Marina just made
her first stop in Dublin for the summer season, which inspired me to pull out
photos of my recent trip to Dublin as Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises. If
you haven’t been, there are several opportunities on sailings this summer and
next, and I highly recommend exploring this wonderful city steeped in history.

If you select a sailing with an overnight stay in Dublin,
you might spend some time exploring the beautiful Irish countryside. While some
decry Ireland’s frequent rains, the reward is lush green hills, verdant pastures
and the iconic rainbows – often they even come in pairs!

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Despite the amount of rainfall, Ireland also gets plenty of
sunshine, and I enjoyed a beautiful sunny day during my visit to Dublin. With its
heart on its sleeve, Dublin doesn’t pretend or try to be something it is not.
Everywhere I looked I saw its jovial spirit written on the faces of its
residents, its spirituality exuding from the many churches, its conviviality
embodied in the pub culture, and its ancient and modern history harmoniously situated
side by side throughout the city.

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One of the nice things about Dublin is that many of the
major landmarks can be found along the River Liffey, so I was able to see quite
a few sights by meandering parallel to the river for a mile or so.

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I started the day with a jaunt through St. Stephen’s Green. An
oasis from the hustle and bustle of urban life, this is one of the larger city
parks, covering 22 acres. With more than two miles of walking trails and a
faithful adherence to its original Victorian layout, the park is a wonderful
example of this country’s passion for landscape design.

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After a quiet walk in the park, I headed a few blocks north to
visit Trinity College. A highlight of any trip to Dublin is a stop at Trinity
College Library, which displays the original Book of Kells. It is said that the
Irish “saved civilization” when Celtic monks set about meticulously copying the
books that were being destroyed across Europe after the fall of the Roman
Empire. Thought to have been created in the ninth century, the Book of Kells is
an immaculately preserved, illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels. Written
in Latin, the calligraphy of the text is itself a work of art, and the
intricacy of the colorful illustrations is astounding. The book is in a locked display
case, so only two pages are viewable, but these are certainly worth seeing. Replicas
of other pages are on display along with a treasure trove of other ancient works.
Unfortunately, photos are not allowed, so you’ll have to visit Dublin and see
this magnificent book for yourself.

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Continuing along the river, my next stop was the Temple Bar
District, which is located on the south bank. It is a unique neighborhood in
that it has preserved its medieval street pattern, with narrow cobblestone
streets that are lined with galleries, boutiques and, of course, a famous pub
or two.

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Just south of the Temple Bar District is Dublin Castle, the
prestigious city center, which has been continuously occupied since it was
built in 1204. Situated on 11 acres, the site includes two museums, two cafés,
an international conference center, two gardens, government buildings and the
State Apartments. With so much to see, I was not able to spend nearly as much
time here as I wanted, thus giving me ample reason to return as soon as
possible!

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Religion is a huge part of this country’s history and
culture, so there are numerous churches in Dublin, each one more striking than
the last. In fact, the city has two medieval churches that have shared status
as cathedrals of the Church of Ireland, an arrangement nearly unprecedented in
history. Christ Church Cathedral is an impressive structure founded in 1030 by
the Norse King Sitriuc Silkenbeard.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral has been at the heart of Ireland’s
history and culture since it achieved cathedral status in the early 13th century.
The largest cathedral in the country, it has been visited by many of Irish history’s
important dignitaries and is also the final resting place of Jonathan Swift.

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The Dublin sunset made an especially lovely backdrop for the
city’s churches as well as its more modern facades and bustling streets. As
evening approached, I decided it was time to stop for a pint of Guinness (or
maybe two) and a classic Irish meal.

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Dating to 1198, The Brazen Head is Ireland’s oldest pub. Here
you may sip a pint in the exact same spot as James Joyce, Jonathan Swift or
Michael Collins. Guinness is not only a delicious beverage but also a fabulous
cooking stock, as I discovered in a stew made with beef, mushrooms and onions
in a Guinness and thyme sauce served in Yorkshire pudding. You can also enjoy a
traditional Irish stew with chunks of lamb, vegetables and potatoes, as well as
several other classic Irish dishes. And of course, everything comes with
potatoes!

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After dinner and a pint, I headed to the famous Grafton Street
to share the remainder of my time with the lively crowds. The city is
an open book, and in only one day I was able to enjoy a fascinating look at the
history and culture of Ireland. I hope you will be able to do so as well on one
of Oceania Cruises’ upcoming sailings!

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2013 sailings to
Dublin include:

2014 sailings to
Dublin include:

*includes overnight stay in Dublin

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