Rain, in my experience, has a way of making everything seem so fresh, and so clean clean... Usually. I suppose, as Noah found out, sufficient quantities of rain can scrub about anything spotless. Perhaps today's rain, as tame and tepid as it was, lacked the necessary force to remove the dog droppings and litter off of the Parnell street sidewalks between Portland and O'Connel. Wet garbage does not look or smell any better than dry... But at least it wasn't also hot.
After an incredible, and very filling, home made breakfast of scones and tea followed by granola topped with yogurt and poached pears, followed by brown sugar crusted pancakes topped with thin sliced cinnamon baked apples and drizzled with maple syrup, we hefted ourselves out of our chairs and ventured out to meet the day. Actually, we did something today which we should have done yesterday... Bought tickets for the double-decker tour bus, and saw... About 3/4 of the tourist attractions... Maybe. I was, initially concerned about a reprise of my trip to Paris, thinking Erika would have to elbow me like, "Jacøb, wake up. That's the Molly Malone statue you wanted to see." (A la, the Eiffel Tower). As it turns out, there was no napping this time, and we did see a fair number of the sites, from the bus, because I wanted to make sure we made it to Guinness, which we'd already paid for.
If you ever watch travel shows, you may have noticed a trend... Hosts always seem to be offering tips on how to find "the real (insert city name)". I'm not entirely sure why anyone would really want that. The real (any city) is full of people who hate their jobs, or like their jobs but hate having to work, or would like to work but hate not having a job. The real (any city) is full of stress and worry, and the day to day business of continued existence. If you wanted that, you wouldn't be on vacation. What I think you really want is to experience the romance and culture of whichever location you settle on, however that is offered up. And maybe sometimes that means going to museums and tourist traps. To know a place and a people, you have to know their history, and what they think makes them stand out among all the other peoples on earth... This means museums, tour buses, shows, books... Anything that says, "This is us, and this is how we got here. "... though, maybe it's a good idea to avoid anything that's obviously pandering.
As Chimamanda Adichie said, "The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete." For this reason, I would choose to avoid Dublin's Leprechaun museum (yes, it exists. I walked past it) and instead go to history (and folklore) museums if you can find them.
Our bus tour, which, among other things, pointed out the sites of a number of rebellions, uprisings, and subsequent slaughters or executions, provided easier transport than my two feet could, to nearly everything I'd want to see in town anyway.
It took us back to Trinity College and, though the Book of Kells was not on display that day, we got to learn about it, and then see the long room library, which I want to live inside.
Back on the bus and over to what we thought he said was Dublin Castle. Turns out it was not, and that the stop we'd just passed was Dublin Castle, and we got off at the stop for Christchurch cathedral. Not that I'm complaining. Inside was an exhibition on the Viking's, who'd originally built Dublin. Not being Irish or a Viking herself, I think Erika was somewhat less interested than I was, especially since we didn't find time to go to this one street full of shops like she'd wanted. I guess I'll have to make it up to her over the rest of the trip.
We had lunch at a place called Queen of Tarts, and hopped back on the bus for Guinness.
As we pulled up outside, our bus driver told us, "It's said that Guinness is an acquired taste,and it's true... it's a taste I happily acquired over twenty years ago. They actually make so much of it here that, despite our brave efforts, we Dubliners are unable to consume it all, and they are forced to export it."
Contrary to what our taxi driver had said, the tour is not a three hour movie and a pint of beer. It was self guided and somewhat interactive, with videos, wall displays, a tasting room, quizzes, and The Guinness Academy, where my darling wife and I learned to pour the perfect pint. We got certificates. If I ever apply to work the bar at an Irish pub, I'll bring that instread of a resume`.
Sadly, by the time we were done, the tour bus was too, so we had to walk back to the Arlington Hotel to meet Shannon for dinner. It was a trek, but not as bad as the map made it look. Besides, we're here as adventurers, not just tourists, and it gave us a chance to walk past the main Guinness gate, and a stillstanding section of the Norman Wall that had been built around the original town.
At the Arlington, I think there were more Americans than Irish people, among which were myself, Erika, and Shannon, who was nice enough to join us for a pint, and carry on an enjoyable conversation with us I guess, as Dublin itself, and O'Connel Street, are more touristy than other parts of the country, it's harder to find that "real Ireland that tv hosts look for... Though I assume that doesn't mean it's not there. There was live"Trad Music. (Traditional, or Celtic music, as we'd call it.), and Irish step dancing on the stage in the bar... But, given the lack of spontenaety in it, that everyone performing was being paid to do so, and that so many patrons were American... It struck me as being sort of the Irish version of a Hawaiian luau at a hotel. This is what our ancestors used to do, and we know it's what you came to see, so we'll make pretend, and make some money from it. That being said, and since I'm pretty sure if my heart and should made noise, it would sound like whistles,, pipes, bodhrans, fiddles, and banjos, I enjoyed it thoroughly... but it whetted my appetite for smaller towns, smaller pubs, and music sessions with no script or order.