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Published: December 26th 2019
Lovely buffet breakfast at the hotel. This is the last day of the trip; heading home tomorrow.
Last night, before retiring, we booked one-day passes for Dublin’s hop-on, hop-off bus. Our plan, which we have employed in other cities, is to ride the entire circuit once, then do it again, stopping at interesting locations we have picked out, subject to time constraints.
With just over a million people, Dublin is by far Ireland’s largest city. Happily, however, the core of the Irish capital is actually fairly compact. The weather as we start out is not too bad; no rain but an unsettled sky. Our brilliant plan for using the bus is immediately knocked into a cocked hat thanks to the visit to Dublin today of British prime minister Boris Johnson. Whole areas of the city are temporarily off-limits, and traffic chaos ensues. We do manage to complete a truncated circuit of the city on the bus, but the traffic is very bad. At its furthest, the route takes us all the way out to Phoenix Park, which we stopped at yesterday.
Starting the second loop, we descend at a trendy district situated just the other side of the
Ha’Penny Bridge. Called Temple Bar, this neighbourhood takes its name from a bright-red pub that started operations circa 1330. It's a picturesque area that is fun to walk through. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with intriguing shops and pubs in refurbished heritage buildings. I spot a couple of young men rolling a parade of metal barrels of beer down the street, presumably because the supply truck couldn't navigate the inner streets.
One of our goals is to find the Dublin Hard Rock, where we pick up some souvenirs for a certain somebody who works at Hard Rock Ottawa. It's already lunch time, and in search of some novel fare, we choose a Mongolian BBQ. That hits the spot.
Back on the hop-on, hop-off bus, we continue the circuit. The driver delivers a continuous stream of information, well-polished with the right mix of facts, stories and jokes. We pass by the Kilmainham Goal that we saw yesterday. This institution, now a museum, has a long history of cruel imprisonment and punishment. It's where the leaders of the 1916 uprising were executed; a sculpture in the front yard bears stark witness. We also pass by the new modern convention
centre, the Guinness Storehouse and Museum, the Jameson Distillery, and the Pearce Lyons Distillery. If you detect a theme here, you're right: Dublin's brewing and distilling heritage is a major tourist draw.
After careful consideration, I have elected to visit yet another distillery, Teelings. It is actually the only working distillery in the city; the others are now only museums. We wait for the start of the group guided tour in an anteroom with informative displays. One factoid is (and I quote) “Dublin distillers successfully lobbied to have an ‘E’ added to ‘whisky’ to differentiate Dublin whiskey from perceived inferior alternative Irish and Scottish whisky producers”. A display that garbers a lot of attention is the Teeling Throne, evoking the one from GoT.
Our guide eventually rallies the group and takes us through the entire distillation process: malting, fermenting, distilling, and maturation. The three massive gleaming copper kettles—named Allison, Natalie and Rebecca after the co-founder's daughters—are especially impressive. Of course, the best comes at the end of the tour, when a flight of whiskeys are offered for our assessment and enjoyment. And, yes of course, I buy a few bottles to bring home.
One of the impressive
aspects of Dublin is the number of museums. Many of them are free, and discount packages are widely available. If we visit Dublin again, I will want to spend significant time in the city's museums.
The delays this morning thanks to Mr. Johnson mean that we are now out of time, although there are many other places we would love to visit. We are under orders to be back at the hotel at 4:30 pm, so we complete the bus circuit and arrive back at the hotel just in time.
From the hotel we are bussed to our final event as a group, an Irish feast and show at Taylor’s Cabaret. The venue is on the other side of town and traffic is still snarled, so it takes us about 45 minutes. Taylor’s looks small from the outside but is enormous inside. The place is packed with tourists. We are seated at long wooden tables and served an excellent meal featuring Irish stew, wine and Irish coffee. Another high-energy show with music, dance, song and comedy. The musicians (guitar, fiddle, tin whistle and harp) play to recorded back tracks. I especially enjoy the Irish harp. The dancers are
also excellent. The headline performer is comedian Noel Ginnity. He’s an older gentlemen whose schtick is to reel off an endless stream of corny Irish jokes about Paddy and his wife. And he’s hilarious.
On the road back, we start off pretty much silent, as we realize that this is the end of the tour. Tony will have none of that. He acts as DJ and spins a series of corney old pop tunes like “Islands in the Stream” and “Crackling Rosie”. Everyone sings along.
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