Posts Tagged ‘Ireland site seeing’
After some careful deliberation (about 5 nanoseconds) John convinced me that the kids had really had their holidays while we were in Atlanta, and that we should have a kid-free holiday on our own in September when the kids were back in school. Sounds good to me. But we did want to have some trip with them during the summer, even a small one. We decided on Edinburgh. Everyone I have talked to about the city raves about it. I’ve wanted to see it for some time. And it is super close. August is a great time to see Edinburgh.
The Fringe Festival goes on the whole month. For those who aren’t familiar, it is the world’s largest arts festival, happening the whole months, with literally thousands of acts. Also, there is the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo which happens every night in August as well, at the castle.
All six of us flew to Edinburgh on a dime, with RyanAir. People bitch and moan about RyanAir, but if you know what you are getting into (super cheap, zero niceties) then it’s great. We stayed at the Radisson Blu which was just inbetween the old town and the new town. Soph and I had been in the middle of reading the first Harry Potter, so it was perfect timing. I have read the whole series, but she is just now getting into it. Reading it together has been such a joy. So, going to the city that supposedly inspired the author was amazing.
Every corner we turned looked like a scene from the book. Plus, add in the atmosphere of the Festival and some gorgeous August weather, and we were hooked. The hotel faces the castle, which looms above the entire city. So, every night we could see the fireworks that close the nightly tattoo exhibition. The first night we watched from our rooms. The second night, we took all the kids in their pajamas outside in front of the hotel where there was a public square to watch them. Pretty amazing.
We didn’t make any plans before going for which Fringe shows to catch. But there are lots of festival guides around. We picked out a show about amazing bubbles. All three kids got pulled on stage and so did big John. The show host put a bubble around Big John with Lincoln on his shoulders. That’s got to be 8 feet of Gothams in a bubble! The next day we saw a show that involved a lot of potty jokes. Sophie was the most sceptical going in and the boys were super excited. But during the show, it was Sophie and I that were laughing the most at the fart jokes and fake snot. John was laughing but always glancing at me nervously and Lincoln looked flat out annoyed: arms crossed, brows knitted, and at some points putting his head in my lap. After the show, I asked him , “did you not like the show?”. “No. I did NOT. I didn’t like all the mommy jokes.” The comedian had made a lot of jokes at the mommies’ expenses. Like the biggest fart in his “fart collection” belonged to a mom. But I thought it was funny and so did most kids. But I was very touched that my boys were so concerned about my feelings, especially my Linc.
The festival really made the city come alive. Street performers, food vendors, art stalls, magicians. But even without all that, the city itself offers so much. We spent the better part of one day exploring the castle that sits on a high hill above the city. It is actually made up of several buildings and churches and fortifications. The views are outstanding and every kid is fascinated by cannons and castles. It was a fun and relaxing family weekend. I hope we can get back there soon.
As these last days of the longest summer of my life tick by, I am trying to balance out the park days (days we just make some sandwiches and head to Herbert Park in the hood) and days of outings where we try to do some new activity in Dublin. Today, I decided to take Soph, John, and Lincoln to Dublinia, the Dublin Viking Museum. It’s got some pretty good exhibit areas, showing how the Vikings lived, fought, and even went to the bathroom. (The expression on the wax figure they have sitting on the Viking toilet is priceless. Someone at Dublinia has a sense of humor). But, as Sophie pointed out several times, the wax figures were “creepy” and she was not a big fan. Can’t really disagree.
Dublinia is connected to Christ Church. So, we bought tickets to check that out, mainly to see the mummified remains in the crypt below the church. Someone had told me about these and the kids seemed keen to check them out, especially Lincoln. Sophie was the most hesitant, especially after the wax figures. We wandered down under the main knave of the church to the crypt, which sounds spooky. In actuality, it was like a very well lit wine cellar, minus the wine. It had beautiful arches and several display cases of some of the church’s treasures, like gold plates and goblets. Turns out that there are no mummified people remains down there. However, it is home to a mummy cat and mummy rat that were found trapped in the organ in the 1860’s and were immortalized (even more!) by Joyce in Ulysses.
In the cheerful and weirdly cozy crypt there is also a small café to one side, with tables and chairs and puffy red velvet couches. The kids insisted that this was the perfect spot for lunch, so we sat and ordered some sandwiches and drinks. Lincoln was the first to finish his food and start acting the fool, as his babysitter might say. So I tried to sternly tell him, “Do you know whose house this is? It’s God’s house. And if you misbehave in God’s house, he is going to be very upset with you”. Normally, I NEVER pull out the “God is watching you” card. But he had just been talking about Santa and being very despondent about his chances for presents this Christmas, based on his own self-assessment that “I am always bad. I hit John.” So, I had been about to say that Santa was watching him, but then the God thing popped in my mind because of the locale. As soon as I gave my “This is God’s house…” etc. speech Soph and John looked at me and then both burst out laughing. I couldn’t resist and started laughing too .I guess dogma is more effective when the person delivering it at least believes it themselves.
I haven’t had any crazy person accost me THIS week, unless you count my children. So, I thought I would follow up on some of my past posts. In “Some Differences” I commented that Dublin is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been too and that I was shocked that an Irish person had warned me beforehand about how dirty it is and how the Irish all litter. I just don’t see it. In fact, I was walking downtown the other day during the middle of a busy workday. A guy walking alone, that passed me on the sidewalk, missed the trashcan he was aiming for. The balled up trash landed in the gutter in some brackish water. He says to himself, “oh, I missed,”, stops, and fishes the trash OUT OF THE GUTTER and places it in the can. Can you imagine anyone in NYC doing that? It was dripping wet with gutter juice. I couldn’t believe it. Talk about a commitment to a clean city.
Another thing that is striking is how uncrowded things are. You can find crowds in some places if you really want to seek them out. Like the most touristy areas of Dublin on a weekend, for example. But most things are just flat out roomy. Summer in Ireland is a huge time for festivals and it seems that every little town has its own. Not one of the ones that we have been to had any kind of crazy crowd. We never have to wait for food, a ride, the bathroom, etc. At home when we go to a festival, there is always a line ten deep to get a slice of pizza or use a smelly port-a-potty. Ireland is about the size of West Virginia, with a population of about 4 million. Of that, about 40% live in Dublin.
I still love people telling me that I’m “brilliant” and “grand”, even though I know they throw these phrases around the way we say “awesome” at home. That sandwich was awesome, for example. But still….it gives me a warm fuzzy. The kids are starting to pick up little phrases here and there. The other day John John told me he had to “use the gents”. And I overheard them at the park talking about “you’re on” while they were playing tag, instead of “you’re it”.