Greetings fellow readers. Our poor blog has been in neglect, yet, we have returned, once agin, after a fantastic 9-day trip around Ireland. There's a lot to share, so we'll split the tale into a few posts.
Our trip consisted of a few days in Dublin, a road trip to the west coast where we spent a few nights in the Burren countryside in County Clair, then a few more nights of city life in Galway. The thing that is just astounding, though, is how compact the entire country is and how stuffed it is with history and folklore. You'd be able to spend an entire day (which we did) simply driving a ring of country roads exploring ruin after ruin, and that's only a tiny spec of the map. And to think that it really only takes 2 hours to drive from the east coast to the west coast....it's incredible. We loved listening to the news, too, because A) we could understand it and B) it was hilarious how they'd report weather or traffic or someone being hit by a car in a random town, and this would be news for the entire country.
So let's start with Dublin. Cute town, friendly people, and a lot smaller than we thought. This town is completely walkable, and within a good day of trekking around, you can hit up most of the hot spots. The first day, we simply wandered and explored the different areas of town along with a variety of bars and restaurants. Dublin certainly has it's crazy drunken Temple Bar area (where they've now banned bachelor/ bachelorette parties...or as they call them, cock and hen parties...since things have gotten so outa control), but us old farts had more fun exploring the trendier shopping district which is packed with cool bars, bistros, and every type of cuisine you can think of. Everything we ate and drank in that town was phenomenal...everything from shepherd's pie, to fancy italian, to mussels and fries, and of course, your standard irish breakfast with nothing but fried eggs, ham, sausages, black and white puddings, and more grease.
Despite the fact that we both (more me than Adam) were battling nasty head colds most of the time, we still made room for a pint or 3. Adam, of course, made sure to average at least 2 Guinnesses a day, with my my drink of choice being Bulmer's Cider. Damn that stuff is good, and so nice on a sore throat ; ) To enlighten our booze knowledge, we, of course, hit up both the Jameson Distillery followed immediately by the Guinness Storehouse Tour (no, they don't even brew it in Dublin anymore). Both tours were a bit pricy, but certainly worth the experience. The Jameson tour was a lot more personal with a guide and a small group being lead through the distilling process and a taste test 'competition' at the end. I was one of the lucky 8 of the group to sip and discover the differences between a few of the most widely sold whiskies of the world. It was definitely cool considering I know zero about that stuff. The Guinness tour was completely unexpected; not so much a personal tour, but more or less a self-guided museum. Very cool space and very well done, but certainly designed to filter thousands of people through each day. No taste test competitions here, yet the tour here ended in their Gravity Bar which overlooks the entire city. Not a bad way to hang out and enjoy your 'complimentary' Guinness'. Fortunately for us, it's down season, so the crowds everywhere were minimal and we didn't have to battle the thousands. I can only imagine what this country becomes come March 17th....
After our afternoon boozing, we wandered a bit more anticipating hitting up some historic stuff like St. Patrick's Cathedral and Dublin Castle, but we either arrived too late, or decided another admission fee would better be spent at a cool restaurant later on. That night, we hit the hay pretty early, for the following day was to start bright and early with our road trip to the west coast and learning how to drive on the left. (BTW, everyone veers to the left when walking as well...that got some getting used to)