A Tramp Abroad I – Ireland

Take a guess where we went.

Before we begin, thanks to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links, and make sure to catch the last in my Thirty-Something Rifle Cartridges series over at Glibertarians.

This long weekend just passed, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. made a whirlwind trip to bonny old Eire.  We took a red-eye flight Thursday night, arriving rather the worse for wear early Friday morning.  After picking up our rental car, I had a journey of discovery in which I 1) had to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, and b) navigate Dublin’s rush hour traffic to find our hotel. 

It’s not that much longer than flying to Denver.

On our arrival at the hotel we were far too tired to operate effectively any longer, so we crashed out for a nap from about 9AM to about 1:30 PM.  Thus refreshed, we wandered down to some of the shopping/dining areas around the River Liffey:

A few things we learned:  Guinness really is better in Ireland.  I never cared for stouts or much of any beer that looks like motor oil.  I’ve had bottled Guinness in the states and draft Guinness in the States and even in Japan (!) and didn’t like it.  But in Ireland…  My first pull of Guinness was in the Temple Bar, a sort of tourist-trap pub but still a must-see on the south side of the Liffey, and it was great – smooth, rich, lovely.  The folks in Ireland are normally friendly, although quite a few of them don’t bother watching their language, and pub conversations can get a bit salty.

On Saturday we drove to Kilkenny, about two hours south of Dublin.   We went to have lunch with a colleague of mine who works near Kilkenny and whom I had never met in person, which was fun, but we stayed after lunch to walk the medieval streets of this old town and to tour the castle.  It was a perfect day for it, chilly but clear and bright.

That evening, after making our way back to Dublin, we went on a classic Saturday night pub crawl.  I ingested a fair amount of Guinness, and we made some new friends:

Finally, on Sunday, we spent the day walking Dublin.  We enjoyed a traditional Irish breakfast, then Mrs. Animal had a professional interest in visiting some interesting old bookstores.  We toured Dublin Castle, and just generally went walkabout in this grand old city.  Oh, and had a couple more pints along the way.

Some random observations about Dublin:

  • There are a fair number of street bums around the city center.  Some of them actively panhandle, some just sit with a cup in their hand and look at the sidewalk.  No needles or human feces on the street, at least.
  • The local cops- the Garda – are still unarmed, at least the general beat cops walking around.  We saw a couple of bums getting questioned.  One such was lying in the doorway of a shop; the cop demanded to know what he was doing, and the bum replied “Whadday think I’m doon, I’m sleepin’ in a feckin’ doorway!”  We didn’t hang around to watch, but I suspect that didn’t go well for the bum.
  • A lot more people smoke in Ireland than in the States, and they show little compunction in tossing butts on the ground.  The sidewalks in the city center are liberally peppered.

All in all it was great fun.  We’d love to go back in nicer weather when we can stay for a week or so, and see some of the countryside; we were told by several people that the Atlantic (west) coast is absolutely breathtaking in places.

Meanwhile, at least it’s a spot on our travel bucket list checked off.