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Published: October 31st 2010
Anna and Hillary
Dublin, Ireland - Part One: Trains, Ferries, and Pints
Disclaimer: all photos are the artistic work of Colleen McGoldrick
Right now I am sitting in the basement of the Four Courts Hostel in Dublin Ireland. One of you wonderful readers may question why at 11:37 am I would be sitting here instead of out exploring the city. Well, there is this tiny little thing called sleep and the lack of it does crazy things to people (see post 2). Let me now go into detail about our (Hillary Eggers and myself) lovely travel arrangements, made by the beautiful and clever me. Last week Wednesday as we were planning the trip, I was amazed to find that the UK Railways had the option of traveling to Ireland by ferry for £30.50 and comparing this to the outrageous cost of flying - £121.00 - it seemed like a deal to good to pass up. Plus we got to ride on a ferry. Unfortunately, my schedule at University includes a class from 9-11 am each Friday, which means that our travel plans commenced at around 1:00 pm.
At 1:36 when we caught out first train, it seemed like
A full moon over Dublin...
this travel plan was off to a great start. Despite some awkwardness (on my part, Hillary is a pro) while getting the tickets, and navigating the platforms we managed to hop onto a train for Cardiff relatively easily, and arrived there with 4 hours to go until our next train. We tried and failed to find the Doctor Who exhibit, and ended up staying in a bookstore for most of the time. Finally, after consuming some not to satisfactory sandwiches and red wine, we boarded our last train at 7:30 pm. It was unknown to us that this was to be the longest, most cramped part of the journey. Not only did the train stop at almost every stop between Cardiff and Holyhead, but it also broke down for around twenty minutes and the lights were never turned off. After 5 hours of a mostly uncomfortable train ride we finally arrived in Holyhead, which we had heard (from a talkative Welch women who was appalled at Hillary’s lack of distinction between the Wales and England) was a rough and tumble port town, where we should “take care”. Translation: I hope you Americans are tougher than you seem because otherwise you
will be mugged.
Luckily, the train station and the ferries are beautifully connected and after hopping off the train, being hit on by a creepy-old-drunk-Irish man (who heartily congratulated Hillary on being a teacher and then skipped the queue), and going through the easiest security known to mankind, we were driven onto the absolutely lush ferry. It literally was a cruise ship. There was a cinema, a shopping mall, a lounging room with seats that reclined, 5 cafes and a playground set. Literally everything was plush reds and gold. The only problem was the lack of beds; I slept on the floor on top of my cardigan with my scarf covering my face to block out the light. It was a passable nap.
When we arrived in Dublin it was 6:30 in the morning. If any of you have experienced me in the morning you will know that I am not the most pleasant. Add my unpleasant disposition to the fact that it was pitch black (literally looked like it was midnight) and what results is a slightly crabby Anna - although Hillary was probably worse off. We found our way from the port to one
of the many bridges that cross the River Liffey, and then into a tourist trap shop. Luckily, it turned out that the shop owner (although a little bemused to find two very lost, very tired women in his shop as he was opening) was not interested in making an outrageous profit off of us. Instead of letting us buy one of his very overpriced maps, he insisted on giving us directions to our hostel (Four Courts Hostel - amazing service) and shooing us out of his shop. Upon arriving safely to the hostel the receptionist directed us down to the couches in the mostly not used “Reading Room” in the basement of the hostel. We were there able to take a much-needed 5-hour nap, and were only momentarily startled when the cleaning staff turned on the lights.
After being revitalized by our nap, we bravely took to the now bright streets of Dublin. It was literally bright, I couldn’t believe that I walked out and it was sunny. According to a local there are 4-5 sunrises a day, when the sun decides to be playful and let the poor citizens of the city see its amazing rays. We weren’t sure
The Four Courts
Spectacular building situated directly across from our hostel.
what that meant but we loved the playful sunshine that invaded Dublin! Hillary and I decided that the best thing that we could do that day was wandering. So off we went. We made it to a place that served an Irish Breakfast (Hillary went for the full monty, I could only handle half). We then stumbled upon a brilliant little shoe shop (purple heels ten euro - kerching) and found our way back to the brilliant (have I convinced you to go there yet) hostel. We met Colleen, whose photos are featured heavily, and she joined our merry band of travelers.
Our next adventure was quintessentially Irish, disgustingly touristy, ridiculously overpriced, and amazingly awesome. That is right I am talking about the thing you have all been waiting (approximately 119.53 seconds) for, what has been keeping you buzzing with excitement, fizzing with possibilities, hopping about with glee, and fermenting with joy, is anyone still in the dark about the magnificent place I am describing? That is right it is the Guinness Factory, which is only worth it due to the “free” pint at the top. Actually I had a blast exploring the 7 floors of the factory.
Hillary and a Policeman
Hillary apparently can be grumpy... who would have known?
Random fact time! The Guinness factory is modeled after a factory in Chicago IL (what people in Europe think is my hometown pride) but was remodeled recently to house the largest pint glass in existence. The factory circles around the pint glass until it reaches the top, where there is a bar with a 360 degree view of Dublin, and a free pint of Guinness. The factory starts with a simplified version of the brewing process, wherein you can touch the barley, water and hops that they use, and be mystified by the fact that Guinness uses a super-special-secret-yeast. The next part is a historical museum-esque tour of the old advertisements, the old trains, the old etc. Finally after being drowned in advertisements so that you are suffocating in Guinness product placement you make it to the fantastic view and the best pint of Guinness you will ever drink (possibly enjoy - possibly not, really there is a 25:75 chance). P.S. if you missed the previous temporal reference, it take 119.53 seconds to draw a proper pint of Guinness, I learned that when I became a brewing apprentice. The final stop in the factory is the gift shop at the
Dublin at Night
The River Liffey
exit - mind you that everyone that has come into the factory has had a pint before they enter the shop - I spent too much.
Our sojourn into the world of Guinness now complete, we bravely ventured into the hostel to cook ourselves some frozen pizza. While there we met the wonderful Aussie Josh, who completed our troop of musketeers. That night (after taking a much needed nap on my part) we headed out to experience Temple Bar. For those of you not quite up to par on your Dublin geography, Temple Bar is not only a bar/pub but it also describes a whole block of pubs, clubs and hubs of live music. Dublin nightlife might be my favorite so far. We ended up in a little hole in the wall pub that was packed with Dubliners enjoying a pint of lager for 5.50 euro. Overall, it was a fantastic evening and I fell asleep quite contented with life!
Alright, since this blog is stretching out now over two typed pages - and I am sure that only about 25% of you have made it to this point in my rambling -I will leave the
A river runs through it
rest till another day. I apologize for the cliffhanger.
On a side note if you are over-eager-beavers and want to know the rest of the story the pictures stretch over my entire time in Dublin, and were graciously provided by Colleen McGoldrick.
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