Castles & Other Beautiful Things

I’m in Dublin! Which is completely crazy and absolutely amazing. Especially because I get to be here for another four months! I’m still not sure I believe it.

I tried to keep photography to a minimum on the streets today, but I had to get at least one snapshot.
I tried to keep photography to a minimum on the streets today, but I had to get at least one snapshot.

It’s Day #2 and we’ve already visited the Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library, both of which are pretty big destinations here in Dublin. Lucky for us, neither was too crowded and we got to see plenty, from the beautifully carved wood in the castle chapel to some satirical art in a library exhibit.

We also stumbled upon the Revenue Museum along the way and decided to pop in.
We also stumbled upon the Revenue Museum along the way and decided to pop in.

It’s hard to say what was most incredible, but I’d have to narrow it down to either the chapel in the Dublin Castle or the book binding exhibit at the library. I know, I know, call me a nerd, but I think the history of printing is just too cool, and the old leather-bound books are absolutely gorgeous. Chester Beatty was a smart man. I want all of them. The only disappointment was the fact that I couldn’t take any pictures of them. I’ll have to store it all in my ¬†memory instead.

I did, on the other hand, get plenty of photos of the castle, which doesn’t look like much of a castle because the original was ¬†burned down in the 17th century, but is still pretty impressive. The carvings in the chapel alone took seven years to complete. They were well worth the effort.

The picture really doesn't do it justice. The intricacy in the carving was magnificent.
The picture really doesn’t do it justice. The intricacy in the carving was magnificent.

Other sights included the Battleaxe Landing, so named because bodyguards used to stand there wielding axes. We also saw some ruins of the medieval part of the castle, before the fire destroyed it. They had one tower dedicated entirely to storing gunpowder — the walls had to have been at least six feet thick. Our tour guide also informed us that back then, people who committed treason were immediately beheaded and their heads were placed on wooden stakes around the castle wall as a warning for all to see. I imagine it made for an interesting archaeological site, but I will say I’m pretty glad I got to visit now instead of back then. As much as I would love to see the castle in all of its glory, I’m not sure it would be worth all of the chopped off heads and waste-infested water.

We also saw the drawing room, where I learned that at 20, I probably would have been considered an old maid back in the day. Fun. We also got to stop by the throne room and St. Patrick’s Hall, where the Irish celebrate the presidential inauguration every seven years.

A chair fit for a king -- actually though, this thing was huge!
A chair fit for a king — actually though, this thing was huge!

Basically I saw and learned so much that I’m still in complete awe and am struggling to preserve every little detail in my brain.

I mean, look at this chandelier. It's gorgeous.
I mean, look at this chandelier. It’s gorgeous.

Even beyond our touristy excursion, I’ve learned a lot about Dublin and Irish life simply through observation. There are little differences, like how they call their grocery carts trolleys, and bigger differences, like that whole driving-on-the-opposite-side-of-the-street business. Jaywalking seems to be pretty big too, so here’s to hoping I can make it four months without being hit by a bus.

Speaking of buses, they’re almost all double-deckers and when they drive by you on the sidewalk the first few times your heart stops because they’re so tall and intimidating. ¬†Hopefully I’ll get used to that, but I’m not too optimistic.

Tomorrow begins orientation and I’ll get to see our Academic Center and some more of Dublin. I’m sure I’ll learn loads more as I go. Which is good because I don’t think I ever want this feeling of amazement to fade. For tonight though, I’m off to write some postcards!

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