I have just a few more hours in Dublin! The last time I wrote was Monday. On Monday, I was not feeling so hot, so instead of heading out on a train, I decided to hang around Dublin. I did some souvenier shopping, had some yummy Italian food for lunch, then went on the Jameson distillery tour. It's similar to the Guiness 'tour' - they have some dioramas (spelling?) set up and don't actually make the stuff there anymore. That evening I went to what was advertised as the "home of Bailey's", which was a short movie and a drink at a bar in a shopping plaza connected to a racetrack (!). I don't recommend that one. Also Monday I took my first malaria tablet (whoohoo!!). The first of 8.
Tuesday I wasn't feeling worse, so I went on an all-day bus tour, stopping at the Hill of Tara (ancient sacred spot), saw the castle that was the centerpiece of the movie 'Braveheart' (no, Mel was nowhere to be found), stopped at Slane for lunch. There are rock concerts on the lawns around Slane Castle - Springsteen was there in the mid-80's. That night I decided it was about time for more Irish music. It is so handy to have that bar with nightly music just downstairs! I found out that about 50 Irishmen will be descending on San Diego next spring, for a wedding. Also, I heard of a good San Diego Irish bar - the Old Sod (or maybe it's Auld Sod). I'll have to check it out when I get home.
Wednedsay I was feeling much worse, so I spent most of the day in bed watching the Olympics - mostly swimming. In the afternoon, I shipped a huge box of stuff home (I didn't realize I had accumulated so much!). It'll get there in 6 weeks, when I get home. That night I went to the Olympia Theater and saw Trisha Yearwood. I was in about the 10th row, so it was a great show.
Thursday I was feeling better and took the train to Athlone, checked out the castle on the Shannon River there, and took a bus to Clonmacnoise, an ancient Christian site. It was inundated with American tour bus patrons, so I slipped out the back cemetery and checked out the Nun's Chapel which was just as dramatic as any of the other 7 church ruins in the complex. I knew about it thanks to my wonderful Lonely Planet guidebook!
My next stop was Kildare, where St Brigid started her abbey. I got there just in time to climb the tower (I hadn't realized I could climb the tower! It's the 2nd highest round tower in Ireland and the tallest that you can actually climb (of the 2). Then I wandered around the grounds, and the caretaker snuck me into the church though it was officially closed. Very beautiful church. My next destination was the Irish National Stud Farm, so I hustled the few miles out of town to try to get there before they closed at 6, arriving at 5:45 (yay!) but their last tour was at 5, so they were effectively closed at 5 (boo). Walking around, the only animals in the fields were cows. On my way back to town, I followed the signs to St Brigid's Holy Well - it took me down a serene secluded country road. Birds chirping, breeze blowing, sun waning but still shining. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, by the time I sojourned to the train station, I had missed it by 5 minutes and was starting to rain. I spent the 1-1/2 hours to the next train having dinner at a pub (Silken Thomas) and hanging out on the platform in the rain because I thought the train came 1/2 hour before it actually arrived!
On Friday, much of center city Dublin was blocked off as a pedestrian zone and the local trains were free - a few other cities in Europe did the same thing at the same time to try to encourage public transportation. I took the DART to Dalkey and walked to Killiney along the sea. Stunningly beautiful, green water, sandy/rocky beach (though much of it was covered in aromatic kelp). This is the most expensive houses in Ireland - it was a bit like wandering around Bel Air. But I didn't see Bono. I cut off the road on a path that appeared to lead down to the beach. It went over a railroad and there was a bit of graffiti on it - 'the Beatles Rule', 'clothing optional beach',... I thought it was just graffiti, but as I rounded the last turn in the path I realized the clothing optional statement was true, and it appeared to be some sort of organized thing. So I went back up, and took the next path down to the beach!
I took it to the other end of its track and had dinner in the seaside town Howth. Last night I went to the Celt Pub to get my last night of Irish music - 5 or so girls who were very good. People keep talking about the Irish group the Corrs, who is apparently enjoying some success in the States right now - everyone is very proud of them! Afterwards I went to the Zanzibar night club and walking home, the guy I was walking with had a freak (who we later learned just finished a 7 year jail term) land a flying kick on his back, for no reason, after we had watched him chase after a car and rip off the rear windshield wiper. This was quickly followed by a brawl in the fast food joint that he dove into. So I got to meet some of Dublin's finest Garda (police). Interesting last night in Ireland.
Today I'm off for Nairobi. I'm not sure when I'll be able to write again, but worst case scenario, I'll write it all up when I get home at the end of October (I'm keeping a pretty detailed journal).
Hope all is going well for you - bye from Dublin! Brigid