May 3–4, 2017
On Wednesday, after we had the Titanic Belfast experience, we took the bus south. Up until this point all of our trip had been in the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. We used British pounds for money, and road signs were marked in miles. One day before the trip I stopped at the Wells Fargo in Davidson and picked up £100 cash for the trip. My last pound expenditure was for lunch at the Titanic exhibit. I had enough cash left to give tips to Conor and to the bus driver and still come home with a £5 note (from the Bank of Ireland, no less) as a souvenir. I didn't use credit or debit cards at all. So many things were prepaid by the tour that I needed cash mainly for lunches. We had breakfast buffets at the hotels, so I really didn't need much lunch most days.
Conor pointed out to us when we crossed the border into the Republic of Ireland, which is made up of 26 of the 32 counties on the island. There was no barrier and certainly no passport checks. Suddenly instead of miles, the signs were posted in kilometers, and for money we would need euros. I knew I had some left from my trip to Belgium and Holland, so I didn't worry about picking more up before I left home. So a few days before the trip I looked in the back of the dresser drawer and found €160, so I had enough for lunches and brought most of it back for my next trip to the EU, maybe to Italy.
Anyway, it was only 105 miles between the two capitals (OK, about 40 miles to the border, and then 98 kilometers), so we had a scenic two-hour drive to Dublin.
Our first stop in Dublin was Trinity College, sole constituent of the University of Dublin, to see the Book of Kells and related exhibits in the library. Upstairs is the impressive Long Room.
The Old Library Building is still imposing on the outside today. Students were taking advantage of the nice weather out in the quad.
After checking into the hotel and unwinding a bit, we were taken for our Irish Night. We had a great meal, and the entertainment was a lot of fun, dancers, singers, comedy, and of course good fellowship with our fellow travelers, whom we had got to know much better by then from meals and all the time on the bus.
Thursday was the last full day of the trip. We had a bus tour of much of the town and had a stop in a park. We went to the Guiness brewery for the tour and lunch. They showed us how properly to pour Guiness (hint: it involves nitrogen) and had a small glass. (We could have a large glass at the end of the tour.) Yet again I found the tour more interesting than I had expected. They had an exhibit of various creatures they have used in their advertising over the years, including a theater devoted to a whistling oyster. The top floor bar area provided panoramic views of Dublin.