For most American’s, November 24th was Thanksgiving Day, for me, it was time to go to Ireland.
This trip was no doubt one of the most anticipated weekends for my group of friends. Since my University in Athens is an American school, we had the pleasure of getting Thanksgiving break. We all decided that with this long weekend we would take a trip to Dublin.
When we got to Dublin we met two other friends there and made our way to the Air BnB. The first thing that we noticed was different is the driving. Ireland, like England, drives on the opposite side of the road. Our taxi ride to the apartment was interesting because every turn seemed illegal by our standards back home.
By the time we got to the apartment, unpacked, dubbed rooms, and ate something, it was about 4am and time to go to bed.
The next day we all unanimously agreed that a trip to the Guinness Storehouse was the way to start our trip. On our way to the factory, we stopped at the most charming little coffeeshop for breakfast. I ordered and Irish breakfast because it seemed appropriate and with it came a piece of art….a cappuccino with my face drawn on top.
Right next store was a whiskey shop, which we meandered through with great curiosity because at least I had no idea that whiskey came in so many different flavors, strengths, and steep prices. It was there that the staff laughed and told us not to mix whiskey with anything in Ireland after we asked what would go best with it. The only thing that can be appropriately mixed with whiskey…is more whiskey.
After that, we arrived at the Guinness Storehouse and we were ready for our tour. For those of you who don’t know the importance of Guinness in Ireland, (I did not when I arrived) it is a national pride. The Storehouse had been there since the 1700s and had a 900 year lease. Needless to say, people will be drinking Guinness for MANY generations to come.
The tour consisted of taking everyone step by step through the process of delivering the product. It started with the ingredients used, the machinery it took to mix it all together and ferment it, how to appropriately taste Guinness, the world of advertising for the brand, and of course, how to properly poor yourself a pint.
We got to enjoy our pint on the top level of the Storehouse where we got an overview of Dublin. After finishing our drinks, we retreated to the gift shop to do some damage.
For dinner, we chose an Irish pub called Trinity where we had our thanksgiving meals. It felt sort of like home because they were serving a Thanksgiving meal and playing football on the projectors. Nothing says “the midwest” like watching the Minnesota Vikings game while eating stew. Tired from our late flight and day’s adventure we then went to bed early, in preparation for day two.
Our second day in Ireland we explored more of Dublin. The word to best describe what we did is wonder. We walked around Trinity College which is located in the center of the city that is jam packed with history and dates back to the Great Plague.
The rest of our day was mostly spent soaking in the culture and people including a trip to the Dublin Castle and of course, a fine meal of fish and chips. We then made our way back to our second Air Bnb to change and get ready for dinner. We were sure to change into our Guinness attire, as it only seemed appropriate in this situation.
After dinner we visited a couple of authentic Irish Pubs. The most interesting thing from my point of view was the dynamic of the people around us. Most people around us were in big groups laughing and drinking in the merry way you may imagine an Irishman to drink. The best part is that the life of bar hopping in Ireland was less about “glam” like in the States and more about being together and being happy. There seemed to be less of a “hook up” culture and more of a friendly environment. Everyone was more concerned with getting to know each other and less interested in what they were wearing or looking cool.
After some time out and about, we decided it was time to call it a night and get ready for our next day, a trip to the country.
We arrived in Malahide Ireland feeling extremely at home. People were wondering in the town and the local church was holding an event. After we figured out where we were going we walked to a beautiful park that led to a the Talbot’s Castle. Getting slightly lost along the way, we ran into the nicest couple walking their dogs. They seemed to be veterans to the area and they couldn’t have been more willing to talk to us and guide us in the right direction. After seeing them in action, it was clear that the majority of us were ready to pick up and move to this little town.
We roamed until we found the castle and it was time for our tour. The castle we toured was the Talbot’s Castle. This castle was property of the Talbot family up until recently. When Ireland was first being established and recognized, the King of England sent over a nobleman to secure the land, starting the Talbot Dynasty.
The Castle was anyone’s definition of somewhat creepy, complete with a ghost story and a family portrait in which the eyes follow you wherever you walk.
Once we were done at the Castle we walked for a little and found a bookstore where I spent easily an hour picking out some good, Irish reads.
Back to Dublin
When we got back to Dublin, we had a haunted tour scheduled. This tour was AMAZING with a sprinkle of eeriness. The tour was based off the time of the Great Plague and our guide was dressed as a victim of the Plague. We learned all about the treatment of people who were sick, where they were exiled to, and how most people thought it was the end of time. The sites we visited included the Dublin Wall, Dublin Jail, and the Dublin Cemetery.
Next to the cemetery we stopped at one of Dublin’s oldest pubs called the Grave Digger’s Pub. All wooden, aged, and only accepting of cash, it was easily like stepping back into time.
For me, the coolest part of the entire tour was when we got to the cemetery. It was pitch black with no exterior lights. For fun, I thought to myself, “Take a picture inside the gates of the cemetery and see what comes out.” To my almost surprise, I took the picture and the shot was full of orbs. Now that’s something to think about…
All too soon, our trip to Ireland came to a close and it was time to get back to reality…until the next weekend.