Dublin, Ireland

Trip Start Feb 27, 2008
Trip End May 28, 2008

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day 17 - Paddy's Palace
The name of the hostel is Paddy's Palace, and I hope they go out of business and I hope the owner burns in hell. That's how I really feel if you want to know....
Anyway, here's the short story. This hostel placed Karla and I in separate rooms, in separate buildings! Karla was in the basement in a 20-bedroom dorm, sharing with 19 other British high school aged kids with only one working toilet. I don't need to elaborate any further on that one. I was stuck on the very top floor of the building two doors down. The doors didn't have locks, so our stuff wasn't secure, to rent a safe in the lobby cost 2 Euros. The water in the bathrooms didn't work and there were no showers so to do anything you had to go outside and down the street to the building between Karla's and my building, get buzzed in through the security door and then attempt to find an open bathroom or shower because there were about 5 bathrooms and showers for 200 kids. They forgot to put Karla on the list for the first night so it was a terrible hassle to try to get her in the first time. I woke up on the first night to the lovely sound of one of the guys getting a blowjob in the bed across from mine, I tried to ignore it but it was kind of hard (no pun intended). When she was done I didn't know weather to applaud or hold up a paper sign with 8.5, 8.7, 8.6, 9.0, 8.5 on it. I just closed my eyes and tried to go to a happier place. In the morning we went to get breakfast, which was included in the price, but you had to put 2 euros down as a deposit so that you would be sure to clean them and return them. By the time we got to the kitchen, the cereal was gone. You're not supposed to run out of food if you offer a free breakfast!!! The wireless internet was down for the whole stay, so I had to use the crappy dial-up internet to get anything done. Everyone was high school or lower college age and I have to say that I thought I was still "college minded" but I guess I've really grown up, because in just one year, I'm too old for this shit! Anyway, I'm digressing....
Once we got away from the hostel everything become ok and Dublin turned out to be a pretty neat city. We left early and were the first ones in line at the Old Jameson Distillery and I took the 9am tour. Karla sat in the Café eating scones and tea because drinking at 9am wasn't her bag. I began to thing I was maybe a little more college minded than I gave myself credit for. During the tour the guide selected three guys and three gals for the "whiskey tasting test". Getting the gals was a little difficult; he had to ask three times. But just about every guy there raised his had to volunteer. I had my clover hat on and a big smile so he must have sensed the blarney in me and I was one of the lucky ones chosen. After the tour we went to the bar and they sat the taste testers around a mat with 5 shots on it ( a typical Irish breakfast, the tour guide said). Along the bottom were three shots of Irish whiskey, Paddy, Jameson, and Powers. We took water to clean our palettes and sampled each one. Then we chose our favorite. 4 our of 6 of us chose Jameson. I chose Powers and they guy next to me chose Paddy. The tour guide joked that the two of us could leave....
Then we sampled our selected favorite Irish Whiskey against the best selling Scotch Whiskey (Johnny Walker Red Label) and the best selling American Whiskey (Jack Daniels). Along the way explaining the flavors of each to the crowd and letting us make comments. At the end we chose our favorite overall Whiskey and 5 out of 6 of us chose Irish whiskey, one guy (from Seattle) chose Jack and the tour blamed it on patriotism. Saying it wasn't that we all had to like Irish whiskey the best, as long as nobody liked Scotch whiskey...
After a round of applause we got to finish our shots and received a certificate from the distillery showing that I was a certified official whiskey taster. I definitely felt the part by the time we left. Karla was so nice to sit in the Café and let me do my thing, was time to take her to an Irish museum she might enjoy... THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE!! *groan
We waited in line for at least an hour to get our tickets. I've heard the wait taking much longer. (Note inserted later: the only line that I've seen that compared to the line at the Guinness brewery was the line at the Vatican City.... What does that tell you?)  The tour was self-guided and it's possible to spend hours in there if you wanted to see and read everything. I was surprised at how elaborate the museum was. It was a full multimedia experience that went chronologically through the history of Guinness, the brewing process, the barrel making, and the advertising that went along with one of the best beers in the world. At the top floor of the Storehouse is the Gravity bar, where you have a complete 360-degree view of Dublin, and, you get your free pint of Guinness, straight from the source. It doesn't get any fresher than this and I have to say, it was delicious. The Storehouse is a must see for any beer lover. And, if you buy a "Dublin tour pass" you get free transportation around the city, admission to the storehouse and other museums around the city and best of all, you get to skip the line. For those with printers, you can book your tour in advance online and also bypass the line.
 Here are a couple of fun facts that I learned on the tour: The Guinness Brewery buys over 2/3rds of all the barley grown on the island. The barley used today is the same barley that was used back in the 1700's when the beer first began being manufactured. Every year some of the barley from the previous year is stored and turned into the seed for the next year. In case something happens to the reserve, there is a back up supply of seed locked inside the brew masters safe, so the perfect flavor of Guinness can never be compromised. Guinness is sold in almost every country that allows the sale of alcohol and has even been distributed as far as central Siberia. If I were stranded in Siberia, I could sure go for a Guinness... And here's my favorite one. The Guinness book of world records was actually first started by the Guinness Beer company. One of the brew masters went bird hunting with a few friends and after missing some easy shots, complained that evening at the pub that the birds must be the fastest species of bird on the planet. All the friends, obviously calling bullshit on this, asked the barman who believed that it wasn't the fastest bird on earth, but nobody knew exactly what the fastest bird on earth was.... The people at Guinness figured if this was happening to them, it must be happening all around. So they wrote the first edition of the Guinness book of world records and distributed it all over so that it could serve to help barmen settle disputes of all types between customers.
I know what you're thinking, and I couldn't make that story up if I tried.
So, feeling quite good we meandered down the street to St. Patrick's Cathedral, but upon seeing the line there, we decided that a nap would be better for us than seeing another cathedral. The main tower was getting a face-lift and had scaffolding all around it. We have to leave SOMETHING for the next time we come right?
We went back and took a well-deserved nap. That evening Karla stayed in and I went down to the Temple bar district with one of my roommates (the one who didn't get the blowjob) and his friends. The Temple bar area was hoppin! It was the night before Paddy's day but I couldn't tell, the streets were full with people. Some were drinking in the streets (which I wouldn't advise except on Paddy's day) some were fighting, others falling down, some were puking, everyone else was just having a good time. We met some guys from South Africa and shared stories and drank beer with them. I didn't get too drunk because beers were 5-6 Euro a piece (that's $7.50-$9.00 for those of you who are bad at math) However, You will be glad to know that in Dublin, a Guinness costs LESS that a Budweiser!

Day 18 - St. Patrick's Day
Karla and I woke up early the next day and walked down to O'Connelly street to line up for the St. Paddy's day parade. We had to sit in the cold for about 2 hours but we sat and read our books to pass the time and were rewarded with a front row view of all the action. Standing there watching the floats and bands go by, we realized that this was the first parade we've ever been to on the spectators side. Watching the bands go by I missed marching band a little, but then thinking about how long of a day the bands had and how I got to leave as soon as the parade was over, I stopped missing band. The parade was elaborate though not completely Irish. There were floats that looked like they could possibly be any parade at any time of year and there were marching bands from all over the United States and Ireland. I didn't see any European Marching Bands and it made me wonder if that's even something that is popular in Europe. There were only two university bands there. One was some private school from Alabama, the other was the University of Illinois, and they sounded pretty good.
After the parade we took a nap and prepared for the events of that evening. I wrote some on my blog and we rested through the afternoon. That night we went to a hotel where the pub was full and the music was loud. There were some Irish step dancers doing their thing. I thought they weremall like Michael Flatley from Lord of the Dance, and was therefore only semi-interested, but Karla pushed her way to the front and really enjoyed it. After that we went down to the same bar where the guys and I went the night before and it was full to capacity. It was almost impossible to get a drink and when you did, it was impossible to get anywhere with it without spilling it. People were shoving and pushing and there was no place to get any air, it was loud and overall uncomfortable. We did however meet up with Damion, the guy from our hostel in Killarney. It was great to meet up with him and hear his stories about hostels and traveling and things. After that we ate midnight food and went home. Not quite the eventful night that I was looking for but I think that it would have been better if we were in Killarney or Cork or some other place that wasn't so crowded. For your time and money, honestly I think partying at Kells in downtown Portland is about the best Paddy's day you can have, except for the good tasting Guinness.

Day 19 - Flying out
We woke up late and took showers and things. The whole tour group left at 9am so we were able to prepare without 200 loud kids getting in our way. Then we had lunch and picked up a box to send back home with things we didn't want to carry around. We ran into Lisa, our roommate from Killarney at the hostel and had a nice chat with her. She spent Paddy's day in Galloway and it sounded absolutely awesome. Galloway is definitely on our list of things to do the next time we come to Ireland. I went down and got a haircut, since this was going to be the last English speaking country we were going to be in for a while and I didn't trust MY beautiful locks to just anyone. (that's a joke, to those of you who haven't seen me in a while.) Finally it was off to the airport where we had dinner and waited for our plane to Rome. We noticed some strange things happening with the line on the way to the plane but we would later find out that our issues in Dublin were nothing compared to the frustrations we would endure in Italy!

The flight was long and completely full, some guys cut in front of us in line, which we thought was strange considering they were adults and not kids. The plane was an absolute mess! Everyone was talking at full volume to the person next to them as if they were trying to hear themselves over the crowd. Boys were playing cards over the back of seats. People got up and stood in the aisles and talked to other people....like for hours. Not moving, just standing in the aisles and talking. Making it really hard to get back to the bathroom. When you asked to get by them they looked at you like YOU were the inconvenience, not them for standing in an aisle that is only one person wide. We thought that it was maybe just the differences between Europe flights and American flights, after all, they don't have quite the same restrictions that TSA puts on us, so maybe flight is just more relaxed. After landing we made our way to the hostel, checked in, and crashed out, completely exhausted.
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