Friday, September 20, 2013

Dublin: Part 1 (Days 18 + 19 + 20)

Peace out Northern Ireland!

On our way to Dublin we stopped at a few different sites. The first was Navan, a place where ancient history remains extremely important to the Irish people. The main attraction of Navan is a large hill - scientists are pretty sure there used to be some kind of temple there at some point and there is a lot of speculation about what happened to it - we also listened briefly to a guest speaker talk about Celtic spirituality and the importance of hospitality, which I really enjoyed.

We jumped back on the bus after quickly eating lunch and made our way to an ancient monastery, with some of the largest remaining high-crosses in Ireland. The monastery and cemetery were absolutely beautiful, and there were also more than 10 stray cats wondering around (I didn't touch them, but I definitely took pictures!)

When we reached Dublin, we arrived at our Hostel... and I dragged my suitcase up many flights of stairs, which was actually very amusing. There are 4 of use in each room and there isn't very much room, but Dublin is extremely expensive so we saved a lot of money by not staying 6 nights in a hotel somewhere. There also isn't heat in our rooms so all of us sleep in sweatshirts and long pajama pants/leggings every night. Let's just say I'm pretty excited about having a comfy bed once I get back to school!

The first full day in Dublin we visited Trinity College and got to see the Book of Kells, which is an amazing copy of the four gospels from the Bible, not to mention a tremendous work of art. I can't believe how intricate some of the designs were! We also got to see the "Long Room" of Trinity College, which is a stunning library with books that go to the ceiling. It reminded me of the library from Beauty and the Beast! There were ladders for every section because of how high the shelves were. Afterwards we took a walking tour of Dublin with a student guide who knew what he was talking about. I always appreciate a good tour, and I equally detest a bad one.

Yesterday we took a tour of Kilmainham Gaol,  a jail where 14 of the rebel leaders from the 1916 rebellion were held and executed by the British army. While the tour was saddening, it wasn't very emotional since our tour guide was so matter of fact and he kind of gave off a vibe that said I do this all the time, the faster I can give them the information and finish the tour, the better. It was a different experience from some of our guides, since most of them have had a huge passion for what they've talked about and our guide in Derry was tearing up at some points. The saddest part was when I walked through the museum and read a letter from one of the rebel leaders to his mother (he was 18, and executed the day after he wrote the letter). He showed a great amount of courage, but he kept saying over and over how he wished he could see his mother's face one more time. I get choked up just thinking about it...

We had the rest of the day to ourselves and some of us decided to tour the Guinness factory - wow, whoever designed the museum and the exhibits is brilliant. It just goes to show how much money that company makes every year. We were able to taste some Guinness, which in my opinion is actually pretty gross. The coolest part was going to the very top level of the museum, where there was a bar and windows all the way around, which provided a great view of Dublin! Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch and did some shopping.

And then I got food poisoning... To be continued.

While waiting to go on the tour of the jail, these three got bored and buttoned/zipped themselves together.

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