A Trip Around the World: Dublin, Damascus, and Hakuna-Matata

28 May 2013, Tuesday

From St. Kevin’s Park on Camden Row I walked back out to Camden Street (which actually becomes Wexford Street right there) and walked north about four blocks. At some point Wexford becomes Aungier Street, and at the corner of Aungier and York Streets I found the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, which I’d wanted to see on this Dublin drill-down trip. (Dublin is, of course, filled with churches. And they say the South has a church on every corner. Ha!)

The Carmelites are a Roman Catholic religious order founded in the twelfth century (present in Ireland since the latter half of the thirteenth). It is a contemplative order; the original Carmelites were hermits. The current building here dates from 1825, but is located on the site of a pre-Reformation Carmelite priory built in 1539. Still, you must remember the Catholic community in Ireland spent long centuries (that is, from the first decade of the 1600s) under the rule of the Penal Laws; Catholic Emancipation only came in 1829. Thus this church would have been outwardly unassuming; careful.

It’s not much to look at outside, but inside—that’s another story.

It’s not much to look at outside, but inside—that’s another story.

The stained glass is beautiful.

The stained glass is beautiful.

There are more than a dozen shrines inside too. One of the most visually impressive is the Our Lady of Dublin shrine, in which is ensconced a twelfth-century Madonna and child—a life-sized statue carved from black oak. This places the statue, historically, in the same school of art as some of the statuary in Westminister Abbey. Think about it!

Our Lady of Dublin. The shine itself was completed in 1915. (Don’t forget you can click on this photo and click again to see it up close.)

Our Lady of Dublin. The shine itself was completed in 1915. (Don’t forget you can click on any photo and click again to see it up close.)

Another important shrine is St. Valentine’s (who knew?). Not a lot is known about Valentinus, a third-century Roman saint commemorated on 14 February, the day of his death as a Roman Christian martyr. A church was built at the site of his death (in Rome), and during one of the many restorations and reconstructions, this one in the 1830s, the remains of of the saint were discovered. Some of them were given to an Irish Carmelite priest, and now they reside here. (Valentine’s skull resides in Rome, still, and there are other relics at a church in Prague. I’m not sure what to think of this sort of thing, honestly, but feel I should report it.)

This was as close as I got to Valentine. This gentleman was there for a very long time, and I didn’t want to disturb him.

This was as close as I got to Valentine. This gentleman was there for a very long time, and I didn’t want to disturb him.

I also photographed the shrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, popularly known as the Little Flower. Born sickly to petit-bourgeoisie—and very, very devout—parents in France, Thérèse became a nun at fifteen, was dead of tuberculosis at twenty-four (in 1897), and became famous after her death, though I’m not entirely sure why. Who can explain these things? I suspect it had to do with the times—the highly sentimental times—and the tragedy of her youth.

The shrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, built in the mid-1950s, also includes a beautiful mosaic of “Our Lady of the Smile” (that is, the Virgin Mary, whose smile Thérèse is said to have seen).

The shrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, built in the mid-1950s, also includes a beautiful mosaic of “Our Lady of the Smile” (that is, the Virgin Mary, whose smile Thérèse is said to have seen).

The front door is flanked by two statues—the Beloved Disciple and Mary. Inside there is a large anteroom, off which there is a small coffee shop and a bookstore. There’s no hint of the huge church beyond—probably for caution’s sake, again.

“This is the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

“This is the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

“Refuge of sinners, pray for us.”

“Refuge of sinners, pray for us.”

I began the walk back, then, to the hotel.

The chimneys of Dublin always fascinate me—especially when there are trees growing from them!

The chimneys of Dublin always fascinate me—especially when there are trees growing from them!

The festival was over, but the posters were still up. One of these days, though, I plan to be a part of the story!

The festival was over, but the posters were still up. One of these days, though, I plan to be a part of the story!

The day before, I’d mentioned the Damascus Gate restaurant on Facebook, thanking Patrick Comerford—a Church of Ireland priest I’d met through a mutual friend—for the recommendation. Patrick sent me a quick message (“You’re here?”) and suggested we meet for coffee, so that was my next stop. We had a delightful conversation about writing and editing (certainly two of my favorite subjects, and Patrick, a former journalist, has also published several books); I am so glad he had time to hang out with me!

At the Damascus Gate again: me and Patrick Comerford.

At the Damascus Gate again: me and Patrick Comerford.

As is his wont (you really should check out his wonderful blog), Patrick took the long way back to his office, and blogged about it later. So I’m famous! 🙂

By this time Gerry was back from work, and we still had a big evening planned—earlier in the year he had purchased tickets to see the Lion King stage production (a birthday present for me). But first, we walked around the corner to the Bleeding Horse—a historically and literarily significant pub that dates back to at least the mid seventeenth century.

It’s been remodeled since the 1600s, of course, but is still authentic, still very popular. (We were beating the crowds—we had a 7pm show to get to across town!

It’s been remodeled since the 1600s, of course, but is still authentic, still very popular. (We were beating the crowds—we had a 7pm show to get to across town!)

The show was at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (pronounce this like board-GOSH)—the largest theater in Ireland, designed to present those large theatrical productions that were previously unable to be shown here. Gerry referred to it simply as the Bord Gáis; we took a cab.

The Bord Gáis (with a 2,100-person capacity) opened in March 2010 in an area of Dublin called the Docklands—an area right in the center of the city on either side of the River Liffey that is experiencing a large amount of development including shopping, offices, hotels, you name it. The Bord Gáis is one of two entertainment venues; the other is the O2 concert venue. You can read more about the Docklands area here; it’s a great neighborhood website and there are some fantastic photographs.

Speaking of which, I am kicking myself because when I dressed up I took a smaller purse … and did not take my camera. Once we arrived, I was just ready to scream from the missed opportunities! Sure, you can look at this photo I downloaded from Wikipedia …

This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication; it was taken by a user who calls himself “DubhEire.”

This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication; it was taken by a user who calls himself “DubhEire.”

… It was taken from the other side of the Grand Canal, which, in the daylight, is an absolutely accurate photograph. In particular, you can see the fabulous red art installation in the courtyard. But it’s nearly impossible to judge the scale unless you zoom in and look closely for the one human walking among the red poles (just to the left of the little bit of blue you can see here).

But now look at this one!

A little more impressive, yes? This building is STUNNING.

A little more impressive, yes? This building is STUNNING . (Photographer: Ros Kavanaugh for the Dublin Docklands Development Authority)

I borrowed this small photo (photographer: Ros Kavanaugh) from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority website. Now you can see more of what I saw. There are four floors above the ground floor; Gerry and I stood on the third and looked out over the courtyard (notice that art installation I mentioned is actually a collection of streetlamps when the sun goes down), across the water, to the skyline. The view was magnificent.

Google’s street view for the Docklands was made in 2009, it seems, when the Bord Gáis was still under construction, but this will give you an idea of location.

 

So … we were somewhat overdressed for The Lion King. But who cares! You may have seen this show—it’s been around since 1997, it seems—but I had not, and holy cow, was it good! I loved all those animals moving slowly down the aisle in the opening number! The reviews said the production requires twenty-three giant trucks to haul it (which makes me wonder how many ferries had to be scheduled, since it had just come from Manchester, UK). Eighty-five thousand people (more casually dressed than we were, probably) came to see the show the eight weeks it was in town; the company we saw was fifty performers from seventeen different countries. (Read more here.)

It was great. Our seats were fantastic. And we were back snug in the hotel by 10:30. 🙂

A Churchyard Turned Into a City Park

28 May 2013, Tuesday

The great thing about staying in a tour-group hotel is you never know who’s going to be in the dining room. Yesterday it was an Asian group. Today: Germans. People-watching is always something I enjoy.

And I don’t have to stay in the hotel to do it, either. This neighborhood, called Portobello, is very interesting. When we arrived on Sunday, there were a lot of Muslims out and about. (I’m making an assumption here, but there were a lot of women wearing the hijab. And I’ve noticed there are a lot of Middle Eastern restaurants, which are a favorite of mine.) But during the week I’ve come to realize it’s also a college neighborhood (the Dublin Institute of Technology is just a couple blocks up the street and Portobello College—a law school recently incorporated into Dublin Business School—is a couple blocks in the other direction), so there are burger joints, lots of Asian places, and coffee shops. Also hostels. And the normal college-y things like a paper shop (wedding invitations for those college girls), paint store (for painting your dorm room), computer store, clothing, pubs (of course).

After breakfast, then, I got out and walked up Camden Street Lower to St. Kevin’s Church Park on Camden Row.

 

On this map, by the way, our hotel is just along the smaller “square” formed by the orange streets. That “St. Kevin’s” marked on the map to the right of it is … I’m not sure. If you zoom in, it’s gone.

This ground has had a church dating back to the early thirteenth century, although the building here now, crumbling, dates from around 1750 (and use discontinued in 1912). When the medieval St. Kevin’s church was built, it was outside the Dublin city walls (which were further north) but near a monastic settlement. Nonetheless, it was an important church in the Irish community (remember, Dublin was a Viking city, so the Danes would have been inside the walls, the Irish outside), and there are many important people buried in the churchyard, including Archbishop Dermot Hurley, who had the misfortune of being Catholic during a time when English Protestants ruled Ireland. He is revered as a Catholic martyr (and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1992). His grave—inside the church—became a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years.

This is what’s left of St. Kevin’s. Don’t forget you can click (and click again) to zoom in. That’s the Keogh gravesite in the center-right.

This is what’s left of St. Kevin’s. Don’t forget you can click (and click again) to zoom in. That’s the Keogh gravesite in the center-right.

After the Reformation, of course, the church switched hands, so to speak, to the Church of Ireland. Catholics and Protestants have a long and tangled history in Ireland, as you know; the Penal Laws of the eighteenth century meant Catholics had no cemeteries of their own and were prohibited from the public practice of their faith. So it became normal practice for Catholics to be buried with little public ceremony. (There are many other notables buried at St. Kevin’s, which you can read about here.)

I’ve talked a little about this in my post about Glasnevin Cemetery; in fact, it was an incident at a Catholic funeral at this very church in 1823 that led to the establishment of Glasnevin. Wikipedia tells us “a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass. The outcry prompted Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.” Glasnevin opened in 1832.

In 1962 (“after long negotiations,” the information plaque just inside the park tells us, and I have a little chuckle, because discussions and negotiations in Ireland do tend to be long) the ruins of the church and the graveyard were transferred to the city of Dublin, which developed the land into a park. Most of the headstones were placed along the perimeter; there are a very few still in situ.

I walked leisurely around the park and took loads of photographs. Let me show you …

2-Map

The dotted red lines here indicate where all the gravestones have been stacked—mostly along the back wall, around the ESB substation, and around the church.

You are here. :)

You are here. 🙂

It’s a lovely little park, though it hasn’t been taken care of. The pigeons were right there at the entrance, as if they were expecting me. I think someone feeds them. 🙂

A late morning kaffeeklatsch. That’s what it looks like to me, anyway. :)

A late morning kaffeeklatsch. That’s what it looks like to me, anyway. 🙂

It is believed this graveyard was a favorite of bodysnatchers in the eighteenth century. With the expansion of medical knowledge in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the establishment of formal training for doctors—that is, medical schools—cadavers were constantly needed for dissection. And there was good money for those who could supply them. Body snatching was so prevalent that cemeteries built watchtowers along the walls, which were manned at night. (The Anatomy Act of 1832, which allowed unclaimed bodies and those donates by relatives to be used for the study of anatomy, pretty much put an end to the body snatching trade.)

The memorial of Father John Austin (1717–1784), who was a pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland.

The memorial of Father John Austin (1717–1784), who was a pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland.

That’s the little bit of the church on the right. The large building on the left is a part of UCD. The graves are all under the pretty lawn.

That’s the little bit of the church on the right. The large building on the left is a part of DIT. The graves are all under the pretty lawn.

It was very quiet, in spite of my being in the middle of a large city. There was one person on a bench at the back when I came in, then a little old lady arrived, just to sit on a bench and contemplate. Later a woman brought her dog to play. These were all locals—no tourists.

Here’s a closer look at the church. Still pretty.

Here’s a closer look at the church. Still pretty.

Stepping around to the side of the church building.

Stepping around to the side of the church building.

Looking up.

Looking up.

Inside the bars; it was very small, wasn’t it? The wall on the right is the one I’ve been photographing.

Looking in. It was very small, wasn’t it? The wall on the right is the one I’ve been photographing.

There are at least three types of ivy in this shot.

There are at least three types of ivy in this shot.

This is the Moore family memorial, of the poet and singer-songwriter Thomas Moore (1779–1852).

This is the Moore family memorial, of the poet and singer-songwriter Thomas Moore (1779–1852).

Everything was so lush and green. What the word verdant was made for. 🙂

This is one of my favorite photos I took on the entire trip. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I do love it.

This is one of my favorite photos I took on the entire trip. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I do love it.

More of the forgotten gravestones.

More of the forgotten gravestones.

Now I’ve walked all along the back of the church and am headed back toward the entrance to the park.

Now I’ve walked all along the back of the church and am headed back toward the entrance to the park.

Another in situ grave.

Another in situ grave.

This goes straight out to the main gate.

This goes straight out to the main gate.

And another in situ grave.

Or you can walk along the outer wall. And see another in situ grave.

I really love the gravestone art. This is the D’Arcy gravesite.

I really love the gravestone art. This is the D’Arcy gravesite.

I was also fascinated by trees and rooftops. :)

I was also fascinated by trees and rooftops. 🙂 Don’t forget you can zoom in.

I’m not done with my parks-and-churches walkabout, and this day is far from over, but I’ll stop here and  finish the rest in the next post.

More Gardening, More Books … My Kinda Day! (Part 2)

27 May 2013, Monday

Now duly fortified with my new (though much less lovely) rain hat, I walked up Nassau Street to Kilkenny Design to buy some things—I wanted to get a Nicholas Mosse mug for a friend, for one thing. I first visited the Nicholas Mosse shop out in Co. Kilkenny in 2006, and just fell in love with a particular design on a particular mug, which I have used every single day of my life since then. Gosh, I love that mug. It’s the “Old Rose” pattern. Naturally, on this day, I saw a new pattern, and even though I was sure I’d never love any mug as much as my Old Rose, I had to have it.

This pattern is called “Clover.”

This pattern is called “Clover.”

When I was done here, I went back to Dawson Street and headed south, stopping at Hodges Figgis, a venerable old Dublin bookstore (founded in 1768, the bookmarks say, although now it’s owned by Waterstone’s, the British equivalent of, say, Waldenbooks, or B. Dalton’s). I did pick up a couple more books on my list.

But this really wasn’t intended to be a shopping tour—I shopped last fall, you’ll remember. No, this was intended to be a sightseeing tour. The parks and churches tour! I’d seen both already on this trip. And my next destination was St. Stephen’s Green—Ireland’s best-known public park.

The visitor’s guide tells us the name, St. Stephen’s Green, dates back to the thirteenth century, when it was adjacent to a a church called St. Stephen’s. The land was marshy and used by locals to graze livestock. In 1635 these twenty-seven acres became, officially, a park, and by the early 1700s—with the advent of Grafton and Dawson Streets—Stephen’s Green was a fashionable location of several promenades. But, as things do, the park deteriorated over a hundred years or so. In 1814 local homeowners took it over—and locked it, which was a source of some contention, until Arthur E. Guinness, a scion of the Guinness brewing family, made it possible for the park to return to public use (in 1877). Guinness also paid for the renovations that made the park what you can see today.

And it is still, after all these years, Stephen’s Green—no name change to honor Arthur Guinness’s generosity and none for Queen Vicky’s husband either. My fave story from the Wikipedia article is this one:

After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria suggested that St Stephen’s Green be renamed Albert Green and have a statue of Albert at its center—a suggestion rejected with indignation by the Dublin Corporation and the people of the city, to the Queen’s chagrin.

Outside Stephen’s Green, having just crossed the street called Stephen’s Green North.

Outside Stephen’s Green, having just crossed the street called Stephen’s Green North.

So. I entered, really, from a side entrance, if you consider the Fusiliers’ Arch the entrance; I am a goof for having missed that. (However, here is a Flickr walking tour of the park if you’d like—and it starts at the Arch. The Fusiliers’ Arch, at the Grafton Street corner, commemorates the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Second Boer War—1899–1902. They were fighting in the British Army, of course, and in its early days—it was added in 1907—this monument was called “Traitors’ Gate” by Irish nationalists.)

It was a lovely lush day for a walk in the park.

The duck pond at Stephen’s Green.

The duck pond at Stephen’s Green. Don’t forget, you can click to zoom in.

There were swans. And baby swans! I took quite a few shots of this and it was very difficult to decide which to use. :)

There were swans. And baby swans! I took quite a few shots of this and it was very difficult to decide which to use. 🙂

The park was redesigned to a Victorian-era design in 1880, and this knot-work pattern is a reflection of that. I’ve just crossed O’Connell Bridge; the pond is behind me now.

The park was redesigned to a Victorian-era design in 1880, and this knot-work pattern is a reflection of that. I’ve just crossed O’Connell Bridge; the pond is behind me now.

I was also doing some people- and dog-watching. I loved these two in their little sweaters, tho’ I was never able to get a shot when they were facing me. Be sure to zoom in by clicking on the photos.

I was also doing some people- and dog-watching. I loved these two in their little sweaters, tho’ I was never able to get a shot when they were facing me. Be sure to zoom in by clicking on the photos.

This really was the end of the line for the tulips, but I was pleased to see a few still in bloom. The lawn is truly manicured!

This really was the end of the line for the tulips, but I was pleased to see a few still in bloom. The lawn is truly manicured!

There are a variety of statues in the park, including this one of poet James Clarence Mangan, born James Mangan (1 May 1803, Dublin–20 June 1849). This bust was sculpted by Oliver Sheppard and erected in 1909.

I thought I had a map with information about who this woman is … but I do not. She’s lovely though.

I thought I had a map with information about who this woman is … but I do not. She’s lovely though.

I was cold and wet, so I kept moving through the outer circle of the park. I didn’t have the energy to see every single statue, and haven’t posted all the photos I took of the ones I did see.

I was really most interested in the nature scenes. Look at these trees!

I was really most interested in the nature scenes. Look at these trees!

And these! There are more than 750 species of trees in Stephen’s Green.

And these! There are more than 750 species of trees in Stephen’s Green.

And here’s the exit on to the southern edge of the park. I’ll admit this gentleman gave me pause.

And here’s the exit on to the southern edge of the park. I’ll admit this gentleman gave me pause.

Back at the hotel (which was still a few blocks’ hike), I read a little until Gerry got back from work. We’d planned an early supper at a Middle Eastern restaurant—one of our favorite ethnic meals—we’d both discovered independently. Gerry’s office isn’t far from this neighborhood, and walking through one day he’d seen the Damascus Gate restaurant. Meanwhile, I’d heard of it on the blog of my friend Patrick Comerford. You can imagine my delight when we began to compare notes. 🙂 There are many fantastic (yummy-looking from the outside, and also well-reviewed) restaurants within just steps of the Camden Court Hotel, though. It was hard to choose.

I’m not kidding when I say “across the street.” At the Damascus Gate Restaurant on Camden Street, Dublin.

I’m not kidding when I say “across the street.” At the Damascus Gate Restaurant on Camden Street, Dublin.

This starter—Hummus bel lahmeh—was delicious. As was the rest of our meal.

This starter—Hummus bel lahmeh—was delicious. As was the rest of our meal.

After supper we strolled around the neighborhood.

On a quiet side street, some Dublin townhomes with those lovely old Georgian doors Dublin is so famous for.

On a quiet side street, some Dublin townhomes with those lovely old Georgian doors Dublin is so famous for.

Tiniest bank in the world! And it had an ATM!

Tiniest bank in the world! And it had an ATM!

Before we’d even gotten to the canal, we could see what Gerry called, simply, Rathmines Church, but whose official name is the Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners. It has a very distinctive copper dome. The first church was built here and consecrated in 1830; it was enlarged in 1856 and the portico added in 1881. Sadly, much of the church burned in an electrical fire in 1920; the original dome collapsed with a sound that was heard for miles. Reconstruction began immediately, and the dome was replaced with one (constructed in Galsgow) that had been intended for a Russian orthodox church in St. Petersburg, until the revolutions of 1917. So here it landed.

I think this dome must have been intended for a larger church—because even from this distance (three or four blocks) it seems huge. I love the mural on the side of the black building, which is a pub and venue—The Bernard Shaw.

I think this dome must have been intended for a larger church—because even from this distance (three or four blocks) it seems huge. I love the mural on the side of the black building, which is a pub and venue—The Bernard Shaw.

It was a lovely day altogether! Back at the hotel we relaxed, worked, and later watched a movie on the iPad … which was quite convenient! (Also, it was Seven Psychopaths—which was hilarious. Particularly Christopher Walken. OMG.)

West to East, a Quiet Sunday

26 May 2013, Sunday

We got up early to hustle east and get to the kennel, since they would close at noon. Ursula cooked us another wonderful breakfast. And at last I got to commune with her little cat that I’d seen across the road in the field.

Bridie—she’s a dog-gal, as Gerry is a dog-man—still had a kind word for this little girl (whose name I can’t remember). She was very soft.

Bridie—she’s a dog-gal, as Gerry is a dog-man—still had a kind word for this little girl (whose name I can’t remember). She was very soft.

It was very quiet in Mountshannon on this Sunday morning (very early!). So we stopped in the middle of town so I could take some photos, coming and going.

Coming … the lane that runs between the stone building and the orange building goes to the lake. That magnificent pine tree is just behind the orange hotel.

Coming … the lane that runs between the stone building and the orange building goes to the lake. That magnificent pine tree is just behind the orange hotel on the right.

… and going. We’re headed this way, west on the R352. Along the lake.

… and going. We’re headed this way, west on the R352. Along the lake.

Because we’d come in to Mountshannon on the M6, the less desirable route, we hadn’t seen much of Lough Derg then. On Saturday we went down to Mountshannon’s small harbor for a few minutes and learned about the sea eagles. Later when we drove from the church to the hotel, we didn’t have time to stop to admire the view. I wanted to be sure we took a moment to do so before we left. After all, Derg is the second-largest lake in the Republic, and the last of the three largest lakes along the River Shannon. Check it out:

I know, I know: ever since I figured out how to embed the map, I can’t resist using it. (It’s not like it’s new technology, either.) But I can spend some serious time poring over a map (what is my obsession with knowing exactly where I am?), so you get to share the joy. 🙂

Lough Derg from the R352. It’s lovely.

Lough Derg from the R352. It’s lovely. And remember, you can click on the photo to zoom in.

Lough Derg. It was a beautiful day.

Lough Derg. It was a beautiful day.

This time we took the M7 all the way back to Dublin. And we saw lots of interesting brown signs which have been duly noted for “next time.” (Brown signs indicate points of interest. Honestly, you could go with no itinerary at all and just let the brown signs lead you around.) One thing that caught my eye on this drive was a billboard out in a field, which was unusual because you just don’t see those. The Irish countryside is really unspoiled in that respect. And then we got close. It was an advert for the pub in Moneygall where President Obama had a pint last year. Monegall: “Obama’s ancestral home”! Oh my.

So we got to the kennel just before closing, to rescue Cleo (she had a grand time, really). And at Gerry’s place we got Bridie unpacked and settled and had a nice cup of tea. Remember that apple tart we bought yesterday? Mmmmm.

Apple tart—gorgeous!

Apple tart—gorgeous!

And then I commenced the second half of my vacation; this time I’d be staying in Dublin City proper. And I’d be driving in Dublin City. Ms. Emily GpS took us right where we needed to go, and after a little bit of “Here? Or there?” we figured out the parking situation. (With these things just tucked into every little nook and cranny, they’re just not always obvious to my American eyes.) Most fortuitously, I got parked without annoying the desk clerk (as I had at Bewley’s) too.

We were staying at the Camden Court Hotel, and already there was a difference: we were greeted with a cheerful smile and parking is free (highly unusual). I fully recognize these hotels each have a different trade; Bewley’s, near the airport, sees folks maybe for one night, businessmen who just want a room now because they have to catch a plane early. (The room here at the Camden Court was ten euro more per night, but we’d paid eight euro per night to park at Bewley’s; I’d call that a wash.)

Situated in downtown Dublin near the Grand Canal, the Camden Court has a different trade altogether, and we would learn about that soon enough—it caters to tour groups. So there were moments when the lobby was packed, but most of the time it was quite nice.

The quiet lobby at the Camden Court.

The quiet lobby at the Camden Court.

We will definitely stay here again. We got settled and then went out for a walk around the neighborhood to get oriented. Have a look:

Everything you might want was close by—pubs, fantastic restaurants, shops of all sorts (none of them touristy). The neighborhood (called Portobello) seemed to be quite multicultural, too, which I always enjoy. We stopped in an upscale grocer and bought fruit and cheese for snacking, and chocolate bars to bring home. (I also bought a packet of these. OMG. Seriously, the best mass-produced cookies I’ve ever had.)

We had a casual meal in the hotel’s pub, then we were in for the night. Gerry was working on the wedding video and I was editing (because, yes, I’d brought work with me).

Stick around, though: I’ve got a big day planned for tomorrow—and lots of photos!