In the morning Antonios, the lovely guest house owner, dropped us at airport. We shared our first flight to Athens with a couple from the tour. A few hours later in the airport we we ran into Kim and Jarryd. In the afternoon we got on our second flight of the day to Budapest. By the time we left Budapest it was dark, we were exhausted and hungry (in Hungary, ding ding) and as we got on our third flight of the day we realised how bad the flight would be. There was a flock of children. A fleet of children. A phalanx of children. However you put it there were enough to justify the next baby boom. The entire three hour flight they took turns at screaming and crying. Not in the brightest of moods, we landed at almost midnight our time in Dublin. Things picked up as we went through passport control and the officer greeted us by saying ‘oh here come the champions’ when he saw our passports. He then told us how close he lived to our intended accommodations, and suggested a good pub. You know you’re in Ireland when... We were staying with Ella’s mum’s best friend Finola and her husband Jerry. We got there and were given the warmest welcome we could hope for, and even a room each. Things were looking up. Fiddle dee dee.
On our first morning in the Emerald Isle we had a late start, a real breakfast and a wander into town. We got excited in the Disney store and had a man ask us what to get for his nine year old daughter as a gift since we were so into it. For the first time in a long time, we didn’t stand out. We were treated like locals. We vaguely remembered the General Post Office from our history classes in high school, a site that was pivotal in the 1916 Easter Uprisings. But not much else about it. We walked to the port and back, and were reminded of Newcastle because of all the bridges along the Liffey. With aching feet we caught a bus home and were treated to a fantastic home meal of spaghetti bolognaise with the company of Finola and Jerry’s son Cieran. That night the news showed some of the destruction of the floods in Dublin we had missed by hours, and got an email warning us about traveling there from a booking site we use because of it. After all of that though we had enjoyed a sunny day in Dublin, it was a little chilly but at least we were still warmer than we had been on some of days in the Greek Islands.
We had another luxuriously slow start, headed into town to find our hostel in town where we would stay for a couple of nights, and dropped off our bags, planning to walk around the main sites and get some culture. As we were about to walk out the door, Ella noticed a poster advertising a free walking tour of the city starting in an hour. So we did that instead. The tour started at City Hall, where we had a brief few minutes thinking we might be getting our own private tour guide until about twenty more people turned up. Our guide showed us the Chester Beatty library that has the second largest collection of old Korans only to Istanbul due to an old book collector who donated them to the city, and an old castle that was mostly blown up by a fire that reached the gunpowder supplies. He showed us Ha’penney bridge, O’Connell bridge with the plaque to a man who never existed, and Trinity College which apparently was used without permission as the basis for the Jedi library in the Star Wars films. He told us that the Vikings gave the city it’s name which means ‘black pool’ and the story of Christchurch Cathedral and its corrupt vicar who accepted bribes (so the story goes) to allow drinking, gambling and prostitution go on in the crypt during the time when none of it was legal in Ireland. Next to the Cathedral was a blank area, but one that had been the largest Viking archaeological site outside of Scandinavia ever, but in the rush to build a city hall, the powers that be at the time poured cement over it and destroyed everything (50%) that hadn’t been excavated yet. It was a very cool three and a half hour tour, but we were exhausted by the end of it. After a rest we went out for a steak sandwich and drinks at a real Irish pub and followed that up with another drink at the famous Temple Bar and listened to some live music. Due to the posters all of the city, we knew it was election time, though as our handy dandy guide informed us, it was voting day, and it also happened to be the first time they had elected a new president in fourteen years.
Our morning was spent shopping, despite our best intentions in looking for weather sturdy shoes only. Afterwards Ella felt the need to get cultural and went to find a museum while Hayley snuggled up warm with a book in the afternoon. We went out for dinner (in our new boots!) and to find a pub with some more live Irish music and cheap drinks. We ended up finding a nice looking place for dinner, but it wasn't until we were inside that we noticed the kiwi motifs, the tomato tomato sauce bottles on the table, the L&P on the menu and the empty New Zealand wine bottles decorating the room. The live music we found was near our hostel, and played by an older Irish guy and a younger Scottish one who looked particularly bored but played Galway Girl regardless and made our night.
In the morning we headed back to the Chester Beatty library to have a proper look around inside. The large collection of ancient books from all around the world was just 5% of the total collection. Through the inside-out-umbrella-turning wind and rain we walked/ran to the Guinness gate for a quick photo and onto the old Gaol. It was a quiet afternoon after that filled with a little souvenir shopping and a bus back out to Finolas for a much needed bangers n mash dinner with Orla, another of their kids.
On our last day in Dublin we relaxed at ‘home’ and got ready for a Halloween party hosted by Cieran. Finola and Jerry have three kids and we had now met them all and they would all be at the party. As is tradition in the household, we took turns at making omelettes with whatever we could find in the kitchen. We found a couple of old costumes in the attic and Ella went as Wonderwoman and Hayley went as Wilma Flinstone. While it seemed to be popular for the males to dress in drag (and walk better in heels than we can), Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackon, Elvis, the Queen of Hearts (a la Tim Burton), a bumblebee, a ladybug (Emer, the third child) and a zombie were also in attendance. It was a great night, though we were both made to participate in the humiliation that is Singstar. Fortunately, we were both knocked out in the first round and only had to do it once. Though we were kindly reminded throughout the night just how large that winning margin had been.