On one of our journeys we had to switch buses in Limerick. As far as I know, the only thing famous in this town is its name, but we wanted to have a look around anyway.
We eventually made our way to Dublin, the last stop on our multi-city tour. It's a big city, so we did a lot of stuff. There are some notable highlights, however:
There were Carroll's Irish Gifts stores all over the place. They have a lot of stuff here. If you get an Irish Christmas present from one of us this year, thank Carroll's Irish Gifts.
Naturally, we had to take a tour of the Guinness Brewery. The first part of the tour explains how Guinness is made, and is a lot like a museum. It was pretty impressive. A lot of work goes into producing the bajillion pints of Guinness the world consumes every year.
There was also an exhibit on Guinness advertising. My favorite ads were the "Guinness is good for you!" ads, especially the ones with testimonies written by doctors. Who knew beer was a health drink? We also watched a video about cask making, which is something I've always been curious about (seriously!). After watching the video, I realized how much people today take their mass-produced containers for granted. I bet if everyone had to be an apprentice for six years before spending all day making a barrel, they'd be a lot less likely to just throw the thing away when it's empty. Barrels look way cooler than plastic tubs or aluminum kegs, too.
At the end of the tour, you go to a bar at the top of the brewery for a free pint of Guinness and a view of the city. Dublin's skyline isn't anything special, but did I mention the free beer you get for looking at it?
Not wanting to play favorites, we felt obligated to take a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery as well. At the end of this tour you get a free drink also (we were in Ireland, duh!). Tim got extra lucky, though, and was chosen to participate in a whiskey tasting session. Tim apparently forgot where we were, because he didn't pick Jameson as his favorite from the group of Irish whiskeys. To make matters worse, he then chose Scotch whisky as his overall favorite. The tour guide was so angry...
While in Dublin we stopped in a few different pubs, but our favorite was The Brazen Head Inn. The earliest recorded drinking on the spot happened in 1198, easily making it the oldest pub in Ireland. The Trinitarian order, which eventually founded DeMatha High School, was also founded in 1198. It was a good year. For information purposes only, and not as part of any agenda of my own, I should point out that the Jesuits were doing nothing at this time, since they didn't even exist, and no one had even heard of a "Linganore."
Some travel TV show was filming at The Brazen Head Inn the night we were there. The guy being filmed stood right next to our table, so we definitely got on TV. It wasn't quite as exciting as the Cicada Cook-off, but I'll take any fame I can get.
We also stopped by Trinity College in Dublin, to see an exhibit of illuminated (aka illustrated) manuscripts of the Gospels. We couldn't take pictures, but believe me, they were pretty cool. I watched a video about book-binding while there, so now I want to try that.
At the end of the exhibit, I decided to wait outside while Tim looked around the gift shop. As soon as I got outside this girl approached me and said something I couldn't understand. I asked her to repeat it, which she did, but I still didn't understand. I guessed that she said "Are you from the States?" But I wasn't sure. I answered, "Yes." Then she asked me about a bank or something (I can't really remember), and I realized that what she had probably said was, "Are you a student [here at Trinity College]?" That's why she was asking me where the bank was, or whatever. Well, I told her I didn't know, she looked like she was leaving with a group, so figured that'd be the end of it, and went to sit down on a bench to wait for Tim.
I figured wrong. She came over and sat on the bench and started talking to me again. I wasn't feeling 100%, and I really just wanted to read the Irish ghost stories book I'd just bought, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try to be polite. After all, Tim would be out in a minute, and then we could go. The conversation was weird, and I couldn't really follow it. She seemed to jump around a lot, maybe she was nervous. I did, however, understand her when she asked if I had a girlfriend (I said no), and when she said she didn't have a boyfriend. I also understood when she asked if the friend I was waiting for had a wife (Tim doesn't). She also asked me about church (I told her I go, she clued me in that she does also).
Tim, I was noticing about this time, was taking forever in the gift shop.
We talked for awhile longer, about school, our majors, our hobbies, how I like the U.S. (she's Irish, but I think she said she'd been to the U.S., or at least wanted to. It was awhile ago, I forget.) Her parents were visiting Trinity College at the time, she said, and were currently at her apartment. That's why she was waiting on the bench outside the library - she didn't want to go back until her parents had left. At some point during this conversation, Tim came out of the gift shop, looked around for me, and saw me on a bench talking to a girl. Being the stand-up guy that he is, he thought, "Oh, Mike met a girl. I'll go look around the shop a few more minutes to give him some time to woo her with his amazing wit and charm." Normally that'd be the right course of action, but in this case I wish he has just come straight over.
Anyway, Tim did eventually come over. I introduced him to the girl, and then we had to be on our way. Afterward, though, I felt kind of bad. I was worried I'd been rude to the girl, or made her think she was boring to talk to. Hopefully not. In reality, I was just confused from the very beginning.