Saturday 29 April 2023

There's No Place Like Home

Yesterday was a long day. Packing, airport check in, a final pint and a bite of lunch

and then the long flight to Toronto followed by a ridiculously chaotic arrival at Pearson. Too many people with "jobs" directing and misdirecting us, others "checking our paperwork, but really barely glancing at it" and finally the wait to get our luggage. 

I picked up the car and immediately went in search of a decent cup of coffee before the drive home in rush hour traffic. 

The necessary travel at the beginning of the trip seemed far more manageable. Even with a lengthy delay. Perhaps it was the excitement of the trip itself. Perhaps it was that I wasn't as tired. But more importantly, I think it was because, yesterday, I just wanted to be home. There really is no place like home. Back to some sort of routine - even if that routine is simply walking or feeding the dogs. No need to figure out transportation or admission fees or manage admission times. No new historic information to take in, process or retain. I was so ready. 

This trip has been amazing. Travel really is the best form of education. We learn about other cultures, we learn about their history, their food, their celebrations and the things that formed the people in those countries or counties. We learn to appreciate the natural beauty of a new place. It makes us feel more connected. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to travel. I am grateful that I am healthy enough to travel. I am particularly grateful for medical science that allowed me to be able to walk for miles each day and ascend and descend countless flights of stairs. Just a few short weeks ago, none of this would have been possible and I would have missed out on so much. 

Being in Ireland strengthened my love for the people of my homeland. While we may share a sense of humour, the Irish seem far crankier than the Scots. Not the least bit helpful with tourists. The hospitality sector were fantastic. The locals, the bus drivers and the average resident not so much. 

Now to process all that I have learned. About Scotland. About Ireland. About connecting. I look forward to finding ways to share what I have learned and I am particularly looking forward to making the scrapbooks to remind me of my wonderful trip across the sea. 

Thursday 27 April 2023

Final Day as a Tourist in Dublin

Today was my last day in Dublin. And my last day to see the sights or learn the history. My first point of interest today was the Museum of Archaeology. This is part of the National Museum of Ireland. It is much smaller than the National Museum of Scotland but the building is every bit as grand. And the exhibits are well laid out. 

I started out in the Prehistoric Ireland hall

                                                 Reconstructed Chambered Burial Cairn 

                                                Dugout boat made from a single oak tree

Then I moved through to the Archaeology hall. My main interests were the archaeology uncovered from the wetlands and bogs


                                                                            Jacket and hat

                                            Shoe - this was just one of several shoes on display

Being in the bogs helps to preserve whatever item is buried therein, as can be seen in these remarkable examples of clothing. 

and in this remarkably well preserved body that had been buried for over 500 years.

I was also interested in seeing the displays on Viking Ireland 

                                                        typical Viking Ireland home 

                                Recreation of what a typical Viking village would have looked like


From the museum I walked back over the river to Custom House Quay to take a tour of the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship. This was a fantastic tour and chalk full of information on the great hunger, the treatment of peasants and the ships that took the emigrants across the Atlantic. 

The original Jeanie Johnston was built in Quebec by a Scotsman and then purchased by an Irishman, Nicolas Donovan. 

It made 16 trips across the Atlantic transporting Irish emigrants to Canada and the US (80% of the trips were to Canada) and, remarkably, not one passenger perished. 

After the tour, it was time for some sustenance, so I made my way across the street to Urban Brew. 

I was so hungry that I didn't get a chance to take a photo of the main course! But dessert was scrumptious. Absolute Heaven on a plate. Chocolate cake with white chocolate cream and crushed pistachios. 

After lunch I had a tour of the Customs House. Another fascinating walk through history. Then it was time to call it. I was finished being a tourist. I headed back to the B&B and enjoyed some down time, away from the throngs of people. 

The trip has been amazing but I am ready to be home. I fly out tomorrow afternoon. 

Wednesday 26 April 2023

A Tourist in Dublin Day 3

Today the hop on, hop off bus tour was on the agenda. This allowed me to get to places that were a bit further afield, including the Guinness Storehouse and the Kilmainham Gaol. The first driver was also the tour guide and he was really wonderful. Not so much for the others. However, they were just a small part of the whole experience. 

While sitting in traffic, the bus driver said that unless we already had purchased a ticket for Kilmainham Gaol, there was no point getting off to see it. The tickets are sold out in advance and with this week being the anniversary week of the Easter Rising, the tickets have been sold out for some time. We could try to get in line first thing in the morning and hope for a cancellation. I immediately went online and was able to get a ticket for the afternoon. Very fortunate as the rest of the month is, indeed, sold out. 

My first stop was at Guinness Storehouse. I had purchased a ticket for the 10:15 tour. I had originally thought that was the time of the bus leaving, and didn't realize it was for the Guinness tour. I tried changing to a later time but that was near impossible. So, 10:15 it was. 

However, because of the traffic snarls at that time of the day, I wasn't at the Storehouse until 10:30. I needn't have panicked as the tour is self-guided, so I'm not really sure why they bother asking you to choose a time. 

I was quite thankful, really, that the tour was self-guided as this allowed me to move quickly through the parts of the tour that were similar to what I had just seen at Tennents last week. The tour is not through the actual factory, but rather within the visitor centre itself. That also made it easier to get from one exhibit to the next. 

We were given a free taste and I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it was. I find Guinness at home to have a bitter after taste. Not so here. Which made knowing I had purchased a free pint that much more appealing. 

Back on the bus and off to the Gaol. The buses no longer stop at the Gaol so it was a bit of a walk. Not an unpleasant one at all. I went the long way round (by road) but returned via the grounds of the old Royal Hospital. 

The tour of the gaol itself was quite moving and a wonderful walk through history. The tour guide, Mick, was a truly fantastic storyteller and I thoroughly enjoyed learning from him. 

It was so fascinating for me to see the cells where some of the people whose graves I had visited yesterday had been housed. It really added to the whole experience. 

I was absolutely stunned while standing in the execution yard and hearing about James Connelly being brought in, off his death bed, by ambulance and being propped up on a chair so he could be executed in order to be made an example of. So cruel and heartless. 

As I was standing in the execution yard, I noticed a statue across the street. It was both moving and humbling to see. There are 14 faceless figures, all blindfolded and each with a different pattern of bullet holes in their chest to show where they had been executed by firing squad. At their "feet' was their verdict. The statue is called Proclamation and is for the martyrs who penned the proclamation that set off the Easter Rising as well as for others who were killed for their political activism around the rising. 

A Tourist in Dublin Day 2

Tuesday was a full day of sightseeing. I started out with a sightseeing cruise down the River Liffey. Some great history and some unique photo opportunities. 

Then it was on to the GPO for a tour through history. 

The GPO was followed by a guided tour of Glasnevin Cemetery. Again a terrific history lesson. 

From Glasnevin I made my way back across the city to attend a night of Irish Folklore. 

I was only too happy to call it a day and head to the B&B for