Land of the Mad Lupin Lovers

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Ireland part 7
The last part.

Sunday, July 19
Awake at 5. Why...
Turn over again and get some more sleep. My alarm clock rang at 7, joined by a veritable chorus of alarms at 7:45 – got to love smartphones! Breakfast was in the crowded common room downstairs, such a difference from Inishmore. I planned my day accompanied by a cup of tea and some toast, then headed out. The bus to the city centre was just around the corner and was already waiting when I arrived. This bus terminated at the airport, so it was loaded with people with huge suitcases.

I got out at College Green, since I wanted to visit the Book of Kells at Trinity Library one more time. When I walked onto Trinity’s main square, I saw that a guided tour of the college was just about to leave. They offered a combined ticket for a tour and the Book of Kells, so I quickly got a ticket and joined the group. The tour guide was a Trinity student herself, wearing the traditional students’ robes which made her look like either a Jedi or a Hogwarts students – which she readily admitted herself! The tour was a lot of fun, it offered a small look behind the scenes of the college and gave a fun impression of college life. The guide could tell us some facts from her own experience. She showed us around the main buildings (the chapel and examination room again) and paused for a moment at the provost who wouldn’t admit women to the college. According to her, she and her fellow female students are still quite thankful that he died. :p She also showed us some student housing, including one building that was originally build in 1598. However, nobody wants to stay there: the building is so old that they are not allowed to renovate it to 21th century conditions, so there is no central heating and a serious lack of bathrooms. During an Irish winter, the students are handed an electric space heater and an extra blanket and wished good luck! Most students who live there take their showers in the building next door, and our guide amused us all with the story of how she had once been doing a guided tour, telling the group all about this particular building, when behind her the door opened and a very confused student in a bathrobe and with bed-hair peered blearily at the gathered tourists before scurrying off to his shower!

She told us a bit about the two oak trees from Oregon, which had actually grown larger and wider than most trees did back in Oregon, due to the wet Irish weather and the fact that the trees were sheltered from the wind in the university courtyard. The roots of the tree actually help drain the ground from the worst of the rainfall. She also showed us around some of the other buildings, including one designed to look like a Venetian building (very logical in Ireland), and the building where she spend most of her time, the arts building. It had been designed in the 1960s with stacked floors to incorporate plants to look like the hanging gardens of Babylon, but then they build it due north, and what with the Irish weather the plants didn’t stand a chance!

Garden-less buildings.

At the end of the tour we were neatly delivered at the queue for the Book of Kells. I had hoped it wouldn’t be too crowded on a Sunday morning, but apparently the rest of Dublin had had the same thought, as the queue was longer than the first time I was there! Oh well, nothing to do but wait. While in line I chatted with the people next to me, a family from Canada (Ireland is surprisingly popular with Canadians) who were planning to visit Amsterdam next.
I walked pretty quickly to the exhibition – I’d seen it all before, after all – and spend a little more time with the Book. It truly is magnificent! I did hear a teen girl say to her mother: “wait... these are words?!” Umm maybe didn’t pay much attention in the exhibition?
I didn’t spend as much time in the Long Room, although I liked it better the second time around. After a quick stop in the souvenir shop, I went back outside. I settled down in the sun in front of the library, looking at the (longer) queue and munching on an apple I had bought back on Inishmore.

My plan was to go to the Chester Beatty Library next, but that wouldn’t open until 1 in the afternoon, and it was by then only 11:30. I decided to go back to Powerscourt Townhouse for another visit to This Is Knit. It was a bit of puzzling to figure out how to get there. In the end I walked through Grafton Street, which was relatively quiet. I walked past the Carmelite Church, but I couldn’t visit it because there was a mass going on! Pretty crowded, too.

Once I arrived at Powerscourt, it turned out This Is Knit was closed after all, despite what I’d found online... Too bad. Then off to the Chester Beatty Library. It was quite a walk, but I could take a shortcut through George Street Arcade, a Victorian covered shopping street with all kinds of alternative shops (like, healing gems and fake tattoos and stuff).

Admittedly, it's an original name!

I arrived in Dublin Castle’s garden at a little past twelve; the CB Library’s entrance is in the garden. I settled down on a bench with something to eat. I wasn’t the only one in the garden; there were a fair number of Dubliners enjoying themselves, including a family with two little boys who thought it was hilarious to chase pigeons. I spend some time making a watercolour sketch of Dublin castle and overall just passing the time until the Library opened.

The Chester Beatty Library actually consists of several buildings which have been connected by a glass roof, forming an entrance hall in the shape of a little square, with a souvenir shop and a little tea shop. The museum was free! So I crammed my backpack and coat in a locker and went to explore.
Chester Beatty was an American mining magnate, who build up an extensive collection of old manuscripts from all over the world, particularly those with rich illustrations and expert calligraphy, but also those with historic value – unsurprisingly, a large part of the collection consists of religious texts. He moved to Ireland in the 1950s and later bequeathed his collection to a trust fund, for the benefit of the public. Hence the museum. They had two expositions, one about the history of the book in general in different countries, from the development of different scripts to the printing press and different types of book binding. The other was about books in the four major religions – Christianity, Judaism, Island and Hinduism/Buddhism. Right up the alley of a book-fan interested in religion! I spend a fair amount of time wandering around. The Bibles, Torahs and Korans were familiar, but it was fascinating to see the Asian texts, and especially the examples of Islamic calligraphy were beautiful. Sadly, no photos allowed. L

I had tea and a muffin in the tea shop, then slowly headed back towards O’Connell Street. I’d done everything on my to-do list for this vacation! Odd thought, nothing really left to do anymore. I sauntered back, stopping in a souvenir shop along the way. It was pretty crowded, and, I dunno, after Galway and Inishmore all the manufactured bright green IRELAND stuff felt rather fake. :p

Shpf, just buy self-striping yarn and knit your own socks. :p (17 euros is a steal, though.)

Random Edwardian theatre.

I took the bus back from College Green, ending up back at the hostel at around 4. I checked in online for my flight home and printed my boarding card, which really hammered home that the end of this trip was near.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spend updating my travel journal and packing my suitcase. I wasn’t the only one: two of my roommates were leaving tomorrow, too. Lights out was at 22:00 – then suddenly at 23:30 three people stumbled into the room, taking three suitcases from under an unoccupied bed and then walking out again, followed by a drunk guy using our bathroom after he accidentally turned on the main light (“oops”). Much confusion and amusement among my four roommates and me. Turned out they were the friends of our fifth roommate, the one with the unoccupied bed, who later came into our room. They had arrived earlier that day when her friends’ rooms hadn’t been ready yet, so they had stashed their suitcases under her bed, and that one guy had really needed to use the bathroom!
What with all the commotion, we were all wide awake by then and spend some time afterwards giggling. So much for an early night!

Monday, July 20
The last day. L
Another early morning, despite last night. Breakfast consisted of the last tea from the pot, so it was black like coffee and BITTER, ugh, plus a mealy apple from Inishmore. Yech.
Back upstairs to pack the last stuff in my suitcase. I transferred some of the yarn I bought to my suitcase and I didn’t even have to sit on the lid to zip it closed, but it was still a bit of a puzzle. :p Sat reading and internetting a bit until it was nearly 10 o’clock, then zipped my backpack shut, tied the yarn bag to my suitcase, put on my coat (it was cloudy outside) and checked out of the hostel. I bought a bus ticket at the hostel reception, then headed to the bus station.
I was lucky: the bus to the airport arrived ten minutes later, but it was so full that the bus driver would only accept people with small, carry-on sized suitcases. That was me! The trip itself wasn’t very eventful; I was standing in the middle of the bus near the luggage rack so I couldn’t look out of the window. It took about half an hour to get to the airport; at first I got out at the wrong terminal but the bus driver let me back on no problem (should have known that Ryanair doesn’t leave from the largest terminal, but from the cheaper, smaller terminal).

The last bit of Irish.

First order of business was to get rid of my suitcase – surprisingly, I didn’t have to check it in myself! It now weighed 11,7 kilos, nearly three kilos of souvenirs and yarn crammed in! Then on to the long queue for the security check. My plastic bin with my electronics and yarn bag was picked up for a random check. “Absolutely random,” they assured me. They passed the scanner wand even into the bag. Maybe they suspected I was smuggling a bomb in all that yarn? Or a sheep. :p
Fortunately my yarn bag was deemed harmless and I was free to go. With nothing better to do I randomly browsed a few shops, then decided to head for my gate already, even though it was still at least 45 minutes before my flight would be boarding. But I was glad that I did – my gate was at the very, very end of the airport and it was a half hour’s walk to get there! Yay Ryanair cutting costs.
It was very weird to stand in a queue and hear Dutch spoken all around you – I wasn’t used to that anymore. We had to wait quite some time as our plane hadn’t arrived yet, and we didn’t start boarding at a little over 12 o’clock, even though our plan was supposed to leave at 12:15. I got a window seat again, this time next to a couple with a little boy who was so small that he was still allowed to sit on his mum’s lap. He wasn’t nervous at all, and in fact fell asleep about ten minutes after we’d settled down – turned out later that it was right around his naptime, so well-timed by his parents! He slept the entire flight, pretty adorable. And much unlike a kid a few rows behind me, who was a very nervous flyer apparently because he freaked out at every bit of turbulence – not helped by his sister, who was egging him on. Great...
We finally took off at 13:00. Unfortunately it was cloudy all the way, so much for my window seat. Eh, more time to finish reading The Hobbit.

I just hoped the on-board radar was working.

We landed at 15:15 local time, arriving in a very rainy Eindhoven (the weather was actually worse than in Ireland). So odd to hear and read Dutch all around me! In fact, I had to remind myself not to speak English to the customs officer or the driver of the bus to the train station, I was so used to speaking English in the past two weeks. I also had to remind myself that in these buses, you do check out. :p
The train to Amsterdam Schiphol was already there when I arrived, so that was very convenient. In Utrecht I changed for my final train home, arriving in Zwolle at 18:12, finally! At the station, heading towards the bus station, I nearly lost my passport when it fell out of my yarn bag – would have been something, to lose it after such a long journey... It was a bit odd to be back in my home city after two weeks away, a bit “oh right, that’s what my street looked like”!
And then at 18:30, 13 days and about twelve hours after I left, I was back home again.
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