Monday, March 22, 2010

Ireland: Two Days in Dublin

Day 1: Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle (Chester Beatty Library)

We started our day in Dublin by checking into our B&B The Azalea Lodge,which was wonderful. Right off Bernadette told us which bus to catch to get into Dublin and we were on our way for a bit of lunch (see previous post on Avoca). The Azalea Lodge is rated #1 on Trip Advisor for B&Bs for Dublin and I can see why: it was shiny clean, the bed was uber comfortable and Bernadette was super helpful in both recommendations for dining and how to get around. We arrived at 10 am and Bernadete was waiting for us, made us a pot of coffee, had scones for us and explained how to get around and where to eat. While the B&B is outside the city center, it is a short bus ride in. We missed the first breakfast as we overslept, but our second day we were able to partake and Bernadette puts out an amazing spread. The only odd thing is that there are no face cloths, but I am going to email Bernadette about that. We weren't there long enough for it to be a problem and I wasn't sure if it was an Irish thing or not so I wanted to wait until I went to other B&Bs to see. The Azalea Lodge is a true treasure, in my opinion.

We walked to Christ Church Cathedral first. It was very beautiful. We were particularly pleased to hear the organ being played while we were walking around!

I love this photo because of the soft lighting. There is a very small Spanish style house in our neighborhood that has a ceiling like this (on a much less grand scale!). I love it!

Our next stop was Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library, which was voted the best museum in Europe! My particular interest was in the illustrated manuscripts, but they also have illuminated copies of the Qur'an and Egyptian papyrus texts. Because you can't take photos inside, I just have a photo of the sign outside.

Day 2 Breakfast

We slept in and unfortunately missed Bernadette's lovely breakfast and so went to The Cheese Pantry.

I was particularly pleased with my coffee which you can see from the photo below is very strong and creamy. I think it was really a double espresso. The breakfast was just fine, but the coffee was the thing!

Overall, we were a bit disappointed in Irish salmon. The Scottish salmon is much better tasting.

The big day was here: my trip to see the Book of Kells! That was the purpose of the trip for me. Being a librarian, I have always wanted to see the Book of Kells, which is the most famous illustrated manuscript (to see some images of the pages click here).

It was an amazing library. Not only did it have an educational lead up that gave you an intricate knowledge of the book and illustrated manuscripts in general, but they had videos on how to make vellum, how to bind a book like the Book of Kells. They had a video of someone writing in that style of calligraphy with the sound up loud so that you could hear the scratching of the nib on the vellum. You had to step up to the room where the book was held. Sort of like entering a throne room. Fred said it was smaller than he expected. I just loved it. It was amazing. It wasn't as vibrant as I thought it would be, but it was exceedingly fabulous.

St. Patrick's Cathedral and Park was full of people on St. Patrick's day. It was a lovely day for the parade. The cathedral itself was lovely. I prefer Christ Church, smaller and more intimate.

Although, Jonathan Swift was the Dean of St. Pat's. That has to matter for something! Turns out he was quite a guy. He pointed out the hypocritical priests who were getting drunk and acting immorally and held them accountable. He really was a guy with a high moral standard who walked the walk.

Avoca Warning
Now, I do have to add a bit of a warning here about Avoca. It is a handweaver shop, but it seems to be quite a racket to me. When we stopped at the outlet place in Wicklow on Day three, we were quite disappointed to find just a tiny area of handweavings and most of the store taken over with bric a brac for the home. Mostly Crate and Barrel type of stuff. Frankly, I was hoping for some really lovely handwoven things. I did find a great throw and a cool book for a friend, but mainly it seemed a stop for tour buses as it was a big restaurant with a huge buffet. The main thing that irritated me was when Fred went to pay, the woman at the counter asked him if wanted the credit card charged in dollars or euros. I can't imagine what kind of surcharge Avoca is getting from all of those tourists who don't know better and say dollars! So be forewarned. If asked, say euro! Let the credit card automatically charge you the going rate of the day without a surcharge.

Plus, they didn't remove the ink tag from the throw, so I am doubly irritated with them!

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