Dublin Snow Day

St. Patrick’s Day was cold and had snow flurries, but a storm moved in that night and dropped a surprise snowfall on the eastern part of the country.

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I was fine with this, I like snow. Probably because I doesn’t happen much where I live and when it does (or even thinks about it) the city shuts down. Since I was on a trip, I figured I should get a better feel for how Ireland handles the snow before I decided to stay in for the day.

I got my gear together and went down to the hotel’s front desk to ask how Dublin handled this type of weather. The lady at the front desk told me this storm would be only a minor nuisance, the one two weeks ago was so severe that the staff of the hotel had to stay there for five days. There were only a few inches on the ground and the roads were not terrible so I decided to head to the city and see if I could salvage some of the day.

While there was not a lot of snow, there was a lot of wind and the snow was still coming down. I caught the first bus headed back to town, but we almost didn’t make it out of the bus stop due to the slick road. The driver said that he was pretty certain that as the day went on there may not be many more buses headed out to that stop. The trains were running but with some delays, so I knew I could make it back if things got worse on the roads.

Once I got to Temple Bar in Dublin, almost everything was open. The wind and snow were brutal. I decided that I’d grab some food and then hit a bookstore to stock up on the Sunday newspapers and then head back to the hotel. I didn’t want to get caught away from the hotel if they decided to stop the trains and busses.

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I love reading newspapers and the ones in Ireland and the UK are some of my favorites to look through. Even the bad ones are worth it. In the US, I can only get my local paper and the NY Times, so 6 or 7 sundays from two countries and I’m in heaven. My boss jokes that I’m that one guy who still gets the newspaper. I get two a day and wish I could get more. “But you can read them online!”, you say. It’s not the same, but I won’t go into that.

I grabbed a different bus back, they had altered the route on my usual one, and made it back in the early afternoon. I spent the rest of the day reading the papers.

 

Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade

I thought long and I thought hard and I came to the conclusion that I haven’t even been to a parade. I have seen a few on TV, but never stood on the side of the road as one marched by. If I were going to have a first parade, the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade would be one of the top ones to open up with, right?

Well, the weather forecasts were correct, I did get colder and windy. It was spitting snow and right about freezing with a stiff wind. My new hat was the difference between a small Irish head cold and certain death by pneumonia. Best €20 I have ever spent.

After figuring out that the buses were on a Sunday schedule due to the holiday, I got down to Temple Bar a little later than I had planned to, which in the cold weather was probably a good thing. I grabbed some coffee and was able to find a good spot to watch with only one shorter spectator in front of me. Not bad for getting to the site about 1 hour before the start. Over the next hour my spot got over 6 deep.

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I’m not sure, but I think this was the mayor
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Behind the horses was the poop sucker. He got some of the loudest cheers.

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I’d rather be this guy than the grand marshal
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It was really cold.

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The Univ. of Illinois marching band were a fan favorite

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The grand marshal came early in the parade in a vintage Rolls-Royce.

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Grand Marshal Davos Seaworth (er, Liam Cunningham)

And there were pipes and drums

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And then the bug-people came out

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I have to give much respect to the color guards and baton twirlers who marched the whole route AND smiled the whole way. Especially those from Stephen F. Austin University in Texas. They looked the coldest.

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There was a high school band from Minnesota who looked like they were enjoying the warm weather compared to what they left back home 🙂 I was freezing after being out there for a few hours. It was worth it, but I would like to come back and see another parade when it is warmer.

Dublin Was Founded By Vikings

I woke up on day two with the head cold at about the same level as the day before, which was a good sign. I grabbed a bus into the city center with the plan of getting some sight-seeing done, buy a hat, and maybe buying some cold medicine.

I am not very good at packing for multiple climates on the same trip. It was fairly warm and spring like back home, but was supposed to turn cold and windy on St. Patrick’s Day. On my last trip, to Switzerland in January, I brought two jackets and only wore one of them  the whole trip. The heavy one just took up space in my suitcase. It was also unseasonably warm and snow free. This time, I wasn’t going to be made a sucker of by the weather. If I needed at hat, I’d buy one there. A practical souvenir and it would be green, which I needed more of for the parade.

I stumbled upon a store that sold Irish wool items on my way to the Irish National History Museum and grabbed what would probably be a life saving hat.

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The Snoopy pin I brought with me. The hat is new.

I love museums and figured that I’d spend most of the day at one I had not been to before: The National Museum of Ireland – Archeology . It is housed in this very cool building right next to the National Library (which I didn’t make it to this trip, stupid cold).

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Right as you walk in, there is a cool mosaic of the zodiac.

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The photos do not do it justice.
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All hail the mightiest of the zodiac: the Fish-Goat!

The floor of the museum is filled with great mosaics. Sadly, many parts are covered by exhibits and ramps. As much as I hate to see them covered, I’ll settle for seeing some of them and having people in wheelchairs have access. That’s a no-brainer. It would be cool if they had a book of images of the full mosaics for sale.

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The museum exhibits were very interesting and covered Irish pre-history up until the end of the middle ages. Turns out that Dublin was founded by the vikings, which was new to me. They have a few bog-bodies, as well as other non-human things that have been thrown into or lost in the bogs over the years. They also have a very nice gift shop which is always a bonus on any trip to a museum.

After I spent a few hours in the museum, I wandered around the shopping areas around Trinity College and it was starting to get fairly crowded. I decided to grab some food and start making my way back to the hotel. Tomorrow was going to be long day filled with the parade crowds and I didn’t want to use up all of my energy dodging them today.

I Don’t Feel So Good

I woke up early after a good 12 hours sleep and realized that either I had caught a cold from the hotel desk clerk yesterday, or I had caught one along the way. There is never a good time to be sick, but there are worse times, and on day one of a trip is one of the worst.

My plan for the day was now to minimize the likelihood that this was going to be a trip length cold. I took the train into town to get some supplies and figure out where a few things were. I’d throw my plans for this day out the window so I could come back to the hotel and rest with the hope that I would keep this cold to 3 days or less.

I went to the General Post Office to pick up some stamps for my postcards, and I really like the fact that such a historic place is still an active post office. It was before the museum opened for the day, so I didn’t wait around for that. I grabbed a few postcards and souvenirs at a book store nearby, and went to a cheese shop a few blocks away to buy some Irish cheese. If anything will make me feel better it is cheese.

After the cheese shop, I took the bus back to the hotel. I had bought a ticket to a silent movie at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and as much as I hated to miss it, I was going to sacrifice it for more sleep and the chance to get better before I left Ireland. I’m not complaining. Having a head cold in Ireland in better than having a head cold back home. At least here there is great Irish, and BBC TV.

I’m Not The Only One Who Came To Ireland For St. Patrick’s Day

After a short flight from Paris, I landed in Dublin during a very windy and rainy day. The last 10 minutes of the flight were a bit like a roller coaster ride. Airsick bags were pulled out and at the ready by some, and the rear of the plane let out a cheer once we were on the ground. I was too tired to care.

Once off the plane I soon realized that I was not the only person who had decided to pond the holiday in Ireland. I was at the back of a line that took an hour to get through passport control. Never have I wanted an EU passport more than when I got in that line.

One of the other issues with EVERYBODY going to Dublin for the holiday was a lack of hotel rooms in the city center at my kind of rates. So I took a long cab ride out to West Park where my hotel was. Usually I’m all about public transit when I travel, but sleep deprivation made me opt for the expense of a taxi. The hotel is near a train station and a bus stop so I can make up for that expanse over the next few days.

While I was checking in to the hotel, the friendly lady at the front desk was coughing and commented that she was coming down with a cold and would be going home soon. Uh-oh. She was very nice, so I felt sorry that she wasn’t feeling well instead of angry that she was potentially infecting me with some virus.

I got to my room and went to sleep with plans to hit the town first thing in the morning.