Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Break in Dublin

Finally an update to this site!

Many people when they think of Spring Break, they think beaches, sun, tans and good times. Not me. I think cold, overcast, pasty and good times. Dublin fits the bill.

Now I'd never been to Ireland before, so all I really knew was its supposed to be filled with red heads with really cute accents. Not true. In fact it took quite awhile before I actually heard anyone speak with a strong Irish accent. Seemed like all I heard were Eastern European, Asian, and weak Irish accents. And redheads? Most seemed to come out of a bottle.

But that's modern Europe for you. The major cities are magnets for immigrants and multinational corporations to the point where, aside from the street signs and the landmarks, they all seem the same in many ways.

But that's not to say that I didn't like Dublin. I enjoyed it very much. But it wasn't the Dublin I'd thought of when I listened to those early U2 albums or watched The Committments.

Highlights included:

  • The Dublin Bus City Tour: I recommend taking a bus tour anytime you show up in a new city just so you can get the lay of the land. The Dublin version is better than most. Get a multi-day pass where you can just hop on and off and you're all set. The drivers give live commentary, and for the most part are extremely entertaining. The second driver I was with was hilarious. When we got stuck in a huge traffic jam, he digressed into improvised talks about the local economy, sports, and even tried to convince us to just go ahead and get off the bus and head for a pub rather than be stuck in traffic. Some took him up on the offer, but I sat it out because I was learning more about Dublin listening to him than I did from any guidebook I could buy.

  • The Guinness Storehouse: The top tourist attraction in Dublin, and for the most part worth it. The museum is self-guided and located right next to the place where Guinness is brewed. Even if you're not a fan of the drink, it was interesting learning about its history. And if you are a fan of the drink, the best part is the free pint at the end of the tour that you get to step up to the bar taps and pour yourself. The restuarant at the end of the tour is also top-notch with a commanding view of Dublin.
  • Kilmainham Gaol: This was the most sobering part of my trip. This is the infamous Dublin jail where thousands suffered incredibly cruel treatment, and during the Easter Rising of 1916, many of the rebel leaders were held and executed. Only downside is that its by guided tour only, which might not give enough time to sit and reflect on what you're seeing. Also has an extensive museum.
  • The 1916 Easter Rising Walking Tour: One thing I was very interested in knowing more about was the Irish revolution. After a little research, I found out about this great walking tour that gives a fairly detailed overview of what led up to the uprising in 1916 and what exactly happened. It was a facinating 2 1/2 hour college lecture on the streets of Dublin. I highly recommend this if you ever visit the city.

  • The Musical Pub Crawl: This was the best part of the trip. Essentially two Irish musicians take you around to a few pubs and teach you about traditional Irish music while you listen and drink beer. Sounds simple, right? It was much better than I thought it would be. The two guys who led the tour were extremely talented, funny, and passionate about what it is they do. Halfway through the night, a fiddle player showed up and was invited to join in. For the price of a couple of beers you got to interact with some folks who at most of the bars in the area would just be behind microphones ignoring the audience. These guys had no mikes and truly wanted group to join in with the songs and learn about their craft. At the end, they recommended pubs outside the touristy area where they knew good sessions were going to be played until the wee hours. If I ever go back to Dublin, the musical pub crawl is the one thing I will absolutely do again. Maybe on two different nights.

Click here to see other pics and some short video clips from the trip.


At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad to hear about some of your travels. Did you take pics? I'm sure you did.
Keep in touch hon...

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Joel E. said...

Thats Lit Bruh!!! \m/


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