Erin go Bragh – To Dublin We Go

On November 2, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

Before we begin talking about our time in Ireland,  there are 2 things you must do for the true Irish experience. 1) Drink a Guinness and 2) get rained on. Inevitably, these two things will happen almost immediately upon your arrival. If it’s not raining when you go into the pub, it will certainly be raining when you come out.

Ireland is a different kind of breathtaking – rugged and natural. No longer are we looking at building and churches (with few exceptions). Now we’re looking at cliffs and grasslands. Rain brings the earth to life, but wind and waves have blasted the coast into its rough, sharp beauty. Mother Nature rules her island without mercy. Most of the castles we visited conceded defeat to the elements centuries ago, and they are all more beautiful for it. We begin our Ireland adventure in Dublin.

dublin-guinness

Our first pints together

NEW MEMORIES WITH OLD FRIENDS

We’ve been traveling for 6 weeks now – not a long time just yet, but long enough to miss our friends. We were thrilled when 4 of our friends decided to meet us in Ireland and ecstatic when they walked into our Dublin hostel. A huge shout out to Chris, Luis, Molly, and John for joining our adventure, even if only for a week. Naturally, our first stop with our friends was the nearest pub and everyone’s first Guinness in Ireland. This was closely followed by everyone’s second Guinness in Ireland…

DUBLIN’S MAIN ATTRACTION

dublin-guinness-storehouse

After our third Guinness

…which was closely followed by everyone’s third Guinness in Ireland, this time at a different location. After grabbing lunch, we went to the Guinness storehouse, which provides a history of Guinness through a self-guided tour. (Tickets are 16.50 euro in person; they’re a bit cheaper if you pre-purchase online.) The true gem here is a trip to their top floor, the Gravity Bar, where you get a free beer and the best view of the city.

THE OTHER DRINK OF IRELAND

After finishing our third Guinness, we promptly went to sample Ireland’s other drink of choice: Jameson whiskey. This tour is still a bit pricey at 14 euro, but instead of a self-guided tour, you have a guide. And our guide was fantastic! He was both funny and knowledgeable, answering all of our whiskey questions and giving us his opinion on Jameson’s best whiskey. Frankly, we thought this tour was better than the Guinness tour, especially since there is a whiskey tasting at the end, and one of our group was picked. Make sure to volunteer for this, no matter how many beers and/or whiskeys you’ve had up until this point. Trust us.

dublin-jameson-distillery-cask

Lots of Jameson

If you have a few minutes before your tour begins (or you hang around after), try the Irish Honeycomb from the bar. This drink was deliciously sweet and warm. Even better than the Irish Coffee and the Irish Hot Chocolate.

JUSTICE ISN’T BLIND

We walked around Dublin with our friends for a few hours, exploring Christ Church (check out the mummified cat and mouse in the crypt), St. Stephen’s Green, and Dublin Castle, sharing what we learned on our free walking tour a few days earlier. These are all very close to each other. Dublin is a compact city, and it’s great for walking. If you get caught in a downpour, that’s God’s way of saying that it’s time for a pint.

dublin-castle-lady-justice

Justice isn’t blind

There is one story we absolutely loved from our tour. For centuries, the English ruled Ireland from Dublin Castle. To show their commitment to ruling fairly, they put a statue of Lady Justice on top of the gate to the Castle in 1751. Except they botched this one. Badly.

Justice is supposed to be blind, unable to see discrimination. Here, justice has no blindfold, and her eyes are plainly open. Lady Justice normally faces her city, showing all the scales she holds. Here, her back is turned to Dublin. She faces the courtyard of Dublin Castle. And her scales which are supposed to be in perfect balance at all times? As it turns out, her left arm covers the right scale. When it rained, only the right scale filled up while the left scale remained empty, tilting the scales in one direction. And in which direction do they tip? Straight towards the state tax offices next door. To solve this problem, they drilled a hole in the bottom of the right scale so the water could drain out. Nice one, Brits!

dublin-spire

The Needle

THE STILETTO IN THE GHETTO

Ok, there was one more story we loved. After Ireland joined the European Union, the country got an influx of money that they decided to spend on public art. They hatched a plan to build a spire, showing Ireland’s rise towards the heavens. Twenty million euro later (that’s about $27 million for the Americans out there), they finished the Spire in 2002, 2 years too late to celebrate the millenium it was designed to commemorate.

The Spire (as its officially known) is now called the Spike, the Stilletto in the Ghetto, and the Needle, symbolic of North Dublin’s heroin problem. Its entire purpose now is to shine a light at the top so that it doesn’t get hit by passing airplane that wouldn’t have to worry about if it weren’t there in the first place. Awesome.

THE BEST PLACE FOR MORE PINTS

After our impromptu walking tour concluded, we headed for Temple Bar, Dublin’s young, fun neighborhood. The bars here are some of the best we’ve been to, although they’re a bit touristy and a litle overpriced. They’re open late and serve pub food and great beer, so it’s worth having anywhere between 1 and 873 pints here while in Dublin. If you’re here the week before Halloween, bring a costume. You’ll need it.

We left Dublin and headed south for the Wicklow Mountains, where Guinness gets the water for its delicious stout. But that adventure will have to wait until our next post.

Check out our Dublin gallery.

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