No surprises, it was raining when we woke on Sunday morning. I totally overslept due to completely not setting my alarm properly. But that was okay at the end of the day. Danny, Sheldon and Helen were still having breakfast so I gulped down copious amounts of tea and assorted yoghurts, nuts, croissant, eggs and toast--then we braved the cold.
To be honest, it isn't that much more cold than Cape Town during winter, so the weather didn't really bother me. We walked a bit to where we could catch the Dublin Bus Tours, which is the hop-on, hop-off bus that drives a circuit through the city to the majority of its sights. And it's worth every euro for this. If you're here, DO invest in a ticket. It's going to save your life--and your feet. Plus, if you're lucky, you'll get a smart-mouthed bus driver who'll tell dirty jokes.
We first drove the circuit and got an idea of where everything was situated. Then we went to the Guinness Storehouse where we climbed all the way to the top to have our pint. The Gravity Bar gives an awesome, fantastic view of the entire city. And I had my first proper pint of Guinness, which is rather nice.
Plainly put, the Guinness brewery is huge. I cannot remember how many millions of pints it puts out daily but the amount is staggering. It makes our little SAB brewery in Newlands look like a baby. But ja, if you're a fan of the "black nectar" as it is called, the Guinness Storehouse is a cathedral devoted to the liquid. For me it was just a total treat to see the panoramic views of the city from the top.
What I love about Dublin is its architecture, which combines everything from the gorgeous Gothic styles of its cathedrals and churches, to the many Georgian-era buildings. Window boxes and hanging baskets are filled with colourful flowers this time of the year. And there is not a scrap of litter to be seen. The locals are super-friendly and if they see gormless tourists looking lost, they're quick to ask where you want to be and to give directions.
Lunch we had at one of the restaurants at the Storehouse, a surprisingly good buffet with poached salmon and a selection of fresh salads. Salmon is very common in Irish menus, so for folks like me, who don't see all that much of it in South Africa, it was a treat. I've been eating fish pretty much my entire time here.
Afterward, Danny and I (the two sub-editors/crazy ladies) eventually decided to see the Dublin Writers Museum--the whole being a wordsmith thing. The exhibits were just enough to whet my appetite to delve into Irish literature, which is very much tied in with the history of the country. We didn't see the whole museum as it was closing time and we were in need of a bath, so we waited for the bus then headed back to the hotel.
Feeling much fresher, we caught a taxi later to the Temple Bar in the Arlington Hotel, to take in a show and a meal. The crowd was mostly tourists, from countries such as France, Ukraine and a lot from the US. To think that a few years ago we'd never admit to being South African! How much has changed.
The Irish band that played was very slick and, while I would have loved to have heard more traditional reels, they took requests from the audience. Don't laugh. Someone requested Molly Malone (and yes, I died a little). After the band came the dancers, who were, likewise, also slick--delivering a lovely Riverdance-styled show. Very energetic and very rousing.
We were quite merry by the time we returned to the hotel but gosh, was I tired. All in all, I didn't realise how quickly the time would pass. I'd have loved to have gone to more of the destinations in the city, to its numerous museums and art galleries, but there simply wasn't time.
Dublin is a magical city with many wonderful places to spend time exploring. You need at least a week here and you will still only have scratched the surface. Thank you to Tourism Ireland for giving me the opportunity for this small taster.
We plunge into the countryside next.