I woke up feeling much better after a pretty solid sleep. One problem with the hotel is it has air con but it is controlled centrally by the hotel, and the room is constantly too hot. Fortunately solved by opening the windows and thankfully the room is at the back of the hotel so there was no noise.
Off downstairs for breakfast which was a pretty standard buffet. Irish Tea is really good, will look for it when I get home. Then it was time to meet Shellbe, Michele and Tony for a day of site seeing.
There are 4,749 million people in Ireland of which 1,345 million live in a Dublin, which makes it a pretty busy city. The Dublin Hop On Hop Off bus departs right outside the hotel, stop number one!
First on the list we wanted to get to the Guinness brewery before it got too crowded. We got there just after 10 and because our hop on hop off pass includes a number of attractions we didn’t have to wait in the queue. Pretty amazing place, it is Dublin’s number one tourist attraction. Arthur Guinness was brewing ale in Lexlip County Kildare. In 1759 he signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum to lease 50 acres in St James Gate, which is where Guinness Brewery is today. Arthur and his wife Olivia had 21 children of which only 10 survived to adulthood. This was a bigger then expected percentage for the time, but pretty sad to think about.
The brewery started brewing dark ale which was named Porters as it was well liked by the hospital porters, but over time it became known just as Guinness Stout. The Guinness brewery is the largest producer of stout in the world with 1.2 million barrels per annum.
The visitor center is huge, it is 7 stories high, and as you go through you learn the history of the place. The bottles have a harp on them which is an Irish symbol and at the brewery there is a virtual harp that you can play.
One section had old ads and one I found amusing was one that said “A woman needs a man as much as a fish needs a bicycle” and there was a statue of a fish cycling. Not sure what the advertising gimmick was but made me laugh.
As part of the tour you get to do a tasting and they run through the proper way to drink a Guinness – you are meant to gulp Guinness not sip it. If you sip it, it has a bitter taste, you are meant to drink a glass in 4 gulps. At the end of the tour you get up to the 7th floor and you get a pint of Guinness to drink while you can enjoy the 360 degree view of Dublin. I certainly didn’t manage to drink my pint in 4 gulps, was more like 10, but certainly enjoyed it more than previously gulping instead of sipping it. I was pleased we had got here early as there were long queues outside when we left.
Next stop the Jameson’s whiskey distillery, also not too crowded, we only had to wait about 15 minutes before we could go on a tour. In 1725 England put a tax on malted barley to pay for a war against France. Jameson started using in-malted barley, which the population came to prefer and still uses some un-malted barley today.
The tour guide was very enthusiastic about the product, and we ended up with a tasting where we tried a Scottish whiskey, an America whiskey, and Jameson’s whiskey. The Jameson’s was far nicer. The tour guide said it’s because Jameson’s is distilled 3 times, versus Scottish twice and American once. Not sure if they used an expensive Jameson and a cheap Scottish and America whiskey . . .
Back on the bus again, we went past Dawson’s bar, the smallest bar in Ireland with a capacity of 40 people. The tour drivers have a running commentary on various places of significance, plus their own points of view. One tour driver noted that if Bono from U2 went to the Dawson bar, the capacity would be one given the size of his ego, and another asked us “How can you tell the difference between Bono and God? God has never thought he was Bono”, so clearly Bono is not appreciated in his home country.
We then went past a big sports stadium called Croke Park which is the historic home of Gaelic football. A couple of minutes later while we were driving along Shellbe pointed out a seagull who was eating a pigeon! I didn’t know they ate other birds! Shellbe later wished she hadn’t pointed it out, especially the third or so time I bought it up again that day.
We got off the bus to go to Christ Cathedral but we couldn’t go in straight away as the Sunday church service hadn’t finished. We went to a bar and had a beer. I had a Kinnegar Devils Backbone Amber Ale was quite nice. We got back to find we could go in to the Cathedral, but the 12 century crypt, which was why we had come here, was closed all day. We had a look around, it was a Church – nice stained glass windows but not much else of note. It’s claim to fame apart from the Crypt is that it’s the oldest building in Dublin.
Time to head back to the city and think about something to eat. We didn’t really have much of a plan and for four of us jet lag was starting to reappear, so we settled on going to J W Sweetman Craft Brewery again, this time to eat. It was certainly much quieter than the previous evening. We got a table and ordered a range of pub food.
Michele, Tony, Shellbe and I got the beer battered fish and chips which was cod and fries with mushy peas, was pretty average. I had a Hop 13 larger also brewed by Guinness. Brett got the Irish stew, which was delicious – tender and full of flavour. I had stayed away from Irish stew as an option having had some pretty unpleasant versions in the past but clearly a different dish here in its own country.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel. Lots of homeless begging, lots of them late teens to late 20s. The unemployment rate in Ireland is the lowest it has been for years at 6.2% but the youth unemployment rate is still 12%. The young lady beggar from the dairy asked for more money to get home, but she got a reasonable amount yesterday from Brett, so didn’t give her anymore, instead donated to a couple of musicians.
Tomorrow we have the trip riders meeting, moving hotels, and then catching up with Shellbe.