I have been in on an inertia for the past few days, having been caught up in a whirlwind of activities in the fortnight before and as a result ended up falling ill with flu in the next !!! I had been busy last few months with a project close to my heart and which also involved a 150 miles walk around the London LOOP. Both my husband and I , are a little bit of under the weather , resulted in having to juggle some of our winter travel itineraries. Today sitting in quiet contemplation, I realised, I have not had a chance to sit and sip a coffee in silence in a long time, I have not had a chance to reflect upon the last few months and have been just been whizzing past through the activities with out paying much attention, which made think of travelling and the Dublin trip.
A friend’s beautiful photos and wonderful words about the city, acted as an inspiration for my visit to Dublin. I often like to do a bit of arm chair travelling, by reading travel blogs and posts. I find such arm chair travelling wonderfully relaxing, sitting in the cozy comforts of your home, curled up on a sofa, reading these stories and travelogues, you are transported to such amazing places, which is a wonderful feeling, similar to reading a story book in comforts of your home. You travel along with their words to such wondrous places, places which you have never been, sights you have never seen, stories you have never heard and sometimes you may have visited the place, yet you see it with a new pair of eyes, a point of view, which you missed or sometimes you have a shared experience. There are times, when you open up a travel post of a friend, on a cold and dreary day, seeing photos of a friend smiling in warm sunny Jordan, you smile, the warmth exuding from the photo , spreads the warmth to your heart and home. I absolutely love and enjoy armchair travelling as much as I enjoy actual travelling. Dublin, land of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, city known for Guinness, busking and music, a city which is dotted with lovely independent bookstores is a booklovers paradise and the photos and words of a friend enticed me to visit Dublin. A photo of Oscar Wilde’s statue, looking rather very happy, perched up high on a rock, with a lovely smile on this face, acted as an additional boost to perk up my interest to visit the city.
Dublin, is a vibrant city full of charms and excitement, yet it has an air of calm about it. The streets of the city are filled with beautiful architecture both old and new, street art, musicians, buskers, pubs, independent bookshops and libraries.
Upon reaching Dublin and dropping our luggage at the Hotel, we walked towards Trinity college, the college where likes of Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift have studied. The Trinity College is a very prestigious University and also famous for its oldest Library in Ireland called The Old Library. The library is famous for its Long Room , which houses old manuscripts and books, and the library also houses the Book of Kells. Book of Kells is a manuscript of gospels in Latin, and it is claimed to have been compiled by monks completed around the 9 th Century. The Library is open for visitors. You begin with a tour of exhibits of old books, manuscripts and Book Of Kells. It is believed that it took several years for the Book to be complied and perhaps it began in an abbey in Isle of Iona, Scotland and must have been brought to Ireland for safekeeping during Vikings war. The Book is referred as an illuminated manuscript because it has ornate pictures, icons, artwork and margins along with the gospel text. The Book is supposed to be ‘scribed’ in four different hands. Scribe is term used to refer to a person , who would handwrite manuscripts, who was familiar with art of writing and possessed the knowledge of languages . They were sort of copyist of olden days. This was a practice followed before the printing press was invented or available. I was very impressed and fascinated with the fact that there were only four Scribes, given the fact the Book of Kells comprises of 340 folios and bound in to four volumes. The scribes could also have been the monks and disciples at the abbey , would have spent their entire days in writing the manuscript, considering the fact they would have to depend only on natural light and their eye sight to be in extraordinary conditions, they should have been of very young age. The Book of Kells is considered the finest example of Western calligraphy work. Once you finish seeing the exhibits of Book of Kells, you walk in to the Long Room Library. Long Room is a library with Oak wall to wall cabinets , full of books and manuscripts, lined with the marble busts of famous writers and philosophers., in front. The library is absolutely stupendous, the tall oak shelves magnificently looming over you, stacked neatly with old books and manuscripts, catalogued and organised alphabetically. There were winding staircases alongside running up to the ceiling. I walked the length of the room in a state of awe, and I sure would have loved to lean over , take a book , and sit in a corner and read quietly. Given that it was strictly not allowed and out of question, I walked out of the library with that wishful thinking. We walked around a bit in the grounds of the college, and then walked out in to the streets of the City.
Dublin is a paradise for book lovers and enthusiasts, is dotted around with fascinating book stores and book shops. The city is a land of literary geniuses. Oscar Wilde , W B Yeats , James Joyce were born here. James Joyce featured the streets of Dublin and Dublin city in his works like Ulysses and Dubliners. There are guided literary Pub trails available, on the trail you could visit the pubs which were frequented by the writers and authors, where they would have sat and had their drinks and had a tete -a-tete. Unfortunately we could not do the trail this time, but perhaps the next time. We tried, visiting as many book stores we could in the short time we were there. I particularly loved the Books Upstairs, and Winding stairs. There are some quirky ones hidden in alley ways and street . There was one called The secret Book and Record store, which had a great collection of some second hand books and old vinyl records.
The city has many bridges across the River Liffey. The bridges add architectural charm and also render a lovely story. The most famour bridge across Liffey, which is a wonderful cast iron structure fondly , referred as Ha’penny Bridge. The bridge was built in the 18th century for the pedestrian crossing, over the river. Before the bridge, people used ferries ,for a charge to cross the river ,run by a Ferry operator. The ferries were not in good condition hence the Bridge was constructed for safety of the pedestrian and was named the Wellington Bridge. Upon construction of the bridge there was a toll charge levied to cross the bridge which was penny and a half pence(ha’penny). Though the charge was dropped after one year of the bridge having been constructed, but the name Ha’penny stuck to the bridge .
Dublin is known for its music, musicians and busking. The famous musical ‘Once’ is set in Dublin. The city’s famous Grafton street, is the shopping street with major brands having their store, yet is better know for the buskers on the street. In the evening the street comes alive with people and musicians, the street pulsating and vibrating, the musicians smiling happily and performing passionately, the people standing with a glass of drink , swaying to the music. singing along, under one open sky, enjoying and having a good time like one big family. The vibe of the place is absolutely electrifying and positive. There are many famous musicians who have busked on the streets of Dublin, there is a youtube video of Ed Sheeran performing as a 11 year old boy busking on the streets of Dublin.
There are two places where we enjoyed the food very much during our stay in Dublin, one is a place called Cornucopia, which is a vegetarian restaurant , is in the city centre on Wicklow Street. It is a casual and warm restaurant, with seating at two levels, you order the food at the counter and take it to your table, we chose a table upstairs near the balcony, with a view on to the street. The other place we enjoyed was the food hall at Avoca. Avoca is a departmental store, with a food hall, serving healthy,warm and tasty food.
There is a fishing town North of Dublin called Howth, which we heard is very picturesque and had a walking circular trail with views on the coast. We took a DART train from Dublin to Howth. The town is indeed very picturesque beautiful fishing town, with many sea food restaurants ,a port and the railway station itself is a pretty, like the ones from vintage photos. The shop outside the railway station gives out the map for the Howth Cliff Loop. The trail is around 6 kms circular route , goes up the cliff from one side and comes down to the village around the other side and the route is rated as easy to moderate walk. Since the walk begins with uphill, and I struggle a bit with elevation walks, I had to sit and take a few breaks to catch my breath. The trail is very beautiful and the walk up the cliff is very uplifting and rejuvenating, with beautiful views of the Irish coastline and cliffs. At that time of the year the heather was in bloom and at peak of its beauty, it was one the most beautiful and colourful sights, with the purple spray of heather all over the cliffs, clashing with the blue of the sea shimmering in sun light. The trail has very nice and convenient spots to sit and taken in the view. The walk is certainly worth.
I travelled to Dublin, with an intention to pay a visit to the memorial of Oscar Wilde which is located at Merrion Square. Merrion Sqaure is a Georgian garden Square, where Oscar Wilde is supposed have lived at one of the houses and poet W. B Yeats is also supposed to have lived in one of the houses in the square. Oscar Wilde’s memorial is located in a park , opposite the house, where he lived. The house is marked with a Blue Plaque and is not open to public. The memorial was built to honour the legendary genius playwright and one of the famous sons of Ireland. Memorial is a statue of Oscar Wilde, smiling , with a pipe in his hand , perched upon a rock, with a plinth displaying some of his famous quotes. I think the memorial is befitting the witty genius. The man himself was grossly misunderstood when he was alive, in spite of being literary genius, witty and had immense love in his heart. Unfortunately he died penniless and tragically in a hotel in Paris, but even close to his death his humour had not faded. He so reminds me of someone I knew, who was also grossly misunderstood , was witty and was the one who introduced me to Oscar Wilde and his work. It is very comforting to see Oscar , smiling and reclining happily, having finally arrived back home , even though it was 97 years after his death and he did find a place in his homeland . No one can dispute the fact that he is very much loved and admired at home and across the world.
I enjoyed travelling to Dublin as much as I enjoyed reading about it. There are many more sight seeing spots in Dublin, we chose to see the spots which perked our interest, there were some which we could not see ,due to lack of time. It is while pondering about travelling today , I thought of Dublin. I have acquired the taste for travel in the last few years, which made me ponder why travel. Travel helps me understand myself better, it makes me a storyteller, it gets me out of my slumber and comfort zone. I was watching the movie, Julie and Julia, yesterday, which is inspired by real life tales of two women, who lived in two different times, who cooked the same recipes, and in the process discovered their true passion, one found her passion and love for food and cooking and the other rekindled her passion for writing. Whether it is cooking, writing, travelling ,reading, or singing it is all a journey. All it takes is to begin the journey.
“Travel improves the mind wonderfully and does away with all one’s prejudices” – Oscar Wilde