Dublin, Ireland

My addiction to Eurotripping continued this past weekend, as I spent it in Dublin with two other guys, Sean (from Iowa) and Davis (from U of Alabama, and for those of you who remember the show “two-a-days” on MTV about Hoover High School Football in ‘Bama, he went there and was part of the Season 1 Seniors, but he didn’t actually play football, but still pretty cool).

The 3 of us got decently cheap flights out of Bristol to Dublin on Friday evening and stayed until Monday night. We planned the trip kind of last minute, andcould not find any good hostels (price or location) but ended up finding an apartment on travelocity.com, that cost me only 75 quid for the three nights total (actually cheaper then a lot of the hostels would of end up being).  When we got to our apartment, we were all blown away. This place was by far nicer then any place I have lived in college. Sean and I each had our own bedrooms with huge beds, and Davis had a nice leather pull out couch. We had a fully equipped kitchen, a large dinner table, nice hardwood floors, multiple sofas, and a tv(something I have pretty much been without since I’ve been here). In addition to this, it was within a 10 minute walk of pretty much everything we wanted to do in Dublin. The place ended up being an amazing find for us and I felt like royalty for the weekend.

Our Apartment living room in Dublin

Our Apartment living room in Dublin

So after arriving in Dublin, getting settled into our place, and finding some food to eat, it was late Friday evening, and we figured it was time to start joining in at what the Irish do best, you guessed it, drinking. We had the game plan of going to as many pubs as possible and getting one drink per pub. The first pub we went to was the “Brazen Head.” This is the oldest pub in Dublin, 811 years old to be exact. And the drink of choice in Dublin obviously has to be a pint of the black stuff, Guinness. I have actually started to become quite fond of it since coming over here and actually consider it my go to drink, doctors actually recommend it too! (so the ads say ha)

The Oldest Pub in Ireland

The Oldest Pub in Ireland

After the Brazen Head, we headed into the famous Temple Bar area. This is like Dublin’s bar/social scene area (like Iowa City’s PedMall, Swansea’s Wind Street). Things were pretty crazy here. People everywhere, street performers, drunks passed out all over the streets, and tons of traditional Irish pubs. We went into quite a few, and had a number of pints of Guinness and also Ireland’s 2nd most famous drink- Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Davis, me and Sean with a random street performer in Temple Bar

Davis, me and Sean with a random street performer in Temple Bar

After an amazing night of sleep (best bed I’ve slept in since I’ve been abroad, and slept in a little bit too), we had two tours planned for our Saturday afternoon; The Old Jameson Distillery and The Guinness Brewery.  This day also happened to be Sean’s 22nd bday (as well as my lil bro’s 19th who I didn’t get to talk to, but who now gets a blog shout-out, happy bday Mo!)

First up was the Old Jameson Distillery. This was the site of the production of the Whiskey for almost 200 years until a new distillery was built 40 years ago elsewhere in Ireland. But this meant we got to go through all of the different parts of it and they still had it looking like what it used to. So we learned all how it is made, how Irish whiskey is distinguished from Scotch and Bourbon, John Jameson’s legacy, and finished off with a free glass, along with a taste testing.

This tour I had to endure one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. I was one of the few people randomly picked out of our tour group to be an official taste tester (got to try multiple different whiskeys, learn how to drink them and tell the differences, and also an “official Jameson taste tester certificate). BUT, Sean really wanted to do it too, and didn’t get picked, and me being the good friend I am, I let him have my spot as an official tester since it was his Bday. I really wanted to do it, and this was not an easy thing for me to give up, but I did so. And he really appreciated it, I hope.

I had to settle with my glass of Jameson and watch, but I ended up basically getting to do it anyway though, because the girl next to Sean realized she didn’t like whiskey at all and gave me all of hers and let me do it. Only difference I ended up having to live with was the lack of an official certificate that Sean got, but I’m coping. But I did get an official Jameson drink stirer thingy! ha

Sean and I drinking our free glass of Jameson after our Whiskey tasting

Sean and I drinking our free glass of Jameson after our Whiskey tasting

Next up was the Guinness Storehouse tour, located within St. James Gate, or basically just the acres and acres of land that has been the location of the Guinness Brewery for 250 years. This tour was not a guided one, but you go through 5 floors of all things Guinness before arriving at the gravity bar at the top for a free pint. We learned all about how Guinness is brewed, its amazing history, what makes it so special, their long-standing history of excellent advertising, as well as many other things. We spent a couple hours going through the different levels, which was not easy to do knowing we had a free pint awaiting us at the top, but it was just so interesting we had to take everything in.

The final stop, the Gravity Bar, is where you get the best view of Dublin, It has a 360 degree panoramic view of all of the city, which was amazing. But the best part was the best pint of beer I’ve had in my life, a Guinness of course. (Sean got two free pints, damn birthdays). We hung out and mingled in the bar for a while, and even got to see a couple of famous people. Guillermo, the Mexican from Jimmy Kimmel live (Yimmmy!), was there filming a skit for the show for St. Patty’s day, and was doing it with the Guinness head master brewer. We were able to watch the taping from 5 feet away and it was really cool.

Guillermo from Jimmy Kimmel, the Head Master Brewer of Guinness and Me at the Gravity Bar

 That night we celebrated Sean’s birthday the only way we could think of; by having another Irish pub-crawl. Sean and I actually both randomly met separate groups of friends of friends this night too(I met some SMU girls that know Steph Fedler and Tyler Norris). The night was a great time out and Sean was very pleased with his entire birthday and celebrating we got to do.

On Sunday we started off getting brunch at a cafe. I had a full-on traditional Irish breakfast, complete with tea (first time I’ve ever drank multiple cups I believe, not to shabby). We then wandered around the city and took in some sites and saw some landmarks. We went to the Dublin Castle (lamest castle I’ve been to), multiple Cathedrals (St. Patrick’s was the biggest and best, it’s ginormous), St. Stephen’s Green Park (Dubs most famous park, very nice), and Gafton and O’Connell Streets (Dubs two most famous streets -shopping districts and what not). That night we had a really good dinner at a pub and then pretty much relaxed and took it easy the rest of the night.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Davis had an early flight back Monday morning, but Sean and I had the entire day to kill before ours. After check out from our amazing apartment, we did a little more exploring and wandering around, and eventually made it over to Croke Park Stadium (Ireland’s National Stadium) and the Gaelic Athletic Association Museum (Governing body of Gaelic sports- hurling, Gaelic football and handball).

We took a tour of the Stadium; we got to go into the dressing rooms, players lounges, vip areas, corporate boxes, and onto the pitch. It is a very cool and historic place. One big difference it had from American stadiums was that of the dressing/locker rooms. They are ALL about business. Their locker rooms were a single square room, cement floors, small open lockers, benches, and two medium sized tvs. None of the frills that American locker rooms have such as plasma tvs everywhere, sofas/recliners, video games, huge lockers. I’m pretty sure a lot of Amerian D-3 locker rooms have more frills. I have often discussed with my British friends how American sports in general are way more about the entertainment value, as where British sports are ALL about the sport, but this is just one example of that.

On the pitch at Croke Park

On the pitch at Croke Park

We then toured the GAA museum. The best part of this was learning about how to play the sports Gaelic football (kind of like Aussie Rules football, or like a combo of rugby and soccer) and hurling (like a combo of field hockey/lacrosse/Gaelic football). There was one area where you could test your skills out, a batting cage like area where a radar gun tested how hard you could wack a hurling ball with the stick, and another one for trying to Gaelic style kick a football through hoops. This was pretty interesting, especially the hurling, because my neither do my baseball or golf swinging skills translate to hitting the ball, and to make it worse there was a big group of Irish school-boy teenagers in the area at the same time, all who played hurling and were good. It was a big competition with all of them to see who could hit it the hardest, and obviously we couldn’t even come close to competing, so I proved my athleticism by baseball style throwing the ball harder then any of them could hit it (138 km/hour, or roughly 86 mph, not bad for not throwing a baseball in 8 months, but my arm is killing me today and I’m paying for it).

After proving my superiority to little Irish boys and receiving our official tour of Croke Park certificates it was time to head to the airport and back to Swansea so I could get some sleep before my Tuesday morning class.

Dublin in general was very, very touristy. It seemed so more then any other place I’ve been too. Everyone on the streets seemed to be stopping to take pictures, or carrying around Guinness/Jameson/random gift shop bags. It also seemed like most people we talked to at Pubs who were close to our age with people visiting just for the weekend from university’s around Europe, not to many locals. On our stadium tours there were 4 really old Irish dudes though, who were cool to talk to, even though I couldn’t understand their thick accents at all.

Another thing about Dublin is that it was a very expensive place. I had heard that it was, and like any big city it was to be expected, but Dublin seemed worse then anywhere I have been yet by far. I knew a pint of Guinness in a pub would not be cheap (usually around 5/6 euros at min.), but what really was absurdly priced was the little things like at convenience/grocery stores. Since we had a kitchen we cooked a few meals for ourselves, but it was so expensive to get things (but still cheaper then always dining out). I’m talking like a bag of crisps (chips) that would be 1 pound in the Uk would be 2.50 euros in Dublin or a frozen pizza being 6 euros instead of 3 quid. But even with all this, I still managed to not spend to much money while there (I think I spent the least out of the 3 of us, by a good amount too).

Dublin was an overall great trip and I had an absolute blast. I would definitely go back, and the one thing I kind of wanted to do that we didn’t was get out of the city and do a tour of the surrounding areas, castles and what not. Maybe someday.

Now I’ve got a whole week to finish up some school work and continue to plan for my month long trek across Europe for spring break. But then Friday I go to London to meet my visitor/girlfriend, Natalie, at the airport and spend the week with her, so excited!

Pics to come soon!

 

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