Monday, September 12, 2016

Voyage of the Vikings Cruise - Cruise Day 21 - Dublin, Ireland

Today we arrived early in Dublin, but Val and I didn’t get up to watch us dock.  Our plan for today is to go on our own into Dublin and use the hop-on hop-off bus.  Val bought tickets online before we left so we were good to go once we made it into the city.  The cruise ship pier is in the industrial port and therefore, a long way from the city center.

We were docked in the industrial part of Dublin, quite a ways from the city center.
We were up by 8:00 and on the dock by 9:00, but we found long lines waiting for the free shuttle into the downtown area.  After waiting in line and seeing a bus load leave with still a lot of people in front of us, we decided to take a cab.  The cab line was empty and we were joined in line by another couple who we decided to share a cab with.  After a bit of a wait, a taxi finally showed up and we were off into the city.  We were let off in the downtown area right across from Trinity College.  Dublin is doing some work on their subway system so the streets were torn up all over the place and it seemed a bit chaotic with traffic and construction making things very congested.

At least there was entertainment while we stood in line waiting for the shuttle.
As usual, when first arriving in a strange place, we were a little disoriented.  We didn’t know where the hop-on hop-off bus stop was, but we knew it was somewhere around Trinity College.  Since we wanted to see the college we decided to explore that before we found the bus stop.  Trinity College was founded in 1592 and is still an active university today.

We walked around the campus for a bit and then decided to go into the historic library.  The library houses the Book of Kells written in 800 AD and is one the oldest known written books in the world.  In a list of the ten oldest surviving books in the world the description reads, "The book is an incredibly ornate illuminated manuscript Gospel book, written in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament". 

There was a long waiting to get into the library, but we found out you could buy tickets online at a slightly higher price and bypass the line.  We decided to do that and rather than using our phones, we used the service of an employee who had an IPAD to buy our tickets.  The library was very interesting and the displays of the ancient books were fascinating.

Trinity College

We left the library and the college and started looking for the hop-on hop-off bus stop, which we quickly found.  It seems there are three competing hop-on hop-off bus companies in Dublin so after watching other buses come and go we were wondering if we had chosen the wrong one, but finally our bus showed up and we on our way.  We decided to ride the complete loop and see every stop before we chose what we would do next so we found seats in upstairs, open air part of the bus.  The day had turned cool and overcast so it was a cold ride, but we were able to take pictures so it worked for us.

This is one of those vehicles that will go on both land and water.  In keeping with the Viking theme, many of people on the bus are wearing Viking helmets.
As we traveled through Dublin we could see very old cathedrals and buildings mixed with modern stores and buildings.  Dublin is the home of the Guiness Beer Brewery and our guide told us it was the biggest tourist attraction in Ireland.  One of the stops was at the brewery and it was very impressive.  The Brewery covers 65 acres and runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week turning out over 50 million barrels of beer a year.  After completing our loop we got off the bus where we started at Trinity College and made our way to Grafton Street.

Some of the sights we saw from the hop-on hop-off bus as we toured Dublin.

GraftonStreet is a shopping area that has been turned into a large pedestrian mall covering several streets and cross streets.  There were many shops, restaurants and street musicians in the area to attract a large number of people. Dublin is a major tourist destination and it was evident by the large number of fellow tourists everywhere we went.

Grafton Street
When I first saw this I thought it was a statue, but when somebody drops money into the basket, the humans who were painted black raise their arms and say thank you.  Very funny and they were making lots of money.


We were getting hungry so we found a table in a sidewalk café and had lunch while watching the crowds walk by on the street.  After a very good lunch we did a little more shopping and then decided to move to another area.  Most things we wanted to see were within walking distance so we decided to forgo the bus and just walk.

Our next stop was Dublin Castle, but as we left the Grafton Street area we couldn’t find exactly where we were on the map.  Thanks to a nice resident of Dublin who set us straight, we made our way to the castle where we looked around the exterior, but decided to forgo the tour.  Our next stop was the Temple Bar district which was an area of pubs and cafes. 

Dublin Castle

One of the things we wanted to do in Dublin was to hear some authentic Irish music, but it’s a little hard to find in the afternoon.  Val had found a pub called Gogarty, which was supposed to have live music in the afternoon.  It turns out we missed the traditional Irish music because when we arrive they were playing more contemporary music.  It was good, but not what we were looking for.  As we left we heard music playing and it turned out that the pub right across the street (The Auld Dubliner) had live music just like we were looking for.  The pub was very full and we had trouble finding a table, but three young ladies from Germany let us use part of their table and we settled in to listen to the music.  I am not much of a drinker, but I figured I couldn’t visit Ireland without having a Guiness so I ordered a pint and we spent the next hour listening to the music.  The Guiness was good and the music was better and we were disappointed when the set came to an end.  The music was supplied by a man playing guitar and singing and a woman who did Irish jigs, very entertaining. 

The Temple Bar District
We missed the music here.
But found some good Irish music right across the street.

I couldn't leave Ireland without a glass of Guiness
By this time it was late afternoon and we were getting tired so decided to head back to the ship.  We were tired of walking so we got a cab and made our way back to the ship.  When we left the pub we noticed it had rained while we were inside so we were lucky enough to miss that.

We made it back to the ship, tired but happy and ready to relax for a while before dinner.  I spent the time downloading our pictures and reading; it felt very good not to be on my feet.  We decided to skip trivia tonight, but after eating dinner, we didn’t skip the casino (we should have as we both lost).  Tomorrow we visit the Isle of Man, which is a short sail from Dublin.

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