First of all, Irish nerds are just like nerds in America. There were whatchamacallits… transient posters that get plastered everywhere?… pitching a Star Wars-themed fandom convention on May the 4th. Some dance club was even offering free admission if you came in costume that night. So yeah, in Dublin at least, the Force was with us.
And speaking of a long time ago (TRANSITION!!!!!!) the highlight of this day was a tour in Trinity College – observant friends have seen the hoodie I bought that day. It was a fantastic, fantastic time, not to be missed. At least, if you get Aiofe(?) as your tour guide. She was a teeny, spunky Irish redhead, a frickin’ caricature of a caricature, who also happened to be a a Masters graduate of TCB (that’s “Trinity College Dublin” for you non-natives) hoping to be a Ph.D. candidate there. Anyway, she won my tourist heart the moment she used “wee” in a sentence, unironically, as the first thing she said to the tour group. Something like, “Ok everyone, you have to gather ’round, for I am wee and cannot speak very loudly!” She had many wry observations, particularly about the sexism that permeates much of TCB’s history (there’s a statue of some past master who was known to have said there’d be women at Trinity over his dead body. She didn’t miss the chance to take the piss out of him…); Lisa and I thought she was funny, and apparently most of the rest of the tourists were non-English speakers b/c our cackles echoed, alone, off the ancient stone walls. She actually thanked us afterwards for helping her to stay sane. It also helps that we tipped well. :p
Speaking of ancient stone walls, it was a-MAZE-ingly quiet within the confines of the University, which we thought was remarkable given that Dublin has basically grown right up to the boundary of Trinity on all sides. Nevertheless, once you went through the arches it was as peaceful as an Ag school on summer break. In any case, the tour was lovely, there are many old and ancient buildings, quirky stories of teachers standing in line for bathrooms and so on, and generally amazing natural beauty juxtaposed with imposing architecture spanning the centuries of the school’s existence.
Oh, and the Book of Kells is there. Meh.
I kid of course. The thing is exquisite, at least what we could see of it. To preserve the book they display one two-page section for… months?… I forget, but a long time. This is undercut slightly by the fact that, recently, they’ve put a complete digital copy of the Book online, but seeing the craftsmanship in person was something else. In the same library (which, incidentally, was as idosyncratic as something out of Harry Potter, with the added benefit of actually existing) we also saw the Harp. Which harp? If your brain thought to Ireland, and to images of a Harp that I might be talking about, I assure you that’s the Harp we mean. It’s on the beer, and the money, and a bunch of other places. Like practically everything we’ll see on this trip, it’s older than America’s non-indigenous founding.
After TCB, we took one of those hop-on/hop-off tour buses that exist in most cities. We’ve had good luck with bus tours in Phily & New York. This one was… ok. We got on a multi-lingual line, which put even the English version of the tour on a recorded loop so it would sync with the available language tracks. We would have greatly preferred a live tour guide, as you see with most of these operations. Also, it was roughly 45 degrees and misting, and yet we stayed topside because of the view and also beacuse we are dumb. Nevertheless, it was a good way to get the “10,000′ view” of Dublin, briefly seeing things we’d otherwise have not seen any of. Many of these sites featured commemorations of Brits shooting Irish; it’s kind of Dublin’s “thing.”
To be honest I’m a little hazy on the end of this day, specifically what we did for dinner. Nothing special, I think is the answer. We transferred ourselves to the Airport Hilton, for the next day is VERY long, and awesome, and begins with a flight to Scotland.
* Dublin is a very walkable city, but that shouldn’t be confused with “magically confers an immunity to exhaustion.” We were pretty tired by the end of the day.
* There’s some crazy spire monument thingy that gave me serious vertigo just trying to look at it. It’s just this needle-y looking thing, too; I don’t know if there’s an equal-length pylon driven into the ground to balance it or what.