Thursday, April 20

Fueled by another of Colette’s heavy duty breakfasts, Nancy and I once again set out for the Tourism Centre.  It was our fifth day in Dublin and we were still timid about crossing the busier streets in the city center.  Otherwise our walks were brisk and invigorating.  We enjoyed passing by the shops in Ranelagh, the phone booth that Nancy and Allie crowded into on our first day there, the Grand Canal, the Georgian houses, St. Stephens Green, and even Grafton Street (when it wasn’t completely overrun with pedestrians).  My feet ached a lot, but my calves felt like they were bulging.  No need for a daily jog on this Irish holiday.

At the Tourism Centre we checked into the schedule for tomorrow’s proposed South Coast bus tour.  One big question remained.  Does everything in Dublin shut down on Good Friday, as we had been told by a number of the locals?  Well, we soon learned that bus tours, if nothing else, would run as advertised.  We took a brochure with us, so that we could confer with Allie later that morning.  The Tourism Centre has an elaborate gift shop filled with everything Irish from the tacky to the refined.  I bought a tasteful green tie subtly decorated with shamrocks and flags.  I vowed to wear it faithfully to work every St. Patrick’s Day from then on.

After we finished at the Tourism Centre, Nancy and I got really adventurous and split up.  She went shopping for an Aran Islands sweater at the nearby Trinity Sweater Shop on Nassau Street.  I walked over to Trinity College to find the Law School and to try look up Yvonne Scannell, a law professor who taught at W&L for a semester, at the suggestion of Uncas McThenia.  No one on campus seemed to have a clue where the Law School was, so by the time I had a good idea of its location, it was time to meet back up with Nancy.   She had much better luck than I did.  She bought a beautiful cream-colored sweater that fit her very nicely.  On sale, too (or so she told me).  At least her mission was accomplished.

By then it was time to walk over to Guinness for the brewery tour.  All of the sidewalks near Guinness were overrun with vendors selling all sorts of Easter stuff: large chocolate eggs, stuffed animals, flowers, etc.  Nancy and I wove our way through the throngs of eager shoppers as best we could.  We were supposed to meet Allie at 11:30 outside the Guinness Hop Store.  Once there we tried to stay out of the rain until she arrived.  When the rains let up, we snapped a few more photos by the main entrance.

Here are a few interesting facts you always wanted to know about Guinness.  It’s the only remaining large brewery in Ireland.  Roasted barley gives Guinness its dark color.  Guinness in Ireland has a 4.5% alcohol content, but that varies from country to country.  The country receiving the highest alcohol content is Belgium (somewhere about 8%).  You don’t actually get to tour the brewery, but you do get a guided tour through the museum.  There’s also a short video to watch.

We decided to eat lunch in the Guinness cafeteria.  Nancy had some yummy potato soup and I had a piece of quiche.  Everyone who takes the tour is entitled to a free pint of Guinness, but it was a little too early to drain much of the dark stuff.  Allie had to rush off to class, but Nancy and I spent a good while browsing in the elaborate Guinness gift shop.

On our way back to the city center, we stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  This is the largest church in Ireland (Anglican) with a huge sanctuary and beautiful stained glass windows.  We were surprised that several of the large churches we visited were not Catholic.  I struck up a conversation with an elderly volunteer, who gladly filled me in on the history of the Church in Ireland since the Reformation.

After stopping once more at the Tourism Centre to pick up two tickets for tomorrow’s South Coast tour, it was time to put our feet up in style for a little while.  At Barbara’s suggestion, Nancy and I went to Dublin’s super-posh hotel, the Shelbourne, at 3:30 for “high tea.”  Along with a roomful of other well-to-dos like ourselves, we sat back and enjoyed a regal serving of finger sandwiches, scones, coffee cake, and eclairs for the next hour or so.  Pricy, but very nice.  When Nancy went to pay for all of this with her credit card, she discovered that it was missing.  Frantically she dashed out to the lobby to find a pay phone.  A quick call to the sweater shop verified that she had left her VISA card there.  What to do about paying for our “high tea” though?  Fortunately, Nancy had cashed a couple of travelers’ checks earlier, so we were good for the bill, thereby avoiding what might have been an embarrassing faux pas on our part.  A hasty trip back to the sweater shop got us the missing VISA card.  We both agreed that we’d had about enough excitement for one day!

We walked the short distance over to Trinity College Law School in hopes of catching Yvonne in her office.  Understandably the halls were all but deserted as most students and faculty had already left for the Easter holiday.  We did bump into a young gentleman upstairs who knew Prof. Scannell, so we left a “Greetings from Lexington” message, our business cards, and one of the “magic” W&L 250th anniversary coffee cups for her.

By this time we had about run out of energy.  As we walked through wall to wall people on Grafton Street, I realized that the crowds were seriously beginning to get to me.  Have I already told you that everybody walks fast here in Dublin?  If your pace slips to something bordering on leisurely, you can be sure that you’re in  everyone else’s way.  Nancy and I ducked into several bookstores along the jammed walkways.  Although our feet were hurting, it was fun to browse the shelves to see which books are bestsellers in Ireland.  Thank goodness Harry Potter was prominently displayed, otherwise Nancy would have been greatly distressed!

We got home around 8:00, utterly weary, but still eagerly looking forward to tomorrow’s bus tour.  If only the rains would hold off (at least for most of the day).  Before we collapsed, we took a couple of pictures of the inside of our room and wrote the last of the 20+ postcards we sent to the folks back home.  I tried desperately to catch up on making entries to my journal.  What disciplined and determined travelers we were!  All of our obligations taken care of, a relatively early bedtime soon followed.


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map of Dublin City Center


Created by Nancy and Dave Badertscher
May 7, 2000