I have a blister on my heel! This is a catastrophe, because I think we walked ten miles today. Which is probably why I have a blister on my foot.
This morning, I got up at the crack of dawn and worked for a couple of hours before the guys got up. Then we headed out to the southeast side of town, where Trinity College is located (the Northwestern of Ireland...hee...). Breakfast at Brewley's, where I discovered that Drambuie and clotted cream on porridge is a phenomenal way to start a day. Then on to Trinity College. A stunning campus, and everything was green and flowering, as you can see in the pictures. The tour takes you through the Book of Kells exhibit, which is astonishing - you can see the pen strokes on a twelve-hundred-year-old manuscript. Then the tour takes you up to the Old Library Long Hall, which might be one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. They wouldn't let us take pictures (sigh), but I picked up a few postcards - do yourself a favor and Google it. Anyone who loves books would be salivating over that room.
Next stop was Christchurch Cathedral, and we got there just in time to hear the organ performance. Another beautiful place - the stained glass was particularly nice, and the whole city is covered in intricate wrought iron, so there are a lot of great photo ops. The crypt was interesting, but we were all a little creeped out by the cafe sitting smack in the middle - the pastry shelves nudged up next to the grave of Lord Whatshisname. Corpses and cafe au lait do not mix.
Since we were in the area, we headed to Dublin Castle next. It's mainly used for state functions, and is a pretty standard Georgian castle - large and imposing, but stylistically not as interesting as some places. It's not my favorite time period, but I'm an art snob, so whatever. The tour was interesting, however, especially as you realize the push and pull of how Ireland feels about its history. Obviously they care about their culture and roots, since they've taken such great pains to preserve the old royal castle and all the trappings of the historical monarchy therein, but every tour includes information about Irish nationalism and the break with England - it's interesting to see the relationship at work, and I always forget that the conflict is fairly recent history. My favorite part of the Dublin Castle tour was right at the end, when they took us down under the current building to see the remainders of the old castle that used to stand here, and bits of the Viking world that is part of Dublin's history. Another modern city on a medieval city - it's amazing.
After the castle, my poor blistered foot was really starting to protest, but too much to do! We headed toward the Guinness brewery for the tour, but decided to go to Killmainham Jail first - a hugely important site in the history of Irish independence. We stopped for a bite to eat at Arthur's Bar, where a guitarist sat in the corner and sang every depressing pop song he could think of, as Jim noted. I heard once that in Ireland, the most popular guy in the room is the one with the most depressing story...
The map lied to us, and the trek out to the jail was far too long, and took us through not the greatest part of the city. When we got there, we decided to take the last tour and save the brewery for tomorrow. The tour itself was actually very moving - the jail has been in existence for hundreds of years, and there was a time when children could be jailed for begging in the streets. A scary and sad place, designed to suck the humanity out of every individual. The tour guide gave us a detailed account of the men that were killed here after the Easter Rebellion, which is a dramatic and heart-wrenching story, with this jail as the backdrop.
After the tour, my stupid foot decided it had had enough, and we took a cab back to the hotel. Now, we're all unwinding for a couple of hours before dinner. I hear Temple Bar is fun - we're going to seek out some music and a pub later on tonight. I am not a beer drinker, but I could become quite attached to Bulmer's - a strong Irish cider.
Pictures coming up!