Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our Day In Dublin

We awoke refreshed on the morning of Sunday March 22 ready to see Dublin together. The whole purpose of our trip to Ireland was business for Roxi: she was invited by her adviser in Enschede to attend a week-long school/conference hosted at Trinity College. It was like a very intense and small international conference where people presented their research to the attendees. We saw the schedule before the trip and they planned four full ten-hour days and one half-day over the course of the week. In order to get reimbursed for the registration fee, attendance was mandatory, so that boiled down to Roxi and the other participants not getting very much time to actually see Dublin during the week. So Roxi and I made a point of doing as much as we could on that Sunday together before she would be sequestered in a lecture hall for most of the rest of her visit.

We started by taking what would become our usual walk down Pearse Street to arrive at Trinity College. It is a very old and very beautiful campus set in the middle of Dublin. Even before seeing it, I was proud that Roxi would have the distinction of attending a week-long conference at such a prestigious university.

Parliament Square

The Campanile

Library Square

Sphere Within Sphere

The happy travelers

College Park

After walking around the compact campus, we made our way into the heart of the city center and found Grafton Street, a pedestrian shopping area full of life. We did some souvenir shopping in between watching street performers play music or manipulate marionette puppets. After walking for a while, we decided to look for a place to eat. We stumbled onto a fantastic Indian restaurant called Maloti with a great Sunday lunch menu. Little did we know, this was the same restaurant that the organizers of the conference had arranged for a group dinner on Wednesday evening.

After lunch we left Grafton Street and walked to St. Stephen's Green, a beautiful park similar to New York City's Central Park. It was a nice day so the park was full of people. Watching all the people feeding the birds in the lake made for a great time. The birds were pretty entertaining in their own right, especially the little tufted ducks who would dive and swim around underwater for several seconds before surfacing in a different location. And of course, like most European parks, there were several very elegant swans preening in the water.

From St. Stephen's Green, we decided to take a break at a cafe and have an Irish coffee. We found a very busy cafe on a barricaded Dawson Street that was rapidly filling with people. On Saturday night, the Irish national rugby team defeated Wales to be crowned the 2009 Six Nations Champion and claimed their first Grand Slam in forty-nine years. The crowd was forming for the victory celebration set to take place an hour later. We decided to move on to other parts of the city center rather than get caught up in the increasingly large crowd.

The crowd gathers to celebrate Ireland's victory.

Hooray for Ireland!

On our way out of the chaos, we bought some Irish rugby hats from a street vendor and stopped by the statue of Molly Malone.

In Dublin's fair city,
where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!"

Next we headed for Dublin Castle and took a walk around the Dubh Linn Gardens.

The Record Tower of Dublin Castle.

Dublin Castle

Dubh Linn Gardens

Marker commemorating the birthplace of Jonathan Swift.

We ended our self guided tour by walking a little further from the city center and arriving at Christ Church Cathedral. Unfortunately it was closed for the afternoon and they had already held their last services of the day, but we spoke to one of the priests who told us when all the services for the week would be held so that we could attend at least one before we left Dublin.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Trinity Capital Hotel, the suggested hotel for the conference and site of registration. Check in was quick and they gave us each a ticket for a free drink at the bar during the mixer they had scheduled for a few hours later. We used the time to take a break back at our hotel before returning for the mixer. When we arrived back at the bar at the Trinity Capital Hotel, there weren't many people there, so we took our free drinks onto the patio to enjoy the mild Dublin night.

Irish Coffee & Irish Stout

Neither of us were very hungry for dinner, so on our way back to the hotel we picked up a very small pizza to split. After eating, we called it a night so that we could get up early the next morning to go swimming before Roxi had to be at the opening lecture of the conference.

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