(So this post was halfway done before I left on my next trip…so prepare for some back-to-back blogging!)
Just returned from the land of the Irish, specifically Dublin, and it was phenomenal. (There may or may not be quite a few Quiet Man references here…blame my dad!)
Overall, we spent the time drinking, (Ireland – can’t expect anything less), sightseeing, doing a bit of hiking (YES HIKING YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HAPPY I WAS), and eating! (pretend like you’re surprised?)
Guess I’ll start with the food and drink. With the eating, the trip included myself, my flatmates, and their friends (six in total – try getting a table for six, not always easy! My family knows) Aside from my complaints about how many people, (which by the way isn’t a bad thing at all! We only had the issue of getting a table once or twice so don’t mind me) Ireland, if you’ve been you know, is a place that consists of VERY friendly people. The phrase “the more the merrier” definitely applies and it worked well with our group.
We, of course, ate at McDonald’s the whole time…(I can’t even finish that as a joke because it’s so bad, actually) no but seriously, we ate at pubs basically every day, and it was great. The pub life in Ireland is similar to that of London and England overall except you have (I feel like I’ll say this a lot and I apologize in advance) the Irish and that really makes a huge difference. Irish people are, indeed, JUST THAT NICE. For example, we went to this pub called Grogan’s that was recommended by our hostel staff (good hostel in Dublin – Generator hostel right next to Jameson) as a real “old style” Irish pub. What does that mean? Old people? No. Not really, though there were some elders there drinking their fair share, it means that there were no TVs playing a match, no background music taking up those horribly awkward silences, and that you had to actually talk to the people you went out with. SHOCKING. This concept of talking to people when you’re out. I wasn’t sure we could handle it, really.
Once again, my horrible humor comes out here. We actually made some friends in the pub (Again – friendly Irish!) who told us about Ireland and a good place to see some live music called Frank Ryan’s. So we grabbed a bite to eat and headed towards this place they recommended. It was a big change because they had music playing, and then had live jazz playing. JAZZ. Awesome, right? Right. So we had some good drinks, some live jazz, and then we ran into our tour guide from earlier in the day there! He told us about other places outside of Dublin to see and just chatted a bit. Such nice people. Also, something worth mentioning about pubs in Dublin outside of the friendly atmosphere and great selection of beers (TRY GUINNESS IN IRELAND. I don’t even like beer and I liked Guinness in Ireland. Other Irish beer to try – Smithwick’s. Also, more on Guinness later!) So where was this tour guide from?
Well, that would be the Jameson Distillery of course! (Our hostel, as I said before, was quite conveniently placed next to this distillery…couldn’t tell you why! :) ) This was actually one of the first things we did in Dublin because a few of us (I may or may not be included in this “few”) do enjoy our whiskey. (All I can think of is “could you use a little water in your whiskey?“) We got to the tour a little early and had a few drinks beforehand, which if I may step away from the “study” part of this blog for a moment,
(as if I don’t do that enough already) to recommend a drink from the Jameson distillery, it would be the Honeycomb Irish Coffee. It’s heaven in a glass. (Photo below)
At the tour we learned all about the creation of Jameson whiskey and near the end, they asked for volunteers to do a tasting. Now being the study abroad student wanting to experience as much as possible, I may have raised my hand. Purely for experiencing Ireland as it should be – that’s all. :P But in order to get one of the last two spots, we had to guess a number between 1 and 100. The hint was “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and if you know me, you know the answer, and you know I got it right. And if you don’t…I might be a little disappointed. So I got to do the taste testing that pitted Jameson against Johnnie Walker Black and Jack Daniel’s. I think you can guess which was best.
After that, we ate and then hit those two pubs I spoke of before. The next day was the really exciting (for me anyway) bit. We took a day tour to the Wicklow Mountains called the Wild Wicklow Tour. If you’re ever in Dublin and want to get out of the city on a great tour…do this tour! It wasn’t hours upon hours of riding in a bus just to get out for 3 hours and then get back in the bus! It was quite a few stops that were all interesting, like the James Joyce museum, Bono’s House (not kidding, though we only drove past it), Avoca Handweaver’s (Can’t say enough good things about this place), Kilmacanogue, Glendalough (St. Kevin’s monastic site), the P.S. I Love You bridge and more.
(I haven’t even seen P.S. I love you…er…sorry?) It also included free Jameson. Can’t really complain about all of that in one day with a funny and knowledgable guide leading the way. My favorite part was hiking about and taking pictures in Glendalough (waterfall and lake below). And to top it off, we were back in the city early enough to have some food and then head to our pub crawl.
Again, if you know me, you know how excited I was to be roaming about in this beautiful area. It was such a welcome change after being in London and then Dublin for so long. So welcome because while I love the city, I really love the outdoors… (one place I really want to hit in England is Snowdonia Wales – google it)
In comparison, for me, our final day or so in Dublin didn’t really compare. Seeing the tourist stuff was awesome, but the bus tour took the cake for me. I must admit that Trinity College library will knock your socks off – that’s the real reason I went to see the Book of Kells…I just wanted to see the library (and nerded out a lot when I did) and you might understand why with this photo:
Our last real touristy thing we did was go to the Guinness Storehouse to do the tour. Offering one of the best views of the city, the Gravity Bar is probably Guinness’ main attraction, though pouring your own “perfect pint” is pretty cool too. (I even have a piece of paper that says I can pour a perfect pint to go with my whiskey tasting certificate) Like I said before, I don’t even like beer and I enjoyed a good pint of Guinness while at the Storehouse, so definitely try the Guinness in Ireland. It just tastes better.
Overall, I really enjoyed Dublin, but I really want to get back to Ireland to see places OUTSIDE of the city…like number one is Galway, then Cork and Waterford, etc. I also want to make it up to Belfast as I hear that’s the better of the two cities. So if you’re going to Ireland, my recommendation is to see Dublin, but see more of Ireland itself than you see of Dublin. :)
Next post will be quite soon…on Poland!