Waterford, Ireland Hotels, Resort Accommodations

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WATERFORD 's appearance from the river is deceptively grim: the bare and open stretch of water with its ugly grey wharves and cranes of the working port holds no suggestion of the lively city that lies beyond its dull quays. This is the commercial capital of the southeast, and yet it retains buildings from Viking and Norman times, as well as from the eighteenth century - all periods of past eminence. The web of narrow streets that grew up as the focus for commercial activity in the city's earliest days holds the modern city together in compact dynamism. While Waterford has had the modern infrastructure of a mercantile, rather than a rural, centre for decades, the city has developed socially and economically even within the last ten years, and the large number of students here has generated an increasingly upbeat social scene.

Waterford is basically a modern European port wrapped around an ancient Irish city. The historic town can happily be explored in a day or so, and the nightlife also warrants some sampling. Though a small city by European standards, it has some excellent bars, a small but growing number of decent and imaginative places to eat, and the burgeoning youth/rock scene of an optimistic, albeit small-scale, urban environment. Alongside the city's modernity, though, there's plenty that's traditional, most obviously the place of the pub as a focal point of social activity, and the persistence of music as an integral part of city life.

Waterford is centred on a wedge of Georgiana, between the eighteenth-century shops and houses of O'Connell and George streets , which run behind the modern quays, and the faded splendour of Parnell Street and The Mall with their fine doorways and fanlights. The city's prime attraction is Waterford Treasures , which stands on Merchants Quay, housing an extraordinary collection of Viking and medieval artefacts. Head east along the quays from here for about half a mile and you'll pass a clock tower and a turning into Barronstrand Street, which runs through the city's main shopping area and through a number of changes of name to John Street, with its great concentration of fast-food joints and bars. Continue along the quays from the clock tower and after about half a mile you will reach Reginald's Tower , the most impressive remaining medieval building in Waterford. The area of tangled laneways between here and The Mall contains some of the city's finest juxtapositions of medieval and eighteenth century architecture, including Christ Church Cathedral , which dates from 1770. The splendours of that era are remembered too at Waterford Crystal , the world-famous glass factory about one and a half miles from the city centre, a trip to which is vigorously promoted throughout the region.

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