Ireland – History, Guinness and more Guinness

DUBLIN

After a quick stop in the Netherlands with Victoria after leaving Norway, I was off on my own to travel now.  Well, not really.  Most every destination has a friend or family member waiting for me.  When I got to Dublin I met up with Seamus, who I met while in Umeå and played with in a cover band.  From the get go he had me out the door and walking through the streets and walking through history and it would be this way as long as I was in Ireland, up and out the door to fit as much in as possible.  The day I arrived was actually Seamus’ birthday so I felt a little bad because I thought I would be a burden on his birthday.  However, he said he wouldn’t normally be doing anything anyways.  After a stroll around town and getting some history on the writer Yeats and even a visit to the Yeats museum, viewing statues and monuments to the easter uprising and other rebellions against the Brits, getting taught about the great famine (which also had a role in the Irish rebellion): we went for a pint together for his birthday.  In my wallet was also money Victoria had slipped in for me to buy Seamus a birthday pint.  So both me and Victoria bought Seamus a birthday pint.  Although I got a lot of culture and a lot of history (we also went to the Irish film, “Jimmy’s Hall” about communism in a polarized Ireland), simply going out for a pint in the evening and having a chat was always my favourite part.  One of the bars we went to used to be two separate buildings and you went though a window to get from one room to another.  We also visited one of historical museums where Seamus decided to buy me a child’s Irish folk stories book.  He said he was raised on it and, since I can claim Irish citizenship if I want, I should read it.  It was a great gift.  The entire stay with Seamus he went “Irish mother” on me and was constantly cooking me breakfast, packing me lunches and making sure I was fed.  The most “touristy” thing we did was a visit to the Guinness storehouse, which is a ridiculous place.  It’s like disneyland for alcoholics.  I received training and certification for properly pouring a Guinness as well as the proper way to drink it.  It was all over the top and a little silly but very fun.  Now, Guinness in Ireland is, as they say, FAR better.  I don’t even drink it back in Canada but it is very, very good in Ireland.  Part of this is because there are the Guinness vans that drive around to all the pubs ensuring that the taps are operating perfectly.  At the top of the storehouse we got a great view of the city and had my first notice of what lovely people the Irish are.  Seamus and I were standing for awhile and had finally found a seat but shortly after he noticed an elderly group looking around and easily decided we should give our seats up.  I encountered something similar to this again in Cork.

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On another one of our nights together, Seamus decided to go out to Temple Bar and try to find some “trad” (traditional Irish music).  We passed a few bars which had musicians playing what seemed like trad, or would actually be playing trad for a song or two and then switch to top40.  Seamus was determined.  We went from bar to pub to pub to bar.  I didn’t know what he was looking for until we found it.  It was true “trad” and it was glorious.  Had I a few whiskeys in me, I would have gone wild and gotten into a jig.  Speaking of whiskey…

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Seamus, still being in Irish mother mode, walked me to the train and gave me my final farewell as I headed off to Cork.  It was a short visit, but very good and I do hope to go back soon!

CORK

I went to Cork because it is where “me Gran” is from.  I stayed at the local Hosteling International hostel and it was a massively impressive building.  I spent a lot of my time in Cork, wondering around and killing time because I didn’t have any real plans.  The day I wanted to get out to the Blarney Castle (and kiss the Blarney rock) it was pouring rain, so it wasn’t worth it.  Unfortunately this was the only day I was capable of going.  Instead I visited the old prison, now a museum (mostly, I was just looking for something to do indoors).  It was a neat building and an okay little tour around.  I wandered around the University campus which was GORGEOUS when I had a sunny day.  Coffee station, right of campus is a great and relatively cheap place to eat in Cork.  I highly suggest it.  I started to go a little mad in Cork from not doing anything (it took one day to wander about and see the sights) and decided to have a night out.  Pub Crawl for one!  I started at Edisons.  I was sitting outside where two other young lads were sitting.  They were maybe 3-4 years younger than me.  They started to play music out of there phone.  Now this is a massive pet peeve of mine.  It is so inconsiderate to those around you in my opinion.  But these two young lads turned around and asked me the instant they started playing it whether it bother me or not.  Now I have never had that before!  Simply because they asked (and because it wasn’t super terrible music) I told them I didn’t have a problem.  Then I went with a Beamish Irish Stout (top notch beer and for only $3.50 a pint!) at the Beggarman.  The Beggarman is a craft beer pub with a cinema attached to it (yes you can drink in there).  When I was there, they were playing the Shinning and they also play Game of Thrones weekly.  Clever marketing.  I was chatting with the owner, who surprisingly knew where Edmonton was.  This was because he studied theatre in Banff but eventually gave it up and went into food.  He was a street food vendor in Cork and then opened the pub.  It was at this point I found out he had only be open two months.  After Beggarman I went to Abbey Tavern and all eyes were on me as I walked in.  It was the kind of place where everyone was a regular and they all knew each other and I was the odd man out.  Now, I had bought myself an Irish cap as a souvenir and thank god I did.  I sat at the bar and an elderly chap commented on it saying how much he liked it and how he used to have one when he was young.  Him and I chatted for an hour or two about family (he had a daughter in Canada), Sweden, France, and Obama.  I told him about my pub crawl and he had a few suggestions for me.  And with a “good luck to ya,” I was off.  He had suggested the Enterprise.  Well… it shouldn’t surprise me when an elderly chap suggested a bar with all elderly people.  The pints were also the most expensive of anywhere.  I quickly had my pint and moved on.  The last pub I hit was the Oval.  It looked simply like a house from the outside.  Once inside, it really felt like a “locals only” hidden gem.  It was tiny, dingy, and dark.  I loved it.  Though, like and pub/bar, they aren’t that great alone.  It’s the type of place I would love to go with some mates, but by yourself, its a bit awkward.  I finished my pint and went back to the hostel.  The next day my face was killing me.  I had only had four pints, yet I was congested and had a migraine.  I’ve always had a suspicion that I’m allergic to something in certain beers and this solidified it.  This was the day I headed to the airport to take off to Liverpool and it was also the day that I realized how badly Norway hit the budget.  It was a sleepy little place and it’s too bad I didn’t do more, but I was on a tight budget and the weather wasn’t on my side.  However, once in Liverpool, my cousin made sure I had a proper night out…

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