Tag Archives: statues

Dublin, Ireland – Impressions

Taking a long weekend in November, I decided to explore the Republic of Ireland’s capital. And, Dublin put on a happy welcome for me with mostly blue skies and sun, although it was still rather cold.

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Dubhlind in Classical Irish means Black Pool, although I didn’t see any black water while I was there. I did, however, come across one rather hungry tree near King’s Inns.

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The city of Dublin officially came into existence in 988 AD, although the Vikings first settled the area 150 years earlier. In the late 1700s it became the second-largest city in the British Empire, but for only a brief period.

The Spire of Dublin
Also known as the Monument of Light, the spire is hard to miss as it stands 120 metres tall at the centre of the city. It sits on the spot of the former Nelson’s Pillar, which was destroyed in an IRA bombing in 1966. It is clearly visible across the city, especially at night, when the top 10 metres light up. This is handy, considering it gets dark at about 4.45pm in November.

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Temple Bar
On the south side of the river, is the cultural quarter of Dublin known as Temple Bar. Originally named after the Temple family, it is now a diverse and popular area, with many bars and restaurants. It was always busy there during my visit, day and night, with plenty of lights and the occasional Leprechaun. There is a great Boxty restaurant about midway down serving the classic Irish boxty dish, well worth trying.

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The River Liffey, By Day and By Night
Dublin is split by the River Liffey which heads out into the Irish Sea across to Anglesea in Northern Wales. The river is crossed by several notable and fanciful bridges – this one is the Samuel Beckett Bridge, beside the glowing blue Convention Centre.

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At night the entire city centre lights up the river in wondrous colours.

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Dublin Discovery Trails
For one of my days in Dublin, I followed 2 of Dublin’s Discovery Trails, from an app of the same name. There are nine different trails to follow, each with up to 15 locations and averaging about 2 hours. Adding to the experience, the app has audio to go along with each location. This allowed me to see more of Dublin than had I come up with my own Itinerary, and I learned more than I would have just by going to the locations. I highly recommend it.

Parnell Square and Remembrance Garden
The Remembrance Garden is in Parnell Square, an arty part of town with the Writer’s Museum and the Modern Art gallery in the vicinity. The garden is shaped like a cross with a sculpture at its head (behind me). It is dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom during more than 7 different uprisings since 1798. Including the Easter Rising and the War of Independence.

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Trinity College
Officially College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, it contains the largest research library in Ireland and is home to the infamous Book of Kells. Some famous people who have studied at the campus were Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker of Dracula fame, Johnathan Swift of Gulliver’s Travels fame, just to name a few.

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Guinness Storehouse
While I wasn’t a big fan of Guinness beer before, I was told that it tastes better in Dublin, and that was indeed what I found. They say it has something to do with the water, but who knows. And of course, Dublin is home to the main brewery, and it would be silly not to take a tour. I learned a lot during my visit, of now only how they brewed the beer, but how they prepared the components to how they made the barrels by hand in the old days. The tour climbs several floors around a circular chamber known as the largest pint glass in the world. It includes a tasting and a free pint at the bar on the 7th floor with panoramic views of the city.

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King’s Inns
King’s Inns is a society renown for being Ireland’s oldest professional and education institute, training barristers-at-law. They built the building below at the top of Henrietta Street in 1800. Henrietta Street is the earliest Georgian sweet in Dublin – Georgian meaning it was built during the reigns of the four King Georges.

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Black Church
Located in the north of the central city, the gothic style church gets its name from the local calp sandstone it was built from. When wet, as is visible on parts of the lower sections, the entire church turns black. While it is no longer consecrated, it was said that if you run around it three times at midnight, you would summon the devil.

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Blessington Street Basin

Known as Dublin’s Secret Garden, it was opened in 1820 as a reservoir and was private property. In 1891 was opened to the public where residents of the area could come and relax, and watch the local wildlife. The swan and duck island in the middle was expended due to the ever-growing population of birds.

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Oscar Wilde & Constance Lloyd

Dublin has numerous statues and sculptures around its streets. But, on the corner of Merrion Square, a large green park on the South East of the city, is a sculpture of the great writer, Oscar Wilde, sitting on a rock. The statue of the naked pregnant woman is his wife, Constance. Across the road from the sculptures, is the house where the pair once lived.

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Christ Church Cathedral & Dublina
The Christ Church was founded around the mid-1000s and has stood to this day, although it did go through a series of renovations 200 years ago. Beneath the Cathedral is an extensive crypt, which now serves as a small museum and shop.

Across the road, and now connected by a foot bridge, is Dublina, the Dublin Museum of Viking and Medieval life. It is rated as the best museum in Dublin, and it was an interesting couple of hours spent getting to know the Viking life and the medieval era that followed. I would recommend it.

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Overall
While I spent three days wandering Dublin checking out different parts, there was so much I missed. It was definitely an interesting city to spend a few days, and somewhat…

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Next time, Cardiff in Southern Wales.

The World Wanderer

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by Scooter – Part 4

I’ve recently ridden the length of Vietnam on a Scooter.

Incase you missed them:
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by Scooter – Part 1
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by Scooter – Part 2
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City by Scooter – Part 3

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Day 18 – Nha Trang to Da Lat – 139km
Da Lat is in the southern highlands and is my first foray from the coast since my rained out trip to Tham Duc. This time the weather was amazing, with cloudless blue skies. Nha Trang’s crazy traffic was something I was grateful to leave and as I rode away from AH1 I rejoiced in the lack of roadworks and trucks.

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The road was one of the best so far as it slowly climbed into the mountains to a height of around 1500 metres. It got colder the higher I went and especially so when I was not in direct sunlight. I stopped for a break at an empty lot with a solitary tree that caught my inspiration.

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Most days I only pass one or two other tourist riders. Today I counted somewhere around 35 tourist bikes, many with passengers. I expected Da Lat to be a small mountain town but instead found a city surrounded by vast valleys of greenhouses. But then, it is the flower capital of Vietnam. While the motorcycle traffic was crazy, the city has a beautiful lake at its centre, along with pink blooming cherry trees.

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Day 19 – Da Lat Countryside Tour
For only the second time on this trip I booked a tour, desiring to be driven around for a change. Our first stop was a flower farm, busy because of Valentine’s day and Chinese New Year.

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Then it was off to a coffee plantation where we got to try Weasel Coffee. Weasel coffee turned out to be the Luwak coffee I’d tried in Indonesia. Apparently the Vietnamese only have one word which means both Asian Palm Civet and Weasel. We then stopped at a silk processing factory, where they create silk thread from silkworm cocoons. It was here we ate roasted silk worm. Not something you do everyday, or probably want to ever do again…

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We also visited the Hang Nga Guesthouse, also known as ‘the crazy house’. Built by a local architect the house has many walkways, some going over the rooftops or across the yards. The guesthouse is so popular that bookings are required months in advance. The owner has purchased several houses in the adjacent block and is in the process of adding them to the initial house.

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Day 20 – Da Lat to Phan Thiet – 159km
Coming down from the highlands saw an interesting change in temperatures. The long windproof pants, shoes and socks, jumper and windproof jacket became too hot. As I got closer to Pan Thiet I had to pull over and take off the jumper, but was still hot.

On a side note, hotels in Vietnam can be fairly cheap. This is what US$8.90 gets you.

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This includes cable TV, air con, double bed, ensuite bathroom, bar fridge and high-speed wireless internet. They aren’t luxury resorts and there’s no view, but you don’t really need these things when you’re either out exploring or sleeping.

Day 21 – Mui Ne Beach – 36km Round Trip
Eighteen kilometres from Phan Thiet is the popular tourist beach town of Mui Ne. Like Nha Trang, it’s very popular with Russian tourists, but while this seems to put some people off, I have no trouble with attractive Russian women. Exploring the area, I rode around several beautiful beaches (all unfortunately with their share of rubbish).

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I also found another Cham tower ruin similar to the one in Nha Trang.

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And I walked for a kilometre along the ankle-deep Fairy Springs. The red water leads through some very interesting formations in the white rock and orange sands.

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Day 22 – Phan Thiet to Vung Tau – 167km
Today was so hot I wore shorts and a t-shirt instead of my full riding gear. The road followed Vietnam’s southern coast with plentiful beaches. Then, not far from my destination I had bike troubles again and I stopped to get it fixed. That brings my total bike issues to eight.

I liked Vung Tau and wished I could have stayed longer, but with an expiring Visa I was running out of time. Even with the bike troubles, I still had time to explore the peninsula, and found this statue of Christ on one of the clifftops, listed as the 8th most famous Christ statue in the world.

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On a hill at the other end of the peninsula I found a large statue of St Mary beside the St Mary’s Church…

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They like putting things on hills here, as there are ones with sitting buddhas, temples, towers and no doubt others. Then out on the water, there’s a temple out on a small island which includes a pair of bunkers from the war.

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Day 23 – Vung Tau to Ho Chi Minh City – 116km
Today was to be a short day, but it just wasn’t to be. While the bike gave me little trouble, it was my replacement phone that sent me off along the wrong path before freezing until an hour later when I managed to find my own way to the main highway. From there it was fairly straight forward all the way to the hotel, passing what I call the Face of Saigon, an attraction at the Soui Tien Cultural Amusement Park.

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While I’ve enjoyed this experience greatly, the problems with my bike have given me enough frustration that I’m glad it’s come to an end.

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Next, I explore Ho Chi Minh City and make preparations to sell my scooter.

The Lone Trail Wanderer