August 5, 2014

A day (and night) in Dublin

After 10 glorious days in Greece, I said farewell to Bre and headed off to Ireland. After a long day of travel I arrived at my hostel in Dublin, Abraham House, and hit the hay. 

I had just one day to explore Ireland's capital, so I started off bright and early. 

My first stop was Trinity College. If I have the time, I've made it a point to visit a University, or "Uni" as it's called, in each place I visit. I have fallen a bit in love with just how historic and grand most European campuses are, Trinity was no exception. 

With a student body over 17,000, the college sits at the center of Dublin, within easy walking distance of the lively heart of the city. Founded in 1592, the history of the school is exemplified in its impressive architecture, and even more-so in its exceptional library, which boasts most famously the Book of Kells

The campus spreads across 47 acres of dazzling greenery and pristine ivory buildings. 

Since I failed to have a tour booked to see The Old Library, I moved on to St. Stephen's Green

Just a short jaunt from Trinity, off Grafton Street, St Stephen's Green is one of the largest public parks in Dublin, and a great place to take a morning stroll, cup of coffee in hand (one luxury I was taking advantage of after leaving Italy).  

As the city began to liven up, I meandered down the streets in search of more sights. 

Well illustrated on my map was Dublin Castle, which while very castle-like in construction was not exactly what I was expecting. 

Despite being 800 years old, the castle conjures more images of men in suits and ties, than knights in shining armer. 

Then there's this section of the building that just doesn't quite say medieval. 

A little less trafficked than Dublin's Castle is the green hidden behind it, Dubh Linn Garden, the original site of the 'dark pool' that is the city's name sake. 

Since it was still fairly early, when I first arrived, I found the area virtually empty. 

I was delighted to find that behind Dublin Castle, just beyond the circumference of the lawn, was a secluded museum library. 

The Chester Beatty Library holds a collection of religious texts unparalleled in diversity. The library's collection was donated to Ireland by Alfred Chester Beatty, an American, and the first honorary  citizen of Ireland. The estate included elaborate works from nearly every culture and religion. I most enjoyed these exhibits, not only because they were free, but also due to the excellence in the curation of the pieces. 

It is rare to find such a jumble of artifacts in one place that don't seem to contradict or challenge one another. The religious texts and handiworks are displayed in a way that simply illustrates the majesty and complexity of each culture as it stands alone. That said, as you move through the library, you are also given a sense of the similarities of each people across the globe, as it is illustrated to show that each branch of humanity is essentially striving for the same greater hope. 

By the time I emerged from the greatly thought provoking floors of the library, the gardens were in full commotion, littered with various people on lunch breaks. 

Every local, from sports teams, students, interns, and businessmen/women, seemed to have emerged to soak up the (rare) Irish sun on the lush lawn. 

Needing to find food before I could lounge, I departed the Dubh Linn gardens, grabbed a bite, then found Saint Patrick's Cathedral and had a sit in its park instead. 

While Saint Patrick's was impressive, it wasn't nearly as perplexing as St. Audoen's Church. I know Greek architecture has spread across the globe for millennia and influences every range of culture, but I find it perplexing that where columns and pediments in America define primarily government establishments, in Ireland, a Roman Catholic church can so similarly bear the same motif. 

By the time I'd finished investigating St. Audeoen's, I was out of specific landmarks in Dublin, and spent the rest of my late afternoon dawdling down streets and taking in the city. 

When I returned to the hostel around 8 pm, after being out the whole day, I was convinced I was exhausted and ready for bed again. However, one can't ignore the call of Temple Bar, or a bunch of ebullient Canadian girls (whom I'd met in the common area) ready for a good time. So I ditched my heavy bag and camera, grabbed some cash and went out. 

"No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep."

We stayed out late into the night (which for Ireland is only around midnight), hopping from pub to pub, getting a taste of the Irish nightlife, which can be summed up by beer and music. Considering I don't like beer, it's a good thing I like music. I also learned for the first time how to really love hostels. I may have gone out with a bunch of strangers, but that's what was so great about it. Meeting people different than you gets you out of your comfort zone; I know it got me out of mine. I'm not usually the one pushing to the front of the crowd, or becoming the front of the crowd for that matter, by starting a dance party in a dance-less bar. But the girls I was with were the kind to do that, and so I went along...and had a blast. 

So here's to the Canadian girls of Abraham House, where ever they may be, for a night of memories in Dublin. 

Yours, Kenna 

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