Monday, June 10 – HOHO thru Dublin

Was up at 5:30 and breakfast was delivered at 7:00. Even though the menu is limited, the food has been very good and the service prompt. I always tip the delivery person. It is not required but I think it is a nice gesture. We always get a phone call about an hour after delivery to be sure we were pleased with everything. I think it is also their way of knowing that they can come and collect the dishes/tray. You cannot put them out in the hallway as they are a trip hazard.

We were ready to get off the ship at 8:30. A local person from the Dublin tourism office was stationed near the exit on our floor handing out maps and giving advice. I asked him about the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus station location. He said that we could get on one of their busses just around the corner from where HAL would be dropping us off or we could take a cab to the main station. He even mentioned there would be a free shuttle that would take us right outside the port gates where the majority of cabs would be waiting.

I already had the HOHO bus tickets as I purchased them online for a 10% discount. We had decided to ride the entire route first and then on the second loop decided where we wanted to get off.

Map in hand, we got off the ship and there were several representatives talking to people. Asked about the free shuttle out of the port. Nope – no free shuttle. Where are the cabs? Not here yet. When will they arrive? No idea. Want to get on the HAL shuttle for $15 each? Next one will be arriving shortly. Yes (sigh). I told them they should go tell the Dublin rep that his information was wrong.

Was a double-decker bus that would take us to downtown Dublin so we took the stairs to the top and sat in the front for the view. What a ride. Disconcerting to be on the wrong side of the road and Scotland and Ireland like their roundabouts. Cars cutting in and out. Then we got into Dublin where the streets are narrow to begin with and then the cars parked on them made it worse. Our driver took one road and a local person on a bike started waving his hands and pointing to the upcoming bridge. We were obviously too tall to go under the bridge. The driver had to make a 3 point turn to go back. Couldn’t believe he made the turn without hitting any of the cars.

One thing the Dublin rep got right was that there were several HOHO bus representatives handing out brochures about their companies. I showed them I already had tickets and they pointed us in the right direction. We went around the corner and there was a bus. However, it was not the bus but a portable office that would exchange me online tickets for real tickets. Said the next bus would be there shortly.

We waited and waited. The traffic was very slow. One woman started yelling at the men saying she had been waiting over 30 minutes. She was very loud. She was American (sigh). They called their front office who told them to use that bus and they would send another office bus. We loaded just as another HOHO bus did pull up. She ended up getting off our bus and getting on that one. She wanted to use the headphones. Not sure why, as those busses were meant for people who didn’t speak English and could hear the commentary in their language through the headphones. Maybe she didn’t hear well and thought the headphones would help. I hope English was a choice on the headphones because she would not be happy.

Our driver spoke English (albeit with the thick Irish accent) and we could hear just fine upstairs. He was funny and informative. We began at Stop 10 which was across the street from the Oscar Wilde statue and National Gallery. There were 33 stops on this tour. We passed by sights such as Trinity College, Parliament, Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse, the US Ambassador’s residence, and the Dublin President’s residence. There were many statues throughout the city.

It had been raining off and on all morning. Sometimes just a drizzle but at other times pretty hard. It looked like it was going to stay that way all day.

When we got to Stop One, we had to get off as this driver would be on his lunch break. We could either get on another bus immediately or later. I had to go to the bathroom so we went inside the main bus office, but they directed us to the McDonald’s next door.

I noticed that when you see a McDonald’s, you will see a Burger King not far from it. And both are always crowded. Even with all the restaurants, take-away places (we call them take-out), and pubs, people were lined up at McDonald’s and BK. Go figure.

Got to the restroom and found a sign that said punch in your code from your receipt. (Clever – McD’s). Chuck went right on into the men’s room. Now, I really have to go. Other ladies come up behind me and they don’t have a receipt either. I wait for Chuck to come out and tell him to hold the door for me. He waits outside while I use the men’s room. He had to tell a couple of guys they had to wait. They were not too happy. Sorry. But desperate times calls for desperate measures. Not sure what happened to the ladies who were behind me.

On the way to the Stop One, I had spotted a chalkboard sign outside a pub that listed traditional Irish dishes. Of course, I didn’t see the name of the pub. We started walking back the way we came and finally, after a couple of wrong turns, found it – O’Connell’s Pub. It looked small from the outside but when you entered, you realized that it went way back and even had a downstairs. We sat at a table for 2 next to a Canadian man and his adult daughter who were in Ireland visiting his sister. We enjoyed chatting with them.

I ordered a Bulmer’s hard apple cider and the fish chowder and Chuck ordered a Guinness and the Beef and Guinness Casserole (looked like beef stew to me). Each order came with some thick, coarse, brown bread and real butter. It was all so good. I didn’t care for the Guinness but Chuck said it was so much better than what is bottled and sent to the States. We asked what fish was in the chowder and the waiter had to go ask the Chef what was caught that day – salmon and haddock.

Speaking of Guinness, you quickly learned that you do not disparage a Guinness in Dublin. The company practically built Dublin and is still a huge part of the economy. We heard many stories from the drivers involving Arthur Guinness who started brewing beer in 1759 and has a 9,999 year lease on the property. You see the Harp logo around the city quite a bit. The Guinness harp motif is modeled on the Trinity College Harp. It was adopted in 1862. Harps have been a symbol of Ireland at least since the reign of Henry VIII. Guinness registered their harp as a trademark shortly after the passing of the Trade Marks Registration Act of 1875. It faces right instead of left, and so can be distinguished from the Irish coat of arms.

We left there and decided to do some souvenir shopping since our tours for the next few days probably would not leave time for such. I found a Guinness Christmas ornament and Chuck found a Game of Thrones t-shirt “I drink and I know things” – Tyrion Lannister. For you Game of Thrones fans, you will understand why he had to buy that shirt.

We were ready to get back on the next HOHO bus to finish up stops 1 through 10. This driver was even funnier than the last one. When we got to Stop 10, we decided that the lines were too long and the crowds too many to go around again and get off at the stops. I had made some good pictures and the only thing I had really wanted to see was the “Book of Kells” at Trinity College.

From Wikipedia – The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created in a monastery in either Britain or Ireland. It is believed to have been created c. 800 AD. The text of the Gospels is largely drawn from the Vulgate, although it also includes several passages drawn from the earlier versions of the Bible known as the Vetus Latina. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure.

To see it, you had to make a timed reservation online. Since I really didn’t know what time we would be arriving at Trinity College on the HOHO, I didn’t make one. If I had made it too soon, we would have missed it. If I made it later, we would have been standing around in the rain. I heard later that it was so crowded you didn’t really get to study it for very long. Maybe a future visit.

We got off at Stop 10 and walked around the corner to find several busses lined up along the street. We kept walking up the street until we found the one marked “Prinsendam shuttle.” We gave the driver our return tickets and found a seat, again on the top. The ride back was not as crazy as the ride to Dublin.

We definitely got a good overview of Dublin and enjoyed the tour.

Got back in time to go to the Ocean’s Bar and dance a little to the music played by the Ocean’s Trio. I looked at the main dining room dinner menu and didn’t see anything that I particularly wanted. The Lido was featuring “Irish Dinner” so we decided that we would eat there instead. We both enjoyed the Fish and Chips and the stone crab claws (until Chuck cut his thumb on one). I was surprised to see that the Lido was not crowded at all. Since we were not leaving port until 10:30, I guess many stayed ashore to eat in Dublin.

We went back to the Ocean’s Bar. We had decided that we were going to attend the Celtic Storm show. The ship was bringing a local group aboard for one show of traditional Irish music and dance. The show would be at 9:30 in the Showroom. At 8:00, we noticed that more and more people were heading to the Showroom.

It is a small Showroom but we have never had a problem getting seats at the 9:00 show. However, people who attend the 7:00 show, say that the Showroom is crowded. Since there was only going to be one show tonight, we decided to go ahead and see how crowded it was getting.

Good grief. I am glad we came on in. We found seats fairly near the front with a decent view. We talked with others around us as more and more people came in. By 9:30, it was standing-room only.

The group put on a great show. I was impressed with the teenagers in the band that could play so well. One girl had a wonderful voice and she got a solo. Another girl could play the violin, the accordion, and could dance the Irish dances (think a lot of Riverdancing). The show lasted an hour and was well worth attending. They received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Tomorrow is Belfast and we have an early independent tour to the Giant’s Causeway. I hope the weather will be decent. It is calling for just partly cloudy skies. As the casino is closed all day/night today because of the long port hours, we both called it a night.

Tonight’s towel animal is an elephant.

Trinity College
St. Patrick
English Lion, Scottish Unicorn, and the Irish Harp
Respect the Guinness

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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