Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Last Days in Dublin and Wales

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were our last days in Dublin.  Thursday, some of my roommates and I went into town and had high tea complete with cucumber sandwiches, scones, and bite sized cakes.  After tea I wandered around the Temple Bar area and finally started to get oriented to the area.

Christ Church Cathedral

Friday after class I went into Dublin and visited Christ Church Cathedral.  Christ Church was founded in 1030 and is Dublin's oldest building.  The church was originally Roman Catholic, but is now Church of Ireland.  In churches I usually spend most of my time looking up, but I found myself staring at the floor tiles.  The floors were the covered with 63 different patterns of tile.  Some of the tiles are geometric and others have animals or symbols.  Probably because I was so busy staring at the floor it took me a while to notice that one of the walls of the church is leaning out by 18 inches.  It is hard to tell in the photo, but the top half of the right wall is leaning out.

Christ Church has the largest crypt in either Britain or Ireland.  The crypt is more like a storage place for random artifacts than a place to go to see the dead.  In one corner, there are statutes to Charles I and Charles II along with the royal arms.  These items came from the facade of the old city hall and have been stored here since the building was demolished in 1806.  There are also monuments from 1870 that were chopped down to fit in the crypt.  The most famous inhabitants of the crypt are a mummified cat and mouse who died after being trapped in the church's pipe organ.

Irish Museum of Modern Art 

After Christ Church I went to the Irish Museum of Modern Art.  The museum is housed in a former hospital that was designed after Invalides in Paris.  I was more impressed by the building and the grounds than the art.  One installation was light and sound that was just placed on top of a permanent exhibit.  I was very confused as I was reading about an artist from the early 20th century, but being bombarded by base sounds and neon lights.  The icing on the cake was the room that had a looping distorted video of Bjork explaining how televisions works.  In another hall there was an installation of stacks of hardened cow pies.  It was interesting to look at, but not exactly my cup of tea.

Irish Museum of Modern Art

After leaving the museum I happened to walk over to one side of the building and discovered a traditional garden.  The garden was very peaceful and had some beautiful, fragrant pink and white roses growing up one of the walls.  The garden was one of the only places I experienced in Dublin that really felt off the tourist track.  After walking around the gardens I went to dinner with some of my roommates at the Brazen which is the oldest pub in Ireland.

Temple Bar

After dinner I walked around the Temple Bar area to try to meet up with some friends on a pub crawl.  I didn't know what bars they were going to be at and had no way to contact them, but luckily I ran into them in street about the time I was going to give up.  It was an interesting pub crawl and I ended up talking in Spanish with one of the guides who was from Buenos Aires.

Kilmainham Jail

Saturday I spent some time at a pub watching a rugby match before walking over to the Old Jameson Distillery.  I went on a tour with some guys from the group and learned about the distillation process and got to enjoy a free tasting of some whiskey.  After the tour we walked down Mary's Lane to get a bite to eat at Slattery's Bar.  The walk to Slattery's bar was interesting as the area looked to be a little run down and some buildings were abandoned.  This was surprising to me as it was only a few blocks from the heavily trafficked river front.  Slattery's has a whole wall dedicated to the leaders of the 1916 uprising.  There are original uniforms, photos, medals, and guns on display.  After lunch we took a taxi up to Kilmainham Jail, but it was booked up for the day, so I will have to try to go back with Kyle.

Lighthouse outside of Holyhead

Sunday we had a very early morning in order to catch the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, Wales.  We had pretty good weather and the ride was smooth.  After the ferry we took a bus to Conwy where we got to see the impressive Conwy Castle.  The castle and city walls were built in the late 1200s by Edward I and it bankrupted him.  Edward I apparently really liked his castles and had another six in the surrounding area.  The castle is really well preserved and visitors are allowed to climb up most of the towers. 

Conwy Castle

After we left the castle we drove through Snowdonia, which is a national park in Wales.  The countryside is green like Ireland, but the mountains are much more rocky and steep.  We had a long day of travel and everyone was pretty tired when we finally reached Bangor.  Bangor is bigger than Dingle, but is pretty dead as all the students are gone for the summer.  We are taking classes in one of the old buildings which quite impressive and has a large garden in the center courtyard.  I have class tomorrow morning, but afternoon off, so I may try to get out of Bangor and go back to Snowdonia or to the nearby town of Beaumaris to see another castle.


Kyle arrives Wednesday to help me celebrate by 25th birthday.  Thursday and Friday I have finals and then the program ends and Kyle and I will begin our two weeks of travel.  Kyle and I will be going back to Ireland for a few days, then flying to Scotland, and finally taking the train down to London.  I may not have much time or internet to update while Kyle and I are traveling, but I will try to post once we make it to London.  It's hard to believe I've almost been here a month.  I'm glad I have another two weeks to do some exploring before returning to reality.  Hope everyone is well!

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