A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019

Dublin - Day 2

Dublin Castle and Trinity College

On our second day in Dublin, we took guided tours of Dublin Castle and Trinity College.

Dublin Castle was not very far from Christ Church Cathedral. We had purchased tickets ahead of time for a guided tour. Our tour guide was again FANTASTIC, extremely knowledgeable and really patient with questions. The castle dates back to 1204 and has served as the headquarters of the English and later British administration in Ireland. Today, the castle serves as a government complex and cultural site and it is where the Irish President is inaugurated.

I could not get a picture of the entire castle, but I did find these plans for the city of Dublin and how the castle served as part of the defensive network of the city.

Castle layout:

Castle Courtyard:

Only surviving tower of the original castle:

Our tour started in the Viking and Medieval Excavation area, the oldest parts of the castle.

The Chapel. Fun fact, the chapel looks like it is made of stone, but actually it is wood and plaster with a stone facade.

After the Chapel we moved into the State Apartments.

George IV Portrait. Apparently, during the unveiling of this portrait, George's friends starting laughing. I guess they figured it didn't accurately depict his "likeness" which did not portray all 440lbs of George and his over 50 inch waistline. Remember the nursery rhyme, "Georgie Porgie," that was for George IV (also previously mentioned in an older post, Grimsthorpe).

George IV throne

The Portrait Gallery. Fun fact, serving pineapples was a sign of wealth, according to the tour guide. If you couldn't afford to serve it, some would just buy it and display it, real or fake.

St. Patrick's Hall. This room is where the Irish President is inaugurated. Our tour guide had mentioned Nancy Pelosi was recently in Dublin a few weeks prior to our trip and she had dinner in the Hall instead of The Portrait Gallery.

Castle Gardens

The Chester Beatty Library is located next door to the castle and admission to the library was free. Alfred Chester Beatty, who signed his name A. Chester Beatty, was an American mining magnate, philanthropist and one of the most successful businessmen of his generation. He collected African, Asian, European and Middle Eastern manuscripts, rare printed books, prints and objects d'art. Chester Beatty became a naturalised British citizen in 1933, knighted in 1954, and made an honorary citizen of Ireland in 1957. In 1950, he established the Chester Beatty Library. The Library was amazing and the works were just spectacular. It was quite amazing to the collections. I would most definitely recommend a visit to this library.

After Dublin Castle, we took a stroll over to the University of Dublin where Trinity College is located. We purchased tickets for the student-led tour. The ticket included admission to the Old Library which contains the Book of Kells. Photography was not permitted in the area where the Book was located and the area was extremely crowded.

Trinity College:

Inside of the Old Library:

More information on the Book of Kells: https://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/

After the Trinity College tour, we decided to walk around the city. We went to BoBo's, a gourmet Irish Burger joint, in the Temple Bar area of Dublin, for dinner.

Onto Day 3...

Posted by LCP 23:29 Archived in Ireland Tagged chester of book dublin castle college george trinity kells dracula iv beatty Comments (1)

Dublin - Day 1

Christ Church Cathedral and Guinness

Since we got into Dublin a little ahead of schedule, we decided to drop our bags off at our Airbnb and take advantage of the extra time. The first stop on our tour of Dublin, we decided to go to Christ Church Cathedral. We had purchased tickets ahead of time for a guided tour. Our tour guide at Christ Church Cathedral was FANTASTIC. He was very funny and really knowledgable, which made the tour more interesting.

Christ Church Cathedral, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, was originally built around 1030 and has undergone rebuilding and renovations over the years. St. Laurence O'Toole is the patron saint and was also the second archbishop of the diocese. The heart of the patron saint was stolen in 2012, but recently recovered and returned to the archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson.

Christ Church Cathedral exterior:

Christ Church Cathedral Interior:

Archbishop's seat:

The wall slightly leans to the right here:

Interesting floor tiling throughout the cathedral:

Laurence O'Toole Heart:

View of the city:

The tour included the Belfry, where you could ring the bells:

Window in Belfry:

After the Belfry experience, we went underneath of the cathedral to the Crypt. This was a really interesting area of the church. There was a copy of the Magna Carta here as well as the famous "cat and rat" who apparently were found in the organ pipes.

Magna Carta, copy:

Cat and Rat:

We really enjoyed the cathedral and would certainly go back. After Christ Church Cathedral, we walked to the Guinness Storehouse for the tour. I was underwhelmed by the Guinness Storehouse and tour. It was rather expensive (ticket price included a pint of Guinness) and I didn't find it interesting, granted I do not like Guinness, but I figured the tour would go into the history of the family and the beer process, which I would have been interested in learning about. I didn't feel as though the cost of the ticket was a good value for what was offered and it was overcrowded, naturally. The most entertaining aspect of the tour was probably the fish on the bicycle display.

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

We finished up the day, having dinner at Wuff, which was fantastic. And then called it a night. Onto Day 2...

Posted by LCP 09:21 Archived in Ireland Tagged fish church on ireland dublin a cathedral bicycle christ guinness wuff Comments (0)

Dublin, Ireland

Unfortunately, no leprechaun sightings!

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Dublin, Ireland for a few days. I must admit I wasn't sure what to expect in Ireland. I thought it would be similar to Scotland and England (not that there is anything wrong with Scotland or England, I enjoy those countries as well), but I was pleasantly surprised. The people in Dublin were very friendly and the food was fantastic! I was really expecting the food to be more along the lines of standard pub fare, but the food scene in Dublin is quite spectacular. The city is also very walkable. We walked all around Dublin and the only time we took transportation was to and from the airport. Our trip to Dublin was about three days in total, so I figured I would divide the posts into what we did each day, separately. This particular post will focus on the city and some interesting things about the city.

We took another Ryanair flight from London to Dublin. The flight time is about 50 minutes in total and we even managed to get in about 30 minutes early. Again, I had a great experience on Ryanair and so far, I have no complaints with them. From the airport we took a taxi to our AirBnb in Stoneybatter. Our taxi driver (no Ubers in Dublin :( ) decided to play tour guide, unbeknownst to us, and took us on a very round about and very expensive way to our AirBnb. He took us through Phoenix Park, one of the largest European city parks. It is where the Irish President resides, in a miniature White House (Áras an Uachtaráin), which according to the taxi driver, is what the White House in the States was based off of. I must admit, there are striking similarities. On the other side of the park, is the US Ambassador's residence. The Dublin Zoo is also located in Phoenix Park. He also took us by a statue of the Duke of Wellington, who was born in Dublin, and through a random affluent neighborhood called Castleknock. Although, we appreciated the driver's knowledge, we did not appreciate being taken advantage of. Note to self, we will be researching the route from the airport to the AirBnbs for future trips and directing the driver on what roads to take. It's annoying to think we have to research routes to take, but this experience taught us a valuable lesson. This little incident by no means spoiled our trip. After reaching our AirBnb and picking up our keys, we set out to explore Dublin. We went to Christ Church Cathedral and also did the Guinness Tour. The second day we went to Dublin Castle and Trinity College and on the third day we went to St. Patrick's Cathedral and a few of the museums and gardens in Dublin. I will speak more about each of those places in separate posts.

Dublin is the largest city in Ireland and is also the capital. Dublin gets its name from the Galic "dubh linn" or “black pool” where the Poddle Stream met the River Liffey to form a deep pool at Dublin Castle. The area where this pool was located is now covered by the castle gardens at Dublin Castle. Ireland is a relatively new state, becoming independent in 1922. The Anglo-Irish treaty was signed between Irish Republican and British leaders and ended the Irish War of Independence. The treaty established a self-governing Irish Free State and provided for Northern Ireland (established in 1920) to become part of the United Kingdom. Ireland is the only country in the world to elect two successive female presidents: Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. The current president is Michael Higgins. The role of the Irish President is mostly ceremonial. Elections are held every seven years and the president can be elected for two terms. The flag of Ireland is green, white and orange. Green is for nationalism, white for peace, and orange for unionism, according to one of our tour guides.

City of Dublin:

Irish Priminister's Office (which is next to the Natural History Museum):

Molly Malone Statue, on Suffolk Street:

Oldest Pub in Ireland, The Brazen Head:

The famous Temple Bar:

Doors of Dublin:

A few of the amazing restaurants in Dublin:
Wuff: http://www.wuff.ie
Slice: http://www.asliceofcake.ie/index.php
Mi Thai: http://www.mithai.ie/MiThai2/
Keough's Cafe: https://keoghscafe.ie

Stoneybatter. This was an excellent area to stay in. It was just a 20 minute walk from the center of Dublin.

We had a fantastic time in Dublin and hope to go back to Ireland to explore other cities! On to Day 1 in Dublin...

Posted by LCP 00:12 Archived in Ireland Tagged temple of ireland dublin doors bar guinness liffey molly malone ryanair airbnb brazenhead Comments (2)

Belton House

National Trust Property in Lincolnshire

Greetings! This weekend's adventure took us to Belton House in Lincolnshire. Belton House was north of Burghley House and Grimsthorpe Castle, and also just off of the A1. It is situated in Belton near Grantham. The house sits on over 1300 acres of land and is often referred to as a traditional English country estate. The architecture of Belton is Carolean or Restoration style, which was popular in England following the restoration of the monarchy in the 1660 until the 1680s, after Charles II. Belton House is a National Trust property. The guides at the National Trust properties are FANTASTIC and so helpful.

Belton House: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house

Belton House has been in the Brownlow and Cust families for over three hundred years. The land for the house was purchased in the late sixteenth century by Richard Brownlow, who was appointed to the very important and very lucrative position of Chief Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas. I am not sure what all of that means, but one of the wonderful guides said in layman's terms, he was a tax collector for Queen Elizabeth I. Richard Brownlow was interested in investing in land and spent a lot of his income on land in Lincolnshire. This proved lucrative for future generations. Construction of the home did not actually begin until 1685 when the land belonged to Sir John Brownlow. The land and House passed through many Brownlow and Custs families, who did various things to the home. Belton House was given to the National Trust in 1984.

Ownership timeline

Belton House

The tour started on the side of the house. This is the courtyard entrance to the tour.

The tour started in the Anteroom, which led into the Study.

After the Study, we went into the Tapestry Room. Tapestries were a sign of wealth back in the day, so the more you had and displayed, the more wealthy you appeared. I noticed a lot of pictures of the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson in this room, so I asked the guide what connection the Duke had to Belton House. Apparently, Peregrine "Perry" Adelbert Cust, the 6th Baron of Brownlow, who inherited Belton in 1927, was a close friend of the Duke of Windsor, while he was king and was even appointed Lord in Waiting. He advised Edward VIII (his name as king), to move Wallis to France to prevent an abdication, since the government would not recognize the marriage of the King to Wallis. Perry even persuaded Wallis to give up the King and sign a statement to that effect on 7 December 1936. The King rejected this and ended up abdicating on 10 December. And naturally, Perry fell out of favor with the family. According to the guide, when the current Queen, Elizabeth II, was getting married in 1947, the invitation to her wedding was addressed to Lady Brownlow only.

After the Tapestry room, it was into the Marble Hall.

The Marble Hall led us to the Staircase Hall, which was rather impressive.

Next was the Saloon.

This was the view from the ceiling room. The gardens looked lovely, but we were dealing with some remnants of Storm Hannah, so we didn't get to go into the gardens...oh well that just means we have to go back!

Tyrconnel Room
Coat of arms in the Tyrconnel Room

Cabinet Room. This is where you will find the famous lapis lazuli cabinet.

Blue Bedroom

Yellow Bedroom

Chinese Bedroom. This was the room the Duke of Windsor liked to stay in.

Queen's Room. This room was named for Queen Adelaide, the widow of William IV.

Ante Library

I think my favorite room was the Library.


Windsor Bedroom and Windsor Bathroom. These were the most modern rooms at Belton. The Windsor Bedroom is the only room with an attached en suite. This room was used by Prince Charles when he was a cadet at the nearby RAF base.

West Staircase. Not as bright as Staircase Hall.

Breakfast Room

The Breakfast Room led into the the Dining Room and the Red Drawing Room. The Dining Room was used for entertaining and in the evening the men would stay in the Dining Room while the ladies would retreat into the Red Drawing Room

Red Drawing Room. The guide mentioned the room was being prepared for a restoration project, so furniture had been moved around.

Dining Room


We also opted for the Basement Tour, but unfortunately, photography was not allowed. The tour was interesting because it covered life as a servant in the house and in the times of Belton and how the house changed to meet evolving needs. One interesting note was the importance of beer. As a servant, if you missed a meal you just had to go hungry; however, the beer served with the meal was saved for you.

We will definitely have to return to Belton House to visit the park and gardens. I also wouldn't mind another look at the House.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 09:12 Archived in England Tagged house national charles windsor prince duke trust wallis belton brownlow cust simpson Comments (2)

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh, Scotland

On our last day during our trip to Edinburgh, we went to Edinburgh Castle. This castle sits at the end of the Royal Mile. It is quite an impressive fortress.

Edinburgh Castle definitely has a different "feel" to it compared to some of the other castles we have visited. It feels more "rugged" and worn in. That could be due to the fact it has been fought over, held, and recaptured time and time again. It is reportedly the most besieged place in Great Britain. The castle sits atop Castle Rock which is a volcanic plug in the middle of Edinburgh. The rock is estimated to have formed some 350 million years ago during the early Carboniferous period. Human occupation of the rock has been traced back to the Iron Age, or 2nd century AD. A royal castle has occupied the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. Oliver Cromwell seized the castle in in 1650. In its decline, the castle was used as a as military barracks and garrison in the 17th century and was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. The One O'Clock Gun is fired every day at precisely 1:00pm, except Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Edinburgh Castle: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot

Edinburgh Castle

Views from the castle esplanade. Hundreds of "witches" were burned at the stake on the esplanade back in the day.

Views from the Argyle Battery, facing North

There did not seem to be a very organized way of going through the castle, so we started in the Royal Palace. We were able to see the Honours of Scotland (similar to the Crown Jewels), which consisted of the Crown (first used in 1540), the Sceptre (given to James IV in 1494), the Sword of State (given to James IV by Pope Julius II in 1507), and also The Stone of Destiny (a large block of sandstone traditionally believed to have been part of a royal bench-throne that held sacred powers). Edward I of England removed the stone in 1296 during his Wars of Independence and sent it to Westminster Abbey. The Stone was used in coronation ceremonies of most monarchs of England, and beginning in 1714, all rulers of Great Britain. The Stone was returned to Scotland on the 700th anniversary of its removal and will only ever be removed when there is a coronation in Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed of these items.

David's Tower

Where the Honors of Scotland were hidden during World War II

Scottish flag

Fireplace in Laich Hall. At the end of Laich Hall, was a little manned kiosk where you could find the history of European family names and the coat of arms. We did this and it was quite fun and I would totally recommend it. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos, I am imagining because they want you to buy the histories, which we ended up doing.

When Mary, Queen of Scots, fled from Palace of Holyroodhouse, she came to Edinburgh Castle and gave birth to James VI and I in a tiny room known as the Birthchamber. James VI was the only known monarch to have been born at Edinburgh Castle.

After exiting the Royal Palace, we entered Crown Square and came to The Great Hall.

The Great Hall. The Great Hall had an impressive display of military arms and armor, but unfortunately, I could not get a lot of decent pictures without a bunch of people in them.

Stained glass windows in the Great Hall

This iron-barred opening next to the fireplace in the Great Hall is called Laird's Lug, which served as a peephole for the king so he could spy or eavesdrop on his courtiers. Trust issues, anyone? Apparently the KGB was concerned about Laird's Lug and requested it be sealed prior to Mikhail Gorbachev's visit in 1984. Paranoid much?

Following The Great Hall, we went into the Scottish National War Memorial. This memorial was excellent and reminded me of some of the memorials we saw in the cathedrals in London.

We also went into the Military Prison, the Prisons of War, the Regimental Museums and the National War Museum. All four were very crowded and we couldn't really see much because the spaces were so small, with single entry and exit points.

View from a lookout near the prisons

This castle somewhat disappointed me, mainly because of the crowds. We got there as soon as the castle opened to avoid the crowds, which clearly everyone else did. The crowds made me feel like I was at Disney World. There didn't seem to be as many rooms open as there have been in other castles and palaces and nearly all of the rooms all had single entry and exit points, which was annoying. I did enjoy the history of the castle, especially the royal connections. I definitely learned a lot about the kings and queens of Scotland, which I had no prior knowledge of.

Onto the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 09:34 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh queen castle mary crown jewels scottish scots Comments (0)

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