meant to keep going to the Killiney DART station, as there were a few other things I'd read about that were nearby, but I got turned around in the park and ended up walking all the way back to the Dalkey station instead. Oh well.

What I didn't do:

I did not take my scheduled day trip to Newgrange and Monasterboice. I did not take my scheduled day trip to the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough. I did not meet with a friend for dinner. I did not eat at all the fabulous restaurants I'd planned on visiting.

Why?

Turns out jet lag + anxiety is a very bad combination. While I slept heavily the first night there, I woke up feeling ill, and did not trust that I could manage to be on a bus for the day, not knowing how long I'd feel unwell. So there went the first scheduled day trip.
And then after that, I barely slept at all the next two nights. I was exhausted and nodding off when I was sitting in my room at night, so I'd lie down to go to sleep. No sleep. Cue the anxiety I'd only started having that summer.

So the combination of barely any sleep plus not feeling well led to skipping both day trips on a bus, and led to me being able to eat very little other than bananas, basic sandwiches and some soup. (Thank goodness for soup and brown bread being a staple of most restaurants and cafes. And thank you, Insomnia Coffee chain, for having the best ginger tea ever, which soothed my stomach in the mornings after those awful nights.)

I cancelled dinner with my friend because the thought of eating a real meal made me feel nauseous, and I was not acceptable company. Thankfully, he was very understanding.
But it wasn't all bad news - usually by mid-day I felt all right and able to eat a bit here and there. And while I had late starts in the mornings, I still was out and about. I saw a ton of stuff in Dublin, and made it to most of the things I wanted to see. Although even with two extra days I hadn't counted on (due to the planned day trips), I STILL managed to not get to everything I wanted to see.

At least I'd gone in knowing that all my very-detailed plans might change, so I would have to just go with the flow. I had beat myself up a bit about missing the day trips, as they were things I'd really wanted to see (and I'd already paid for them), but then told myself that I knew my plans might change. I just hadn't expected that THOSE were the plans that would fall by the wayside.

Lesson Learned:

So if you find yourself with some new diagnosis of something or other, even if you don't think you are going to need your medication, get it refilled anyway, just in case. As I'd had absolutely no symptoms leading up to my trip (no mounting nerves, butterflies in the stomach that turned into sharper and sharper pangs), which was the signal for anxiety the previous times), I foolishly thought I was in the clear. And I found myself in Dublin with only two doses of the medication. Which I was afraid to take, not wanting to face having only one dose left, and then zero doses left.

Finally, on my last day in Dublin, I woke with the idea that it was time to call my insurance company's world-wide service. What were my options? They pointed me to a clinic that was in their international network. So I called them, explained my situation, was passed around a few times, and finally reached Grainne (pronounced GRAHN-yuh), who told me they weren't open quite yet, but once the doctor was in, she'd talk to him and call me right back at the hotel.

Sure enough, at five minutes after 9, she called me and told me to come on down, they'd be able to help me out. There may have been some tears of grateful relief at that point. And, in a lovely coincidence, the clinic was on the way to an area south of Dublin that I'd planned on visiting that day anyway.

I made my way to the clinic on the DART train (let me tell you, I was majorly impressed with Dublin transportation. I usually think that Seattle has good transport .... until I go elsewhere), eventually found the department where my new best friend Grainne was.
She chatted with me about my trip while we waited for the doctor, who was going to just talk to me briefly in between patients. He sat himself down, I told my tale, showed him my prescription bottle, and he wrote a new prescription right then and there. "Do you think 10 pills will last you?" Considering I was only taking half a pill and I (correctly) assumed I wouldn't even need to take more than a couple during my trip, it was more than enough.

"This is my good deed for the day," he joked. "If you turn up dead of an overdose, I'm going to pretend I never met you."

They filled the prescription, they did not charge me for the visit. The pills even ended up costing the same as they would have in the States, so I didn't even need to bother getting reimbursed back at home.

Thank you, Blackrock Clinic! Grainne and Dr. Gleeson saved my butt in Dublin. Even just knowing I had enough medication on hand immediately made me feel better. To fast-forward, I only ended up taking three doses between that night and the end of the trip. And, as the doctor said, it was likely the combination of jet lag and the anxiety that was making me so miserable. And add to that the general sense of being overwhelmed, being overseas for the first time, and alone at that!

You know how everything feels like the end of the world in the middle of the night when you're sick and sleepless, especially for more than one night? Yeah. I won't give you the gory details, but will just say that it was ROUGH.

So my nights in Dublin were pretty rough. Thankfully, the days were good.

Random comments:
• But now I have a reason to go back to Dublin - see what I missed, and do it properly, sampling the cuisine and the nightlife.

• People were indeed friendly. Even the homeless people call you "darling" or "love."

• I'm glad I started in Dublin. While I enjoy exploring big cities and there is a TON of cool stuff to see, it would have been a let-down after seeing the rest of the country. Big cities are big cities.

• I thought I was prepared for the weather. I'd seen the forecasted high temperatures, and thought it would be like Seattle in early fall. Low 60s, some clouds, some rain, no big deal. Not quite. I was chilly pretty much the whole time I was in Dublin. Either I adjusted as I went west, or it was actually warmer, as Dublin was the only place I felt cold the whole time.

• Watching the news on TV in the Irish language was a trip.

• Many apologies to the teenaged girls I encountered in Killiney Hill park. They were trying to find their way back to the car park, and after walking with them for a while, I told them "You know, I think I'm going the right way, and I don't remember seeing a car park, so I bet it's the other way." They thanked me and went on their annoyed way ("I'm never climbing a mountain again, ever!") and I went mine ... and saw the car park about two minutes later. I imagine they spent a week cursing the American lady who pointed them in the wrong direction. I'm so sorry, you guys!

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Old 10-14-2011, 03:48 PM   #138
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Here's a link to my Dublin pics. I didn't put all of them online, as I took over 1200 on the trip. You're welcome.

Dublin Sept 17-21 - a set on Flickr

A few of my favorites.

St Stephen's Green:



Sunset over the Liffey:



Best sign ever (near Hanover Quay):

(see pic in the post below, as I was having a tutorial in how to post pics from Flickr )

Dalkey:



Looking down at Dalkey Island from the top of Killiney Hill Park:

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Old 10-14-2011, 04:10 PM   #139
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P1000695 by aliciak1013, on Flickr
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Old 10-14-2011, 04:12 PM   #140
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Got it. Thanks for the tutorial!
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:38 PM   #141
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Man that story and the pics so remind me of when I was there. I'm getting all teary and emotional just reading it! So glad you got the anxiety issues covered there, and that you enjoyed it!
Told ya the Irish are friendly.

I think I have the exact same pics of St. Stephens Green and the one from Killiney hill.
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:39 PM   #142
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Ha - yeah, I'm sure I have a bunch of pics that many people all over the world have. I can live with that.
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Old 10-15-2011, 02:01 AM   #143
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Yeah, but they're *your* pictures now--can't wait to read to "journal"!

ETA: Read it, and I love it. I hope you will continue with this from the rest of your days!
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Old 10-15-2011, 01:35 PM   #144
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Love the stories! Glad you're writing about all your experiences for us to read.
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Old 10-15-2011, 02:04 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by corianderstem View Post
Turns out jet lag + anxiety is a very bad combination. While I slept heavily the first night there, I woke up feeling ill, and did not trust that I could manage to be on a bus for the day, not knowing how long I'd feel unwell. So there went the first scheduled day trip.
Don't ever take a transatlantic flight on a Boeing 757.
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Old 10-15-2011, 02:14 PM   #146
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Why not?

I don't know what kind of plane it was. Price and flight times/layovers usually drive my choices.
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Old 10-15-2011, 02:36 PM   #147
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Continental mostly uses Boeing 757's to most destinations around Europe when originating from Newark and Houston. In my opinion it is not a very good aircraft to fly in since the average age of service of it in most airlines is about 20 years, they squeeze too many seats to leave very little or no legroom at all, and it becomes very crowded in a 3-3 seat / 2 class configuration.

I don't really care when it is a short-haul flight of about 3 hours up to 1500 miles, but the best aircraft to fly transatlantic are Boeing 767's and 747's.
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:15 PM   #148
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Gotcha, thanks.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:05 PM   #149
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Nice summary, cori! Hope you'll post more (you did go other places besides Dublin right?). Always like reading people's travel accounts. Sorry to hear you encountered medical problems--sometimes with time those unanticipated excursions to foreign clinics, pharmacies etc. become part of your mental sense of the place and strangely are no longer remembered as losses of opportunity.

Was it a Gaelic football match you saw?
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:55 PM   #150
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Gaelic football sounds familiar. All I know was that I had thought it was rugby and was corrected enthusiastically several times.

Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it! I will definitely be posting the tale of the rest. Dublin was the longest, as it had the most going on. Depending on how long-winded I get, the rest may go into one big entry.

Westport - Galway - Dingle ... and the flew out of Shannon, but Shannon was such a non-event, and most of what I have to say about it would likely be summed up as "Boo, I have to go home / Man, I am READY to go home."

Will hopefully get to that tomorrow!
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