At one point before I went on my vacation, I thought I would try and do a travel blog for a month. Obviously that didn't happen. With three weeks of travel already complete, I now feel like talking about my first impressions of Ireland. Now, take this all with a grain of salt because I am tired and grumpy which tends to make me even more of a misanthrope than I usually am. However, I think that's also why I feel like blogging (as irritated was I was with Bryson's take on Europe, it really is much easier to be grumpy, and to feel inspired by dissatisfaction than to simply talk about how nice things are, so I do understand it a bit more).
So far Dublin itself seems like a perfectly lovely city; however, it also seems to have way too many people in it for its size! I think many of them are tourists, and while I realize it's the tourist season, London and Edinburgh didn't seem quite as overrun with them. I knew that Dublin and Ireland were huge vacation spots, but I guess I didn't realize that the city wasn't big enough for all of them, or just how much of a cliche a visit to Ireland is nowadays. I guess it's a bit like Paris in that way which was another city that I felt was overwhelmed with tourists (Paris was the first place I went after last deployment, so I also just wasn't used to crowds of people in general anymore; I've hit Dublin after three weeks of traveling having only had three hours of sleep the night before so I may also just starting to feel a bit of fatigue). It also doesn't help the crowds that there was a zombie convention today (seriously). So while I've enjoyed the city, I've also been a bit irritated with all the people. I may have also just been timing things badly, but it seemed almost impossible to get pictures without random people in them, even inside the cathedrals. And then crowds of teenagers are really just rude. If it's a small sidewalk, please consider walking in single file lines or pairs rather than four or five next to each other, and don't give me a dirty look for not moving off the sidewalk into traffic so the five of you can walk next to each other. Also, I've noticed people quite often ask me to take pictures for them. I figure it's probably easier to approach a single person (especially if they have a camera and are also a tourist) rather than someone that is a part of a group, so I don't have a problem (unless you just happen to be the fifth person that day to ask; I'll do it, but I'll probably be a bit irritated at that point). However, one girl came up to me today, and really just pissed me off. I'm standing in front of a statue with the camera raised to take a shot, and then she comes, interrupts me and asks me to take her and her friends' picture before I'd even taken my picture - and it was rather obvious that I was in the middle of something given how I was holding the camera. I would have been perfectly happy to do it if she had waited until I actually lowered my own camera but that was just fucking rude. I still took it but I think she noticed that I was irritated (also, the few times I have asked people to take my picture for me, I usually ask if they would like me to do the reverse for them . . . just seems like the polite thing to do).
Today, I visited the Dublin Castle (unfortunately, it had the disadvantage of being seen after Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Palace, Blenheim Palace, Castle Howard, Warwick Castle, Leeds Castle and Sterling Castle, so with the exception of one room, it wasn't very impressive). They only let people into the building as part of a guided tour, and while in the drawing room, the guide pointed out pictures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and then showed us George IV's throne in the next room. I understand that Ireland was under British rule for much of its history, so that is part of its history, but considering how much they wanted to be independent, I would have thought that portraits of old British monarchs would have been one of the first things to come off the wall after becoming their own rulers. Guess that shows what I know. I visited both the Christchurch and the St. Patrick Cathedrals today as well - the entry fee was about the same for both, and both churches combined were still cheaper than some of the cathedrals in England, but I would say that while Christchurch had the more picturesque outside, St. Patrick's had the more beautiful inside (although Christchurch had a mummified cat and mouse, so . . . win?)
I also hit up the Dublin Writers Museum but while I recognize some of the big names, and have even read a few, I'm generally don't read many plays, short stories or poems, so I wasn't exactly that excited about most of the authors. Naturally Joyce was a big part of the museum, but I've never read anything of his, and don't have much interest in Ulysses, either. I think they were glad to see me go, though - in the gift shop, I asked about what age a book of Irish fairy tales the book would be appropriate for, and the guy had no clue. I also asked if there were any good pubs that had any associations with writers (big blank stare), and if they'd been on the Literary Pub Crawl and if they'd recommend it. Count on me to ask all the dumb questions.
I'm actually doing two day trips in the next two days, so I won't have too much time to explore Dublin again until Tuesday, but I'm looking forward to the art galleries and the Book of Kells. I figure I should go to the Guinness area as well since it is Ireland. I'm just trying to figure out how to fit everything in and possibly do a walking tour. I'm considering a haunted one and the literary pub tour which would be in the evening and not interfere, but I guess part of me would also like to do one that just discusses the history of Dublin. Hopefully the crowds won't be as bad once the zombies are gone and the weekends over.