Keeping up appearances isn’t easy when you travel the way we do and for extended periods. Finding a laundromat, for example, when you need it can be quite the challenge. All the planets need to align and you must find one close to where you’re staying and in between travel or tour arrangements. Then there’s the issue of personal grooming. And even though I don’t have a lot of hair left on the old noggin, I want a barber I can trust. One that won’t make me look like a science experiment. So the top priority for us after being on the road in Scotland for a few weeks was to get some clean clothes and a haircut for me. Actually, that’s not totally true; our true top priority was to make sure we had time to tour the Guinness Brewery and all the distilleries we could find. But we had a full day of travel ahead of us and we still had one clean pair of underwear, so all was fine.
Getting from Edinburgh to Dublin, I was told, would be a piece of cake. Now, Carrie does a great job of getting us from point A to point B, and I do none of this planning so I can’t bitch too much,
but in her attempt to be frugal let me just say that we’ve had a few adventures. So you’ll understand my skepticism when she says: “Nah, we’re not going to fly to Dublin. We’ll take a cab to the bus station, then take a bus across Scotland to catch a ferry to Belfast, then a bus in Belfast to catch another bus to Dublin. And we’ll top it off by taking the light rail in Dublin to our Airbnb.” “Oh, OK, Sounds easy enough. What could possibly go wrong?” I reply with just a hint of sarcasm.
But, and I think we were both surprised, it all went relatively well. The only snafu, and it actually turned out to be fun, was on the final leg; the light rail in Dublin. The train stop, just a short walk from the bus station, had automated machines for the purchase of tickets. After a third unsuccessful attempt to buy tickets a police officer informs us that this stop is closed due to an upcoming event. “You’ll need to walk to the next stop. It’s only a few blocks that way.” He tells us as he points us in the correct direction. So off we went to the next stop, still unaware of what the upcoming event was about. Tickets purchased, we enter a half filled car with luggage in tow. When we arrive at the next stop the entire population of Dublin attempts to enter our car, all dressed neatly in the same color. “What’s up?” Carrie asks one of the young women near by. “Oh, big football match tonight! We’re all headed to the stadium.” She replies exuberantly. Now neatly packed like
sardines with us on the opposite side from the exit the train begins to chug along. “We need to get off at the next stop. Is that possible?” Carrie asks of the same young woman. “Sure, not a problem” was the response as she begins signaling to the others nearer the door. When we arrive at our stop it was like the parting of the Red Sea and we easily exited
before the doors closed. I still can’t figure out how they did it because we were all butt to butt in that car. They even managed to get a woman with a baby
carriage out at the same time. I guess they must do this a lot here. Anyhow, nice friendly people to start our Irish adventure. Our 2 block walk to our Airbnb has us pass right in front of the Jameson Distillery. “Tomorrow?” I ask. “Yep!” Carrie replies. Let the boozing begin.
Our Airbnb hosts, a Spaniard and an Italian in the middle of preparing to move to Amsterdam, are
friendly and informative, directing us to a nearby pub so that we can consume our first real Irish Guinness. We heard rumors that the Guinness in Ireland tastes different than the exported Guinness. Maybe it was just the vibe of being in Dublin, but it seemed to taste better to us than the stuff we get in the USA. Back in our room, we make a plan for the next few days: Jameson Distillery – Walk around the city – Laundry – Guinness Brewery Tour – Pat’s Haircut – Teeling Distillery – rent an ‘Irish Porsche’ buy a SIM card for the phone so we can reunite with our travel buddy the Google bitch. Sounds like a plan to me.
We arrive at the Jameson facility just after opening time ready for a nip of breakfast whiskey. Since we had already done a few distillery tours, we elect not to do the tour and simply taste and admire their uniquely appointed tasting room; Jameson bottle chandeliers, under floor malting vats, an interesting mix of the
very old with modern decor. And their premium whiskeys are excellent.
Next on the agenda, a self-guided city walk while looking for a laundromat and a barber. We have decent weather for our walk by the river and the touristy Temple Bar area, where we have an overpriced and mediocre meal. I found it odd that many of the pubs advertised themselves as a ‘traditional’ Irish pub. Why? You’re a bar and you’re in Ireland, of course you’re an Irish pub. Anyhow, we didn’t stay here long as there were just too many shops keen on separating you from your money. We did find a few barber shops, but I didn’t feel the proper vibe so we passed. We
also located a laundromat, thankfully, as we were both on our last pair of underwear.
Our tourist duties complete, we head back to our local pub for an evening Guinness. Tomorrow is another big day with the Guinness tour booked and the Teeling Distillery to visit. Oh, and I still need to get a haircut. “We need to get up early tomorrow because I booked us for the first tour at the Guinness Brewery” Carrie says. “Why would you do that?” I ask. “Because the tickets were cheaper” she replies. Did I mention that she is frugal? So Guinness for breakfast it will be. Tip: Book the Guinness tour on line and in advance. It’s very popular.
The weather turned lousy for our morning walk to the Guinness Storehouse, but the promise of a hearty stout blinded us to the water soaked streets and pouring rain. And a stout we did consume! I’ve usually found these tour things to be disappointing to marginal at best, but the Guinness tour did not disappoint. Neon lights, old brew tools, training on the proper pouring of a Guinness, history, a sky bar to drink our perfectly poured ale with
a 360 degree view of Dublin. We had a blast!
Happy and a wee bit lit, we head off to do the days chores; find a SIM card for the phone and get Pat a haircut. Sick of looking for a barber, we find a place advertising a ‘competitive’ price and walk in to the blaring sound of some death
metal band. The proprietor and barber, a large man with an equally large and round red nose, screams over the music: “Need a haircut?” By the look of the red nose a lot of ale had been recently and frequently consumed and his shop was not the most hygienic place I’d ever seen. I should have just walked out. But no, “Sure do” I tell him. “Sit here and let’s give ‘er a go” He yells. At the end of the haircut he picks up a brush that looked like it had come out of a landfill, half missing and full of hair. For days after I wondered how many and what type of critters were consuming parts of my body. Thankfully, no evidence of a critter invasion ever surfaced. “Cheap isn’t always better, is it? I groan to Carrie. Still in shock, she could only nod affirmatively. Needing to find some alcohol in order to forget what just happened I suggest we quickly find her SIM card then head off to the Teeling Distillery. She nods affirmatively again.
Teeling is an old and a new distiller. In 1782 Walter Teeling began distilling whisky. Then more recently another Teeling started the Cooley Brand and even more
recently the Teeling family started the Teeling Distillery. We learned all this and more from our bartender during our whiskey tasting in the Bang Bang Bar. Yes, their whiskeys are outstanding. Unfortunately, most of their premium whiskeys are not available in the USA. By the end of our hour long tasting I had forgotten about the haircut experience and Carrie had stopped nodding. Tip: If you plan on doing the tour reserve tickets in advance on line.
So what’s the takeaway from this post? That extended travel is not a vacation, but life. Therefore there are chores like laundry and haircuts. Haircuts can be ugly and disgusting, learn to vet properly. Dublin is about the booze. Forget all that castle/church/shopping stuff and stick to the pubs, breweries and distilleries because they are the essence of Dublin! You’ll meet the Irish Porsche in the next installment. More photos below. I think there are even a few of Dublin.
Hike Drink Live Laugh ==> Apero Time!
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