Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dublin, Ireland: Sweeeeet Sweet Guinness

I am quite happy to say that I have finally found a good moment to sit down and write a blog post. My intention is always to write far more consistently than my schedule actually permits. For example, last week I was looking to write a blog post before I left for Spain, but I had to prioritize an essay, and never got around to it. Luckily, I will be in Oslo until the 14th of April which considering my pace in the earlier part of the semester is a fairly good amount of time. So hopefully I will be able to catch up on posts before I head off to beautiful Croatia on the 14th. Also, I expect this blog post to quite long because Dublin was quite an eventful trip, so get out your reading glasses. Before I begin to write about the absolutely incredible time I had in Dublin, I wanted to note a few things. I have been collecting shot glasses from every city that I have been to since I arrived and two from some like Scotland where I also got a Mitchell Clan shot glass. It sounds like a cheesy souvenir on the exterior, but I have found that if you can get the right shot glass it actually says a lot about the culture or perceptions of the city itself. For example, the Vienna shot glass has a gold rim which to me signifies their wealthy history and general belief in their power and royalty. The shot glass from Scotland is a kilt, and when you take a shot it turns upside down like you are looking up a kilt. For me that signified their humour, and of course there general obsession with kilts. Also, just a quick thanks to everyone who has been following and seemingly enjoying my blog. I've got over a 1000 views now which is really an encouraging factor for me to keep writing, and perhaps more importantly enjoy writing.

So here we go. I arrived at the Dublin airport with no real concrete plan on how I was going to meet up with Kaitlin who was already there. My Norwegian phone is absolute garbage and can't make phone calls internationally even with an international SIM card, so I figured it would be an interesting experience. I was just about to put money in a payphone when I saw her and her family friend who I would be staying with for the evening. She had even brought her car, so we listened to some great Irish music on the way home, and immediately I felt right back in my element. I had honestly been dying to get back to Ireland, so it was fantastic driving back towards the city center. I found it quite funny that the first sense of real enjoyment I got from being back in Ireland was the moistness of the air when I breathed, but this of course could be do to the fact that Norway is freezing, and the air is drier than a desert. We went back to her house, and she immediately won my heart over with a huge arrangement of food. We ate mounds of food, and I got a great sleep, which I found out in the following days was crucial to keeping me going in Dublin. I know the blog is pretty text heavy so far, but I can assure you that the latter half is filled with some great photos, so hold tight if you're thinking of bailing on the blog.

Kaitlin and I got up early and went to meet the free walking tour near Dublin City Hall. It was run by a company called Sandeman's which does a fantastic job. All they ask for is a tip, if you can at the end of the tour, and they also run a pretty excellent pub crawl. If anyone is looking for the locations of these walking tours, or just generally interested they can find them here --> However, on this particular day the afternoon tour wasn't going on, so we pondered what to do. Suddenly about six students from my school, Queen's University, arrived and were also looking to do the tour, along with two Americans from Oregon who I would end up going out with later that night. I decided that since I had been to Dublin before, and was a former tour guide, that I would attempt to be the tour guide for the day. It actually worked out quite well and we went to Dublin Castle, Christ Church, St.Patrick's Cathedral, St.Stephens Green, and then up Grafton Street to Trinity College. I can't even explain how much deja vu I was getting walking around the city that I had traversed up and down four years earlier while attending the summer program at Trinity. Of course, the most deja vu I would get was back on the campus of Trinity College. As you can see by the picture I was extremely happy, and even relieved to get back to my old stomping grounds. Kaitlin, Charles, the two Americans and I decided to do the tour which would give us access in the end to the Book of Kells, which was a book with an extensive religious history written by monks around the year 800. The tour was great, and afterward we went and checked out the Book of Kells up close. Joseph, one of the Americans, let me know that these monks were so meticulous in the creation of these texts that with even one mistake they would discard the book, even after 4 or 5 years of work, and start over. They also would bury the books because it was considered blasphemy to burn them. After all this educational traveling we decided that it was time for some fish and chips and a Guinness, and thus headed off to a local pub. I don't know what it is about the Irish Guinness, but it absolutely blows my mind. It is just a little bit sweeter, smoother, and more delicious than Guinness you can get anywhere else. I took most opportunities on this trip to stop and enjoy the sweet Irish nectar known as Guinness.

We walked back through Temple Bar district, and I could feel the streets buzzing for Paddy's Day which would be happening oh-so-soon. I also got a sweet picture of some Graffiti that wasn't there when I was in Dublin four years earlier, and thought it represented Temple Bar down to a tee in the sense that it so colourful, vibrant, and full of life.

Later that night we headed over to the hostel that the Americans were staying at, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole boatload of North Americans. After a few drinking games and some conversing, the Canadians began to drop the name Sidney Crosby as our heroic overtime goalscorer who won the Gold Medal Olympic hockey game for us. We decided we would put our combatant emotions into a picture which turned out fantastically (located on the left). It was great to embody our loving North American rivalry in an epic picture, and it was also one of the more hilarious moments of the trip. We all went out, and of course lost a few people along the way, but ended up having a great night out in the Temple Bar district. We said our goodbyes to the friendly Americans who were headed off to Belfast due to the lack of vacancy in the hostels in Dublin for Paddy's Day. Luckily, all of us booked our hostels in September for this event because for me...I just had to be there...No question.

We woke up early the next day despite the previous nights antics, and headed off to the Dublin Writer's Museum. It was really the English major in me that brought me to this place, and luckily Kaitlin was also really up for seeing it. Dublin has such an amazing array of writers from James Joyce and Jonathan Swift to incredible poets such as W.B Yeats. I still have fond memories of reading "The Dubliners' by James Joyce on O'Connell Street years before. We perused the collections of original artifacts and books of the famous authors, and then caught a "one man show" performance in the room upstairs in the museum. There were only a handful of people who attended, but it was honestly one of the highlights of the trips for me. It was performed by a man named Neil O'Shea who has achieved critical acclaim with his performance on Irish Writers worldwide. Here is an advertisement posted years before by The Irish Actors Theatre Compony of one of his performances --> After that it was directly off to the Guinness Storehouse which was apparently packed with Canadians from back home. It turns out that it was, and I couldn't have been happier to arrive on the grounds of the Guinness Storehouse as the picture to the left suggests. It was another event that brought back fond memories of years before. We embarked on the tour and immediately found about 20 people from Queen's University in the sample room. There really couldn't have been a better place to find them. This is because we stayed in the sample room for about half an hour taking as much Irish Beer for Canadian mouths as they would allow. It was so busy they didn't even notice, but it appeared to have an effect on the general population of Canadians at the storehouse that day. It was also funny that I ran into a guy from Montreal who I had met on the Prague International Pub Crawl only weeks before, and it again reminded me of how small and funny the world can be. We headed up the Guinness Skybar, which has arguably the best view of Dublin on a sunny day and had a few of the Guinness' finest beers. To the right is a picture of us enjoying the view, and of course enjoying the beer. It was a fantastic day, and an even better night. Its also quite ironic that I am wearing an Australian beer shirt (Victoria Bitter) in an Irish beer storehouse, but hey it's green right?

We headed back to the room to grab some food and get ready for the night. Getting ready generally involved wearing an Irish rugby jersey, a Green, Orange and White lei around my neck, and of course a little bit of Green hair dye. In the end you can see what I look like to the left of this text. And I would do it the following day as well, but a little bit greener. We arrived at Abigail's hostel where everyone was staying, and we would be staying the following night, to find it packed with Canadians. There were probably 50-60 Queen's students, 20 McGill students, and 10 students for Dalhousie along with an array of other schools in Canada. What does all of this add up to? fantastic mayhem. Considering it was the night before St.Paddy's day we went out and had a fantastic night, and woke up early the next morning ready for O'Connell Street.
When we awoke this is what O'Connell street looked like. And this wasn't even the most packed part of the street. Further down O'Connell there were people on monuments, light posts, and the whole bit. The newspaper estimated the next day that 650,000 people had arrived for St.Paddy's Day, and I can tell you that a lot of them were on O'Connell Street. We walked down O'Connell and enjoyed the spectacular parade, then headed over to Abigail's to check in. Once we were there it appeared that the party was already full fledged. This picture is a good indication of what the hostel was like at 11am on St.Paddy's Day. It was honestly one of the greatest days you can imagine with everyone having a great time. It was great to rendezvous will all my friends from around Europe, and share an experience that will surely be talked about all through 4th year back at Queen's University. Before we knew it the light had faded and the night had begun. I headed off to Fitzsimmon's which is a five floor bar with a roof top patio that was incredible for Paddy's Day. I actually ended up meeting some Aussies who I will be running into on Queen's Day in Amsterdam in about 3 weeks time. I woke up the following day, checked out early, and caught my flight to one of my new favorite European cities - Edinburgh. But I won't end on that note, but rather leave you with a great picture of all of us on St.Paddy's Day.

1 comment:

  1. For younger travelers, those on a budget, or those who simply see hotels as a place to rest their head between activities, hostels are a great way to go.

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