This is a continuation of my half-marathon recap post on our weekend adventure in Dublin. As I’m sure I sufficiently pointed out in my recap post, I was pumped to have finished my first half-marathon and very pleased with my time (totally a PR…haha). I was still riding my post-13-mile-run endorphin high when we began planned the rest of our day…let’s just say I’m glad Dublin is a very walkable city with affordable public transportation. O and I’m thankful for coffee too, definitely a necessity!
First stop was the Guinness Brewhouse! The guys were pumped for this, and I think it is a Dublin staple, but it is basically a mix between science-center, history museum, and an bar – a marketeer’s dream (I just learned that word today in my “Marketing Principles” course).
In front of the Guinness Brewhouse – the St. James’s Gate Brewery is nearby, but the general public can’t go inside. Guinness was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759 and is still the largest brewery of stout worldwide.
I already posted about Enginerds – well let’s just say the mix of beer, 4 engineers (nerdy ones at that…), and a post-run buzz made us a pretty rowdy bunch at the Brewhouse. There is mock-up equipment for each of the stages of the brewing process along with fancy artwork, quotes from Guinness, and tidbits on where all the ingredients come from. A highlight (Nerd Alert!) was this sign:
One of the Chief Brewers at Guinness actually developed the Student’s T-Test (he used the pseudonym Student) which is used to determine if there is statistically significant difference between two normally distributed means. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the Nerd Alert!) ….We all thought this was really cool, hence the picture!
There were a lot of tourists at the Brewhouse and it was really neat to see all the equipment they use and actually understand the process since we could read for ourselves. I’ve taken my fair share of brewery tours – Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee and also Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma Brewery in Monterrey, Mexico which brews Dos Equis and Tecate – but this time I didn’t have a language barrier or dopey tourguide to mix up all the details of the process (haha).
The roomies with our pints of Guinness in the 360° Bar on the 7th floor of the Brewhouse. Not my best picture—kind of looks like I’m ill or on drugs or something – I’m blaming it on exhaustion.
Along with our complimentary pint of Guinness, the 360° Bar provides amazing views of Dublin, with helpful signs of what you are actually looking at! Here are a few of the views:
This is the view of the mountain range to the south of Dublin -o and look the sun!
We really enjoyed our Guinness and chilling at the bar. It was definitely a bit of a tourist destination, but I feel that it is one of the staples especially for a college student’s trip to Dublin. Next we were off to find dinner! We didn’t really plan where we wanted to eat – so we headed back toward the hostel and kept our eyes peeled for places with good deals and that would seat six people (not as easy as it sounds…). Along the way we stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, unfortunately the Cathedral closed right before we got there, so we only could take pictures outside.
Now that I’m on the subject of dinner, I think this is a perfect time to mention a few things about eating out in Ireland, and probably Europe in general. Once again, if you know me at all, you know I love to eat. My love of food probably stems from a multitude of sources and experiences in my life – but that is boring so lets just stick to food I actually consumed and the experiences at the various restaurants I’ve been to while in Ireland. (To be perfectly honest a discussion about Chinese culture when it comes to meals would be super interesting, albeit probably a bit shocking for some of you (haha), but I don’t know if I remember enough details to write about that adventure.)
Back to meals out in Ireland. A group of us have been going out to various restaurants in Galway once a week. Not only does this let us get out of our apartment and off the computer, but it also allows us to explore our new “home” and interact with some of the locals. It is great to go out, chat with some new friends about their classes, weekend plans, or new fun facts we have learned about Ireland during our time here. These dinners are fun, and definitely one of my favorite events of the week. I’ll try to get those pictures up soon too! While eating dinner out in Galway is enjoyable, eating out “on the road” can be a bit of a different story. Here’s why:
- Travelling in a group. This is self-explanatory really, it is pretty much the same no matter where you travel or who you travel with. Somehow a decision on the restaurant needs to be made so that the majority of the members of the group are in agreement. This is difficult and can lead to some unhappy campers, but that’s just life I suppose.
- Seating. In the US, the majority of sit-down restaurants you visit will have a hostess (or 5…) that will seat your party and try to accommodate large groups without causing too much of scene. However, in Ireland, most places expect you to seat yourselves, which can lead to a bit of a spectacle in a small restaurant with a large group. On the other hand, this is great for avoiding the tables with a draught, that are too close to the kitchen, or that are right next to a screaming child.
- Prices. It is expensive. Period. There are Early Bird Specials, though, that offer two or three courses off of a restricted menu at a discounted price. This is a great option, especially if you are super hungry, or a guy (who seem to always be super hungry).
- Portions. Following that last point…The portions in Europe are smaller compared to those in the “Supersize Me Nation” (AKA the USA). A lot of the guys I’ve been out with have complained that they are still hungry after their lunch or dinner and will go grab a few snacks from a grocery store when we are outside of Galway. But, honestly, I’ve found that the portions are perfect at most places and there is no need to set half your entrée aside to take it home in a “Doggie Bag” (as its been called numerous times here). However, I also love to snack – I never go on a trip without packing a ton of healthy snacks to munch on – so my fruit-and-nut trailmix from Aldi’s helps me out on this one!
- Paying. Last point I promise! Firstly, you have to determine how to get the bill. In some places they will bring it to you after everyone is finished, in others you need to ask your server, and in other restaurants you are expected to go up to the bar and pay after you have finished. Good luck figuring out which option is best. I usually advocate for waiting for tables around us to be done and seeing what they do. But if that fails, there is no harm in asking – I mean they totally know we are not Irish by our accents. Secondly, figuring out how to split the bill. The server will not provide you with separate checks, don’t ask it creates a lot of confusion! So there seem to be two options. Either you all whip out your cash and put money in the kitty so that you can make change for that one person who has a 50Euro bill (totally brings me back to my high school days at Applebee’s on Friday’s after football games before we all had credit cards). Or at some of the smaller, less crowded restaurants (mostly in Galway) the server will just keep the bill and check off the orders as each person goes to the register to pay. Either way, it can be a bit of a hassle and a bit time consuming. But hey we are getting better at our counting and mental math skills (haha)!
Ok back to dinner, I know you are dying to know! We went to Salamanca Tapas Bar (which is actually recommended in my Dublin cityguide as I found out later) and I ordered the smoked salmon. I needed my protein to fill me up after my long run this morning, and local salmon sounded delicious! I also had to order an Americano (it is hit or miss with ordering coffee here) so that I could go out to the pubs later without falling asleep!
Yummy! This was probably one of my favorite meals out while in Dublin.
Me and Shishir inside the restaurant.
No pictures really from going out, I was exhausted (despite the Americano!) and it was dark and drizzling, not optimal picture time. We went to the famous Temple Bar and, not surprisingly, it was packed. So we headed over to a smaller pub, grabbed a few drinks, listened to a local band play their set, and then headed out. Next we hit up a larger bar that actually had a club upstairs that opened shortly after we got there. We danced (and no it isn’t like American style dancing, it actually reminded a bit more of dancing in China…or I guess a middle ground between the two). The other clubbers were college students, mostly from Trinity and wow these girls dressed to impress! They had super high heels and cute/fancy dresses (you can see now why I don’t have a style blog…haha). We hit the road pretty early,though, it had been a long day and we still had some sightseeing to hit on Sunday.
Woke up bright and early Sunday (just a FYI – hostel beds are not conducive to good sleep, in case there was any doubt haha). The whole gang wasn’t ready at the same time so a few of us went out exploring near the hostel for a bit. We stumbled upon the Garden of Remembrance several blocks away — it is a site the commemorate all those who gave up their lives for Irish freedom.
The water feature is in the shape of a Crucifix and the statue (shown below) is supposed to represent resurrection and rebirth.
It is always fun to run into unexpected sites in a new city. But I think it is more interesting to be in a city and walking around pretty early in the morning, before the hassle and bustle takes over the day. You see normal people walking their dogs, playing with their kids, running into the grocery store for a liter of milk – people just living their lives.
We went back and collected the rest of the group and headed over to Trinity College right across the River Liffey. The college is gated and all the students are required to live in the dorms, but the gates are open to visitors during the day. We opted for a self-guided tour to save time and a few bucks Euros, plus Kara had taken the tour with her mom, so she made sure we didn’t get lost!
Since we didn’t take the tour, I don’t have any fun/lame facts for you, sorry!
Soccer fields (soooo green!) and the Medical School.
Pit stop at a chocolate shop so some of the group could satisfy their sweet tooth (teeth?)!
Next stop was Dublin Castle! On the way we passed a few other notable historical sites – City Hall 1779, Chester Beatty Library, and Jonathan Swift’s Home (which was literally a plaque on a stone wall where he used to live…anticlimactic after spending 10 minutes looking for it…).
Dublin Castle was heavily fortified by the Normans and was complete with a large wall surrounding the civilized portion of the city and a moat by the 1200s. The castle changed many times throughout the years (if you can’t tell…we waited until it opened at took a guided tour so we could see the interior), and was destroyed by a fire in the late 1600s. It was then rebuilt and remained a royal residence for the Viceroy of Ireland and also for the current monarch to keep quarters on visits (very few British monarchs ever came to Ireland, the Castle was full of mostly royal guests such as artists or visiting diplomats). The Castle was the site of much violence during the Anglo-Irish Wars and now that Ireland is a free nation, the Presidential inaugurations take place in St. Patrick’s Hall. The Castle was recently renovated and many State functions are held there, including recent visits from Obama and the Queen of England last May.
The Record Tower in the background is the sole surviving piece of the Mediaeval castle, dating around 1230.
Of course British Royalty didn’t come to Ireland often but they kept every room fully decorated and had a throne room for accepting visitors. There were tons of portraits and chandeliers, however, many of the more valuable decorations were taken back to England following Irish Independence, so we didn’t see the rooms in all their glory. In an odd way the castle tour felt like going to Washington DC or Mount Vernon and touring the grounds and homes of the past Presidents.
St. Patrick’s Hall. This is one of the oldest rooms in the castle and is used for Presidential Inaugurations and hosting international dignitaries. The ceiling is beautifully painted, but the pictures didn’t really come out so here is a link.
After seeing the interior of the castle, we wanted to bolt and go eat, but the tour guide took us to a secret (well not really…) exhibit. The exhibit took us underneath the current castle to the ruins of the Medieval Castle that were recently discovered. There was a clear portion of the original wall left and a doorway where the wall would have led out to the moat. Glad we stayed! We went to for some traditional pub grub (hamburgers are not fun to photograph….) and then rushed out to a pub.
It just so happened that it was the All-Ireland Final of Gaelic Football on Sunday. This had been described to us by many of the guys in our classes as the Irish equivalent of the Superbowl. They said the city would be super rowdy not only because the game is at Croke Park, right outside of Dublin, but also because Dublin was playing Kerry, the winning-most team in Ireland. When we were out for our morning adventures we saw numerous people drinking in the pubs early in the morning, guys loading on buses with jerseys on, obviously headed to the stadium, and girls with some crazy outfits sporting their team colors! We wanted in on the action.
We popped into a crowded pub and situated ourselves by the projector. The match was super close (I Goggled the basic rules and scoring at dinner so we had an idea of what was happening in the game), Dublin was down by a few points but Kerry was on the offense the majority of the time. Over the next 30 minutes it was a rollercoaster ride for Dublin (we really had no choice but to root for Dublin given the crowd in the pub). Dublin tied the game in the last minute and off they went to overtime, now the fans were really excited! Dublin ended up winning in overtime and the crowd went wild!
Packaged bar, everyone with their pints and the Gaelic Football game on a projector!
There was crying and hugging (I even got a hug!) and lots of cheering! What a great end to our time in Dublin!
We rushed off to the hostel and picked up our bags so we could catch the bus back to Galway, good thing we planned ahead and had our tickets, the bus was packed! It was a great weekend in Dublin and a good first trip outside of Galway. The Half Marathon will be something I’ll never forget and Dublin proved to be a fun city that wasn’t too big or too crowded to enjoy for the weekend!