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Entries in Ireland (5)

Irish I Were Drunk. . .

1047435-922395-thumbnail.jpgYes, that is what the t-shirt reads that our 2-year-old niece Ari is sporting -- guess which loving and age appropriate uncle gave her that! 

We are quite excited to finally have met up in Dublin with Jason's brother, Scott, our sister-in-law, Amanda and our niece.  They did a house exchange with a family who live in Cork, and flew up yesterday for a couple days to spend time in this happening town.  At the end of the week we'll make our way down south to stay with them and explore that part of the country.

1047435-922397-thumbnail.jpgFrom what we've seen so far, we really like it here.  How can you go wrong in a city that has 5 Irish pubs on every block?!?!  The pervasiveness of Irish Pubs here are like the equivalent of how common cafés are in Paris.  The Irish sure like to drink and smoke -- at our arrival to the airport in Dublin, the entire place literally smelled like a bar.  Then when we walked outside, each person instantly lit up a cigarette as if they were having nicotine withdrawal from the flight they just arrived in on.  Jason joked what look to be 60 year olds, are probably more like 35 year olds, but just looked terrible from all the smoking and drinking.

1047435-922394-thumbnail.jpgI always thought Dublin was this huge city, but in actuality you can walk from one end of the city center to the next in about 25 minutes.  Compared to the enormity and somewhat overwhelming feeling of Paris, Dublin is much more manageable in size.  The infamous Grafton Streets and Temple Bar areas have been fun to explore!

1047435-922396-thumbnail.jpgLast night we had an amazing meal with Scott and Amanda in a beautiful restaurant called Peploe’s close to Grafton Street.  We’re so happy that menus are again in English, and we can actually understand what we’re ordering.  We still have a lot more to discover in this town, and are excited we have 4 more days here to explore!


Drinking with the Irish: Round Two

1047435-926071-thumbnail.jpgSome stereotypes are true, some aren’t. The Irish like to drink: True. What were sidewalk café’s three to a corner in Paris are now pubs three to a corner in Dublin. This was driven home even further during our tour of the Guinness factory. Ten years ago when I was in Dublin I stayed at the Guinness Brewery hostel and took the tour, so I wasn’t expecting too much to have changed. Wrong. The entire thing has been completely redone and is now a 7 story monument to the rich creamy stout goodness. Complete with bar on top.

1047435-926069-thumbnail.jpgBut our real Guinness tour started the night before. Our long time readers will remember Eddie and Bern from our trek through the Daintree Rain Forest in Austraila. We hit it off back then famously and ended up drinking ourselves into a coma in Port Douglas. We decided to take another crack at it here in their home town of Dublin. We met at Venu to start the festivities, which is a very hipster restaurant located a few floors underground in an old building off Grafton street. The food was quite good, and so was the wine.

1047435-926070-thumbnail.jpgThe real treat, however, was after dinner when we were promised the “best pint of Guinness in Ireland”. Apparently Guinness themselves actually service all of the Guinness taps in Dublin, with the exception of the one located at John Kehoe which is meticulously cleaned by hand and the bartenders trained to pour a perfect head. It truly was “brilliant”. We ended up hanging out back at their very cool place until the late/early hours of the morning. As often is the case, we finished off by asking the cab driver to take us to the best Kebab place he knew of. And he did. And it was good.

Keen on Keane

1047435-933241-thumbnail.jpgOK, I’m sure there must be some music reviewer somewhere that’s already used that title, but I’m feeling lazy. As many of you know I have a soft spot in my heart for all things British, particularly when it comes to music. Richard Ashcroft, Radiohead, Placebo, Travis, Starsailor, The Cure, New Order and of course Depeche Mode. So when I saw that Keane was coming to Dublin the same time we were going to be there it was a no brainer. Well, not quite when we were going to be there. We had to extend our stay by a night. But totally worth it!  And if the greatness of the show is related to the physical size of the ticket, this was destined to be a great show.

1047435-933240-thumbnail.jpgWe knew the night was off to a great start when walking to the venue we watched two people pass out drunk. Separate incidents. Go Irish. The Point was a pretty cool place to see a show. Larger than anywhere we have in San Francisco (a capacity of 8500) but still a somewhat intimate feeling similar to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. While Keane is on the …poppier… side of music I tend to be into, it makes for a very fun show as the audience can sing along to pretty much every song. At least audiences in the UK. Last time I saw Keane in the states was in front of a crowd of about 300 most of whom looked like they were there because there wasn’t much else to do that night.

40 Shades of Green

1047435-936568-thumbnail.jpgAlthough I only managed to count 28, we were told by a tour guide that there are 40 colors of green in the lush and scenic hillsides of Ireland. It truly is a beautiful country, and boasts such a thriving and fertile landscape – HOWEVER, that comes at the expense of it raining here all the time. We thought Scott and Amanda had scored by getting people to do a house exchange with them and take up living in their Arizona home for the summer (100 degrees there on a good day), but now we wonder who really got the good deal. In all honesty, the rain wasn’t that terrible, we just really had to take advantage of the dry hours during the day, and got used to constantly being damp.

1047435-936569-thumbnail.jpgComing from the hustling city center of Dublin, to the slow and quiet suburbia of Cork was quite a change in pace, and a wonderful way to spend quality time with our family for 5 days. The area that makes up this county consists of small village-like settlements of which we managed to visit a few including Kinsale, Douglas and Carrolagan. Again, the uttering of words as cute and quaint were used in excess in these intimate little towns.

One of the highlights of the visit were first and foremost spending time with our niece Ari, who is certainly developing quite a personality – we were a little shell-shocked from some of her temper tantrums, but it certainly gave us some perspective on the whole parenting process. We did an overnight trip to the small town of Killarney, and stayed at Earl Court’s House Bed and Breakfast, which was adorable. This was our starting point for the 100 mile Ring of Kerry drive, which is part of the mystical & unspoilt region of Ireland. The guide on the tour bus literally did not stop talking for the 6 hour drive, which was a little distracting to the amazing scenery; however we managed to block it out by putting on some Radiohead on our mp3 player for the last half of the drive.

1047435-936570-thumbnail.jpgOur buggy ride through Killarney National Park the next day was so much fun, especially seeing how excited Ari got over the horsies – we got a lot of “neighing” practice in that afternoon. From Killarney we made our way to the Blarney Castle. This is known for boasting the mythical Blarney Stone that if kissed, will give the gift of eloquence for the rest of your life. 1047435-936572-thumbnail.jpgWe stood in line for 45 minutes to eventually get our chance to pucker up to the stone -- you had to lay down backwards on the top of the castle, then were lowered down to the stone that is about 200 feet above the ground -- it was a lot scarier than we thought it would be, but at least we’ll have the gift of eloquence for the rest of our lives!

Glasgow Sucks

1047435-946318-thumbnail.jpgThere. I just straight out said it. No sugar coating or reading between the lines. Hopefully the Scottish Republican Army doesn’t blow up my car or something. But the fact is we had probably the most underwhelming three days of the trip. There’s basically nothing to do in Glasgow. And this was proven when, for lack of anything better to do, I decided to go see a movie and every one of the 8 options and all of their showings were sold out for the entire day.

What the real mystery is, though, is how two cities so close together could be so different. Less than 45 minutes by either train or car separates IMG_4493.JPGEdinburgh from Glasgow. We spent 3 days in Edinburgh and really felt like we were leaving too soon with barely the surface scratched. We spent 3 days in Glasgow and by the end of the first wanted to poke our eyeballs out with the same forks we used to eat our haggis. And we did eat haggis – a surprisingly tasty mincing of sheep heart/liver/lungs with oatmeal, onions, and spices all boiled together in the sheep’s stomach for approximately one hour.

It also didn’t help that the internet connection at the place where we were staying stopped working after the first day. That is a guaranteed recipe to put us in seriously bad moods. We ended up spending most of the next day wandering the city looking for WiFi spots, of which there were woefully few. We ended up spending a few hours in a public library, somewhere I haven’t been since I was twelve years old and devouring Star Trek books. (The Next Generation of course, not the original).

Pink-hummer.jpgSo why does Glasgow suck so much? Mainly because it’s young and rowdy. Not the good kind of rowdy, but the trashy kind of rowdy. Lots of groups of kids and pregnant teens wandering the streets shouting and drinking and going from bar to bar. I’ve never seen more pink Hummer limos in one place. It seemed like every other bar was hosting a bachelorette party, and the bars in between those were hosting baby showers. And nobody was over 20. We were even lucky enough to see a guy get mugged from our window, which was supposedly a “nice” part of town.