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Day 7

Friday, June 25, 2004


Our last full day in Ireland was a beauty and not only with the weather, when I looked at my cell phone, the network was Vodaphone, not 02! With Vodaphone working, we could get a data connection and emails via our devices!

  The sun was shining bright, temperatures were already in the 60's when we exited the hotel around 9 am. We stopped to get a coffee at the Insomnia Café (coffee was terrible at the hotel) and then went in search of walking shoes for me, and a lightweight sweater for Karen. My old tennis shoes were falling apart, and the plastic ankle support was tearing through the lining of the shoe, tearing into my foot.  
  We ended up at the St. Stephen's Mall. After visiting a couple of athletic shoe stores, I followed Karen into a local department store, Dunn's. This was the place to shop! Stuff was cheap! I got a nice pair of walking shoes for 25 euro and Karen got an equally good deal for a sweater.  
Armed with our new goods, we headed to the Pearse Street Dart Station to catch the train. The attendant suggested that we purchase an all day pass, allowing hop-on, hop-off service for just 11 euros each. The furthest point south served by the Dart is Greystones. This town is just into Wicklow County. It is built right on the shore and is bordered by hills on the other side.  
The ride down is along the coast, so we got a good view of the Dublin Bay and the towns south of the city. On the ride down, we spied some neat ruins on the water in the town of Dalkey. We decided this would be a good place to stop on the way back to Dublin.
Our time in Greystones was short - not much more than an hour - so we did not see a lot. But we did walk into the town center and had a beer at a café called Bels. We also made our way to the beach and boardwalk.
  We then caught the train to Dalkey. It was about half way back to Dublin time wise. Dalkey is a cute town. The walk from the train station to the city center is about a 2-minute walk. It was after noon and we decided it was time for lunch. Next to some ruins was a restaurant called The Queens Bar. What attracted us was the out door seating. The weather was glorious, with beautiful sunshine and 70 degree weather. We got a great table in the far corner of the restaurant yard, right next to the ruin and across from the church. I had a Smithwick beer and a great Steak and Kidney pie - delicious!
After lunch we headed next door to the ruin. This turned out to be an old storage house dating to the 19th century. When Dalkey was a major port, these square towers dotted the township and provided valuable long-term storage for foods and other perishables. A brief narrated tour was available, followed by a self-guided tour. It was actually kind of expensive for such a small town and small attraction, but we paid the 6-euro each and spent the next 45 minutes investigating the site.  
   In addition to the storage house was an old cemetery with ruins of an old church.
  Next we headed toward the water. From the train, we had seen ruins that appeared to be on an island just off the coast of Dalkey.  
This indeed was the case. We made our way to the water and found ourselves at the parking lot of a grade school - a school that appeared to have just released its students for the summer, as kids were carrying boxes of supplies out with them.
The ruins were cool, and we also had an excellent view of the Dublin bay and across the bay to the peninsula that contains the town of Howath. If we had had more time, we would have taken the DART to the northern end in Howath.
  We got back to the train station just in time to catch a 3:02 train back to Dublin. We had seen much of Dublin, but there was a couple of things left to visit, including the Henry Street shopping area (of great interest to Karen), the Ha' penny Bridge and the Dublin Castle. We made our way out of the Connolly train station, located north of the River Liffey and closest to the Henry Street area. Our walk took us across O'Connell Street, and we spied the location where our tour bus had died two days before. The Henry Street area is quite a bit bigger than Grafton Street, but lacks the upscale feel and shopping that Grafton enjoys. There is a street farmer's market, and a couple of large indoor malls right off the street, but overall we gave the edge to Grafton.  
From there we made our way to the River Liffey and found the Ha' penny bridge. We crossed it, took a couple of pictures from the bridge and of the bridge and then headed parallel to the river on the south side.  
  Eventually we cut over to Dame Street to find the Dublin Castle. Due to security precautions (for reasons that still are not clear - the tour bus guy said it was cause President Bush was in the country, but he never came to Dublin, so I do not know what the truth is), the Castle was not open to the public. Karen visited the souvenir shop and a I snapped a couple of photos.
  We could go inside the City Hall building. The lobby is beautiful and has a very impressively decorated dome.  
  From there we made our way down Dame Street to get back to our hotel. On the way, we stopped at the sculpture of Molly Malone, and snapped a photo of Karen with her.  
  Back at the hotel, we rested up a bit, checked emails (now that we were connected!) and washed up for dinner. We had the thought to dine on Dawson Street, which featured some more upscale choices than Temple Bar. But when it came down to it, we wanted something more casual. I looked up recommended restaurants in our tour books. We had the thought to visit another traditional Irish cuisine place and there were a few listed not far from our hotel and near Grafton Street. We made our way, but ultimately picked an Italian restaurant, Pasta Fresca on Chatham Street. No surprise that we each ordered pizza! They had outdoor seating and the weather remained very nice, so we wanted to enjoy it.  
  Back at the Shelbourne Hotel, we stopped in the bar and Karen grabbed a seat as I went to the bar to order our drinks. I was absent from my wife not 2 minutes, but when I returned to the table she had a suitor! He introduced himself as John Mahoney (is that something John Doe over here?) and seemed smitten with my bride! He was clearly disappointed with my presence. John (or whatever his name was) lived about 3 hours away, but had business with the agriculture ministry of Ireland, so apparently visited Dublin frequently. Since it was Friday night he was planning to head home. Spotting Karen, however, I think he had a change of heart - if only his luck was good. Unfortunate for him, Karen was already spoken for. After making small talk, John said his good-byes, but not before stealing a kiss from Karen! As I am often reminded, the wisdom of Lou Costello is best heeded (I paraphrase), “I should have married a plain girl, cause no one will try to steal her, and if someone does, who cares!” Oh well, too late for me.  

Day 8