Day 29: Tuesday November 8th, 2011
I woke up, not too hungover, and went to go on the free walking tour of Dublin. The tour I did was through the hostel and not through Sandeman’s, the gigantic corporation of free walking tours scattered across Europe (I did these in London and Edinburgh). While the walking tours are given free by guides, you are expected to tip the guide whatever you see as fair. Usually I tip 5 pounds/euros. What I learned from today’s guide, Blavagh (his name was something like that), was that Sandeman’s actually charges the guides 2 euro per person on the tour. Like a stripper, you have to buy your place. So for every person that doesn’t tip them 2 euro, they are losing money. The tour we went on didn’t charge them; it was all profit. This made me question going on Sandeman’s tours, and if there’s another free option, I now take it. That said, their pub crawls bring a ton of people in comparison to hostel organized ones, so I can’t let that go.
Halved by the River Liffey, an ugly fucking river (Dublin means black pool after all), Dublin is obviously the biggest and most recognizable city in Ireland. It’s the London of Ireland, a multicultural blend with tourists aplenty. While a lot of fun and with good beer and good/expensive fun, many Irish will tell you that Dublin isn’t a legitimate Irish city, lacking the strong culture dripping out of a Galway, Cork, Limerick, etc.
On the tour, we saw a lot of Dublin, the requisite castle (named…the Dublin castle) learned about the famine, its parliament, the fight for Irish independence, some infuriating government decisions, and as always, I met a few people. Apparently, almost perfectly preserved Viking cities were found underground, and instead of creating what would probably be a wildly popular museum and historical landmark, they bulldozed it and put in a government office building. I don’t think I’ve been more affronted by something that didn’t concern me whatsoever in my life.
Also, along the tour, I had my first celebrity sighting: Chris Noth, or Mr. Big from Sex and the City, or the adulterer on The Good Wife (great show). Naturally, I recognized him before the girls of the tour. And no, I never saw Sex and the City (yet). He was in town to shoot a new Titanic mini series, which I learned while reading a random Irish newspaper a couple days later.
The newest friend to require an introduction is Taylor. She’s from the 44th best state in the U.S., the lover-ly Ohio, and from around the Cleveland area (she was stunned when I said I kinda liked Cleveland; I had shark and went to the rock and roll hall of fame with Barrett and Alec). She’s in the middle of college, taking a semester off to travel and assess her options, which is an awesome thing to do, and something I could’ve totally used (though I think I would’ve preferred taking a year off BEFORE college, rather than fragment my college experience with friends and such). She’s a cool and funny gal, has dreads, is quiet, and after hanging out with her in two subsequent cities, I still can’t tell if she merely tolerates my presence or genuinely wants to hang out with me. Mysterious cat.
After the tour, Taylor and I went to the Guinness Factory for the tour. I love Guinness now. The tour itself was kind of ho-hum if you’ve ever been on a tour of a brewery and know the basic way beer is created (yeast, sugar, mash tun, etc.). While it’s blatant advertising, I really enjoyed watching infamous old Guinness ads featuring the toucan and Rutger Hauer. You also get to search the archives and see if any relatives/those with the same last name worked at Guinness, and there were a couple Greene’s and more than a few Adams’ in the annals of Guinness history. Yay family. The highlight, of course, is that you get the option to pull your own pint of Guinness (it’s like a two minute process; you pour about 3/4 of your glass at a 45 degree angle and let it completely settle, then fill it up, serve; then you the drinker wait till it settles again, all the cocoa brown goodness dissipating into delicious, complete blackness) or have a Guinness at the top of the brewery in a swanky bar with a 360 panoramic view of the city. That was the option Taylor preferred, so I didn’t argue.
Taylor wasn’t sure if she was going to the pub crawl or not, but I went. Nobody showed except me until about 15 minutes before they had to call it, and then four douchebags showed up, and no Taylor. The minimum was 5 and we had made it, but I dropped out. I actually got 1.5 free pints of Guinness for my patience, so it was almost worth it. I told the pub crawl guide that I’d come back Friday and pay him back for the pint. I never did. I’m a bad person.
I didn’t do anything else that night, preferring to get some sleep.
Next: More Dublin.