Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rainy day and Guinness

Rainy day in Dublin.
After an overnight flight that got us to Dublin faire city, where etc., at around 6 am, we checked through Euro immigration and had the usual bag wait. Augie, in the front of the plane, zipped though la migra #2 in line, but wound up waiting to the last for his suitcase.
After a couple hour's wait for other arrivals, we headed into town in the dreary rainy morning.  It cleared up a bit by 10 am, and we began a self guided walking tour of olde Dublin.
Around the corner and down the Grande Canal, which is Starbucks talk for a small, and a turn down the Georgian district.  Nearly identical row houses, quit neat and tidy, with the only distinguishing feature being the single door. Each had its unique character and color, a revolt of the Irish spirit.
Low and behold, we come across the house that Oscar Wilde grew up in, with a statute of the great writer made of colored rock across the street. Snazzy.
On we go, with the skies darkening, past Trinity College, the oldest U in the island. We come across sweet Molly Malone, wheeling her barrow through streets wide and narrow. Frozen in time though, the cockles and mussels are far from alive, alive o,. Getting bronzed will do that to you. Round and about we trudge, through streets wide and narrow, with taxis, and buses, annoying, annoying, o'.
The skies begin to release their load, and we regret leaving our umbrellas neatly stashed in our suitcases.  Passing a statue we can't figure out (turns out to be Michael Collins - see history of Ireland, part 987), we spy a beacon of hope, a good Scottish resting place,  McDonalds.  A tasty hot chocolate later, we begin the run back to the hotel not quite soaked, but definitely wet.
The rain continues and begins to get worse.  We wait. We begin our "city tour."   Into a bus -- this one with springs, shock absorbers, muffler, and  no statue of Kali threatening us with eternal damnation. It's brand new, first trip, with all the cushy stuff. Even CC TV to watch the road and side of the bus Why? Who knows, who cares?  Watching the road rushing up to you on TV is definitely a stomach churning experience.
Back to the Georgian district, this time in the comfort of a cushioned seat and covered head, and windows with so much rain hitting them, you can barely see out.  Same agenda, same sites.
A quick pass through Dublin Castle and its state apartments. Mo and Augie interrupted in the middle of the tour by being yanked out to pay for a taxi ride by Gina and Lily, whose plane arrived late and missed the transfer. Running outside to the street in the rain, discovering no one knew where the taxi was.  After 5 minutes of soaking, back to the Castle.  There sits a taxi unloading G and L, and luggage, with G paying the cab.
Off to the bus with luggage in tow, and on the street again.  We approach a complex that looks like a cross between the Death Star and an Eighteen-thirties workhouse. You were expecting to see begging cripples and urchins stealing a Christmas goose.
But it's only the Guinness Storehouse, a cross between an Eighteen-thirties workhouse and a museum.  It's hard to describe in less than a book how important Guinness is to Ireland.  The country might just disappear if the  Guinness brewery shut down.  Short version, it's really, really a big deal.
Now keep in mind that we're in a 3 day national drinking weekend. The Irish can party. There's the preparation for the pre St Patty's day party, the pre St Patty's day party, and the St Patty's day party. Then as some of our group discovered, there's the post St Patty's day party.
A new trend in Europe, and apparently just this year at Guinness, is the group tour access that lets groups enter with minimal wait. Good thing, as the line wrapped around the block in the pouring rain, with all waiting for a glass of beer.  A quick entrance, grab a ticket from the tour guide, and off to the 7th floor.
Stunning views of rain clouds!  The room was full, elbow to elbow, with young people, all sucking on giant glasses of Guinness Stout. Most of our group bellied up to the bar, and joined the throng.  Since you could just barely see the city, you might as well start your pre St Patty's day party.
Lily, not being of drinking age (even here it's 18) and I headed down the 7 floors to browse through the museum.  The history is interesting, and the quantities of beer produced are staggering. The ads are enlightening.
Finally meeting all at the door, and heading out into the rain for the bus again.  We walked past a string of horse carriages, but judging from the rain and giant piles of poops, they didn't have much business that day.
Back to the hotel for rest and preparation for the evenings meal.

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