Before I explain what this blog is about, I need to say something.
Guinness really is better in Dublin than it is in Canada. I didn’t think that was possible.
Ok, the blog. Kim couldn’t take time off work, and we had a chance to use a lot of West Jet points (thanks Doug!), so Kevin and I decided to take a trip. Based on West Jet’s few European destinations, we quickly settled on Ireland and Scotland.
The flight over the pond was pleasantly boring. There was an annoying period where we sat on the Dublin runway for an hour while they sorted out gates. But that was all part of the anticipation.
The next problem was that we got the car at 8 am, and our hotel room wouldn’t be available until 2. That meant we had 6 hours of sleep-deprived entertaining ourselves. Or go someplace pleasant and mindless to while away some of those hours. The Avis woman suggested nearby Malahide castle, and that sounded ideal.
The excitement really started when we got our rental car, and for the first time I was driving on the other side of the road. And such narrow roads they are! I only drove onto the (luckily very low) curb a few times before starting to get the hang of it. Kevin was brave enough not to say anything about that, just uttering the occasionally soft “left, not right”.
I have to tell you, the first few roundabouts were very exciting, but without incident.
We got there at 8:30, and couldn’t help but notice how incredibly green everything was. Right down to the green moss growing on the green vines that were covering the green trees. A lot of green.
Amazingly we got the closest parking spot, which wasn’t surprising as we were the only ones there. And then we found out it doesn’t actually open until “half 9”. After a brief huddle figuring out that meant 9:30, we headed into downtown Malahide for much needed coffee and real food.
Here’s where we had a pleasant surprise. Each food item was labeled with codes indicating the presence of 13 common allergens. Kevin checked and found that it wasn’t mandated, it’s just that pretty much everybody labels food like this. Needless to say, we were impressed.
At 9:30 we headed back to the Malahide castle and did a short tour. The old buildings were old and kind of interesting. But the only thing that really impressed us, other than those cool trees – see pic below, were the acres and acres of carefully manicured lawns that seemed to have no purpose other than being green. No football pitches or golf courses or gardens.
From there we decided to drive to our hotel in downtown Dublin, and hope they could at least take our luggage off our hands. The trip into heavy traffic went pretty well, but we just couldn’t figure out what the road markings mean. Kevin noticed that the white lines separating cars driving in different directions were more often dashes than solid. And the markings between lanes going in the same direction were more often solid than dashes.
Luckily the hotel could take us right away. And about 15 minutes later we were asleep in our room.
We headed out after that to explore Dublin and get something to eat. Initially Dublin had the feel of a large town rather than a city of 1.8 million. But once we hit the city Centre people were everywhere. Probably as many people as pubs! Yes, that many people! Oh, we also passed a few heraldic shops, and one really amazing looking Pen shop.
We ended up eating at the Temple Bar in the famous Temple Bar district. It’s a rather large bar with the largest tv I’ve ever seen. I might have read somewhere that in the 18th century it had the largest tv north of Florence. Or something like that. And that’s where I discovered first hand that Dublin Guinness really is better than anywhere else I’ve ever had it. And their curry was fantastic.
On the way back we went along the canal, and started to see the real size of Dublin.
We headed back to the hotel for relaxation, and then about 8 went back out for food. Again, we noticed the fantastic allergen notification system in the menu. This really helped Kevin relax regarding food. Oh, And I had my first Beamish Stout. Excellent!