I finally made it to Ireland! I arrived via RyanAir (an excellent budget airlines - use it) on the 5th and stayed until the 9th, when I hopped on a Galway bus with a Tennessee boy I met while sightseeing. He's cute, girls, check him out in the next webpage!
Now, Dublin, what can I say about the capitol? Well, it's a 1 million population city straddling the River Liffey. The river looks more like a canal in most places, like the Thames but much smaller, with stone walls and bridges every block or two. Dublin sprawls; it has no skyscrapers. The tallest building is the Gravity Bar, the top floor of the Guinness Brewery Storehouse, which has a spectacular view of the whole city and the Dublin Mountains in the southwest. Yes, my pictures from that bar aren't very exciting. They only show big sections of the city, after all.
Don't mistake me when I say it sprawls. Dublin does have beauty, all over. The two parks I visited were gorgeous. One was all trees and flowers, adn the other has a large pond, seating areas, cobblestones, greens, and even a historical arch. I'm told most of the houses are in the Georgian style, at least the doors. And even in the poorer areas the doors are well maintained -- and very colorful. Every door I saw (in georgian areas) was bright and a different color from its neighbor. Dublin has a castle, which I walked around but not in, and some of the oldest cathedrals I know about. St. Patrick's Cathedral, from the 11th century, for an obvious example. St. Patrick's Day, anyone?
My trip is also explained by the Irish pubs. I was in one every night. I heard 3 separate irish bands, my favorite being two men with guitars singing folk and drinking songs. The pubs are exactly like Irish pubs at home, dark oak, homey, lots of beer; they're just slightly larger and offer fatty but extensive pub food. Fish and chips or Irish Stew, for example. Speaking of beer, that's all anyone drinks here too. And Guinness is one of the cheapest draughts you can order. Why? Because Dublin is home to Guinness! I have never seen a factory as large as the Guinness Brewery (granted I haven't been to many breweries). It's enormous! It spans more than 20 blocks, at least. It takes 10 minutes to just walk the high walled stretch along the Liffey. And high walled it is. Very secretive! The delivery gate was open and I stopped to take a picture but a security guard jumped out and told me I couldn't! Quite annoying. I got lots of pics on the tour though!
Honestly, I didn't like the tour one bit, but I still recommend it simply because, well, it's Guinness. The tour is all self-motivated. There are no guides. You walk around the high-tech storehouse's 7 floors and read boards and look at old equipment and advertising. I learned a lot, but I would have preferred seeing actual making of the beer, or at least hear the story from someone.
I do quite recommend the Jameson Distillery tour, however. It was a blast, and the tour guide was friendly and knew just about everything about whiskey. The Distillery is no longer in use, it has since moved to Cork, Ireland, but they still have bottles of Jameson with the old Dublin label. I bought one, of course. Mmm, jameson.
Here are some more pictures (when I get them posted):