The Captain is a very good navigator but not a great meteorologist. His weather update for today is the same as every other day: Cloudy skies and 60 degrees. Since we left Dover it has actually been much warmer than that and we have also had our fair share of sun. Although it looks a bit gloomy out right now, I am confident it will clear up.
I didn't notice our approach along the Irish coast as I was sleeping at the time. We actually docked around 5:00 am. As to be expected the area around the docks is noticeably industrial but I imagine the green hills are not far away.
Breakfast in the Lido again was a treat. It is was easy to select our items and then locate a table. Mother had a latte again and I just had some water.
We went back to the room to get our things and then walked to the Cabaret Theater to join our tour. We are doing the Princess tour DBL180A "Powerscourt Estate and Dublin On Your Own". I was happy to see this tour listed on the Princess website as I wanted to visit both the Powerscourt Garden and also have the opportunity to see a bit of Dublin too. The cost of the tour is $89 each. The tour departs at 8:30 am and will return to the ship at 4:30 pm. I booked it online, and similar to Crystal Cruises, you don't have to pay for it until you are actually on the ship. I wish Oceania had this same policy.
The Cabaret Lounge was buzzing but it was easy to walk up and get our obligatory stickers (yellow unfortunately) for the tour. Every time I see the Cabaret Lounge sign I automatically hear Liza Minnelli signing in my head ("It's a cabaret....")! It is a fun way to start the day!
It wasn't long before the tour was called and we were paraded down the hall to the gangway and off the ship. It was just a short walk through the parking area to the tour bus. As luck would have it we were among the first people to board the bus. The front seats on the left side were available so we happily took those. I will be using my camcorder on the bus so being upfront has significant advantages.
The people on our tour were in very good physical condition. I didn't notice anyone who required sitting closer to the front or we would have willingly relinquished our seats.
The tour leader is named Mary and was a hoot! She was very bubbly and also quite funny with her commentary not only about Ireland but also the "battle of the sexes". We had some good natured joking about women being superior to men. Our bus driver, Tony was in charge and the decider in making any photo stops along the way. Tony seemed to find Mary's banter amusing too.
|Mary leading the charge toward the center of Dublin|
It was just about a 5 minute drive from the Docklands area to the center of town, Mary pointed out some sights along the way including the Samuel Beckett Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava. The bridge looks a bit like a mini version of the Calatrava bridge in Buenos Aires.
|Samuel Becket Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava|
|Samuel Becket Bridge|
We passed a few more buildings which whet our appetite for exploring Dublin this afternoon. The big domed building below is the Custom House which houses the departments of Environment, Community and local government.
|Neoclassical Custom House|
We made a pit stop at #46 Fitzwilliam Square to get a glimpse of a beautiful doorway. Mary asked Tony if we would be getting off the bus for photos but he said there wasn't time. I did my best snapping a photo through the window across the opposite side of the bus.
|46 Fitzwilliam Square|
Although the early architects built some wonderful buildings, Dublin's urban planners didn't do a great job with the local infrastructure. Once we were on the highway we crawled along with all the traffic. While the roads are poor, Mary explained that public transit isn't adequate either as the light rail, trains, and buses all run on separate systems requiring separate tickets for each. The highway has only 2-3 lanes so we were in traffic for awhile. I did spot a few nice sportscars (Porsche & Jaguar) so apparently some Dubliners are doing pretty well.
|Can you believe the bus actually fit between the stone archway?|
The Powerscourt Estate and Garden is located in an idyllic setting. Parts of the structure dates from the 1600's but the main construction of the current house began in 1721. King James I granted Powerscourt to Sir Richard Wingfield, one of his generals as a reward for quelling local rebellion. The Wingfield's became the Viscounts Powerscourt and began to build at the site. The origin of the name "Powerscourt" comes from the first family that lived here in the 1600's, the de la Poer's. The building provided an impression of prosperity during the hardships of the famine and troubles in 1800's.
The house once held valuable collections of paintings and furniture. It was restored by the Slazenger family but it was not long after that tragedy stuck in 1974. At an event being held to celebrate the completion of work when a late night fire broke out and destroyed the Mansion. It then languished for over 20 years until it was restored and reopened for tourism in 1997.
The gardens are laid out on over 47 acres and have been described as the most ambitious formal gardens of the Victorian era in Ireland. The site unites architecture, sculpture, pools, fountains and plantings against a magnificent setting of lush woods, green mountains and river valleys. Popular European landscape design is incorporated in the classic statues, fountains and gates located on the estate grounds.
The sun was starting to come out as we left the bus and went inside the building for a peek. Mary gave us the time to be back at the bus (90 minutes) and instructions to walk through the garden staring on the right instead of the left. We also were given a little map which proved very helpful when we were not sure which way to turn. It also identified what we were seeing.
|View of the Wicklow mountains from the Estate|
We passed some fragrant flowers on the side of the building as we traveled the gravel path toward the gates.
|Path along the Walled Gardens|
Following along the Rhododendron Walk we reached the Pets' Cemetery. According to our map info, the Pets' Cemetery is one of the largest in Ireland. Many of the family's treasured pets are buried here including several chows, Dachshunds a pony and even a cherished cow or two.
|Graves for "Bully" the Pony and "Tinker", "Taffy Topaz" and "Rusty", a Terrier and 2 Dachshunds.|
|Graves of 2 dachshunds Tiny and Teddy, plus Eugenie & Princess, family cows at the Estate|
|The graves of two Chows|
We next walked through the forest toward the lake.
The Triton Lake contains the largest fountain of the gardens. It is placed directly in front of the Estate and centers the garden. The fountain in the Lake is based on the Piazza Barberini in Rome.
|Triton Lake and Powerscourt Estate|
The Japanese Gardens are a Victorian interpretation unlike any other Japanese garden I have seen. The one at Powerscourt is elevated and appears more vertical than horizontal.
|Elevated Japanese Garden|
|View of the Japanese path and grotto|
There are over 250 varieties of trees on the property. It is bit like being in the forest with the tall canopy of specimens hundreds of years old.
|Some of the trees are over 200 years old|
We were a bit confused when seeing the Tower Valley area as there were multiple paths and we didn't know which way to go and consulted our map. My mother decided to bypass this area but I walked up the path to get a closer look. The structure is called the "Pepperpot Tower" which was modeled on a pepperpot from Lord Powerscourt's dining table.
|Tower Valley "Pepperpot"|
The Italian Garden is beautifully designed. The Italian Garden leads into the Triton Lake. The bright blue and red flowers are gorgeous.
|Italian Garden leading to Triton Lake|
|Magnificent view of Sugarloaf mountain|
|Elegant Terrace and amazing view|
Sculptures of gods and mythical creatures, including Apollo and Diana are tastefully displayed across the property
|Avoca breads and beverages|
|More yummy treats|
|Nice crockery, notice the selfie on the tea kettle|
|Design Loft purchases|
After making my purchases we walked across the hall to the other side and looked at store selling furniture. Do people actually come here to purchase their furniture?
|Furniture and Accessories|
|View from second floor|
Back on the bus we took the same seats and again passed through Enniskerry. Mary pointed out a special toilet that was built to detract from tourists using the facilities in town. It is actually quite nice looking and Mary said it was very expensive to build.
|Enniskerry Public Toilet|
|Restaurant in Enniskerry|
Mary provided more information about Dublin and pointed out some of the sights.
The name Dublin in the Irish language is Baile Atha Cliath. The literal meaning is "Ford of the Reed Hurdles". We did spot several signs using the Irish spelling in the city. Dublin is the capital of Ireland and has a population of 1.5 million people.
It is probably a misconception, but I expected to see lots of tow-headed red moppets on the streets of Dublin. I noticed a few redheads but with the exception of so many young people, it resembled many other cities. Dublin has a very young population with 50% of the people below the age of 25. Ireland as a whole has a total population of 4.7 million with an average age of just 35 years old.
Our next stop was St. Patrick's Cathedral. Mary really wanted us to see this but it turned out to be a challenge.
|St. Patrick's Cathedral|
|Film Crew for "The Tudors" Actress on bench facing the young girls with water bottles.|
The outside of the cathedral was very pretty. I particularly liked the windows.
|St. Patrick's Window|
|Lots of hanging flowers on the buildings|
|Base of Dublin Spire|
|Dame Street with Queen of Tarts on the right|
We had about 2+ hours on our own in Dublin. If we required more time, we would take a taxi back to the ship instead of the tour bus. We disembarked and headed on foot back to Dame Street. It was about a 20 minute walk. Mother was getting ansy that the walk was so long. When we arrived at Queen of Tarts, the restaurant was very crowded and they suggested we go to their sister location just 2 minutes away on Bow Street.
We did as suggested and the other restaurant is bigger but it was also crowded. We found seats inside where it was bit warm. It was a very cute place but due to such close quarters and my rumbling stomach I didn't take many photos.
The menu isn't very extensive so we ordered quickly and hoped service would be fast. My mother had a salad which I didn't take a picture of but my sandwich when it arrived looked lovely. It was a sliced chicken sandwich with aioli and some cilantro. It was delicious!
|Yummy Chicken Sandwich|
|Chocolate Pecan Tart|
|Nice family posing in front of the Molly Malone statue|
Grafton Street is a pedestrian shopping area with many high end retail establishments. There are many chain stores too but the buildings are very attractive and it is a nice place to stroll.
The store Brown Thomas is located here on the corner at the beginning of the street. We didn't go inside but the windows showed it was quite a nice store.
|Lots of interesting places on Grafton Street|
We walked down Nassau Street and spotted a very nice shop selling brass door knockers. Their prices were very reasonable too.
|Brass Door Knockers|
|A great variety!|
We trotted over to Kildare Street but as we still had some extra time went into the Kilkenny Shop to browse a little. This store is very touristy but they do sell Waterford and will ship to the US.
|Kilkenny Shop selling Waterford Crystal|
|Very nice Jewelry|
Everyone came back to the bus on time and we drove back to the docklands area for the Ocean Princess.
|Heading back to the Dock|
I took a few photos from our balcony of the ferries docked nearby. I believe one goes to Troon, Scotland and the other to Liverpool, England.
Our internal dinner bell rang and it was now time to head to the main dining room. Tonight is Italian Night which is celebrated in the main dining room with a special Italian menu and appropriately costumed waiters. I think the waiters really enjoy it. There were lots of smiling faces and it created a jovial atmosphere.
|Italian attired waiters|
Everything so far was very good. For our mains my mother had what looked like "Seafood Shepherd's Pie" and I had Spaghetti and Meatballs.
|Does this look Italian to you?|
|Nice smaller size portion of Spaghetti and Meatballs|
|Limoncello, you get to keep the glass|