|Beautiful Irish weather for our last day of the trip!|
Just as Lindsay had time to consider going to Fitzsimons Temple Bar last night, I had been thinking about going back to Il Fornaio since our first visit when I had identified the workers as legitimate Italians. As a result, I coerced Lindsay into accompanying me to visit them again for breakfast on our final day. This time, I greeted them in Italian and commenced ordering. Although I doubt that I fooled them into thinking I was legitimately Italian, they responded to me in Italian, so I was able to get some good practice in while ordering. It actually felt like one of those contrived scenarios you have in language classes –
Me> I’ll have two cornetto, one plain and one chocolate, and two cappuccino.
Them> I’m sorry, we’re out of chocolate cornetto. We only have plain and almond.
Me> Okay, no problem. We’ll have two plain.
One thing we were unable to do on our first visit was go to Dublin Castle, so as we munched on breakfast, we headed that direction. This complex was first built around 1200 AD on the orders of King John I of England, though only the “Record Tower” is original construction – most of the buildings were constructed in the 18th century.
|Lindsay with Viking Construction!|
Over the years, the complex served as the seat of English government and is now a major Irish government complex. We wandered around the grounds for a bit and eventually went inside the Chapel Royal (adjacent to the Record Tower). The beautiful ceiling in this church was completed by the Stapleton brothers, but not those ones. One interesting tidbit - as each Lord Lieutenant (British governor over Ireland) left office, their coat of arms was carved on the gallery in the Chapel Royal. When space ran out, their coat of arms was placed in a window of the chapel. The last window available was taken up by Viscount Fitzalan, who ended up being the final Lord Lieutenant with the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922.
|Inside of the Chapel Royal!|
|I liked this gate.|
Directly to the south of the Dublin Castle is the Chester Beatty Library. This library was established in 1950 to house the collection of the mining magnate Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. Although we basically just stumbled on it, this is an amazing museum. Lonely Planet described it as “not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe,” and I agree. The museum is made up entirely of artifacts collected by one man, but “the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 BC to the present day.” There are two large rooms, roughly divided into secular books and religious books. Each room would take at least an hour to get through in its entirety. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have time to do either room justice. One of my favorite pieces is right at the beginning of the museum – one of the Egyptian scrolls known as the Book of the Dead. It was amazing to see the colorful illustrations and well preserved hieroglyphics from several thousand years ago. The museum has a large collection of old bound and illustrated manuscripts that are nicely displayed and very unique. Perhaps my favorite thing in the museum was a scroll of the Qur’an that was written in ‘dust script’. (Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate an image online.) The entire page appears mostly full of black ink – up close, it resembles dust, and if you get very close, you can see that it is Arabic script. However, the real magic is that if you back away, the negative space is ALSO Arabic script. It’s amazing. A final interesting piece is a fragment of the Gospel of John from 150 AD – when I say fragment, I mean it: the entire fragment is maybe 4 x 6 inches, but it’s pretty neat to see in person. There’s a ton of other stuff in here, but suffice it to say that this museum comes highly recommended, especially since admission is free!
|Tour group in front of the library. We listened in on their conservation for awhile.|
|As per the aforementioned tour guide, this wall was built to prevent Queen Victoria from seeing the Irish poor people as soon as she woke up in the morning.|
Since we were now in a bit of a hurry (more on that later …), we decided to drop by an Irish convenience store called Spar to pick up some deli sandwiches for lunch. One of my favorite things to do in foreign lands (or even in different areas of the US) is pick up their ‘generic cola’ and compare the taste. At Spar, their generic soda is called “American cola”, which I found amusing and tasty. We also dropped by Supervalu to pick up some Cadbury chocolate bars for the road - 4 for €5, what a deal!
Finally, we grabbed our bags and headed for the airport. On the first leg of our trip, we took Aircoach to and from the airport. Although a bit pricey (I think it was €24 for round trip for both of us), the bus is a nice Greyhound-style bus and your luggage is stored underneath the bus in the luggage compartment. On this leg of the trip, we decided to check out the slightly cheaper option (€20 for round trip for both of us) called Airlink. As it turns out, Airlink is basically a normal double-decker citybus that happens to run between the city center and the airport. There’s a luggage rack inside the bus, but its relatively cumbersome compared to the Aircoach. On the other hand, you can sit on the second level and actually get a pretty decent view of Dublin and the countryside between the airport and the city.
|Ireland Airport Transport Options!|
Our flight from Dublin to Boston left at 4:15 PM (local time). We had planned to leave our hotel at 1:30 PM, hopefully getting to the airport somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 PM. We ended up leaving our hotel closer to 1:45 PM, but it seemed like we would still be okay. From here, the story becomes speculative – we weren’t watching the time (perhaps for the better). I think we got to the bus stop around 2 PM. It must have just left, since the next bus was 17 minutes away, according to the board. (Lindsay actually ducked into a store and bought some Irish trinkets.) When it came on schedule, we boarded the Airlink. However, the Airlink makes quite a few stops on the way – more than our friend Aircoach – so we didn’t arrive at the airport until about 3 PM. Lindsay was able to “self check-in” and print her boarding pass, but mine wouldn’t go through. As a result, I had to go to the “full service” line whereas Lindsay went to the “bag drop” line. It was at this point when I started watching the clock, since I remembered in the back of my head somewhere that bags had to be checked 60 minutes before a flight in order to get on the plane. By the time I made it to the front of the line, it was 3:10 PM. “Just in time,” I said smugly to myself. The guy behind the counter looked at my ticket and said, “You are really late. You were due at the airport an hour and a half ago!” Whoops. Since this airport had WIFI, I was able to text Lindsay, “Just go to your plane. We are cutting it really close.” I assumed that she had already dropped off her bag, since she was in the ‘bag drop’ line (aka fast lane). At 3:15 PM, I got the reply: “I’m still in line.” and “Lots in front of me ….” followed quickly by “Go through [and] buy me chocolate.” (Lindsay had been unable to locate her favorite brand of Cadbury, so we were going to get it at the airport. Gotta have your priorities!) I responded with “lol. Priorities. Baggage has to be checked 60m ahead…” At this point, Lindsay got worried and started to ask people if she could skip ahead of them.
|For posterity's sake. Go through and buy me chocolate!|
She eventually determined that there was a special lane for people running late. Although they normally wouldn’t check a bag that close to the flight, they let her check her bag since she was already in the line, then told her to book it through the “business class” lines until she made it onto the plane. Unbeknownst to us at this point, passengers at this airport on their way to the US have to go through regular security, then go through “US Preclearance” (aka Security Part 2), then go through Customs. While Lindsay was sprinting through the airport and hopping around business class passengers, I was waiting my time with the regular folks. Somewhere between Security and Preclearance, she passed me up. We still aren’t sure on the particulars, but we think she may have ran past me while I was filling out the customs card – there is a little area for you to do so right before the preclearance area. Either way, I texted her to let her know that I had filled out a card for the both of us and was waiting for her at preclearance. After I waited around for 2 minutes (getting anxious), I decided to get in line. I looked ahead of me (behind the glass), and there she was! Although I was selected for additional screening (aka gratuitous shoe and baggage swabbing), we were able to make it through customs by about 4 PM. Luckily, our gate was about 15 feet past the customs booth, and we made it on the flight with 10 minutes to spare.
Plenty of time!
The rest of the story is fairly mundane. The flight itself was pleasant, the ‘airplane food’ beef stew was actually pretty good, and our car was still in the lot when we got home. It was a great trip, maybe the best trip so far.