The cab driver was an elderly gentleman who talked about "boom times" followed by the recession. His daughter's house lost half it's value and her family is struggling to pay back the mortgage. We knew that the recession hit Ireland especially hard, but it is another thing to see it with your own eyes.
On a tip from the concierge, we found Keough's, a little cafe along Grafton Street with fresh pastries and delicious breakfast items. I had a mini Irish breakfast, with an egg, sausage, slice of ham, and "pudding," which is a salty meat-based mush that was delicious (I don't want to know what was in it). Grafton Street reminds me a lot of Michigan Ave back home in Chicago, with the big designers and specialty stores. Some were special to Ireland, but many are the same.
We headed into the city roughly following the itinerary in Frommer's, and our first stop was Dublin Castle. While beautiful, we could not figure out how to get into the castle, and ended up looking at it mostly from the outside. The highlight was surprisingly the Revenue Display, which discussed the role of tax collectors, to which I had never given much thought before. I thought of John and how much he would have liked it.
We did find the Chester Beatty Library, however, and poked around the gorgeous illuminated manuscripts and old books. Will and I spend so much time with our heads in books that it seemed like a special place for us. This library has some of the earliest papyrus texts of the Bible, dating back to circa 200 AD. It also had a ton of Asian scrolls and pieces.
From the library we headed to the Christ Church Cathedral, a lovely stone structure with buttresses and 19 bells that we heard from blocks away. It was a quiet and restful stroll through the building, looking at its gorgeous organ and treasures.
[At this point in the narrative, Lauren neglects to mention the stops at the Sub-City comic+sci-fi shop, and at Clark's for shoes, where Lauren drew first shopping blood. --Will]
From there, we headed to Trinity College and found the line for the Book of Kells. We have been running into a few problems with shops not accepting our American swipe credit cards, however, and we were unfortunately three Euros short of being able to get in.
After strolling around the gorgeous green fields at Trinity, we headed to the Temple Bar area. We first had a wine (Will), some tea (Lauren) and fresh-baked bread at the newly-opened Hippety's. Then, Will heard some Irish music playing, so we stopped into the Gogarty pub for a Guinness. On the way home, we stopped by another pub, O'Neill's, for some beef and Guinness stew. After such a long day, it was delicious.
This morning, I sit by the window in the great room of our hotel, looking out over Grafton Street. Dublin has been rainy the whole time, but we don't care. I am drinking insane quantities of black tea and looking forward to our day.