The adventure will start in Dublin, Ireland. I was thinking I could do a post on each country, but not a chance, too much to talk about, too much territory and destinations to cover. So here we go.
Boarding our British Airways flight in Miami bound for Ireland jumpstarted my excitement for what was ahead. My wife did an excellent job getting us upgraded on the flight, awesome roomy seats, and super services. The flight we were on was direct to London, England for a plane change to Dublin, Ireland International Airport. We would arrive in London at 6:40 AM in the AM, and connecting “hopper” would get us into Dublin at 9:50 Am, giving us a day to rest and “bar hop”.
Dreaming of Irish Beers
Helpful hint: “Both England and Ireland use the Pound Sterling as currency. We hit a currency exchange booth at the London Airport so when we arrived in Ireland we would be prepared.
One of the first pubs we checked out after our Game of Thrones Tour
I will tell you for a cross Atlantic flight to Europe, or any long flight, upgrading to 1st or business class is highly advisable. You may get a bit shocked by the price increase, but if you factor in getting free extra luggage for it, it is well worth it. Also, having additional leg room, reclining seats, internet and movies, no-cost food and beverages (yes, booze too), why not?
Wife Marsha enjoying a fine Irish Ale.
Although we had plans and reservations for our week in Ireland, and other countries in Europe, my thoughts keep roaming to two specific pleasures ahead on this leg of the trip. Guinness Stout and Pig Knuckles. After three years of drinking the only real beer available here in Belize, Belikin, I was mentally salivating for the taste of a freshly poured Guinness. I also knew that there would be so many other beers available in Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany, and happy to have extra holes in my belt!
Can you say another pub in Ireland?
You might be asking yourself, “what’s with the pig knuckles”? Last time I was in Munich I ate dinner at an excellent restaurant, and it wasn’t until on my way out I saw the “knuckles” in the window. More on that in my Munich post.
The Pirate King has his Throne and Pirate Queen
I had made our arrangements for Dublin in the epicenter of everything happening, Temple Bar, at where else but the Temple Bar Apartments, just across from Cow’s Lane :). This location put us within walking distance of not only great dining but all the best and famous pubs.
So lucky this “Road Show” movie sets was in Belfast while we were there.
The next day we had booked two seats on the famous “Game of Thrones and Giants Causeway Tour” with Viator. If you have not watched this TV series, you are definitely a minority. The tour departed at 6:30 AM, and was a whole day adventure, and well worth the cost. As wife Marsha booked this tour, and there are choices, I had asked for one that didn’t make you dress up in silly “period” clothes and carry wooden swords for photos. Believe me, there are not only those but tours we saw that did that and put you on draft horses for photographs.
Marsha with the “Ara’s Needle Sword” from the series.
Our Game of Thrones Tour was awesome, taking us to sites we recognized from the series, and explaining how the scenes were filmed and how. We also toured the Giants Causeway, which I have to admit was not so much interesting to me, as it was a rocky shoreline, with massive cliffs, much like the shoreline of Oregon where I came from. That being said, it was impressive.
Giants Causeway….get my point?
The best part of the experience in my mind was the Game of Thrones Exhibition luckily on display in Belfast. It’s located in a mega portable building, and houses all the props used to film the series. From outfits of the characters to weapons, and even the model dragons and “Thrones” used in the series. You can easily spend two hours engulfed in GOT history, reliving moments and even get photographs with actual film props used in the production.
The next day was the big checkmark on my “world bucket-list”, our Guinness Storehouse Experience.
One almost down, one full to go 🙂
I had made an appointment for our tour and tasting experience, which included a lesson in how to properly pour a tankard of Guinness Stout, perfectly. From the time we entered the historic building, till pouring that nectar of the gods, it took about an hour or so. There are six stories to this building, and we choose the stairs each floor, however, there are elevators. The ground floor has the store and ingredient information, 1st-floor brewing tanks exposition and a cafè. The 2nd floor is the general tasting room where you can do a tasting, but not pouring experience. The 3rd floor is basically all advertising and general information.
Marsha at “school” with “teacher” watching like a hawk!
That brings us to in my “heaven”, or the Guinness Acadamy Connoisseur Experience” as they call it. Here we enter a private room where there are four “pouring stations”, each with a group of about six students. Your “teacher” explains how he or she will be pouring the brew, and why it is so important to pour correctly. She (in my case) then teaches you how to pour a “perfect pint”, which has an exact official time to pour of 119.5 seconds, exactly. Then it is the students turn to pour a pint correctly, while she watches, and trust me, these people are picky.
I graduated 😉
After you have poured your “perfect pint of gold”, you receive your certificate of completion and proceed to a table to enjoy that honorable pour. As lady luck would have it, our teacher asked Marsha if she would like the extra point that she had poured as an example. As I am blessed, my wife told her that I would so much more enjoy it than her, and I was rewarded the 2nd pint. Oh, the love of a good woman, for sure.
Marsha in front of one of the dozens of ancient castles we toured in Europe.
As far as getting to know the area’s and sites around greater Dublin, and of course all the good pubs, we used the “Hop-on-Hop-Off Busses”. Most of the major tourist locations have these, and our first experience was in Dublin. They run all day long into the early evening and have many stopping points at attractions. If the weather is good, sitting in the upper level of the “double-decker”, gives you a better vantage point. The nice thing is, if you get to an area you want to explore, you can “jump off” and get on another, which usually make stops every 15 minutes or so.
The Irish Riverdance Experience, quite a show, and super haunting songs.
On our last evening, Marsha had purchased us tickets for a “Riverdance Show”, which I have to admit, I wasn’t all that excited about, but after all, it wasn’t just my vacation. We boarded a small transport bus and were taken to an amazing location for this performance, a combination golf course, and horse racing track. The performance lasted about a couple hours and was comprised of world renown dancers, as well as excellent instrumentals. My most favorite part was a musician who played the “Irish Whistle”, a very simple and old musical instrument I had never experienced. It produces a haunting sound, and I immediately recognized the sound as being used in various popular modern music, especially movies.
Bought one of these whistles and book for my grandson Fisher 🙂
All in all, we totally enjoyed our stay in Dublin, visiting and sipping in many pubs, meeting so many local’s, enjoying so many traditional Irish dishes. The traditional Irish breakfast is such a filling treat, eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, and sometimes french fries. Our favorite breakfast place was the Stagedoor Cafè. Then there’s bacon and cabbage, and of course, Irish Stew which I enjoyed many times in many pubs.
I don’t believe there was one pub that didn’t have live Irish music in the late afternoon/evening. Pubs are always crowded, and finding a seat at a table or bar can be a bit frustrating, but I never felt like an “outsider”. Many times we were invited to sit at a locals table, or staff went out of their way to find us a table. This was not just in Dublin, but throughout South Western Ireland over the next few days, but you will hear more about that in the next blog about our experiences driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road!
One of the many Irish musicians playing in pubs.
So that’s it for Dublin, Ireland, and there was still so much more to talk about. Only on the first blog post, and already I’m thinking “book”?
Stay tuned for the next chapter, about renting a car, sitting on the wrong side of the car, driving on the wrong side of the street, all over southwestern Ireland. We will visit Killarney, Cork and other special destinations.
Until then, May your thirst be a great one, and your pour a quenching experience,