Friday, August 10, 2012

Dublin

Friday morning, we had a buffet breakfast at the hotel, which had the same general chunk of food as the others: poached eggs, scrambled eggs, sausage, blood sausage, fried ham, rice krispies / corn flakes, oatmeal, and some kind of weird wheat bar thing. I zipped next store for Starbucks, which was the first decent coffee I've had all week.

We got back on the bus and went to Trinity College. They had the Book of Kells, which is the earliest known complete copy of the four gospels of the New Testament. A monastery in central Ireland got it from the original monks in Scotland to protect it from the Vikings (pretty cool, huh?), who gave it to the college in the 1600s. They have that and a huge, huge, huge library of ancient books, many of which are available for Trinity students to use for research purposes.

From there, we went over to the Temple Bar neighborhood for our performance. We were singing as part of a fund raiser for the Caddagh Hospital, an orthopedic hospital in town here. We sang on the street, while volunteers with buckets collected donations from the crowds. It was a good performance. The hospital fund raising group fed us lunch afterwards.

Best part? Our guide was named Paddy Murphy. No joke. He said he was training to be a leprechaun, but he put on too much weight - he was, indeed, a short, chubby, jolly Irishman.

Some of the group stayed with the fund raisers, who took them to a local pub for some music and some Irish dancing. Apparently, Donna was even recruited to do some dancing! They really treated us first-rate, for which we are quite appreciative. Donna then went on a carriage ride around town to see the sights.
Four friends and I walked around and did some shopping. I bought some presents for wife and child. Others hung out in a pub and watched the Olympics with the hometown crowd - some local heroes were competing today for some medals. I don't really follow the Olympics, though.
Dublin is a really neat town. For those from Pittsburgh, it reminds me of the Oakland / Shadyside area: lots and lots of stores, ranging from high end to cheap souvenir stores. There are a million little restaurants and pubs and food stands and street entertainment and music stores and instrument stores. There are some awesome rich-type homes, with incredible and intricate architecture and carvings and iron work.

The "duck tours" - those in US cities will recognize the amphibious vehicles that tour bus the city and its rivers - are Viking boat tours. Instead of getting duck quackers, the riders get cool Viking helmets.
When we came back to the hotel, we had dinner. It was neat, particularly since we presented our driver, Peter, and our tour guide, Barbara, with presents and nice words and songs in thanks. She said that the good nature and love of our group was apparent and made her job easier. We made him blush, which is not usual; he said that he had gotten married 30 years ago and hadn't blushed since. It was cute. We did group pictures afterwards.

Tomorrow morning, we need to be up at half four - or, four thirty in Irishspeak. We'll leave at 5 for the airport and go through customs on this end. The flight leaves at 9am and arrive in Newark at 11:40am, then the flight to Pittsburgh leaves an hour later. Hope we're not delayed...
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