Trip in Dublin, Ireland
  October 2014
Jayne and Stefan at the Guinness St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, Ireland   Jayne enjoys the best glass of Guinness EVER  Bin the Poo
A return in 2014 to the country that changed my life in 2001.

In the Chester Beatty Museum gardenIt worked out that, after my nine weeks in Ukraine, Stefan and I were able to go to Ireland together. I hadn't been to Ireland since 2001, and on that trip, after visiting New Grange in Slane and having one of the best days of my life, I met a German guy on a motorcycle - and he's now my husband. This 2014 Ireland trip was because of my work, and I was thrilled that Stefan could come with me, he could see Dublin at long last, and we could spend some MUCH needed time together.

We had a horrible time getting out of Germany, which I've detailed on my blog - no one has replied regarding this complaint about security at Frankfurt airport as of the date that I'm publishing this blog, which just makes their behavior that much more reprehensible.

I have to admit that I wasn't charmed by Dublin when I visited in 2001. I liked it okay, but it just didn't really grab me - I preferred Kilkenny and New Grange so much more. But this time, I LOVED DUBLIN. I loved the canals, the bicyclists EVERYWHERE (Portland, Oregon is not a bicycle town - Dublin, Ireland is!), the architecture, the museums - I loved it all! It rained almost the entire time and I didn't care. I love Dublin! Pay me big money, and I could live there.

I wonder if part of the reason I loved being in Dublin this time is because, earlier this year, I paid for the DNA test, and what I learned as a result. While I was devastated to have no American Indian/Native American heritage whatsoever, I was thrilled to learn I'm 29% Celtic (Irish/Scottish), 22% Scandinavian (an ancestry that comes from Sweden, Norway and Denmark) and just 16% English (because I AM IRISH, DANG IT). It's not that I think heritage really matters: we are one global human family, and we should celebrate all cultures, because we are all related, and all cultures are human, and worth appreciating. Also, no one in my family ever talked about our European heritage at all, because we had no idea what made up our mutt background, so I cannot say going to Ireland brought me closer to the cultural heritage - just my genetic heritage. Still, there was something about being there and knowing my genetic line came from there (even though, ultimately, ALL humans come from what is now Africa), that made this trip more special. Also, starting when I moved to Connecticut back in 1988, I have been told again and again that I look Irish...

What also made the trip super special was being there with Stefan. When we lived in Germany, we would talk about how we should go to Ireland some day together, but never did. It was so nice to finally realize that dream - especially after being apart for nine weeks in Ukraine and almost a week in Germany.  

My presentation for the NGO that brought me to Ireland was in the conference room at the Chester Beatty Library (which is actually a museum) at Dublin Castle, and was followed by a scrumptious catered meal from the Silk Road Kitchen, the restaurant in the museum. I wore my Ukrainian blouse and the owner of the cafe asked if it was from Palestine - I love how textile designs in one country can look so much like textiles in a country a few thousand kilometers away! The museum is such a fantastic place, Stefan and I stayed there for the next two hours, enjoying the exhibits and the gift shop. Had it been sunny and dry, I would have been content to just sit out on the grounds and read for the rest of the day.

It is so awesome that state-run museums in Ireland are free - it not only makes them incredibly accessible to EVERYONE, but it means a clean bathroom is always rather easy to find! I do think they should charge just a pound though - maybe just a "suggestion." While I realize that Irish citizens have already paid, through their taxes, us foreigners haven't.

We stayed at the Mespil Hotel, which I highly recommend: comfortable, quiet, clean rooms, excellent breakfast, helpful staff. The building is nothing scenic, and the wi-fi is super slow (and sometimes impossible to use), but the hotel is in a great location: about a mile from the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology and other museums, just about 500 meters from an Aircoach bus stop (cheap, comfy transportation to and from Dublin airport!), and just 650 meters from the School House bar, which is in a former chapel - great place to watch Germany lose in the last seconds to Ireland in soccer. Seriously, the clams were to die for, and Stefan said it was the best fish and chips he'd had in a LONG time. I had some Jameson Black Barrel whiskey and it was dang delicious...

We walked a LOT. A bit too much, in fact. It's great to walk when touring a city, and I love walking, but sometimes, while walking saves money, it eats up a lot of valuable time, and you can end up spending hours walking through boring scenes when you could enjoy being somewhere instead of trying to get there. We walked 4.5 kilometers to the Guinness storehouse, and the same back to our hotel - that was more than three hours of walking, quickly, to get to and from somewhere, through not-so-scenic areas. Cabs are expensive - but sometimes, they're worth it!

Speaking of the Guinness Storehouse Museum: skip it. It's one long commercial for Guinness. I love Guinness, I so do, but I don't need an endless commercial - and I certainly don't need to PAY for an endless commercial. You don't ever get to see Guinness actually being made, you just get to hear about how it's hand-crafted from different ingredients, over and over and over and over again via videos and signs and videos and signs. We have been on distillery tours in Scotland and Kentucky, and we've really enjoyed them - but the Dublin Guinness tour? No. I will say that the cafe on the second or third floor is really good - buy one dish and split it, it's PLENTY of food, and it's quite good. And I will also say that the Guinness poured for you on the top floor will probably be the best pint of Guinness you've ever had, no question. But 18 Euros for an endless Guinness commercial? Nooooo. It blew our minds to see people taking just one sip of their pint of Guinness and then placing the full glass back on the bar. Unbelievable!

Stairs at Long Library at Trinity College, Dublin, IrelandWe also went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. We went in the late afternoon and there were just two or three other people viewing the book with us! Last time I went, back in 2001, it was a bit crowded, and I didn't get to spend long looking at the pages. This time, we got to take our time. The library is like a dream... it was just as impressive as the first time I visited. Note: there IS a charge for this museum, as it's not a national museum, but I think it's totally worth it. The gift shop is terrific as well.

We also made a pilgrimage to the Oscar Wilde statue at Merrion Square. It's positioned so that Wilde is looking at his old family home at number 1 Merrion Square (the house is CLOSED to the public) - and the fact that the statue is in a park, and in such a provocative position, has to mean something as well... I spent our time there trying to explain to Stefan who Oscar Wilde was. He at least now knows why, every time we go through customs in an airport, I say, "Nothing to declare but my genius!"

We weren't sure where to go next. I looked up and saw "Archeology Museum" on the tourist sign pointing to various sites, and said, "Let's go there!" It turned out to be a highlight of the trip. The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology is wonderful, and what we particularly enjoyed was seeing items that had been found in New Grange and Knowth, the sites that are responsible for us meeting back in 2001. The collection is outstanding - the Neolithic and pre-Christian items are the best, but some of the medieval stuff is excellent as well. We skipped the Egyptian items because we've seen SO much, in Egypt, in London, in Germany... we need a break for a while. There was a film about the Viking invasions in Ireland that we watched a bit of, and I made lots of distasteful, inappropriate jokes that my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great Viking grandfather raped my G11 Celtic grandmother and I'm suing SOMEONE.

Twang girls at a whiskey bar in DublinWe spent our last night in Dublin meeting my friend Kirsty. I went to Ireland to visit her back in 2001 - I knew her because of the Postcard 2, or P2, alternative country online community, and when I moved to Germany, she invited me to visit Dublin. We visited Kilkenny together, which I LOVED, and she strongly suggested I visit New Grange, so I did - and after I'd visited the site, I met Stefan at the bed and breakfast where I stayed. I hoped that, upon meeting her, Stefan would hug her, rather than punch her. Indeed, he hugged her! It was nice to finally get a photo of the two of them together. We had a lovely reunion - it was great seeing her and hearing about her life and blabbling about mine. Kirsty helps book country and swing bands around Dublin, including at the Ubangi Stomp Club, and hosts the American Music Show on 103.2 FM in Dublin, which you can listen to online Fridays, 11pm - midnight Dublin time (that's 3 p.m. Oregon time).

We took the Aircoach bus to the airport on the evening of our last day - that bus is SUCH a great deal! We were also thrilled to find that Dublin airport security is friendly and efficient - in stark contract to Frankfurt, Germany. The Dublin security went through my bins quickly, and the staff member looked up at me, nodded, and said, "Perfect." I know how to travel, I know how to be a good, cooperative traveler, and I'm glad when that's appreciated.

I fell in love with Dublin on this trip. Ireland remains a very special place to me. Hope I don't have to wait another 13 years before I go again!

Here are all the photos from our Ireland trip.

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