I just got back from cooling off in the summer weather of Ireland. It really is a beautiful place, and even if it rains often, it doesn't rain hard. Also, the people are friendlier there than I'm used to when traveling. Here are some highlights of the first week:
I arrived in Dublin on Sunday, June 29. But due to jet lag, I hardly remember that day. Troy arrived the day before and settled into the hotel near the University College Dublin where his archaeological conference was being held.
On Monday, I walked into the City Centre to see the sites... pictured below is the Dublin Castle, which is now a government building.
On Tuesday, I took the DART train up to Malahide to tour a castle (photo below) that had been inhabited by the same family from 1189 until the 1970's. The castle itself was not so impressive, but the idea of a family keeping their residence for 800 years blew my mind. The little town was more of a suburb than a town, so I hopped back on the Dart and went to the next town...
This is Howth, a fishing village on the north end of Dublin. I took a great hike out to the far point of the peninsula where I'm told you can see right back to Dublin when it isn't so foggy.
On Wednesday, the archaeological conference took us both on a tour of some ancient sites to the north of Dublin. We first went to some burial mounds at Knowth (next 2 photos). These mounds are 5000 years old and are constructed with a long passageway that is aligned with the sun only on the winter solstice. During that day, we also saw the site of the Battle of the Boyne and a monastery/abbey with the counrty's tallest high cross (a carved stone cross). We ended the day at Newgrange, a very large passage tomb.
On Thursday, Troy still had the camera with him, which was somewhat useless at a conference. So I went into Dublin and only visited places where photography was forbidden. The Trinity College library has a great collection of medieval books all handmade on vellum and intricately decorated. I also went to the Dublin City Gallery of contemporary art with a great collection of impressionist paintings. It seemed that I also spent a good deal of time doing mundane things like checking train and bus schedules.
By Thursday, it was time to get out of Dublin for the day, so I took a bus tour to Wicklow with it's nice wilderness scenery. Pictured below is a bunch of land owned by the Guinness estate.
The next two photos are also from Wicklow. These are the ruins of a monastery at Glendalough.
Of course, not pictured is all the food and drink enjoyed during the week. The Irish in Dublin really do drink Guinness all the time. We enjoyed a full Irish breakfast (take a look at the photo in the link!) at our hotel each morning - fried eggs, fried ham, black and white pudding, sausages, tomatoes, beans, toast and coffee. Okay, I never ate the FULL breakfast... after trying the black and white the first day, I stayed away from the meat, and opted for yogurt, meusli and fruit.
After Dublin, we went to another side of the island, but I'll save that for another post.