|April 21-25, 2011
After what seemed like a long wait, Elizabeth had finally had her visa approved and we were able to fly her across to Europe. She would have to stop via London to get her visa but we decided to meet for a long weekend in Dublin the week before that and spend Easter there.
I flew in late on April 21 and found my way to the hostel and headed straight for bed – Elizabeth’s flight landed early in the morning and I wanted to be there to meet her!
Having gotten up early I caught the shuttle bus to the airport and patiently waited for Elizabeth. It was so good to see her for the first time in over 6 weeks and I was looking forward to spending the weekend with her. She’d got plenty planned for the weekend too so after we got to the hostel we headed straight out and tried to keep her awake and keep the jetlag away.
We started off at Kilmainham Gaol, which neither of us realized was quite as far away as it ended up being. Nevertheless, we both needed the exercise and it was nice just to be able to walk and chat as we went. Once we got to the gaol, we had to wait a short while for a tour but, other than some ignorant kids, it was worth the wait. The tour told of the story of many of the political prisoners who had come through the prison and we also got to see the old section of the jail where many films had been shot in the days since the prison had been closed. Some of the old cells were massive and could fit lots of people in, but the most creepy were those where prisoners were held just prior to execution, the hole in the wall enabling the officers to keep a watch on them. A number of men involved in the Easter Uprising of 1916 were executed here, too, including the controversial death of James Connolly. Connolly was injured during the fighting leading to his arrest and his ankle was shattered. Doctors said he only had a couple of days to live but despite this he was brought to the yard with his co-conspirators. Unable to stand, he was tied to a chair and executed, a move that was not well received and voices of dissent were even heard from the US.
After the gaol, we walked back into the city and stopped for some lunch. Being Good Friday, there was not much open and nothing serving alcohol so we headed to the Tea Room for a nice, relaxing lunch in a quiet atmosphere. Much of Dublin seemed quiet at the moment but we knew it would be busier over the weekend.
By this point Elizabeth was starting to feel tired so we headed back to the hostel for her to get a sleep and in the meantime I watched a couple of films on the laptop! In the evening we found a nice tapas restaurant and got some lovely ratatouille, meatballs, stuffed peppers, patatas bravas and some other stuff, too. I often don’t feel very full after tapas but we ordered way too much this time and were both stuffed by the end!
After a lazy morning, we headed to the café next to the hotel for breakfast before heading across to King’s College. Elizabeth wanted to go and see the Book of Kells so we joined the massive queues and hordes of idiots waiting to get in to the small exhibition telling you about the books (which most people walked straight through). The small room containing the actual books was really small and it got pretty cramped trying to push through to the front to see the amazing text and pictures in the books. Some of the comments coming from other tourists were pretty ignorant and maybe some viewing of the rest of the exhibit would’ve helped them sound less moronic. Obviously, Elizabeth won’t like me pointing out that they were mostly Americans…
As part of the same exhibit there was a medical exhibit in the library which included some deformed body parts, a 7-foot tall skeleton, two-storeys of dusty books and a doctor’s registry signed by one of O’Bama’s ancestors (apostrophe intentional!). Back outside at King’s, the weather was lovely and we had a stroll around – partly because we wanted to, partly because we got lost. We were able to catch a bit of a cricket game going on in the grounds and it all seemed very serene and quaint.
However, that didn’t last. Elizabeth had seen a programme on TV back in Texas which went through the top bars in Dublin and she’s made a list of them and this afternoon we started working our way through the list! We started with The Stag’s Head (1), which had lovely beer as well as stained glass windows with amusing pictures and, of course, a stag’s head. The next stop was The Long Hall (2) and we were served by the guy who was actually in the programme. Elizabeth was too shy to ask him so I did on her behalf! Here I tried the Smithwick’s rather than the Guinness and it was very nice and much less bitter… and much more drinkable! The bar was called The Long Bar (3) as it was, well, long. The reason it was long was so that the men could go as far back from the street as possible to enjoy their beer and avoid being noticed by a passing wife! The next stop was McDaid’s (4), a former morgue, where we got chatting to a friendly Aussie couple and pointed them in the direction of some more bars to try! The next bar was Neary’s (5) which came complete with bottles of Gosling’s Bermuda rum behind the bar but we stuck to the beer. This bar used to have distinct areas for men and women but was now a common bar, although Elizabeth was annoyed that the women’s toilet was upstairs! The next bar was John Kehoe’s (6), where the main bar was a conversion. What was it converted from? Why, the original owner’s front room, of course, complete with fireplace and mantelpiece and all. Needless to say, it was quite cozy! We made a switch to cider there as we didn’t want to over-bloat on heavy ales before dinner.
Dinner itself was at a place called Boxty House which served traditional Irish food. It wasn’t very much of a success though as Elizabeth proceeded to cover the entire table in water when trying to pour herself a glass and got very annoyed with me laughing at her misfortune. Still, the Irish stew was good!
After a traditional Irish breakfast (like an English one, but less healthy!), we headed to the Guinness factory for the tour and some tastings. Elizabeth had already had a Guinness which she didn’t really like but she felt obliged to drink one once we reached the tasting room. She struggled through her earlier sample and struggled even more with the pint, not really enjoying it although it was quite pleasant compared to the really fat woman wearing tight trousers… The rest of the factory/museum was quite cool and had some great memorabilia including lots of old posters and advertisements with toucans and harps on them! We stopped in the shop at the end though and got some cool souvenirs, including a porcelain Guinness mug.
We’d not done all of the pubs on our list at this point so we worked our way back from Guinness stopping at a few on the way. The first was The Brazen Head (7, excluding Guinness!), the oldest pub in Dublin, which also had the moodiest, rudest staff in Dublin. Still, a beer was a beer!
After walking along the Liffey we went into Quay’s Bar (8) along Temple Bar and listened to some live music. It was pretty lively for a Sunday afternoon and you could easily spend a whole weekend here just drinking. If the beer and music wasn’t entertainment enough, the dwarf (or midget, or little person) dressed as a leprechaun certainly made us both laugh. Next was The Palace Bar (9), which almost bettered The Brazen Head for rudest staff, but (once again) a lovely beer took the edge off!
We dropped our souvenirs back at the hostel and then headed out for another drink, this time to Mulligan’s (10). This apparently served the best Guinness in Dublin so even though Elizabeth hadn’t liked the beer earlier, she felt obliged to try one here anyway. Thankfully, she liked it although I got a beer she would like as a backup, just in case. I can’t remember how many bars there were on this programme but we’d done 10 of them in two days and that was enough for now. Stuffed with beer, we headed off for some dinner, venturing to a lovely Indian called The Jewel in the Crown. It’s impossible to have a curry without beer so we ordered another cold beverage and accompanied it with popadums, chicken tikka, lamb jalfrezi, sag aloo, samosas and polished it off with some refreshing sorbet and Indian tea. I was too stuffed to move but thankfully the hostel was only a short waddle away…
This morning I flew back to Zurich and Elizabeth flew onto London. At least this time the separation was not so long and I’d be meeting her in London next weekend to be godfather at our niece’s christening and to bring Elizabeth home with me! Other than getting stuck into the duty free alcohol, the flight back was uneventful and another week at work beckoned.