I think the Mister said it best about Dublin: it’s a large, discount dirty European city with fascinating and quirky pockets of interest here and there. This isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy ourselves in Dublin – on the contrary, order it is a great city with much to see – but it kind of felt like every other large European city I have visited. Also, generic like many European cities, it was stinky and the smokers were everywhere – which can be hard to stomach when you are pregnant. We noticed a huge influx of immigrants and were rarely served by an Irish person when we were out and about. The amount of Polish sausage shops around our hostel was rather comical.
I had read our Lonely Planet guide about Dublin pretty thoroughly before we left and earmarked all the free things to do: National Gallery of Ireland (which had a fascinating exhibit on the circus paintings of Jack Yeats), the National Museum of Ireland of which the Natural History Museum was top on my list (it promised to be free and creepy – two of my favourite criteria, but was sadly closed) but the Archeology and History Museum was soon found as a replacement.
My personal favourite: Kilmainham Gaol
After reading about the jail in various Irish history books and the Maud Gonne biography before we left this place was one I most wanted to see. And while it wasn’t free, it also isn’t expensive and is so worth the cost. We took the guided tour and then spent hours afterwards wandering and reading the three floors of the museum. I was pretty much exhausted by the end of it but I wanted to keep reading everything. Knowing that some of my relatives came over to Canada during the Potato Famine, and that people were commiting crimes trying to get into the jail during that time so they could be fed, (they said there were about 9000 people there during the famine which was something like 8x its capacity) it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that I had relatives who were in there for one reason or another. All I can say is, if you want to know anything about Irish history, go to the Kilmainham Gaol. Completely fascinating.
A little piece of Canada right outside of Trinity College:
When we travel we have a steadfast rule of only doing one, planned, touristy thing a day (usually a museum). We try not to plan too much and even though we like to do some research before we leave, we don’t have checklist vacations because we like to stumble on things: ike the Archeology & History museum which we only found because the Natural History museum was closed or the National Photographic Archives which had a retrospective on Colman Doyle – who we had never heard about before.
And of course, we do lots of this:
Unfortunately, we stayed at one of the worst hostels ever. Mount Eccles Court. Our food got stolen from the kitchen, “breakfast” was provided which consisted of two pieces of white bread, jam, butter, tea and some “juice” (now with 5% fruit juice). We actually got kicked out of the kitchen one morning when we tried to make our own breakfast because we were told it was closed but we suspect the staff member charged with having to clean it that morning was just angry because it was so disgustingly dirty. Also, the first two nights we had a group of six Italian guys who kept coming in between 1 and 4 a.m., turning on the lights, spraying themselves with more cologne (gag! Dudes, just have a shower!) and generally not caring that other people were trying to sleep. Oh, and the hostel would reset the card keys at midnight sometimes so I got locked out of our room on one of my many trips to the bathroom and they couldn’t help me at the front desk because they had too many people to help. Whatever. I gave them a terrible review.
After this we moved on to our Wwoofing experience and the wonderful Omagh Hostel.