Traci was up early to do her treadmill workout while I struggled to wake up. We had a fast food breakfast again - Burger King this time. Our plan for the next two days was to use our Hop-on Hop-off bus passes. Many cities around the world have Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing buses. These narrated double-decker tour buses travel throughout the city making stops at tourist attractions.
As I mentioned earlier, we bought two-day Dublin Bus Hop-on Hop-off tickets at the airport. I later found out that our Railtours package also included the same two-day Hop-on Hop-off bus passes. The bus route started in front of our hotel (Did I mention how much I loved the convenience of the Academy Plaza Hotel?). I explained our situation of having two sets of tickets to the bus driver and he sent us around the corner to the Dublin Bus office. The lady there took one set of tickets and had me fill out a refund form. She told me I would receive a refund in a few weeks. We did receive it about two weeks after we returned home from Ireland. It was in euros but my bank was able to do the conversion to U.S. dollars and deposited it.
Meanwhile, with the ticket ordeal cleared up, it was time for Traci and me to do some sightseeing in Dublin. Our strategy was to ride the entire 1.5-hour circuit of the Hop-on Hop-off bus before deciding where we wanted to get off. Dublin Bus offers live commentary buses (English only) and buses with pre-recorded narration in several languages. We waited for a live commentary bus. I have to say, it was my favorite way to do the tour. Our guide was informative, witty, and even musical. He would occasionally sing a traditional Irish song.
After riding the entire circuit, Traci and I decided this would be a day of exploring Dublin's grand cathedrals. We got off the bus at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It was first dedicated in 1192 but rebuilt several times since then. This Anglican cathedral is Ireland's largest. It cost €5.50 per person to enter the sanctuary. Inside we read about various clergy throughout the centuries in addition to admiring the grand architecture.
One of the people we enjoyed learning about was Jonathan Swift. He was a priest and writer. One of his most famous novels was Gulliver's Travels. He served as dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral from 1713 to 1745. His most famous sermon was called "A Sermon on Sleeping in Church".
From St. Patrick's, we walked up the street to Ireland's other well know cathedral - Christ Church Cathedral. This Anglican-Episcopalian church was founded in 1030. The admission to Christ Church Cathedral was €6 per person. Although I was more impressed by the interior of St. Patrick's Cathedral, I had more fun exploring Christ Church. It was started by Vikings. In fact, the tomb of the Anglo-Norman leader Strongbow who died in 1170 can be seen inside the sanctuary. Below the sanctuary is a large crypt. It is more like an eclectic museum today. We viewed an excellent film on the history of Christ Church Cathedral. We saw the bizarre mummified cat and rat exhibit. We saw the costumes worn by the actors on the TV show "The Tudors". Several scenes of the show were filmed at Christ Church Cathedral. There were many other exhibits to browse. The crypt also has a small eatery. Traci and I enjoy tea, scones, and cookies down there.
Costumes worn by actors in the TV show "The Tudors"
tea and scones break in the crypt
After leaving the cathedrals, Traci and I decided to do some souvenir shopping at Carroll's. These stores are located all over the city. When I told my mother that Traci and I were going to Ireland, she joked, "Bring me back a leprechaun."
I told her I would do better than that. I told her I would bring her a pot of gold. I made good on my promise when I bought her a refrigerator magnet that contained a leprechaun standing next to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Traci and I bought many other souvenirs (mainly cookies and candy) for friends, co-workers, family, and ourselves. I finally bought a bag of the Guinness potato chips I had been wanting to try. They were really good - much better than the beer. We spent so much at Carroll's that day that we qualified for the free "Best of Traditional Irish Dance Music" CD that was offered to customers who spent €100 or more. Our total was reduced to a few cents less than €100 after Traci had the cashier do a price check on a sweater but they gave us the CD anyway. I have yet to listen to it.
For dinner that evening, I was in the mood for some pub grub - in particular bangers and mash (British slang for sausage and mash potatoes). We decided to try Madigan's which was located about a block from our hotel. I used to think of a pub as a crowded smoky bar. While the pubs in Ireland can get crowded, you won't have to deal with smoking. Smoking in pubs has been banned in Ireland since 2004.
A personable host found us a table. After that, we were pretty much on our own. We had to try to flag down one of the busy waiters or waitresses if we needed anything. I sometimes had to leave my seat to do this.
The bangers and mash were on point. Traci enjoyed her chicken, spinach, and potatoes dish. We finished off the meal by sharing a very good bread and butter bread pudding. A man with a guitar was the musical entertainment for the evening. He had a nice voice but sang about depressing topics: heartbreak, death, and job loss.
Around 10 PM, Traci and I made our way back to the hotel. As we were waiting for the elevator, we encountered a guy who was wearing a kilt. He was very friendly. I had a difficult time understanding him because of his accent. Traci understood him much better than I did. When I told him this was the first kilt I saw since arriving in Ireland, he invited me to take a picture with him. continue...
the only kilt I saw in Ireland