After just over 2 months in Ireland and 6 trips to or from the Dublin airport it was about time that I actually took some time to see Dublin city. The girls had found an apartment on AirBNB for Saturday night so we decided we’d bus decently early on Saturday and then bus home some time Sunday afternoon.
The international office at the university had offered a Dublin flexi-pack to the study abroad students (but unfortunately not Erasmus) which included Book of Kells tickets, Viking Splash tour tickets and 2 bus tickets to or from Dublin all for 10 euros. Quite the deal considering a cheap bus to Dublin city is 10 euros regularly, let alone everything else. When we got to Dublin we decided we’d split up so Rachel and I could up our ticket vouchers and the other girls could do whatever they please.
Since we had already booked the Splash tour, we headed in that direction to find the boats. Google maps lead us to St. Stephen’s Green where the office was apparently located. By the time we got there we were cutting it close to our tour time, and the office was nowhere in sight. We ended up calling the company which said the bus tour (not a boat?) met in front of a Starbucks just outside the park. Thankfully we were able to find it, even if we were a minute or two late. We snatched up the last 2 seats on the bus and were instructed to put on these ridiculous Viking helmets. The bus driver taught us a Viking yell to scare pedestrians and the entire bus would let out a big roar and scare people on the sidewalks, which ended up being good craic. The bus tour itself was great and the driver was lots of fun. There was even a hen party on board and all the ladies were dressed up as Harry Potter. They were really into it. After bussing around for probably half an hour we ended up on a river where the bus stopped. Crew from a nearby shed came out with lifejackets and gave them to everyone on the bus. The driver used me as the instruction dummy which was quite the experience. So you’re probably wondering why I’m on a bus wearing a life jacket. So was I. Turns out the bus is actually an old WWII model vehicle which operates on land and in water as a boat. Pretty neat. We didn’t spend a whole long in the river before getting back on land and completing the end leg of the tour.
Once the tour ended we still had a good chunk of time before we had to meet up with Sandra to get into our apartment, so we decided we’d squeeze in the Book of Kells. The queue was pretty long, but it was kind of our only option. Once we did get in we were lead through the museum part which was a little crowded and busy, but expected. I didn’t read everything there was, but I got a good taste of the history and significance. The actual Book of Kells is held in a separate room, and only 2 of the 4 books are ever displayed at a time. Each of these 2 books are opened to one page which changes daily so, theoretically if you came everyday for the year you should always see a different page. The art is so intricate and detailed it really is amazing. It’s crazy to consider how much time, work and precision went into the making of one page let along one book or all 4. Next we were lead upstairs to the old library. This might have been my favourite part of the entire tour, maybe even the entire weekend in Dublin. The library is amazing. I talked to one of the librarian/guards who told me the books currently in the library are all 19th century books, but since Trinity is a publishing library they get a copy of every published book worldwide to this day. That’s approximately 20000 books each week. All the books obviously don’t fit into the library, so they have a warehouse outside of the Dublin Airport where new and old books are archived. We spent an hour in the library trying to talk to another guard who we watched privately tour someone through the second floor of the library which was blocked off from ‘regular tourists.’ We were near dying to get up to the exclusive second floor, but after waiting so long we just decided to give up.
We met Sandra out on the street while she was finishing up her Christmas shopping and headed in the direction of our apartment to pick up the keys. But first we stumbled upon a little street farmers market that I begged we check out. Although we didn’t get any meals we did pick up 4 specialty cupcakes so we could have a snack later on. We had a little spare time so we ducked into a little cafe/restaurant and had a sandwich before we had to meet with the AirBNB lady. The apartment was separated into a few different rooms, each which were rented out to other tourists. Our room was by far the biggest and had a kitchen, couch, small table and two double beds. It was right outside the Temple Bar area which was super convenient as well. We hung out in the room awhile before it was time to head to the Guinness Storehouse for our tour.
The Storehouse wasn’t really something I was totally interested in, but the girls were really looking forward to it. The main entrance was crazy busy, and it was only November. I cannot imagine how the place looks in the middle of summer when tourism is at an all time high. The first floor was mainly just a big foyer, a gate to take pictures with and the actual store itself. The next part of the building was basically a walk through of the ingredients, and what goes into a pint Guinness. Although I’m no brewing connoisseur I know the basics, and that’s pretty much what this was. The next floor, if I remember correctly, was the actual machines and processes used to ferment and brew and whatnot. Things started getting interesting (to me) when we got to the floor where they had all the advertising and labelling throughout the last century. The different logos and icons on the cans and bottles as well as the changing of designs was really interesting to me. I was also a huge fan of the Guinness animals you could climb on, because sometime your inner toddler needs to come out and play.
We also went to a Guinness tasting room where we were taught exactly how you’re supposed to drink, and what parts of your tongue you’re supposed to used to get the most of your drink. They had little aroma pods that released the smell of the hops and barley and such to ‘heighten your senses’ as well, but it was a little overwhelming. They gave us a little shot glass to sample the beer (for freeeee) and the glass was just so dang cute I had to take it home. Next we headed to the Guinness Academy where we learned to pour the perfect pint and received a little paper diploma for all our hard work and success. If only real school was so easy. We attempted to drink our pints on the top floor of the building which has a beautiful view of the city, but there wasn’t an empty seat, or place to stand in sight. Instead we opted to go down a few floors where we found a seat.
For dinner we met up with Nicole and her two friends she’d been spending the day with at a restaurant closer to the apartment. Unfortunately I do not recall what I ate but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was stew, beef pie, or seafood chowder. To be quite honest, I don’t really recall what went on for most of the rest of that night. Not due to alcohol, but rather that I’m writing this blog nearly a month later on a bus back to Dublin, and details are hard to remember.