Eurail on the Emerald Isle
In Dublin's Fair City... Stay at the
84 Harcourt Street,
Dublin 2, Ireland;
33 rooms. 3 star Georgian styled house. Non-smoking. Not far from St. Stephen's Green. Offers lovely breakfast each morning.
Or, better yet, stay at
The Hotel Davenport -- an O'Callaghan Hotel
Merrion Square, Dublin, 2, Ireland
This elegant, traditional deluxe hotel is ideally located at Merrion Square in the heart of Georgian Dublin. The spectacular facade of the hotel, originally that of a church, dates from 1863. Lovely facilities with exceptional service. Includes 115 guest bedrooms, of which there are 103 classic bedrooms, 10 junior suites and two one bedroom suites. Lovely restaurant/bar and lounge areas.
Walk next door and see where Oscar Wilde's family lived, or stroll through Merrion Square and visit the beautiful Archbishop Ryan Park. Also on this square you'll see gorgeous government buildings, the home of poet William Butler Yeats, and the fabulous National Gallery of Ireland, which has among its beautiful art treasures a Vermeer painting. Cut across St. Stephen's Green and see the artists along the fence surrounding the park.
Then, stroll into the "City Centre" and look at the beauty of Dublin Castle, Trinity College, and the beautiful churches such as Christ's Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Then it's on to the famous Temple Bar area of Dublin, named for a famous street (and pub) there. "Temple Bar is a colourful quarter of Dublin City which, almost accidentally it could be said, over the years developed a bohemian 'Left Bank' character, while retaining in its cobbled streets and old buildings a charm no longer to be found in many other parts of the city," according to one Temple Bar aficionado.
Be sure to stop at the Ha'penny Bridge, a pedestrian bridge built in 1816 over the River Liffey (Its real name is Liffey Bridge, but locals call it Ha'Penny Bridge).
Go on an entertaining and informative literary pub crawl one evening, or take musical pub crawl tour to hear some wonderful Irish music.
A favorite stop of the tourists is the Guinness Storehouse Tour. It's like a big, industrial beer museum, (it's not really a brewery tour), and it gives an informative history of not only Guinness Stout, but also of the life of the founder of the company who did much for Dublin and the people of that fair city. Oh, and did I mention there's a tasting room with free Guinness (with the tour only) in the Oxygen Bar upstairs? With one of the most beautiful, panoramic views of the city, the windows in the bar display quotations from James Joyce which point out special parts of the city that appeared in The Dubliners and Finnegan's Wake. Be sure to also visit the Dublin Writer's Museum near the Abbey Theatre.
There's still a great deal more to do in Dublin (we haven't even talked about the food and shopping yet!), but first let's take a side trip on a beautiful Eurail line to visit the lovely CORK CITY and nearby Blarney Castle.
Eurail is the best way to see Ireland: with clean, spacious, comfortable rail cars and delightful dining opportunities (you must taste their Irish breakfast!), the train allows you a quick trip across the country (just 2-3 hours from Dublin to most locations throughout Ireland), and allows you a quiet, peaceful journey through the greenest land you've ever seen--land dotted with herds of white sheep with black faces everywhere you look.
Cork is just a few hours by train from Dublin, and it is one of the best places to visit in Ireland. While in the area near Cork Harbour, I also visited the beautiful Fota House and Gardens while there, and then I went on to visit the Titanic Trail Cobh (Queenstown). The Titanic Trail is a fascinating Guided Heritage Tour exploring the town of Cobh, Cork Harbour which was the last port of call of RMS Titanic. There is an interesting museum there, too.
Cork has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2005 and is a beautiful port city on the North Atlantic, a center of both commerce and culture, and a delightful place to walk, shop, visit historical sites, and spend time in beautiful marketplaces.
And don't forget to take the five mile ride out to Blarney Castle where you can kiss the Blarney Stone!
Another beautiful rail trip along Ireland's rocky coastline takes you to the charming town of Wexford. From there I took side trips to visit places like New Ross where I toured a historic reproduction of a "famine ship" aboard which Irish emigrants traveled from their beloved country to America during the Potato Famine which swept through Ireland in the mid-1840s.
I also visited the Irish National Heritage Park near Wexford, with 35 lush and lovely 35 green acres of forests and trails, to see an authentic recreation of Ireland's heritage and learn how people through the ages lived and worked on this beautiful Emerald Isle. "Homesteads, places of ritual, burial modes and long forgotten remains will enlighten the casual visitor and interest the scholar," according to their brochures, and they're right. It was an extremely interesting place to visit, and the grounds were astonishingly beautiful.
Then I took an IRISH FERRY, to France. Irish Ferries partners with Eurail to give passengers massive savings on fares, and so I sailed with a Eurail pass discount from Rosslare to Cherbourg, France. The boat I was on was not like any ferry you've ever seen; rather, it's a veritable cruise ship, and the inexpensive overnight trip to France gave me plenty of time to enjoy the fine restaurant, the lounge with live music, and the movie theatre on board. But we'll talk about that leg of this trip next week on SAN ANTONIO LIVING when we tell about my travels in France. So be sure to watch next week when Travel Tuesdays take us to France!
For more information about travel in Ireland (and other European countries) visit Eurail's Web site at http://www.eurail.com. For information about the marvelous trips to France and England from Ireland on Irish Ferries visit www.irishferries.com. For a wonderful hotel in Dublin (my favorite!) visit the Hotel Davenport online at www.ocallaghanhotels.com. While visiting, I became quite ill and I was also troubled by news reports about the hurricanes in Louisiana and Texas, and the staff knew this and could not have been more gracious, helpful, and kind--especially a woman named Hazel who worked at the front desk. The hotel was a haven at the end of a cool, rainy day, too, with tea and biscuits in a dark, beautiful lounge with over-stuffed leather sofas and soft lighting and big windows. The location in Merrion Square is superb, as well. I highly recommend this hotel.