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posts about dublin.

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i’m back now. back home, in zurich. and we have been out yesterday, and it was wonderful, the weather being great, as great as it hasn’t been probably for a long, long time: the sun was shining bright, it was warm, and the places we visited on our trip were absolutely beautiful. we’ve been at brú na bóinne, visiting the passage graves knowth and newgrange. passage graves are basically hills with a tunnel (the passage) going inside, reaching finally a chamber, the grave itself. both of them are over 5000 years old, therefore being older than the pyramids in egypt. more interesting is the fact that newgrange’s inner chamber is completely dark all the time, except on midwinter, when, in case the sun isn’t blocked by clouds, it shines through a window over the tunnel into the grave and lightens it up a bit for around 17 minutes in the morning. it is amazing that such a long time ago, people managed to build this up with such a precision.

on our visit, we had the chance to enter the grave, and to get a tiny impression of this event, using electric light instead of sun beams. first, being completely dark inside, one sees light crawling onto the floor, slowly increasing, the shattered photons adding some light, allowing to recognize the room’s structure, the other watchers, and, according to our guide, even their faces and colors of the inside. then, the light slowly fades away, the darkness crawling back out of the holes, covering everything. the only color left being black. pure absence of light, for another 364 days, 23 hours and a lot of minutes. or even for millennia, when entry stones fell down, blocked the way inside for the sun. today it’s different, though, electric light allowing tourists to see something, to wander around in this grave, appreciating its construction, gazing at the decoration carved into the stones, the spirals.
then, finally, being out again, the view of the landscape feels so beautiful, the green much more intense, one is happy to have escaped the blackness.
now, feel free to enjoy some views on these places.

i’m currently staying in dublin, attending the 11th workshop on elliptic curve cryptography. our view on the countryside has been very brief, basically being limited to the view out of our cabs window on the way from the airport to our hotel. we haven’t seen much more from the city, mainly exploring the way from our hotel to the ucd campus, which means walking next to a big busy street for 20 minutes, walking a bit over trinity college yesterday on the way to the conference dinner, and then seeing the inside of some restaurants and pubs. a very nice pub was a real, completely non-touristic irish pub which we’ve been in two days ago (the only tourists in there being us). it were actually two pubs, connected by a small door and owned by the same person, the difference being a bit the ambient—the one more aristocratic, the other for the plebs—and, suprisingly, the prices, being slightly higher in the aristocratic part. well, and the people were slightly different too, like more suits could be seen in the aristocratic part. opposing to that, we were in a very touristic pub yesterday, with “folk” music and dancing. probably only remotely related to real irish traditions. but very popular among tourists.
another strange thing we encountered is the fact that almost noone here speaks irish. ask a random irish person on the streets, chances are really small he does. well, they apparently learn it in school, but they probably like it as much as the germans like to learn frensh in school: most aren’t able to do a conversation exceeding something like “hi, my name is felix, who are you?”…
this afternoon, we’ll probably see a bit more ireland; planning’s still to be done, we are aiming at something but it’s not sure yet that we can get there in time. if we do, i’ll write about it tomorrow, after my return home. stay tuned.