Guinness is good for you.

Trip Start Jan 25, 2010
Trip End Jun 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
Christa's Apartment

Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Saturday, January 30, 2010

We started out Saturday with plans to do touristy things all day around town. Nobody ever wants to act too much like a tourist, however, I think its good to do so sometimes. It's always awkward taking out a camera in the middle of a crowded street full of Irish people and taking a picture of that same national monument that they pass every time that they are on their way to work. However, you should take a picture of it if you want to. It may be the only opportunity that you have, and it makes for a good story later in life.

That's kind of how I felt every time I took a picture of a statue or monument in Dublin. They are everywhere! I suppose thats how they are in most cities, though. Most historical cities have old buildings, memorial monuments, innovative architecture, etc. Anyway, if you are taking hundreds of pictures, chances are, you will not be the only one doing so. Dublin was pretty full of people from all over the world from what I could tell. I heard French people, some Italian here or there and today an entire group of Spanish people walked by us wearing mini leprechaun hats. It was both amusing and sad at the same time. There were other accents and languages that I heard that I didn't recognize but that's irrelevant really.

Anyway, we took a cab in the morning to Kilmainham Jail, which is a famous jail located in Dublin that has housed various types of criminals, including political prisoners. On the cab ride over we talked to a very interesting older gentleman (I believe his ID said Tom), and he told us a bit about what he knew about what happened in the jail. He explained that he believes that times like those never should have happened and that it was a low point in his country's history. It was extremely interesting to talk to a local about the Kilmainham jail, since many of the inmates a large part in the development of the later political agenda throughout Ireland. He insisted that he always tried to view it in an unbiased manner, as he was from the south and would naturally be against the north.

The jail itself was beautiful in an eerie way. Our tour guide, to me, looked a lot like Wynona Rider (although I have no idea if I spelled her name right) and she had on this crazy cool hat that made her kind of look like a dinosaur. Naturally, I want one. Regardless, she was very intelligent and she knew was she was talking about throughout the tour and you could tell. If I were to guess, I would imagine her area of study in college would have been something along the lines of political science, especially dealing with the members of the Kilmainham Jail. We got to see the old prison cells and what they looked like, along with the later, new additions to the prison. The newest addition has been used in many films such as In the Name of the Father with Daniel Day Lewis and The Italian Job. Throughout the tour there was this older man who kept interrupting the tour guide as he didn't not believe in her opinion on the nature of things in the prison but she handled it coolly and intellectually.

In the later years of the jail, the country housed the inmates that were the leaders the last of a series of revolts against the North. One of these being Joseph Plunkett. We learned that Plunkett married his wife in the jail chapel hours before he was executed (via firing squad) and we got to see his later to his wife before he was killed. The entire tour was very interesting and educational and I highly recommend it to anyone that will be in Dublin for a few days. It was only 2 Euro and it was one of the most interesting things I did while in Dublin to be completely honest.

 After the jail, we walked around for a bit toward the direction of the Guinness Storehouse. Now, everyone has heard of the "Guinness Factory" and whenever says "Oh yeah, I've been to Dublin", the first question that anyone asks is "Did you go to the Guinness Factory?!". Honestly, it was a pretty cool thing to do/see. Toward the end it seemed to get a little redundant and it seemed that there were only extra floors to give the appearance of a Guinness glass. If you don't already know, the room is shaped like a giant guinness glass, kind of. There is a circular opening in the center of the room and if you look up there are glass barriers on each level that make the shape of a Guinness glass (everyone knows the shape). Anyway, while walking through the tour, you learn how Guiness is made, the ingredients, the process, etc. You get to see the lease that Arthur Guinness signed for 9000 years and on the 4th floor you get to pull your own pint of Guiness, which was pretty cool. They teach you how to perfectly "pull a pint" and then you get a certificate stating that you did so and you get to drink the pint that you pulled. Now, I enjoy Guinness but sadly, a lot of people were pulling their pints, getting their certificate and leaving their beer on the table, only to have a Guinness Factory worker come and take it away. What a waste, really. 

At the top of the Guinness Factory is the Gravity Bar. Up there, you can order a pint of Guinness for the standard price and enjoy it while looking at a 360 degree panoramic view of Dublin. This room is suppose to represent the head of the Guinness Glass that the building is modeled after. Honestly, the room was really crowded and kind of hot but it was cool to see the view. There were quotes on the windows that referenced famous buildings and monuments in the Dublin area, etc. It was a good time overall. Although, like a said, a bit long. 

After the Guinness Factory, we stopped a more authentic Irish pub called Nash's pub to get some grub. The food was pretty good and was fairly priced. The pub seemed to be for older folk so we kind of stood out. I enjoy the pub scene in Ireland in general. I've never been much of a dance-and-go-out kind of guy. I hate paying cover fees to get in places, then paying to check your coat and then buying overpriced drinks. By the time you get into the place and buy one drink, it seems you have already spent between 12-15 Euro and you just got there. A pub however, is more laid back and its easy to meet people and talk. Clubs and discotheques are a lot louder, more expensive and you have to dance, which is not a talent that I hold very well unfortunately. Maybe I'm boring,  but I would much prefer to go out with some friends to a pub, knock back a few, and talk. That's my idea of a good night.

The next morning, Ashley and I walked Erin to the bus station and on the way we stopped at Trinity College. It really is a beautiful campus and sadly I did not get to stop at the library, but man did I want to. The sky was bluer than blue and the architecture was beautiful. Unfortunately a lot of it was also under construction, but go figure, that's my luck. On the way back from the bus station, Ashley and I basically and froze to death. We had to stop at a convenience store and buy bread so we would be able to sit in the store under their heaters. After this, the weather got a lot warmer and we wandered around until we found a place called Gotham Diner. It was a really nice, small American influenced restaurant. I got banana pancakes and Ashley got french toast and it was one of the best breakfasts that I had ever had. That, and our waiter was very attractive, so that's always a plus. 

After wandering for a while, we stumbled acorss St. Stephen's Green. We had walked to shopping district of St. Stephen's but not the park. It was a pretty park, with a lot of statues, 2 ponds, a lot of birds and people. Ashley and I walked around and talked about life, our worries about France and about our excitement as well.  It was a very relaxed afternoon, and a change of pace from the recent few days. It seemed that there was always an agenda and we were constantly looking for something to do. It was nice needless to say. 

Things I learned:

- Cab drivers are super nice in Ireland. Every single time we took a cab, all of them talked to us and seemed interested in our lives. When we were driving to the airport, the cab driver talked to us the entire way and then we got out, he shook our hands and told us to have a good trip. I think Ashley's new goal is to date/marry a cab driver, ha. 
- Dublin Airport-- a ton of delays. Our plane out was almost 3 hours late, throwing back our entire schedule once we arrived in France. Boo.
- Sorry, this blog was written almost 3 weeks after the fact, so I don't remember many specifics sadly :(. 
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