Sunday, May 9, 2010
Welcome to the (Black) Pool Party! – Day One in Ireland
Dublin – a city named for a pool of black, dirty water by grizzled Vikings – invites me to jump right in. The kind of city that is all too familiar and possesses attributes of other European cities I have stomped my way across. Yet I have a feeling that Dublin will prove to be a unique entity as my journey continues. The view of Dublin parallels the Parisian skyline from the roof of my apartment due to the fact that all of the buildings are low-slung – no skyscrapers in sight. Dublin’s shops model their English neighbors in regard to their bright colors and ornate decorative pieces. Many of the cities signs are printed in both English and Gaelic – a trait shared by Cardiff, Wales.
We - meaning students of the Point Park University’s School of Communication - flew into Dublin just before 10 a.m. We drug our bodies onto a charter bus like George Romero-esque zombies. Our hockey-helmeted (mullet-wearing) driver, Vlad, let us off at Grafton Street for a bit of shopping and a bite to eat. Aaron, fellow grad student and partner in crime, and I found a nice local joint called the Metro Café. The prices were fair, the service was excellent, the music was oddly-American (Beach Boys in Dublin – really?) and the food was much more palpable than the garbage we consumed at the airport in Philly – if any employees of Jack Duggan’s restaurant are reading this, please note, you’re are on our bad list.
Trinity College was next on the jet-lagged agenda. The campus was beautiful with its mix of white-stone buildings standing alongside contemporary designs similar to those of Frank Lloyd-Wright. The key attraction at Trinity was the Book of Kells, which is essentially a fancy eighth century picture Bible. It was neat, but I was far more impressed with the massive collection of leather-bound texts housed in the library above the exhibit.
We crawled back onto the bus and we whisked over to Dublin Castle. The building was not a castle in the traditional notion assigned to knights in shining armor. Dublin Castle is a Georgian palace built on the remnants of a Norman castle, which in turn was built over a Viking fortress. We visit most of the mansions rooms including the room where Ireland’s presidents are sworn in.
We ended the day with a celebration of our own that was fit for the Taoiseach himself. We sauntered around the corner to the Brazen Head pub for dinner and drinks. This pub is in a class of its own because it holds the title as the oldest pub in Dublin (established in 1198). We left with pub with newfound energy. Let’s see where tomorrow takes us – or even tonight.