Irrrrrland

Trip Start Apr 25, 2006
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45
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Trip End Apr 25, 2007


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Flag of Ireland  ,
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Got the very last shuttle bus from the airport into Dublin City after my flight was delayed. I couldn't really complain, because frankly I would have missed it completely if it was actually on time. You see, I was having a few drinks with Ben at the Frankfurt airport, allowing 10 minutes to get to my boarding gate, thinking that it was just a hundred metres away. Well, I was once again recklessly wrong. Firstly, I was a little concerned when I discovered my terminal was actually a train ride away. That burned about 7 minutes. "No problem, I can sprint there" I thought. Well, when I got to the security screening not only were they the slowest operators of an x-ray machine ever, but they decided to get cute with me and insisted I completely empty my bag as well as removing my belt and shoes. AND SHOES. I had to hand it to them, the shoes was a first for me. The whole time I'm possibly making things worse by looking desperate and yelling at them to hurry the hell up.. they scan all my stuff twice, then study my camera and iPod as if they had just come down from flinging crap at each other in the trees, and therefore never seen such amazing technology. Finally they realised that they're morons and let me through, so I staggered half-naked over to passport control knowing full well that my flight would not likely be waiting for me. I arrived at the gate expecting the worst, but found the departure lounge packed, and still 30 minutes estimated wait. Well, naturally I couldn't believe it! Bloody delayed - what an outrage! I had to wait around twiddling my thumbs when I could have been having another beer...

I was by no means stoked with the hostel I had managed to select. None of their literature had mentioned that it was situated roughly 20m from the busiest train line in Dublin, 30m from the busiest tram line in Dublin, and right above a boisterous late-night pub. Very ominous sign in the lobby: "Complimentary earplugs - just ask". Still, it was after midnight and I'd been travelling since 6am so was in no condition to do anything else but collapse on a bed. And collapse I did. Not from fatigue, but from the stench produced by 8 unwashed sweaty men confined to a room smaller than a cell. The next morning I learned why they feared the showers - not only were they randomly either freezing cold or blisteringly hot, but they blasted you with such force that you almost had to hold on to something to avoid hitting the wall on the other side of the room. They were also so small that there was simply no option to "test the waters" before hopping in. You just stood there, hoped for the best, then hit the button. Oh yes, the button. On all but one of the showers, you had to constantly hold down the button for water to actually come out. This was a fantastic new twist on the more common shower that at least gives you 20 seconds of water before you have to push the button again. So, after my fastest shower in living history I leapt out - happy to be alive (it was HOT this time) - only to find that a girl was standing there, staring blankly at me. She continued to stare as I dried off, waiting until I left before she went ahead and had a shower too. So, what the hell was going on, you ask? Well, funnily enough I discovered that on my floor (level 3) the two bathrooms are nominated as male, even though some of the dorm rooms are mixed (that's male/female together by the way). This leads to an anything-goes bathroom bonanza, which didn't really bother me since I'd only slept until the 6am train rattled past our window anyway (see photos).

Dublin was a bit of a laugh, but I always say all big cities are the same (or very similar) and really it is no exception. One of the greatest things was a tourist loop bus that travelled around to all the sights, allowing you to hop off any time, knowing that another one would be swinging by every 10 minutes. It's a day-long ticket of course, and the drivers all know plenty of info about Dublin and pipe a guided tour through the speakers. The ones to get are the green/beige double-decker buses with their roof cut off. In my experience about 90% of the drivers were unbelievably hilarious and loved to sing a bit. The pick of them was a cheery chap who teetered dangerously close to clinically insane with bouts of gibberish and extra gusto-filled Irish songs. Strange at first, but endearing at last. When you think about it, the Irish are perfect for tourism - witty, personable, genuinely friendly and helpful - the real challenge lies in dumbing down their gags sufficiently so that they can be enjoyed by the less "sarcasm-endowed" of this world. A skill this particular driver had not yet mastered.

The Guinness Storehouse was stunningly modern and imaginatively presented, with great use of technologies they seemingly pride themselves on there. The marketing display had me entertained for hours as there were touchscreens set up that let you choose any TV advert ever used. I had entered with a vital tip - don't pay the 10 euros at the door because you can simply walk in and view the exhibit for free! (The fee is just for a pint at the end - that's too rich for my blood).

The Old Jameson Distillery was not exactly a highlight. The tour guide almost saved it, but overall it was a hollow disguise for a money making exercise. Only 9 years old (restored on the site where the distillery USED to be), and only presenting models and replicas to satisfy the paying punter.

I couldn't contain myself any longer, so made a bee-line for the famous Temple Bar area to sample my first pint of Guinness in Ireland. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. The pub (which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent) was in itself as ornate and grand as I'd imagined, but a combination of things dampened any pleasure I may have derived:
1. I waited 5 minutes to be served in an empty bar
2. The bar lady was so surly she would have been more at home in Croatia
3. She then overfilled my glass to ruin the head and spill shit down the side of my glass
4. She opted to put my change on a sopping wet bar mat rather than in my outstretched hand
5. I sat outside on a table that was never cleared or wiped down from the last people
It was clear more Guinness samples would have to be taken elsewhere to improve on this first impression...

In search of cheaper beers outside the Temple Bar area I happened upon a "3.30 euro for any pint" sign. I dashed inside, and about 3 pints in (all were an improvement on my dismal first pint) I met a couple of rough-looking blokes. We shot the breeze for a few hours, allowing me to learn valuable lessons about the plight of Ireland against the English. You see, they were both "ex"-IRA and had clearly not changed their ways after a stint in the slammer. The rolled up Sinn Fein weekly newspaper was a clue, but when they nearly throttled me when I referred to "The Republic of Ireland" it was a little scary. Fortunately they were well versed in the average Australian's dislike of England so I was off the hook, and in fact they bought me drinks for the rest of the night (Note: even hard men buy cider here in the Summer, as it is "refreshing").
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