Published: June 1st 2012June 1st 2012
Best Guinness Ever
Our first pours at the Gravity Bar
Trevor here, you're probably wondering what we've been up to since we haven't made any posts yet but this is the first time we've had free access to a computer with internet! We've just checked into our hostel in Oxford, England but this post will catch you up on all of our Irish adventures.
Our first hiccup came before we even reach the airport. About 20 minutes south of Newark our caravan (Mr. Hill's minivan) broke down on the Jersey Turnpike, ew! Luckily the Sulichs weren't too far away to pick us up while the van got towed to the nearest stop. On we were with a short 30 minute flight to Philladelphia where we had a 2 hour layover before our 7 hour flight to Dublin. We were surprised to find that our flight came with a choice of pasta or chicken and a muffin top in the morning.
DAA was quiet when we arrived at 9 am and after drudging through customs we took the airlink to the city center. Our hostel, the Generator, is located in Smithfield which is about a 10 minute walk from the downtown. Originally we were a little creeped
Cricket in Phoenix Park
More professional than the kids.
out by the space music they were playing in the lobby when we went to drop off our bags but it turned out to be quite clean with a spacious bar area. The only major problem was a lack of airflow in the rooms that keep us up sweating our first night.
But enough of the boring, let's get right into the fun stuff. Our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse, possibly the most popular brewery in the world. It's tucked away at a massive warehouse in a corner of the city. After customary pictures in front of St. James Gate we dove right in for our self guided tour. The six store vistor centre took us from the ingredients through the brewing process (something we could never get right) on to the history, advertising. Our favorite part however is the so-called "Gravity Bar" atop the storehouse. Here is where everyone is entitle to their free pint and a breathtaking 360 degree view of the city below.
After stopping for a quick lunch at Ryan's Pub, a local gamblers watering hole, we made our way for Kilmainham Goal, a jail known for its brutal history during the famine
The Blue Light Pub
First stop on our pub tour.
and fight for Irish independence. It had an eerie feel walking down the halls where everyone from children to petty theifs to rebel leaders would stay in overcrowded and isolated rooms.
We weren't down for long though as a beautiful Irish day lead us to Phoenix park, one of the largest city parks I must say I've ever seen. It has its fair share of monuments and fields, both rugby and cricket where we saw what appeared to be a summer camp for kids. No different than baseball the outfielders all sit down for a nap in the grass so we did the same.
Our night then was spent in Temple Bar, the touristy paddywhackery that keeps the locals out. Unforunately the kitchens close at 10 and the bars not much later, 12, though we were able to have our fair share of fun. The highlight being the famous "Temple Bar" where Traditional Irish Folk can be heard. We stayed till close and stumbled upon the Porterhouse on our way back home where we caught the band closing with the classic "Hey Jude" suspended in the middle of the 3 story pub haven.
Long first day, eh?
Well makes sense then that we wouldn't wake up till 1:30 PM on Tuesday (partly from our lack of sleep due to heat and snoring roommates). Better rested we set out for Grafton Street, the commercial pedestrian-only shopping district. On our way we grabbed a full Irish breakfast from O'Neil's Pub, another massive 3 story complex. Included is everything from fried egg to black/white pudding (think this is liver but we're still not sure) and beans. Now you can see why they call it the heart attack and for us that would be our only meal of the day. After seeing yet another 10 foot unicycle show (unimpressive at this point) we explored the parks of St. Stephen and Merrion Square. A lot smaller but more centrally located they were nice even on such an overcast day.
Next up was the Museum of Natural History which houses a TON of ancient artifacts dug up from all across Ireland, most of which found in bogs or mud pits. Among the more interesting were a series of preserved "bog bodies," skin and all out for display dated to ~200 BC. No photographs allowed unforunately but take our word for it they were disturbingly awesome.
A quick breeze through O'Connel Street (borring gov't buildings) and we were ready for a Guinness or five. Among our stops was the Brazen Head, a stone wall pub claiming to be the oldest in Dublin with a founding in the late 12th century. There we met a group of graduates from Mount St. Marrys, even one Alex G. that knew Kelleen from high school, wild! We'd follow them to St. John Goggartys another Traditional Irish Tourist Pub located in Temple Bar. Did I mention it was expensive? Well as one might expect it was, around 5 euro a pint, but sadly on a Tuesday night it's about all that's going on.
We split ways and retired to the Generator but not before hanging out at the hostel bar where we met a Dubliner who hates Dublin and a group of ex-marines that got VIP treatment at the Guinness Storehouse (unlimited beers and a meet n greet with the brewmaster) through Chicago Radioshow Connections.
Wednesday morning was slow for us as we'd seen just about all we'd come to see in Dublin. So we wandered around till 3 PM when our lovely guide Shane picked us up to start our 9 hour "rural pub tour." Accompanied by a youngish Alaskan couple and a large Canadian Hockey referee, we hit the windy roads south of the city for what would be the highlight of our stay. It being a weekday the pubs weren't all too popular but they were very cozy and even cozier the company. We intermingled with the locals and the vistors, sharing stories and enjoying the cleared up weather. At our last stop in Wicklow (named after the river, source of the vital Guinness ingredient) we experienced a growing collection of local musicians that grew to be about twelve in a synchronized jam. Bellies full and heads tired we headed back to Dublin for our last night in Ireland.
Bright and Early at 6 am we awoke to catch our 8 AM ferry at the Dublin dock on the East side of town. Following the directions of our conceirge, we caught the tram to The Point and began our walk, backpacks and all, to the terminal. What was supposed to be a 10 minute walked turned out to be a 30 minute sprint only to miss our ferry. Luckily enough there was an 8:45 that arrived in Holyhead, England sooner than expected and at no additional cost.
Slainte Ireland! (that's gaelic for Cheers, pronounced: slawncha)
Coming Soon: The English Countryside
P.S. Missing you all back home, blah blah blah, etc etc, whatever Europes fun
P.P.S. Sorry for the crap/lack of pics, they're from Peter's camera. More to come