Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rambling: Dublin!

No DVDs or much TV this weekend, as we took a rare opportunity to leave the kids behind (with grandparents, I hasten to add) and jet off for a weekend away. Its not something we get to do very often; the odd convention in the last few years but that's always been UK based, and pretty much every trip abroad we've done in a long time has involved friends or family. Which is cool, but a weekend for "just us" has been long overdue. After some debate, and the "too hot, too cold" game in terms of destinations, we settled on Dublin, which had the benefit of being relatively close and English-speaking, and neither of us had been before, so was a good start for what we hope will be the first of many weekends away. 

We had tried to save money by getting the late night flight out from Leeds-Bradford, which had the strange effect of being the last plane out of the airport. Watching the place slowly close down around us, Z and I sat in the cafe and sketched out role-playing scenarios set in small airports, because we are what are we are. On the plus side, Dublin looks impressive lit up at night as you slide in from the Irish Sea, and the taxi to the hotel wasn't too horrifically overpriced. We were staying at the Merrion, in Merrion Square which is pretty posh - so posh in fact that the room comes with a guide to the Hotels Art Collection, and the maids seemed to come every time we left the room and refolded any clothes we weren't wearing. 

Saturday we made the rookie error of deciding to eschew the Tourist "hop on, hop off" bus pass and just walk everywhere, which made sense at the time but got progressively harder. That said, we did do a lot of walking around what is a very nice city that is fairly easy to navigate anyway. First stop was Dublin Castle, including it's staterooms and a Ulysses inspired Art Exhibition. The city is, unsurprisingly, mad for James Joyce, and he's everywhere, including little plaques in the floor commemorating the books pub crawl locations. 

After the Castle we hopped on the Tram over to the Barracks Museum, which is a odd collection of a military museum, Silverware collection, clothing exhibition and a display of Asian artifacts on loan from a private collection. The Military section was probably the most interesting, just as it was fascinating to see it strive for balance between a military tradition that was both part of an Imperialist history, and also at the same time a resistor of an occupying power. It gets it about right overall, and was generally just pretty interesting. Another highlight was the "Other" room, which just featured a mixed bag of stuff the museums curator thought was interesting. 

After that, and some food, we spent the evening on the "Ghostbus". This is a tour of some of Dublins' haunted sites in a bus done out like a Victorian Parlour, and was pretty cool. I did feel sorry for the guide at times, as the tour included about a dozen people on some sort of boozy party weekend, which deflated the atmosphere at times, but it didn't prevent it being a great insight into the cities past. The final stop, as the sun set over a derelict and overgrown church which he told ghost stories of historical burnings, really hit the spot. And that was about it for Saturday. 

Sunday was a lazy morning before hitting the trail again to get the museums we missed on the Saturday, mainly the National Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum. The former is partly closed off for renovations, and the later has it's gallery area closed to the public, sadly, but it was a great wander around and a relaxing way to prepare for the flight back. Certainly we couldn't have faced too much in way of distance from the centre of the city! The flight back was fine too, right up until final approach into Leeds-Bradford, where the high winds meant the pilot smacked us down on the tarmac with one hell of a jolt, a landing style I'm coming to associate quite strongly with my "home" airport. 

So that was it; a pretty fun, if tiring weekend in Dublin. A few more pictures below!