Dublin | Day Two

On Tuesday, March 13, we woke up to sunny skies and a busy day ahead of us. Note: Ireland is chilly (all the time!). Even in the summer, it doesn’t get past 67-68 degrees. Make sure you wear layers so that you can take them off/put them back on throughout the day. I always wore a long sleeve, fleece, and raincoat with jeans, leggings, boots and warm socks!

We made our way over to Trinity College (and stopped at Queen of Tarts for a couple of scones…Ian’s third scone of the trip!) to view the Book of Kells and the Trinity College Library. A few things: We purchased our tickets for the Book of Kells online, which made it easy to pass through. We also weren’t allowed to take photos inside the exhibit, but it was surreal and we definitely recommend it.

Now. To the Trinity College Library. The library itself is the largest library in Ireland. It began in 1592. In 1661, Henry James presented it with the Book of Kells, its most famous manuscript. The Long Room, a 213-foot chamber within the library was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. The room is also lined with marble busts of great philosophers, writers, and people who supported Trinity.

We both stood in awe in this room. I did three walk-throughs. One with my camera, the other two because I just couldn’t get enough of the place. As a couple of English nerds, we really enjoyed spending our time here. It was absolutely beautiful and a must-see if you are to visit Dublin.

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We explored the campus a little bit and then walked to O’Connell Street. O’Connell Street is Dublin’s grandest street that starts from the O’Connell Bridge through north Dublin. You start at the Trinity side of town and make your way up, ending at the Garden of Remembrance, a park honoring the victims of the 1916 uprising. What’s cool about this street is that you can see some cool statues and monuments, like the Daniel O’Connell monument (for whom the street is named; he was known as the “Liberator” for demanding Irish Catholic rights in British Parliament). You can also see Abbey Theatre, where nationalists (like Yeats) staged plays, the General Post Office, and more. We really enjoyed the walk, especially taking a rest in the Garden of Remembrance: a peaceful spot to relax and stretch after a long walk.

We then turned around and made our way to Ha’Penny Bridge, named for the halfpence toll that people used to pay to cross it. We took the pedestrian-only bridge and made our way to Temple Bar Square where we enjoyed the sights.

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After lunch, we walked over to Dublin Castle and bought tickets for a self-guided tour.  Dublin Castle was the seat of Irish rule for over 700 years; it is located where the rivers Liffey and Poddle came together, making a black pool (dubh linn in Irish). Dublin Castle was home to the viceroy who implemented the will of the British royalty. It was our first time visiting a castle; we loved being able to spend our time in each room and enjoy the atmosphere and take in the history. The tour ended with a look at the foundations of the Norman tower and the remains of the 13th-century town wall. There was another option for a guided tour, which takes you inside the chapel and into some other rooms as well.

 

After the castle tour, we walked over to St. Stephen’s Green to check out the park and all of the cool monuments there. We learned that it used to be a place with gory public executions in medieval times. Now, it’s a grassy refuge for Dubliners. The three main monuments and statues I wanted to check out were the Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and the WB Yeats statue. I was a little disappointed in Joyce, but it was a great park and fun to see people relaxing on benches and taking in the greenery.

 

After our walk through St. Stephen’s, we walked through Grafton Street again to find some dinner—success! We had some delicious Italian food at Milano. We wanted to have dessert and some drinks (and it started to rain) so we came across a bar, Davy Byrnes, where we enjoyed an Irish coffee (and a few beers!) and watched the game (that’s Irish talk for soccer). Tired, we made our way back to our Airbnb and fell into our bed after a long, fun day in Dublin!

 

Dublin | Day One

Greetings from Dublin! The past two days have been a whirlwind of walking, eating, and gawking at the beauty this city brings. We arrived yesterday morning exhausted from our plane ride but still hoping to get some of Dublin in before crashing. We made it to our Airbnb and we were not disappointed. It’s literally right across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We dropped our stuff off and got a quick bite to eat at a cafe across the street (Ian had his first-ever scone), and then walked along St. Patrick’s Park. The park is beautiful and we were struck by the greenery and gardens (something we haven’t seen at home in months). It’s a nice park with a beautiful fountain in the middle with a scenic view of the cathedral. There were plenty of people walking their dogs, strolling along the paths—it is so nice to have this park right across the street!

 

We then made our way past the park and stumbled across a beautiful black gate. Curious, we walked up the steps and came across an old library called Marsh’s Library. In fact, Marsh’s Library is the oldest public library in Dublin! Marsh’s library was founded in the early 18th century by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh. It was designed in 1712 and it is one of the very few 18th-century buildings left in Dublin used for its original purpose. The collections from the library include books from Marsh and Elias Bouhéreau, the first librarian when the library was opened. Visiting the library and looking at the books was surreal; we weren’t able to take photos so we will have to rely on my memory for this one! Two more amazing facts about this library. First, to stop book thieves, reading rooms were locked from the outside and patrons would have to ring a bell to get out (Not sure how effective this was since they had an exhibit of stolen books that have been recovered over the centuries)! Second, we stood in the reading room where James Joyce and Bram Stoker studied! Overall, this was truly a hidden gem.

After a rest in our Airbnb, Ian and I traveled to Teeling Distillery where we took a whiskey tour (Ian had his second scone that day before the tour to fill up). Whiskey plays a large part of Irish history and Teeling is playing a big role in it today. It is the first distillery to open in Dublin in 125 years and is leading the renaissance of Irish whiskey. It was very interesting seeing how whiskey was made and having the chance to try some (not too big of a fan, but it was good!) I then had my first-ever Irish Coffee—now that I enjoyed! It was a cool tour and we highly recommend.

 

 

After the tour, we walked to Grafton Street, Dublin’s premier shopping district where we roamed the streets and poked into some shops. It was super eclectic filled with musicians, retail stores, bars, and lots of friendly people! We stopped at a restaurant for some dinner and drinks called Catch 22 where we had a nice fish sandwich and chips.

Exhausted from the time change, we walked back to our Airbnb (and realized that we are in a great, central area for ideal city walking!) and went to bed early knowing that we had a busy day ahead of us!

Our second day in Dublin coming soon!

-Kassondra and Ian

 

Kassondra and Ian go Bragh!

Tomorrow, Ian and I will head to Ireland for 10 days! This trip has been a dream of ours for the past 6 years (honestly, it’s been a dream of mine since I first watched “P.S. I Love You!”)—and it’s finally here! I hope you will follow our adventures. We plan to post as much as we can. Thanks for following!

-The “O’Mangiones” 😉

 

 

Take the plunge

Currently, I find myself sitting in a beach chair listening to the sound of the waves crash against the snowy, white sands of Miramar Beach. A few weeks ago, when we were invited on a spontaneous trip to visit family, my husband and I immediately hesitated. We thought about our jobs, about school, and about our lives at home. How can we put all of that on hold? We decided that a spontaneous trip, especially as we are about to travel to Ireland in a few weeks, was just out of the question. But then we thought: Why not? We had the vacation time for work and we have every ability to do schoolwork while by the pool or at nighttime. Plus, it wouldn’t be cold, rainy Connecticut!

We thought about the goal that we made for 2018—to be more spontaneous, to take risks, and enjoy life. Spending time with family we don’t see very often, and an incredible milestone (Ian’s great uncle turning 90), is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, we bought our plane tickets, woke up at 3 a.m. Thursday morning, and were welcomed to 70-degree weather and an extra hour in our day to soak up the vitamin D! Immediately, our stresses were gone, our spirits were lifted, and we are both feeling super relaxed.

When we got to the house (which overlooks the Gulf), my father-in-law prompted us to get on our bathing suits and jump into the ocean. Again, I found myself hesitating: The water is cold, and I’ve been traveling all day. Plus, the water is cold!! But, again, I stopped myself: Be spontaneous; you won’t regret it. A few minutes later, I found myself in my bathing suit running across the soft sand and submerging myself (I tripped in the ocean) in the cold, icy water. I took the plunge, and gosh, it felt good!

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I stumbled across an incredible quote today that I thought I’d share that really speaks to our spontaneous trip: “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”