The day of Ann’s Birthday started at ‘silly-o’clock’ – no, scrap that – SUPER ‘silly o’clock’! Even by our standards, setting the alarm for 2.45AM, in order to get to East Midlands Airport in time for our 6.30 flight to Dublin did seem a touch pessimistic – it’s only an hour away after all!
Actually, it wasn’t as mad as it sounded. We’d already read that certain junctions on our route north on the M1 were going to have restrictions, so we allowed some extra time. And a good job we did, as the definition of ‘restrictions’ was re-imagined in its broadest sense by junctions 21 through to 22 being totally CLOSED. This meant a scenic tour via Hinkley, Barlow and then Coalville, adding about 20 minutes to our journey.
We eventually arrived at the airport with just time for a coffee and Lent-friendly muffin, before trekking to the other side of the departure lounge and the battle for position in the Ryanair queue. As things turned out, it was all very civilised, and we were soon on board and snuggling down into 5B and 5C, aboard a plane that (unusually for Ryanair) wasn’t fully-booked!
We were soon in the air, and 45 minutes later (allegedly, 15 minutes ahead of schedule – cue Ryanair’s corny trumpet fanfare), we were touching down at Dublin Airport. These days we pack lighter – it’s just the taps, rather than the whole kitchen sink – and we were soon off the plane looking for the Bus that would take us to our hotel for the next four nights; The Ashling Hotel. The journey took about an hour, and by 9.30, we were at Reception attempting (with all the charm we could muster after such an early start) to check in early. The combination of our charisma, and the traditional Irish hospitality combined to create an epic fail, and after depositing our luggage, we were on our way out, looking for breakfast!
Breakfast came in the shape of a little eatery called Wuff, about 200 metres down the road, and after a scrambled egg, smoked salmon and soda bread with coffee, we were fully recharged and ready to walk miles! Maybe!!
After a shortish walk, we arrived at Trinity College, Dublin. Even in the coldish weather, where it threatened to rain at any moment, it looked great – and reminded us a bit of Greenwich. We had a good look round and then headed off in search of more culture!
Next on the list was The Old Library with an exhibition of The Book of Kells, a manuscript dating back to 800AD. Ordinarily, this would have been an interesting experience, but unusually, I found the whole thing so mind-numbingly boring, I was going to have to think of an excuse to leave. Good news then, as for another unexplained reason, Ann found it all just as boring too!!
This way to: zzzzzzzz!
However, what DID blow our socks off was The Old Library, part of Trinity College Library. This was a magnificent room – and it was packed not only with books, but with people. A really awe-inspiring view of thousands and thousands of old books.
The Old Library
After all this culture, it was time for a short pit-stop. Luckily, we stumbled upon St Stephens Green Shopping Arcade, a rather splendid looking renovated pseudo-Victorian shopping space.
St Stephen’s Shopping Arcade, Dublin
There was nothing Victorian about the Wi-fi though! This was the first free public wi-fi area I’ve ever been to, where the connection was 5Ghz (that’s techy for ‘very fast’.
Last call for the day was The Little Museum of Dublin. Pleasingly, there was nothing little about the ambition of this place. Spread across multiple floors, if it was Irish,it was here – from Bono to Southern Irish number-plates. Add to that, an enthusiastic Tour Guide, who also sang – this was an experience never to be forgotten!
The Little Museum of Dublin
After the ‘Singing Guide’, we were all cultured-out, and we retreated to the safety of the nearby Burger King for a quick nibble. Then, it was back to the hotel just before 3pm to attempt to check-in. It was no problem this time around, and we were quickly heading off to Room 565, to unpack the taps!
It doesn’t have the greatest of views from our window, but the room is very well appointed, freshly decorated, with plenty of space – and a very fast (and free) fibre internet connection!
The View from Room 565
The weather, like today, is a bit unpredictable for the next few days, so we’re not sure what we’ll do tomorrow, but as the Guinness Factory is almost opposite, there’s a pint with MY name on it over there somewhere!