Published: August 13th 2011August 13th 2011
While I was in Japan, I received a rather odd e-mail from my Mother. It said, rate these 4 places in order of where you want to go: Vancouver, St. Edward Island/ Nova Scotia, Tuscany, and Ireland. It took me .3 seconds to put Ireland at the top of the lis. I've had enough friends tell me how amazing Ireland was to know that if I was going to get some respect points from them, I had to go. I had to see the shades of green, I had to meet the people, and I had to drink a lot of Guinness.
That's how, a month after moving back home from Japan, I ended up on a plane to Europe. Specifically, Ireland. "I am going to drink so much Guinness" might have crossed my mind a couple of times before I headed to Ireland with my Mom and sister. It might have crossed my mind a lot while I was there. And I might have consumed copious amounts of the stuff while I was there. Okay, there was no 'might' involved. If the first day in Dublin was anything to go by, that 'might' was soon going to turn into
I admit it was strange to be in Europe for the first time in years. I have spent so much time in Asia, that I thought it was really strange to travel to a country that didn't A) have a whole bunch of Asians walking around and B) actually spoke my language. It took a long time for me to get back into the European feel fo Ireland. Lot's of town homes and not concrete jungles.
One of the first things I learned after getting off the plane was that the taxi drivers should all make their own tour companies. Every taxi we got in had a driver that could tell you the most interesting things. Like, "You can still see the bullet holes in that obelisk over there from The Troubles". I was tempted, on more than 1 occasion, to just pay a taxi driver to drive me around and just talk to me the whole time. I cannot imagine the sheer amount of information those guys have in their heads. Driving so many people around for so long has to lead to some useful and interesting knowledge of the place your driving around.
pub. An Irish symbol know round the world as a place to meet, talk, and drink. Walking around downtown Dublin there was a pub on every corner or, on most occasions, right next to each other. I had to wonder about the amount of competition those pubs had to deal with to be popular. I mean, out in the villages you could have a pub and be the only pub in town. Yet in Dublin there was just SO many of them. How do they all stay in business for longer than 2 years?
On our first and only day in Dublin, we used it as a lunch stop. We went to a lot of pubs the 2 weeks we were in Ireland, but the first time was just to get some food. Funny thing was, it was packed. Seems everybody else was using it as a lunch stop as well as a place to watch The Masters golf tournament. Maybe it was my naivety or my apathy for the spot in general, but I had no idea that golf was so popular in Europe. I'm sure that I really should have known how popular it was, since it
was invented there and everything, but I really had never put that much thought into it.
After the crash course on the culture of golf, we headed out to Guinness. And finally, the first Guinness of the trip. There is a Guinness museum and I had a great time going around the huge place. I'm talking 3 factory floors that were filled with little exhibits on how Guinness is made, it's history, and then the free pint you get on the top floor lounge. We easily spent a couple hours walking around and then enjoying the view over Dublin on the top floor bar. It was difficult to find a place to sit when we got there, but really, is there any better way to spend the afternoon than drinking a cold pint with a good view? I think not.
I am a nerd at heart and after getting my first pint of Guinness in Ireland down the hatch I was really looking forward to seeing The Book of Kells at Trinity College. The Book of Kells is one of , if not the, oldest illustrated bound books in the world. Well, we didn't make it before the
exhibit closed, but we did get to check out the college. Lots of history and stone work surrounded a very modern student body. I found my way into the student union, or student center to use the facilities and there were students everywhere. Most of them were just hanging out and others were eating from the little cafe.
It's very hard for me to explain the feeling I had walking around Ireland. It was almost a nostalgic feeling. It must be how modern yet historic Dublin and Ireland are. Like the usual clique of walking through time in an old city. I think it was reading Dubliners when I was in college that did it. It was like walking around the book and having James Joyce narrating the whole time.
We ended up have a little surprise walk around the downtown area. Found Dawson street, miraculously found out hotel again, and headed out for dinner. Right across the street from our hotel was this great little watering hole and dinner spot. Apparently, other guests had been frequenting the restaurant cause we had 2 women sit down next to us, chatted with the server and gave off the impression
that it wasn't the first time they had been to that restaurant.
I bailed out early and found the hotel room dark and perfectly cave-like for a long night of sleep. We had an early morning the next day.
There are more photos below