We arrived, fresh and ready for a great day. We stopped at the bus station to drop off our luggage so we didn't have to carry it around all day. They have these awesome lockers with magnetic locks- not something you can just bust into with a pair of bolt cutters. The first place we stopped was a book store. I asked the sales girl to recommend "the best Irish book in the store." She suggested James Joyce's <u>Dubliners</u> as a popular choice. I got it to read whenever we had down time. The next thing we did is head down to Temple Bar, passing by O'Connell St. on the way. We were looking for a place recommended in the books, but passed by the Castle and Elephant and stopped there instead. I just didn't get it. The place was decorated like what I would expect an Irish pub to be decorated like, except for the pictures of Native American Indians on the walls. To top it off, the waiters wore shirts with some Gaelic phrase on the back. The waiter said that it meant "It's a secret." Okaaaaaay. The food was decent though. From there we wandered around Temple Bar, stopping for a street book fair and a market. I had some pretty bland cheese at the market, but it was cute. From there, we headed to city hall. They were holding a book festival inside. I don't know how people paid attention to the books though. The inside of city hall was pretty exquisitely decorated. The ceilings, the walls, the paintings, everything was fancy. After City Hall, we visited Christchurch Cathedral. The original is about 1000 years old. It was an impressive building, and yet it seemed more humble than some of the other fancy old churches I've seen. While in that part of town, we stopped by St. Patrick Cathedral as well. Again, it's a pretty impressive yet not ostentatious building. It also has a gorgeous park along side of it. Despite the fact that it wasn't that much warmer in Ireland than it had been recently at home, all of the spring flowers were out in full bloom. I don't know how they survive the cold, but they were pretty. Also, they had a side area dedicated to some Irishpeople. I'm not sure if they were graves or just memorials, but they had spaces for a whole bunch of famous Irish writers (including Jonathan Swift). We had actually meant to find the castle, and ended up at St. Patricks, so we went back to our castle hunt. We passed an art store where I discovered my new favorite artist of the week: James Rizzi www.jamesrizzi.com. He's not Irish, but they had his stuff in a gallery and it caught my eye. Too bad everything was super expensive. I would have loved to bring home some of his work. We kept hunting. I would have expected a castle to be tall and visible over the other buildings as they weren't too tall. Plus, I would have expected lots of signs. For whatever reason, it was very difficult to find the castle. It was hidden behind a lot of non-castley stuff and was just as short as the buildings around it. Plus, the back side did not look like a castle as it was painted in bright colors. (BTW, they marked the sport by the castle where Jonathan Swift lived). Eventually, we found the castle and took a tour. It was worth it. I learned a lot about Irish history and politics as well as Elizabethan culture. The art adorning the castle was neat and it was nice that they actually let us take pictures of it. When we were done with the castle, we hightailed it to Trinity College (where Jonathan Swift was dean for a while) to see the book of Kells and their incredibly huge library of old books. The book of Kells was exciting. It's one thing to see illuminated text pictures in your history book, it's quite different to see a real original illuminated text. It's the type of thing that you just can't capture in photographs and do it justice. I highly recommend it to anybody. The library was a little of a let down as they wouldn't let you get too close to any of the books and had half closed off. Plus, you could tell that all those books never got used. Some of the old-fashioned sliding ladders were blocked from sliding and being useful by some modern supports. It was not only a little bit fake, but also a pity. While I understand the concept of preserving books and history, having that many books for people not to read seems a little silly to me. They did have a bunch of busts of famous authors though- Newton, Aristotle, Swift and tons of others. In case you hadn't noticed, this trip was beginning to become a little bit of an ode to Swift. I happen to adore <u>A Modest Proposal</u> and I was most certainly getting my fill of its creator. I was trying to hold in my excitement, but I'm pretty sure I left any eavesdropping Irish with the impression that Americans eat dead babies. I had also read Gulliver's travels as a child, but it was just a story. The trip definitely motivated me to go back and read it again, this time looking for the satire within. By the time we were done with the book of Kells and Trinity College, we were ready for a shower and a nap. We grabbed our stuff, and grabbed a bus to the hotel. The 3 day rambler pass we bought at the airport was one of the most useful things we did. We could get on and off busses whenever we wanted- very convenient. Eventually, we made it back into town to get started experiencing the nightlife. We began with dinner at Bad Ass Cafe, where Sinead O'Connor once worked. It wasn't so bad ass. The food was most certainly decent, but there was nothing "bad" or bold about it. They even had a kids menu. (Clarification for Dad and Mike: That's a menu for kids to choose from, not a menu where you can order kids.) Out the window, we saw tons of "hen parties," the British version of bachelorette parties. There were groups of half a dozen or so women all dressed in funny costumes celebrating the soon-to-be bride. Apparently, Ryan Air has made it easy and common for Europeans to have hen/stag parties in other countries for the weekend. Ryan Air has also just generally made it easier for people to go somewhere to party. The first few bars we peeked/stepped into were absolutely packed. We're talking shoulder to shoulder, room after room, nowhere to breathe, no way to hear anybody. The last time I felt that claustrophobic was maybe New Years Eve at Times Square. We finally found a bar where there was some space, but still a decent number of people. We went to the bar and ordered "the most Irish drink you have." It turned out to be a Guinness. After the bar tender filled the glass within an inch of the top and set them on the counter, we went to grab them and were stopped by an Irish guy. Apparently, the proper way to pull a Guinness involves two fills a couple of minutes apart. After the first fill, the drink has to turn all black, not just black at the bottom. Then, the bartender finishes filling the glass and we wait again. When the glass is all black, it's done. I was glad to have learned that, but regardless, I thought the Guinness was pretty bad. the Irrish guy said that was normal. Most people need about 3 pints to get used to the taste. I wasn't planning on drinking that much. I felt bad dumping a little down the sink in the bathroom, but I didn't want to be carrying around a full glass. That worked out well as somebody bumped into me shortly after and I would have been covered in beer had I not dumped some. We chatted a while and then went to head home. We decided to take a taxi home as it was pretty late. We hailed one and he pulled over in the middle of the cross street to pick us up. Apparently that's a problem. As soon as we got in, the cop pulled the cabbie over. He only got a warning, which was nice as he was a pretty nice guy. He told us about Irish sports and recommended some stuff for us to do the following day, including the Jameson site. After arriving at our hotel, we collapsed into sleep so that we would be ready for the next day.