28 February 2008

Szia Budapest, and Dia Dhuit Ireland!

Tuesday
Our last day in Budapest, we headed to the Ethnography Museum, which according to my guidebook is the largest of its type in the world. There's a permanent exhibition on Hungarian cultural history, which was interesting. We learned about how felt hats were made, women's clothing, furniture, farming, and all sorts of aspects of Hungarian life. Here is some Hungarian decorated furniture and dishes. Everything is very colorful.

This picture made us laugh for a really long time. The little girl is in a baby stand, though she looks perfectly happy to be there!

There was also a temporary exhibition on the musical instruments of the world! There were some recordings playing, but mostly we could only look at instruments. However, to appeal to children or childlike adults like me and Kristen, there were some interactive bits. We tried plucking various strings, different kinds of drums, and percussive instruments. The instruments were attached to bins with strings so that they wouldn't migrate, and one of the sets had become very tangled, so we sat for about fifteen minutes to untangle the huge knot. Singing in harmony all the while, of course, since the acoustics were so excellent.

Another exhibition showed the history of jeans, which have only been made in Hungary since the 70s. They're called "farmers" in Hungarian, which I find very strange.

After we left the museum, we went to search for good coffee for Kristen, and ended up getting milkshakes as well. Then a quick stop on the way back to the hostel resulted in me buying a new swimsuit, which fits better than most swimsuits do. Plus, the forint-dollar exchange rate is good!

The taxi ride to the airport was significantly faster than it should have been, and though we both feared for our lives at some point of the journey, we made it to our flight with plenty of time to spare. We flew Aer Lingus, which was nice, but I was surprised that they charge for everything on the flight, even water. Good thing we had brought snacks!
Once in Dublin, we found someone to ask about buses, and took a bus into the city centre. There's a bus stop only a couple of blocks away from our hostel, and the bus stop where we got off (three later) wasn't too far either :)
Our hostel in Budapest was really homey feeling, with spacious rooms and a really welcoming feeling. It was also designed more like an actual home. Our Dublin hostel is really nice too, and is clean and well-run, but it feels very institutional. Automatic dryers in the bathrooms, water that you push a button to turn on that switches off all by itself (annoying in the shower). So it's a good hostel, but we have no inclination to hang out here, like we did in Budapest. Different styles of hostel!

Wednesday
First full day in Dublin! Our hostel comes with a full Irish breakfast, which is tasty and incredibly filling. 100% protein. There's a banger (sausage), puddings (like little sausages that are somewhat bread-based?), rashers (Canadian bacon), and an egg (sunny-side-up). Plus juice and tea and milk. And cereal and toast if you want it. It's absolutely delicious. The French would hate it.

We walked from our hostel to Trinity College, which was founded by Elizabeth I and is the oldest college in Ireland. Here's Kristen on the campus:

The college is also home to the Book of Kells, which is a 9th century illuminated manuscript, containing the four gospels. Scholars can tell that it was meant to be decorative rather than used, though, since there are some errors in the text that were marked, but not fixed. The pictures are beautiful though! The exhibit showed how the manuscripts were made, from what went into the ink to how the books were bound. It was really neat, and after we saw the Book of Kells itself in the treasury, we got to go up to the Long Room of the library, which is the most heavenly library I've been in. Thousands of books in a big barrel-vaulted room, none more recent than 1890. You could smell the knowledge. There were some books on display as well, with beautiful illustrations of the world's wildlife. Kristen could tell you the author, but I've forgotten :)

The area around Trinity is called Temple Bar, and is a young area with lots of fun shops and pubs. One of the first things we stumbled upon was an environmental education resource center, with tons of free literature and posters for people to take. Kristen is currently working in County Mayo doing this type of project, and she's spent weeks looking for this type of resource. Ireland's organization isn't the best in the world, so she didn't know anything like this existed. We collected copies of all of their pamphlets and posters, so now Mayo will have a big collection of information, plus order forms if they want more. What a find!

We wandered around the shops a bit, then ate lunch at a pub with a wonderful name:

Kristen got fish and chips, and I got a lamb stew that was wonderful and filling... it seems like my life in France is protein-deprived, and I'm making up for it on this trip.

Our next stops weren't very far away: St. Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral. The latter is the oldest church in Dublin, and the two are famous because their combined choirs sang the first performance of the Messiah. I was surprised that both are now Anglican! During the time when (as I like to put it) England borrowed Ireland, the churches were converted. So there are lots of nice niches in the walls empty of statues, there are tombs of war heroes, and other distinctive markers of important Anglican churches. Here's some stained glass from St. Patrick's:

And this is a tile from the floor, which has an Irish take on the fleur de lys:


This is Christ Church.

We were too late to explore, but we went for a smoothie and came back for evensong. The lay vicars and the girls' choir sang a lovely collection of music, and it was a beautiful service. The choirs were superb, and I felt bad for them that the audience was about twenty people. It was pretty magical.

On our way back to the hostel to make some pasta for dinner, we passed a pub that was advertising their Wednesday night live comedy! Such a lucky accident. We returned after dinner, and for only seven euros saw four comedians (well, seven euros plus what we spent on drinks-- Fat Frogs, which are Smirnoff Ice, orange breezer, and blue WKD. The result is a lemon-blue raspberry-orange drink that has very little alcohol and tastes like it has none). Three of the comedians were really good, and one has potential. Ireland isn't the right audience for him, since most of his material was about him being gay. The audience just couldn't get into it. But overall it was a great night, and we had a really fun time.

Thursday
Today we're heading to the Guinness storehouse, then we've got a bit more time in Dublin before we hop on a train for County Mayo, on the western coast of the country. We'll be there for a few days, so I'll get to meet Kristen's host family and enjoy some rural Irish adventures. But we won't have internet, so I'll update my blog once I'm back in France on Sunday!

1 comment:

Becky said...

I thought we told you about the Book of Kells! It wasn't worth the money! But I know you like old, English-like languages, so I bet you enjoyed it a lot more than Mandy and I did. And as for the Guinness warehouse... have fun! Just don't drink it. *We* gagged. And we're slightly more into alcohol than you are. But the souvenir is fun! I'm so jealous. Bring back mucho pictures and souvenirs and stuff.