Category Archives: Dublin

Visiting Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo

Tuesday 13 october 2015, corrigancj and I visited Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo. Phoenix Park is the largest park in Europe, of 707 hectares. Dublin Zoo is located in the Phoenix Park, and is a 28 hectare park and home to some 400 animals.

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Flowers at the entrance of Phoenix Park.
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To get to the zoo, we had to walk through the park, which is a really nice walk. Even at autumn there are flowers around, as well as some evergreens. Many of the trees had started to change into their autumn colours, which made a beautiful frame. Phoenix Park is known for its fallow deer that roams about free, but unfortunately didn’t get to see any.

The Dublin Zoo has so many animals and is so large you can spend a lot of time there. We walked around for three hours, and even then we didn’t see all the animals. The zoo prides itself for being part of international breeding programmes for endangered species, and there are some rare animals to meet in the zoo.

One of the rare animals in the zoo is the okapi. At first glance it can look as if it’s related to the zebras, however, they’re related to the giraffe! The okapis are said to be shy, something that was easy to see in the zoo. They liked to almost hide among the trees.

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One of the okapis at Dublin Zoo.
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One of the cutest animals in the zoo, is the red panda. The red panda has become endangeres through human activity: Not only have they been hunted for their beautiful fur, but by cutting down their forest homes and the bamboo that forms the main part of their diet too. Dublin Zoo has managed to breed them, which is good.

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A red panda at Dublin Zoo.
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I really enjoyed Dublin Zoo, and there were many excellent things to see: the sleeping silverback gorilla, tigers, wolves, and many more. However, one of the highlights for me were the penguins. People who know me know that I love penguins, and in Dublin Zoo we got to see them up close. The penguins that are kept at Dublin Zoo, is the Humboldt’s penguins, a vulnerable spices. They are, like the red pandas, threatend by human activity.

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Humboldt’s penguin at Dublin Zoo.
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After hours of walking, we headed back to the centre of Dublin for dinner and to relax. We agreed it had ben a nice zoo visit.

Octocon 2015

9 – 11 October I attended Octocon, the National Irish Science Fiction Convention. It was helt in the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin, and stated Friday afternoon, and ended Sunday afternoon. Guests of Honour were Emma Newman and Maura McHugh, but there were several other guests as well.

The convention was kicked off with the opening ceremony, where chairperson Gareth Kavanagh wished us welcome and introduced the Guests of Honour. I had an opening after the opening ceremony, where corrigancj and I headed for dinner. My first panel wasn’t until 20, the Bodily Autonomy in YA panel, which I found very interesting.

There were actually several LGBTQIP+ themes panels for Octocon 2015, which I was very happy about, and I attended several of them. Though I attended several really good panels through the week end, my convention highlights were the Guest of Honour interview with Emma Newman, and the Tea and Jeopardy live show.

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Emma Newman at the Guest of Honour interview.
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The Guest of Honour interview with Emma Newman (who’s one of my favourite authors), was a warm and personal interview. I think Janet O’Sullivan did a great job, and there was tea and much laughter.

The Tea and Jeopardy live show was based on the Hugo Nominated Podcast of Emma Newman and Peter Newman. Being a fan of the podcast (I must admit I’m still a bit bummed it didn’t win the Hugo’s), I was thrilled to attend the show. I was offered cake by Latimer when entering the tea lair, but I politely declined. Author C.E. Murphy was Emma Newman’s guest for this episode, and it was muc fun. I laughed so much! I missed the chickens, though, but I totally understand they couldn’t be brought to Ireland…

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Emma Newman and Latimer at the tea lair of Octocon 2015.
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The only problem I had with the convention, was the inside jokes at some panels (not all), that went right above my head. I am not familiar with everything Irish, and there were moments there were things I didn’t understand.

All-in-all I enjoyed my week end, and it was nice to meet up with some convention friends that I know from EasterCon and/or Twitter again. Will I come back to Octocon next year? Only time will show…

Dublin: 8 and 9 October 2015

I left home early Thusday morning, to catch the 8:30 flight to Oslo, where I would have a connecting flight to Dublin. After having run away from my coffee because I was booked into an earlier flight due to my original flight being cancelled, I had a centre seat at the flight making me feel a bit squeezed. I then had some time at ardermoen, before I continued to Dublin. The flight was good, having lots of room, up until some person thought it was a good idea to spray perfume inside the plane. Needless to say, I got an allergy attack, but was thankfully moved to the front. The rest of the flight was spent trying to get back to normal.

I was met by corriganjc at the airport, and after a long and tedious journey to the hotel, I checked in, and got to relax a bit before we headed for food. We had lovely pizza at an Italian restaurant called Little Caesars, which according to corriganjc has the best Italian pizza in Dublin.

When in Dublin, do as Dubliners: Visit the pub! The pub called Against the Grain had been reccomended to me on Twitter, and it being fairly close to the hotel, we went there after dinner. It was a very friendly pub, with a smiling and helpful staff. It had an excellent atmpsphere, and a wide range of good beer. I enjoyed the pub very much!

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At Against the Grain.
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I woke up too early Friday morning, and after trying to go back to sleep, I gave up and got fed breakfast. I headed out for a walk after breakfast, and pretty much stumbled over a small park with some church ruins. It was very lovely. Turns out St Kevin’s Park is listed as an area of historical and archaeological importance by Duchas. So that was a fairly nice start of the day.

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St Kevin’s Park and church ruins.
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I had a nice rest after my walk, and dozed a bit before corrigan arrived, and we headed to get coffee at the Bald Barista. To be honest, I found it a bit disappointing, so I was very happy when we had hot chocolate at Butler’s Chocolate Café later on. I had a yummy hot white chocolate, which came with a complimentary praline. Yummy!

We did a bit of walking after being full of hot drinks, and all of a sudden it was lunch time, and we ate at the vegetarian restaurant Cornucopia, which had some really lovely food. Well fed we headed to Dublin Barista School, which has the best coffee I’ve had in Dublin so far.

To get back to the hotel, we walked through St Stephen’s Green, which is a lovely park. After a rest and some reading, it was time to register and get badges for Octocon, which will be given a post of its own.

Dublin 2014, part III – in where I’m not really in Dublin, and cross something off my bucket list

Ever since I visited Ireland for the first time over 14 years ago, there has been something I’ve wanted to do here. So, after a bit of discussing with myself, I figured that there was really no better time to do this than now. So, on Sunday I booked a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher! I was finally going to see these cliffs I’ve hard so much about. The day trip was signed up with Paddywagon, which was the cheapest I could find online, and early Monday morning I dragged myself out of bed, so that I was ready to board the bus before 8 the very same morning.

Our first stop was a small fishing village called Kinvara. What striked me with this small town, and what would strike me about other small villages and towns along the road, was how colourful they were. They shaps were all in different colours. In Kinvara it was especially a book shop that caught my eye. I badly wanted to go into this shop, it looked so nice, but it was closed while we were there. So we left without being able to browse their shelves.

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The Book Nook, Kinvara.
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Kinvara
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Our next stop along the road was Corcomroe Abbey, an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery. I have always loved abbey ruins, and this was truely beautiful. A lot smaller than some of the abbeys I’ve visited before (like Whitby Abbey), but also a lot older. We only had 15 minutes to walk around, but I tried to get a few photos taken, and look at things. I would have loved to have some more time there, though.

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Corcomroe Abbey
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From Corcomore Abbey we continued down the coast, and had a stop to take photos of what our coach driver and guide called “the baby cliffs”. They’re smaller than the Cliffs of Moher, but still quite beautiful. Besides, it was such a lovely and warm and sunny day, it was wonderful to walk around on the cliffs and just feel the breeze and smell the ocean.

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The “baby cliffs”
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15 minutes later, we all climbed back into the bus, and headed towards the Cliffs of Moher. We had only one more stop before we got there, in the town Doolin (which I think sounded like a name from Lord of the Rings), where we had lunch. But when we all were fed, the bus finally made it to our destination: The Cliffs of Moher. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

Wikipedia says about the Cliffs of Moher that “[t]hey rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometres to the north.” It was quite a magnifisent view, and we maybe 1 1/2 hours to walk around. Unfortunately not enough time to walk both up on the cliffs and to the tower, which I would have loved on this amazingly sunny day. We really had perfect weather, with the warm, sunny and clear view.

As for the visitor centre, I didn’t think it was much to look at. You can just as well read up on the Cliffs of Mohere elsewhere. Maybe it’s fun for kids, as they did have some interactive activities there, but if you’re a single grown up, it’s not much to brag about.

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The Cliffs of Moher
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O’Briens Tower
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We had only one stop on our way back to Dublin: Bunratty Castle. Yet again we were given just a short time (I think we had 20 minutes) to walk around. In my opinion, this was the bigest “fault” with this trip: Never having anough time to walk around. But, knowing the trip took over 12 hours, it’s understandable.

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Bunratty Castle
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After over 12 hours we arrived safe and sound in Dublin, and we all agreed it had been a fantastic day.

Dublin 2014, part II – what to do in Dublin on a Sunday

After having a rather busy week behind me, I found out it would be nice just to take a walk on Sunday, and maybe sit down and drink tea and read my book for a while. So, that was pretty much I used my Sunday for.

I headed over the river towards Dublin 2. It was actually quite quiet in the centre of the city at this pont, probably because it was a Sunday before noon. The weather was gray, with the occationally showers of rain, and walking around Temple Bar was quite nice. I also headed for St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, which is a more quiet shopping centre, and I like the interiour.

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A pub in Temple Bar.
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South Great George’s Street
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Inside St Stephen Green Shopping Centre.
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After having walked around for a while, it was nice to sit down with a cup of tea and read my book. I found a tea room I had been recommended: Oolong Flower Power. The name might sound a bit hippie like, however, it is nothing of the sort. It had a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere, and it was no doubt that these people knew their tea! In other words, it was a perfect place for a tea lover! It was wonderful to sit there, drink my pot of delicious Darjeeling first flush tea and read my book.

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At the tea room Oolong Flower Power.
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After having tea, I strolled back to the hotel. While doing so, I stopped by some familiar statues, like Molly Malone and James Joyce. I decided to stay in my room and relax until I went out for dinner (I had vegan sushi that was really good), and then went to bed early.

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Molly Malone
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In Dublin, fair city…

…where the girls are so pretty. That’s where I am right now. I flew in from London yesterday, and didn’t do a whole lot in the afternoon, other than walking around. Nothing new there, in other words. It was nice, though, just to get a grip on where my hotel is, and such.

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Hello, Ireland!
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Today has been a lovely day. I woke up at stupid o’clock, for unknown reasons, and decided to just relax and read and relax in the hotel’s lobby while waiting for fellow blogger Jennifer to arrive. I had somehow forgotten to put the right time zone in my calendar, so it said we were supposed to meet at noon, while the e-mail (when double checking) clarely said one. Oh well, I had my book, and Jennifer actually arrive a lot earlier than planned, so all was good.

Our day together included a yummy lunch, watching a guy playing music in Grafton Street (he was actually really good), taking a walk in the lovely St Sephen’s Greens, and looking around Trinity College. We pretty much gave up on trying to look at the Book of Kell’s after seeing the huge queue outside. It was still nice, though. Oh, and we managed to squeezing in a couple of bookshops and some coffee too!

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Oisin and Malachy (without Oisin) in Grafton Street.
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Trinity College, Dublin.
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Trinity College, Dublin.
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After saying goodbye to Jennifer, I walked around Tower Records and Easton (the bookshop), before heading bak to the hotel for a rest, before heading outside again, for hunting down dinner. I had pizza at a medicore Italian restaurant, and then went back to the hotel. it was vey windy outside, so it was good to just relax inside.