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Day 6

Thursday, June 24 , 2004


Our plan for the day was to explore Dublin. Much to our pleasure, the weather was much improved. Though still cool, it was no longer raining and we even had some sunshine. Our exploration began with figuring out what the story was with WiFi and data services on our cell phones. We stopped in an Orange store (O2 network). Unfortunately they did not sell WiFi cards, and could really provide no answers on data services. We did pop in a nearby coffee shop (The Insomnia) and also the famed Bewley's Oriental Café, which offered WiFi, for a fee. We never used services at either, but were glad to know they were available.

  We next headed to the tourist center. This office is located in a converted church. They have tons of info and no shortage of souvenir stuff (we had already purchased some on the way there). We were most interested in getting info for the next day for tours out of town. We did get some info, but ultimately decided to take the advice of our cabby of the day before - buy a DART ticket and take the train to the furthest point. All other options involved a nearly all day affair.  
  Karen wanted to visit the House of Ireland shop, which carried a variety of upscale Irish collectibles. On the way there, we stopped in a couple of jewelry stores looking for a charm for Karen's bracelet. The last one yielded a suitable collection and Karen purchased one. At the House of Ireland, we found some gifts for our Mom's and Karen bought me a pewter mug with Celtic etchings on it. In exchange, I bought Karen's charm - and thus we got each other our 2nd Anniversary gifts.  
  It was nearing noontime and we figured we should take our purchases back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped for a beer at Fitzer's on Dawson Street, a café style restaurant.
We then returned to the hotel, dropped-off our purchases and headed across the street into the St. Stephen's Green Park. St. Stephen's Green is nice, but it is not very large and the variety of foliage is limited. Overall the tour books give the park too much ink.
We also walked the circumference of the park and eventually came out on Grafton Street. It was now after 1pm and we were ready for lunch.
  We spotted a pub down Duke Street called, The Duke. This was truly an old style pub. And it was busy! Food was served in cafeteria style. The fair was traditional Irish, and as I learned, the helpings were large! I had ham, cauliflower, chips and a Smithwick's beer (becoming a favorite). That was a lot of food!
After lunch we headed to Trinity College. The main thing to see there is The Book of Kells, an ancient bible written by monks in the ninth century. There is a fee to see the exhibit and does include other religious manuscript relics, worth seeing, though perhaps a bit underwhelming. The rest of the campus is very nice. We spent some time and money in the University bookstore. I purchased a very nice pullover with the Trinity insignia.
We walked all the way through the campus, past the government buildings (though never really figured out which one housed Parliament) and came out the back side. We spotted one of the train stations for the DART, the Pearse Street Station. We determined this to be the closest station to our hotel.  
We made our way back around Trinity and to the Bank of Ireland Building. We then headed along Dame Street to Christchurch Cathedral. It is a beautiful church and the neatest thing is the basement catacomb where the leaders of Dublin and Ireland are buried.
Near Christchurch is St. Patrick's. I was getting tired at this point and decided to just take a seat while Karen walked around. A woman was practicing her singing and had quite an excellent voice, so that was an enjoyable break.  
  Leaving Christchurch, I felt I knew the best way to get back to our hotel, and I did, but our tourist map was lacking in detail. Eventually I pulled out one of the guidebooks that had a better map, and was getting us on track, when Karen ruined everything and asked directions from a stranger!  
  Anyways, we made our way back toward the hotel, stopping for a beer in a pub called Major Tom's adjacent to the Stephen's Green mall and next to the Sinnott's, where we had lunch the day before.
  We got back to the hotel a little after 5pm and decided it was time to use the Business Center at the hotel. The “center” is located on the 2nd floor. When we got there, the door was locked and a guy was standing there waiting. He said he had been waiting for 20 minutes for a manager to show up and let him in. We decided to head back to the room, wash up and then try the Business Center. When we got back, the “center” was open. The “center” contained 2 computers, one, as it turned out, was not for guest use, but only for staff (I still can't figure that one out - what the heck was it doing in the Business Center?). We had to wait a couple more minutes for someone else to finish. Then Karen got on. At this point, I decided to just dial into the U.S. and start sifting through the hundred plus emails which had accumulated. This was expensive - $0.99 per minute - but I felt it necessary to speed up the process. Karen actually got done quicker than I expected and I was able to get on and finish the process of reviewing and deleting messages.  
It was now time to eat. We had the notion to find something off of Grafton Street, but once again found ourselves in Temple Bar. Places were just starting to hop. England was playing Portugal in the Euro Cup so many pubs were packed (England lost - which pleased many of the Irish). Restaurants were also busy. We did find a suitable restaurant with “traditional” Irish fair, Gallagher's Boxty House. Unfortunately, the place was full, but there we could make reservations for 9:00pm. It was now 8:15 or so and figured this was our best bet.
To kill time, across the street was a pub that was packed with soccer fans, The Auld Dubliner. There was nowhere to sit, but, there was a second story and up there, there were no TV's and thus few people. We sat down and had our beer. It was here that I had what I considered the best tasting Guinness in Dublin (well actually Guinni, since I had 2).
  At 9pm we crossed the street to the Boxty House and checked in with the Hostess. While waiting, guess who walks in, but the Norwegian ladies? We thought for a minute we might be dining with them again, but because reservations were required, there was not a chance of that. The one who came in, the schoolteacher, seemed to have lost some of her enthusiasm. She said she was tired and had had a rough day (doing what, not sure). We know they had stayed in some cheap hotel in town (like 60 euros) that her friend had booked. Perhaps that had not gone well. At any rate, the tables had turned and we were the optimistic ones, and they had lost some of their spunk.  
  Dinner was very good. Karen had the boxty, and shared one with me. Boxty is kind of like a potato pancake roll-up. I had the duckling, apparently a popular Irish dish and that was very good as well. Back at the Shelbourne, we enjoyed a drink in the pub (wine for me, since I had, had wine at dinner) and then up to sleep.

Day 7