Friday, 30 November 2012

Dublin sightseeing and other places

Travel is wonderful but seeing family from far flung corners of the globe spending time together is priceless.  Above is a picture of Sylvia with her cousin Dash.  They had such a great time together that it was sad to part them when we left.  But rather than dwell on the cousins, in this post I want to share with you some of the sights and places of our brief stay in Dublin.

We stayed at the Central Hotel in Exchequer Street, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for somewhere to stay in Dublin that is a reasonable price and in a great central location.  The rooms has plenty of space, the Christmas decorations were gorgeous and the staff lent us a huge umbrella when it was raining. 

A little bonus of the Central Hotel was that it has a marvellous Library Bar where you could sit and while away the hours if only you had a bit more time than us.  It is a cosy, albeit busy, place that feels like you stepped into the set of a BBC costume drama with large wooden bookcases, open fires and elegant old chairs.  We only had a quick drink here but in that time met a couple of friendly Dubliners who made us wish we could have stayed longer.

As I have remarked before, I have had quite a few visits to Dublin in the past.  It makes a quick trip more relaxed because we don't feel the need to see everything.  In the past, I have visited Temple Bar, the GPO, Phoenix Park, Kilmainham Gaol, the Natural History Museum, Christ Church Cathedral and the nearby Wicklow Mountains.  I have seen the Tart with the Cart, and the Floozie in the Jacuzzi.  I have been to the Dulbin Writers Festival and Bloomsday.  One of the fun ways to see the city is the Viking Splash tour, which we would have done again on this visit if it hadn't been out of season.

One of the first tourist attractions that I ever visited in Ireland was the Book of Kells at Trinity College.  I don't think I appreciated it as much as I might today.  I was more in awe of the faded glory of the Long Room Library at Trinity.  We didn't visit the Book of Kells on this trip but we did walk through the ground of Trinity (above) and had a quick browse in the giftshop.

Another place that I have enjoyed visiting on previous sojourns in Dublin is St Stephen' Green.  I am very fond of gardens that nestle cheek by jowl with the built environment.  These fine gardens are indeed a work of beauty with lots of interesting statues and spaces.  We were there this time to feed the ducks and give the kids a run.  (Actually there were so many pigeons and seagulls as well as ducks that the kids were running from them!)

Near to St Stephen's Green is the Little Museum of Dublin.  It is one of the newer attractions in Dublin, having only opened last year.  The museum is housed in one of Dublin's traditional Georgian terrace houses and focuses on the social, cultural and political history of the city.  It is both more local than many of the other museums in the city and also not quite so overwhelming (being little).

I loved this museum.  It is full of fascinating memorabilia and has a great array of quotations about the city on the stairs leading up to the main exhibitions.  In the temporary Bram Stoker exhibition I learnt that Bram comes from Abraham.  (I had always thought it an unusual name and wondered where it came from).  Upstairs there was a great cabinet of old grocery items where I learnt that Sudocream comes from Dulbin.  E did a tour which he said was a great way to learn about Dublin.

Another more recent addition to the sights of Dublin is the Chester Beatty Library. (The present building opened in 2000.)  We went there on such a wet dark afternoon that I was unable to take any photos of the beautiful Dublin Castle grounds where it is located.  Though it is called a library, it is more a museum of the book.  Chester Beatty was a successful mining engineer from America who collected rare books and manuscripts and left them to the people of Ireland, where he was living at the time of his death.  We went on a very informative and highly entertaining tour of the displays.

My sister Chris is a bibliophile and insisted on taking us to the Hodges Figgis bookstore.  She then kindly looked after Sylvia and Dash so that we could spend time browsing the shelves.  Oh joy!  I often judge a bookstore by the vegetarian cookbooks and was impressed by the range here.  What really struck me on this visit to Dublin was the bilingual nature of the city.  So many signs were in both English and Irish.  Even the bookstore signs as you can see in the above photo.

Another favourite shop that Chris insisted upon taking us was Avoca.  It is a store that is full of gorgeous displays of clothes, children's toys, and homewares.  While Chris made a valiant effort to stop Sylvia and Dash hiding their toy coins in the little kids cases, I wandered through the kitchen and food section, my heart aflutter at the beautiful crockery and my stomach grumbling for scones and brownies and soda bread.  I did buy a pretty teatowel and made a wise purchase of a cheese and tomato scone for the airport.  Had I the time, money and space in my suitcase I would have bought a lot more.

Well that is it for my Dublin posts.  We had a fantastic time there with my sister and her family.  Their hospitality was warm and welcoming.  I have plenty to write about Edinburgh where we are now staying.  Fortunately as we are here longer, we are not having to cram so much into a short period of time and can relax a bit more.  More about it soon.

5 comments:

  1. I love all of your photos, particularly the one of Sylvia and Dash. Hope you continue to enjoy your travels, I'm looking forward to your Edinburgh posts!

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    1. Thanks Mel - I just have too many photos but am getting some of my edinburgh ones organised

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  2. That photo of Sylvia and Dash is beautiful - as you say, reuniting with family is a bigger thing than travel per se (even if travel per se is fun too). I've had a great time reading your Dublin posts and enjoyed hearing about the different sights (and bookshop options!) here.

    There is a Floozie in the Jacuzzi in Birmingham too :P

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    1. Thanks Kari - we are really enjoying seeing family on our travels - though the sightseeing is fun too. Wonder how many floozies in jacuzzi public statues are to be found?

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  3. How beautiful - I have not spent much time in Dublin, so I am enjoying these lovely photos.

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