Thursday, July 6th: In Dublin's Fair City…
K and I didn't get any great sleep, though T slept fine (she's the one that likes sleeping with city noises). Breakfast was OK, though the service was a little curt. The white pudding was a strange hybrid of sausage and pudding - I only had one bite.
We found a parking lot near a bus stop, and we went to the nearest Hop-on/Hop-off Bus Tour (the beige/yellow bus has live commentary, not the red one which has tapes). The guy selling tickets for the bus was very nice, chatty and helpful, with a bit of a stutter. The first tour guide was great, and as several elderly ladies were disembarking, he proposed to one of them as she giggled.
We took the tour around, seeing Christchurch, Guinness, Phoenix Park, all the usual suspects. We took one whole run around, noting the places we wanted to take more time at. Our first stop was Christchurch and Dublinia. I know Dublinia has a cheesy reputation, but I'm very interested in historical re-enactments, so this was fascinating to me. The realism in the dioramas and the examples of medieval and Viking life were well done, in my opinion. Dublinia and the Church were E5 and E2 respectively, and were not covered by OPW. Christchurch was beautiful, and the newly renovated crypt area fascinating. The church carvings and decorations were particularly breathtaking. However, I didn't get the same reverence we had seen in St. Mary's Cathedral in Kilkenny - it was much more commercial and crowded. Perhaps the gift shop INSIDE the church helped with that impression, you think?
We went to lunch across the street at the Bull & Castle Pub. Getting there we passed a lovely man who fumbled with his fly for a bit, then peed on the church fence as we passed. Delightful! A native performing his traditional acts.
T had the deep fried Mars bar for lunch, while K had the bacon & leek quiche, and I had the chicken and camembert panini. It wasn't nearly as good as the one I had at Marble City, but it wasn't terrible either. K had some Kopparberg Cider, which turned out to be almost white and incredibly delicious!
We went off to the Dublin Zoo, but discovered it was already 4pm and it closed at 5pm. We decided that T, who wanted to attend it particularly (she loves animals) would come tomorrow while K and I went to the National Stud and Japanese Gardens. Instead, tonight we headed for the Jameson Distillery, something else T really wanted to see.
When we got to the Distillery, it looked like we were one of the last (if not the last) tours to go through. Our tour guide, a nice redhead lad named Christopher (with a pentacle on his belt-buckle) was very funny, and gave a great tour. T volunteered to be one of the taste-testers at the beginning of the tour (there can be only four). The tour was through some very warm rooms, but it was rather fascinating. IMHO, it was more informative than the self-tour you get through Guinness, which I had gone through in 2002.
The taste testing was at the end, where each participant was asked to taste four drinks - two types of Jameson, Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels. Of course, as long as you say Jameson was your favorite, you get a certificate as an official taste-tester for the Distillery. Everyone got a shot of whiskey, but I'm really not a fan of the hard stuff unless mixed with hopelessly sweet things (like punch). They did offer some mixers, such as coke or juice.
We got back to the bus stop, and got off near O'Connell Street for some shopping. We actually went off the street to LUSH, which K had never encountered before, and I told her she would love it. I think she spent an hour in there, and emerged with far too much - as did I. T discovered that it was a great spot for people watching, as the perfumes in the place were much too strong for her (I sympathize, as I had to leave a couple times myself). It was very busy and crowded, sort of like being in Disneyworld on Labor Day weekend.
We wandered through a book store, as K was looking for a gift for her nephew - a primer in Irish. We noticed a very poorly stocked scifi/fantasy section, and then finally wandered back across the bridge. We found our car park with some help from T's sense of direction, paid our daily fee (E25!) and took a scenic route back to our B&B (via St. Patrick's Cathedral). We parked and went up to our room to regroup and get ready for dinner. We tried next door at Trinity Pub, but they were not serving food, despite the chalk board full of menu (that was for lunch). So we hustled back to O'Neill's in time for getting our orders in before that kitchen closed. C had the pepper steak, K had the pepper burger, while T had a regular burger. The steak was great, as it didn't have to be burned to a hockey puck. The burgers were, well, charred at well done as they are evidently required to be by law.
We went up to our room for a relatively early night, as I was exhausted from last night's lack of sleep. We read a little, it was much cooler out, and I slept much better than the night before. Yay!