Dublin (and Bray): Past Meets Present

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After years of lamenting over never having visited Ireland despite my frequent visits to England, we finally planned for a three night stay starting on Canada Day. That was quite a way to celebrate my nation’s birthday! However, upon arriving at the airport in Dublin, we were greeted with a balloon display for Independence Day. Well, all right…

I learned a few things while on this trip, that being you can never do too much research into various modes of transportation. I was intent on giving a few transit options a try while we were in the city, but our first day was focused on going outside Dublin to the seaside town of Bray, about 45 minutes away on the DART. Conveniently, our hotel was a five minute walk from the nearest DART station. It turned out to be a super easy way to get around to the areas beyond the city center and it was only about €7.00 for a return ticket.

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We spent a few hours here, walking along the seaside and partially up the Bray Head (seen in the distance in the photo on the right). We mostly made the trip to find the oldest geocache in Europe. We were rewarded with a great view of the sea and the nerdy joy that comes with the knowledge of finding our oldest active cache.

We ended up eating lunch in Bray at a cafe that I can’t even find with Google. D’oh! I think it was called the Sugarloaf Cafe. We got sandwiches and happily chowed down in mismatched chairs (both wood and wicker). The egg mayonnaise and ploughman’s sandwiches I split with Brit Boy were dang good and my brother enjoyed his ham sandwich (despite not being the hugest fan of ham!).

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And then we went here. Yes, tourism central, but it was one of those “We have to do it…’cuz we’re in Dublin” moments. We ended up taking the LUAS tram system (pronounced “loo-iss”) for about €5.00 for a return ticket.

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We ended up finding our first cache in Dublin nearby and then headed inside to the exhibit. It was €18.00 to get in for the self guided tour and, while I did enjoy how the exhibit was put together and the view at the top of the Gravity Bar, I wouldn’t do it again. In fact, what I would do is the Jameson tour, which was located nearby. It costs €14.00 and, while you don’t get a complimentary pint at the end, you get a shot of whiskey–which I enjoy more than beer! Ah well, it was fun to go to the Storehouse the one time. I had never tried Guinness before, and now I can say I have–and that I didn’t like it.

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What I did like were all these old storehouses. It was a cool place to explore, especially when we were bombing around in there on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Which I must say…was AWESOME.

I’m not one for those types of city bus tours, mostly because I’m happy to walk around or try the local transit options. However, on day two, we were afraid of suffering from burnout, so we decided to give one of those buses a try. For €19.00, we got a two-day pass and one of the main lines hit up all the areas we had taken the tram to the day before. D’oh! Well, it was a “live and learn” moment. I usually don’t look at those buses as an option, but I think I will in the future. TOURISM!

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Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced “jail”) was the highlight of our trip for me. €6.00 got us into the museum and lined up for a one-hour tour of the grounds. We learned a fair amount of the prison’s history, its inmates and the history of Ireland (including the rebellion that took place in Dublin during the early 20th century). It was equal parts interesting and moving, definitely worth doing. The East Wing (pictured above) was incredible.

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We also hit up Trinity College, tried to find the statue of Molly Malone (only to sadly discover that she was being stored due to heavy construction in the area) and walked around the Grand Canal Dock area, a swanky and modern neighbourhood near our hotel. Despite the newer glass buildings and contemporary architecture, there were sprinklings of the “Dubin of yesteryear” in the presence of abandoned mills and other industrial buildings. The bullet holes of the rebellion can still be seen on some statues in the main city center. Dublin’s past is very much in the forefront and from my short time there, I can tell the people appreciate the hardship and the fight to get the republic they now live in.

It was a fun couple of days (we ended up leaving on the 4th of July). I’d love to go back to Ireland and explore the countryside more, but that’s a trip for another day. For now, I shall look ahead to August–and Munich!

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3 thoughts on “Dublin (and Bray): Past Meets Present

  1. I found your post interesting because I am Irish and we often moan about our transport system. Having recently visited Budapest I have to confess my opinion of Dublin’s transport system has not changed. We travelled around Budapest on metro, tram and bus for 1euro per trip. Also would have to nominate it for the friendliest people and most safe city in Europe.

    • I’m from Western Canada and our transit system is terrible in comparison. We have an interlinking train, but it only goes so far. The buses are largely unreliable and it’s pretty expensive for such a subpar service. I find all the transportation systems I’ve experienced in both the UK and Europe to be miles ahead from what I have back at home!

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