Flirting with Ireland

I spend a lot of money on air travel as it is, so when the time comes to book a flight, I like to minimise, as far as possible, the impact on my wallet. My final destination was Wausau, Wisconsin, where two of my favourite people will be tying the knot. Now, it turns out that flights from Edinburgh to Wausau are bloody expensive, and most involve at least two transfers. Three hours on Expedia later, however, and I’ve found what I can say with quite some certainty is the cheapest way of getting from Edinburgh to Wausau. It just so happens that the route also goes through Dublin, London, Toronto, Buffalo, Milwaukee and Chicago. No biggie, I do love me an unnecessarily convoluted journey now and then.

Obviously, never having been to Dublin or Toronto (or Milwaukee for that matter, although that wasn’t as high up my list..), I wasn’t just going to zip through these places and not explore their civic offerings, so a plan was born. A plan to plan a trip. My Parents had never been to Dublin either, so part of my plan was persuading them that they were missing out big-time and that we should all go there on a family holiday and do a lovely spot of sightseeing. Out of the kindness of my heart I bought them a guidebook, and they eventually agreed that this was indeed something that they might want to do… And subsequently booked us all into a nice hotel by the canal for a couple of nights. Free holiday in Dublin: check.

So here we are, in the capital of Ireland. As we’re on my parents’ dime we’re obviously doing what they want to do, but they always have a super-packed schedule with enough variety and drinking opportunities to keep a normal person happy. So, hurrah.

First was a pleasant trundle down the canal. Dublin might be more famous for its river, the Liffey, but the canal is lined with willow trees and  there are ducks so what’s not to like really?

Additionally, there is a fabulous pub on one of the banks called The Barge, which has a stunning nautical interior, a great beer selection and bloomin’ massive portions of potato wedges. Go here and be merry.

As it was pretty much still the morning, we didn’t let ourselves get too merry before hopping on a tram (because my father has a bit of a thing for trams) to the town center, where we walked around viewing some of Dublin’s main architectural attractions.

Dublin Castle with its old tower…

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…And less-old courtyard

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Christchurch Cathedral

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St Patrick’s Cathedral.

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This, which was presumably some kind of important building at one point and is now a drinking spot (not the that is not also important)

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I don’t think I have mentioned that it is currently the Dublin Fringe Festival. Being from Edinburgh, I’m pretty fed-up well acquainted with fringe festivals, but it’s a new city, why not dabble in some Irish accented comedy. My mum had previously sent me a varied short-list of funny shows we might want to see (she does this because she knows I’d find the unabridged programme debilitatingly intimidating), and I’d chosen the most randomly out-there one there was. We’re going to see an internet-based sit com being filmed in somebody’s house. Yup. We’e going to a strange Irish person’s house and watch them try and be funny slash hope they don’t kill us.

Turns out we were to meet at a bar, and them be led to an undisclosed location (not concerning at all) where this show would take place. So there was about 7 of us audience members all being led through the streets of Dublin (potentially to our deaths). We arrived at this house, and they told us to take a seat “sure thing, just sit on the sofa, or up on the table there, it’ll be grand” and proceeded to act out this sit-com. It was actually pretty funny in a stupid we’re-definitely-not-taking-ourselves-too-seriously kind of way. There was also Tiger Beer handed to everybody half way through as a sort of sponsor-pleasing plot device “oh look, there’s some Tiger Beer in this fridge! Does anybody want a delicious Tiger Beer? There you go, there’s a Tiger Beer for you. Enjoy your Tiger Beer” (any guesses who the sponsor was?) which was grand.

Then it was, you know, the usual holiday routine. Dinner, drinks, wandering the town, bed. Whilst wandering the town we came across this beauty. The bridge that dreams are made of.

Ha'penny Bridge

She’s called the Ha’penny Bridge cause it used to cost half a penny to cross it back in the day. Probably worth it.

The next day we woke up early to go round the Guinness Storehouse. Of all the brewery/distillery/winery tours I’ve done in my life, this one was one of the best. The self-guided walk-through was engaging and informative, and they even taught us how to drink the stuff in the optimum way. Elbows up, lads.

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Included in the price was a pint of the freshest Guinness you’ve ever had poured by the experts in the rooftop bar that you can sip leisurely…

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… whilst (if it wasn’t for the fog) taking in the lovely panoramic views of Dublin.

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Then it was a lovely spot of luncheon in a restaurant called the Winding Stair or somehting, a quick browse in the bookshop below it where I found a sweet old copy of Sir Walter Scott’s The Monastery that I couldn’t not buy considering the significance of the referendum we’d just been through (forgot to mention that.. We found out this morning it was a No vote”).

We took a water bus sightseeing cruise down the Liffey and back, which was very interesting, then spent a couple of hours learning all about the sordid details of the potato famine aboard the tall ship Jeanie Johnston, the only famine ship never to have a passenger die in transit thanks to the upstanding efforts of its captain (most other ships lost at least 25% of passengers to disease).

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We had a quick peep at the Liffey’s famous new bridge

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Then it was one more Fringe show (two hilarious middle-aged Irish women singing songs about being female. They were called the Belle Bottoms and I would definitely recommend seeing them if you’re ever in Dublin!), one more dinner, a couple more beers and then bed!

And that was Dublin! Tomorrow will be spent rushing to the airport and saying my farewells to my parents, because, while they’re flying back home to Edinburgh, I am, like the potato famine migrants before me, continuing Westward to the New World to start a new life. Doesn’t that sound romantic?

Here’s a last picture of the Liffey before I leave you. Thanks, Dublin, you’ve been great.

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