Sunday, August 8, 1999

Bath 1999: excerpts from my study abroad journal

Ok, first I have to talk about yesterday. We went to the National Gallery, which houses art from all over the world. I liked it better than the Tate Gallery in London overall, except it lacked a Pre-Raphaelite exhibit and there were no really famous paintings there (that I saw anyway). But I did see a Picasso and some Rembrandts, a lot of iconographic art, and an exhibit devoted to the paintings of the Yeats family (as in William Butler Yeats).

After the gallery, Greg, Mara and I went to lunch at some sidewalk cafe and just hung out for awhile. Then we went to the National Museum. They had a huge number of exhibits from every tribe that ever inhabited Ireland: the Vikings, the Celts, the cavemen, etc. The Celtic exhibits were particularly impressive. There was so much intricate Celtic knotwork on everything. My particularly favorite piece is the Tara brooch, worth about 20 million pounds and incredibly detailed. I didn't see all of the museum, but a good part of it anyway. I walked back to Avalon House via Grafton Street (which was packed)...

For dinner, we went to Planet Hollywood. I was adamantly against it, but I didn't want to eat alone, as everyone else decided to eat there. It was fun. Our waitress was named Sinead and she was really cute and a lot of fun to talk to. It was an interesting mix of American and Irish, since the food and everything was American, yet the servers and hospitality were unmistakably Irish. The food was good too, esp. the dessert. :)

After dinner we walked to the Samuel Beckett Theatre at Trinity College to see Translations. It was really good. Definitely got my money's worth. It was so much better than I was expecting.

After the play, we all walked over to the Temple Bar area to go to a pub, but the pubs won't let in anyone under 23 after 10pm (only on Saturdays) so no one (except me) could get in. So we walked over to River Liffey, crossed the Halfpenny Bridge, walked back over to Temple Bar, and sat and watched people before coming back to Avalon House.

In about 45 mins. a small group of us is going to walk to the bus station to take a day trip to Glendalough.


Glendalough - the entire trip - was amazing. The bus driver was funny. he talked throughout most of the drive, telling us old Irish folk tales and making jokes. He pointed out celebrity homes to us: Bono, Daniel Day-Lewis, Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains, George Michael, Mel Gibson's former home, Bob Geldof, and Enya's castle. But the highlight of the trip was definitely the coastal and mountain scenery we saw along the way. It was utterly breathtaking. Dublin, of course, is along the coast of the Irish Sea, and we drove along the coastline through some small and charming towns (Dalkey and Black Rock come to mind). The coast was spectacular, one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. He stopped along the way to allow us to take pictures. It was a bit misty because of the rain, but it only made it more beautiful and more mystical.

When we had travelled for a little over an hour, the bus made a stop at a beautiful little rest stop situated between the mountains. There was a shop that had nearly everything imaginable, a bakery, and a cafe. We stayed there for nearly an hour.

We got to Glendalough at about 1:30 and went to the tourist center to watch a short film. Then we took a guided tour of the monastic ruins, unfortunately, it was pouring rain. I got soaked despite my waterproof jacket. The ruins were really beautiful and there was a really old cemetery around it. In the middle of these ruins was a giant white cross known as "the wishing cross." Supposedly, if you put your arms around it and your fingers touch, you'll get married within a year. (Note: they did, and I didn't...although two of the girls who traveled with me got engaged within a year of putting their arms around the cross. My boyfriend at the time unceremoniously dumped me.)

On the drive back from Glendalough, we saw rivers running wildly alongside the highway, between the mountains and over rocks. It was again amazing...Ireland impressed me more and more with its natural beauty. I took more pictures. We drove past ruins of centuries old buildings, just sitting next to the road. We drove by miles and miles of coniferous forest. Ireland is the most amazing place I have ever seen.

(Note: What I failed to write about, which surprises me now, is that we ate lunch at the lovely and elegant Glendalough Hotel. And I remember the lunch being very good, even though I can't remember what I ate.)

When we got back to Dublin, we ate dinner at Bewley's. It was a fantastic place...really fun atmosphere. Then we came home to Avalon House to rest for a bit before going to Temple Bar.

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