Who wants to hear about Ireland?!?
We arrived in Dublin to a nice rain shower, but by the time we made it to the hostel, the rain was done for the day. My first hostel experience was much better than I imagined it would be. Perhaps it was my exhaustion, but the beds were incredibly comfortable and the rooms were clean- well besides our roommates’ luggage and stuff. I think they were moving into the hostel rather than just staying the night! Our hostel was right in the middle of the Temple Bar area. Now, Temple Bar refers to a man’s surname Temple and his “bar” of land. However, there happens to be a lot of bars and pubs in this artsy district and our hostel happened to be right next to “THE Temple Bar!” Haha Talk about a central location!
After grabbing a quick lunch at a local pub, we headed off to the Guiness Storehouse. It is funny how these tours work- first they give you a brief history, then a taster to teach you how to taste the beverage, followed by a “free” pint. During the first two parts, my opinion of Guiness was turning around! “Wow, a company with traditions and values!” “There is beer, and then there is Guiness!” Seriously, as a communications major, the marketing is impeccable! However, as Sophe and I sat up at the infinity bar with our pints, we realized very quickly how much we do not care for the stout beer. I could barely finish a fifth of it and Sophe was determined to finish half. After the tour, my theory is that Arthur Guiness’ friends were not honest with him when they tasted it for the first time. They said, “hmmm that’s an acquired taste” or “Whoa, that’s surely a drink for a man!” when they should have said, “Hey man, maybe you shouldn’t burn the barely so much!” Then again, the Irish drink the stuff like water, so maybe I’m wrong…or maybe they are just trying to protect Arthur Guiness too!
That night, I participated in my first pub crawl. For those of you who do not know what a pub crawl is, it is a large group, usually of young hostel occupants, that attend a sting of bars and clubs together. Each place the pub crawl goes, we get to cut the line and get a free drink/drink deals. What better place for my first pub crawl than Ireland! We went to 3 bars and 2 clubs that night. Our favorite place on the crawl, and our favorite part of our whole trip, was the third bar: The Old Storehouse. There was live music at this bar. Now I am talking about some traditional Irish music! There was a flute, banjo and acoustic guitar rocking out to a variety of medleys and song covers. The whole bar was stomping their feet, clapping their hands, singing along or holding their Guiness’ high in the air. It was such a happy and enthusiastic vibe that was contagious as soon as we walked in. I dare anyone to go to an Irish Pub with live music and try to be grumpy… I give you 5 minutes before you are smiling and dancing with the rest of them!
The next day we went on a guided excursion to the countryside. Unfortunately, we could not make it to the Cliffs of Moher, but our day was a very good alternative. We went to the beach town of Dun Laoghaire, the posh and wealthy area of Killiney and then headed to the ruins in Glendalough. On our way to Glendalough, we stopped at the field used for the battles in Braveheart and the bridge used while filming P.S. I Love You. It was so cool to see how vacant the countryside was. There were not houses, power lines, or cars as far as the eye could see. This was why Braveheart was filmed here! It looks as it would have looked hundreds of years ago. Glendalough was an ancient monastery and village. The tower, church and cemetery are available to view. Unlike some churches I have seen where they were later referbished for more pleasant viewing, this church was withering away-as it should be…it is old! The entire roof was missing and the walls were starting to fall over, but it was incredible. Amazingly, the tower, where the riches were stored, still stands tall today! As we were walking around, we met an older couple who were from Orange County as well. We exchanged travel advice and had a great conversation. That is one of my favorite parts of traveling. Fellow travelers sharing advice and stories about places to see. Luckily, they had some great tips for Scotland since they were coming from Edinburgh and we were headed there the next weekend!
Although exhausted after such a long day, we went to a comedy club that night. It was a very interactive show, so naturally as not only the only young Orange County girls, but also the only Americans in the bar, we got the brunt of a lot of jokes! However, it was a good time and interesting to experience some Irish comedy. It was difficult to follow along with their thick accents though! Afterwards, we headed to The Temple Bar which had some live music. I will forever remember when the band played “Hey Jude” and the ENTIRE bar sang along- “na na na na na na nahhh”s and all!
The next morning we say St Patrick’s cathedral (not all that cool…I’ve seen a lot grander of churches to compare it to) and then went on a free walking tour of the city. Sophe and I loved hearing about the rich history of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland has seen much unrest over the years as they strayed first from the Vikings and then from the United Kigdom. To finish up our wonderful weekend in Ireland, we went to the Old Jameson Distillery and learned how whiskey is made. They had participants of the tour taste 3 whiskers (Irish Jameson, American Jack Daniels and Scotish Johnnie Walker). It was very interesting to have the opportunity to compare and contrast. As a communication major, I enjoyed that marketing a lot better. Although the distillery wants you to decide that Jameson is the best (which it was!), they gave you the opportunity to decide for yourself.
It rained nonstop this day which made it much easier to leave! I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed Ireland. I would love to come back one day to further explore other towns. The Irish have a very distinct and fun loving culture. Besides their love for Guiness, Sophe and I fit right in!