Dublin Day 4

We didn’t skip day three, we just spent it cheering the Yellow Jackets to victory over Boston College. More on that in the last post. Today was spent largely at the Guinness Storehouse and then around Dublin. We decided to do a hop-on hop-off bus which turned out to be a mixed bag. The first leg got us to Guinness in plenty of time to start our tour. This isn’t a typical brewery tour which made both of us happy. Beer is made largely the same way anywhere in the world (barely, hops, wort, yeast, yadda yadda yadda). This tour was a celebration of Guinness as an institution. The tour started out with a brief introduction about brewing but quickly shifted to the history of Guinness and some interesting vignettes abut the family.

At the end of the brewing section, there was a tasting room that looked like something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  All white with scented vapor points in each corner. The whole room smelled of roasted grains (and all of the caramel and chocolate notes they bring). From there, we learned the proper way to taste Guinness (as if there was a wrong way!) and a bit more history of the family.

The rest of the tour was spent on advertising. Guinness’ more modern ads had an incredibly polished, almost avant garde feel to them that reminded Drew of these James Boag ads. Arresting, interesting, and on message, but they felt a bit soulless compared to the toucans and “Guinness for Strength” campaigns of the early 20th Century.

All tour tickets include a pint in the Gravity bar, which has stunning views of the city. The day had gone from rainy to sunny, so we had a great vantage point. It’s strange that there aren’t any tall buildings in the city. The bar might have been the highest point outside of a church steeple. After we finished, we hoped back on the bus and promptly got lost. Well, we didn’t get lost, but the driver seemed to have been confused about the route he was supposed to take or maybe he was trying to get to the hurling finals early.  Either way, we randomly drove through the north side of the city and then had to find lunch (Farm, delicious), which didn’t leave much time for anything else, although we did watch the final few minutes of the hurling. We’re out of the city tomorrow and into the western part of the island. The last of our Dublin pictures are here.

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(American) Football in Ireland

 

One of the main drivers for this particular vacation was the opportunity to watch a football game in Dublin. To clarify, it was actually two football games, and it was American football (henceforth just football), not soccer. To promote football overseas and to increase tourism, Georgia Tech and Boston College held their season opener in Dublin. As an added bonus, the group putting the game together also invited over several high schools to compete as well. Our high school, Marist, was one of the lucky ones selected to play.

The high school games were played on Friday, with Marist (blue jerseys) kicking off last, at 5pm. We spent a lovely day in the city (see our previous post) and then made our way down to Donnybrook Stadium to cheer on the Blue and Gold.

The games were actually played on a rugby pitch, and it was interesting to see how they converted the field. There was a rugby game later that night, so the white marks on the field were the standard rugby ones. In a much fainter yellow, they had marked out the yard lines and boundaries. There were definitely times that the crowd had trouble telling if a player had gone out of bounds, so I’m sure it was hard on the players.

Speaking of the crowd, they were great. There were only bleachers on one side of the field (typical for local rugby), so everyone was mixed together. There were definitely pockets of supporters sitting together, but it wasn’t strictly divided. Ashley ended up sitting between two Marist moms who were VERY enthusiastic about their boys – both seniors, both in the game. The game was close for the first quarter, but Marist soon took the lead and kept it until the end (27-0). It was really a fun game to watch. Being high school, it moved a lot quicker than college (or pros), and there was lots of action – Marist caught two interceptions! It was great to see so many people come out to support the “kids”, and we had a great evening. Oh, and being Ireland, we were able to enjoy a pint while cheering on our team

One unexpected pleasure of the trip was catching up with old friends. Ashley’s parents were at the game too, so we got to spend time sightseeing with them. We also ran into an old high school buddy and his wife. She works for GT, so she was on duty frequently, but it was delightful to catch up with them whenever they had a spare minute. Last but not least, we got to hang out with an old co-worker of Ashley’s. She’s living in Dublin these days, and she had us over for brunch before the main event. She lives a literal stone’s throw away from the stadium, and it was so nice and relaxing to get out there before the crowds to enjoy good food and good company before the game.

Speaking of the game, wow. GT took the lead in the first half, but BC came back fighting. It really came down to the wire, but Tech scored with 35 seconds left on the clock. Let me tell you, the crowd went wild. Then, there was a crazy pass/run/fumble play where almost every player on the field touched the ball. The only clip I could find online really doesn’t do justice to how bizarre it looked from the stands. Aviva stadium was really cool. It’s an open design, but there is a roof that juts out over most of the seats. We were nice and dry while a steady rain fell on the field for most of the game. I can’t imagine watching a local sport there – the sound really echoed, and I’m sure a bunch of rugby or soccer fans would really raise the volume.

Dublin Days 1 & 2

We’ve traveled to Dublin for our first major vacation together since returning from Alice. It’s been great to get away from work for a while and even better that the flight is less than 8 hours. Hoping to beat the jet lag, we spent a good bit of our first day hanging out in and around Trinity College.

We’re staying in the dorms which are a great deal for anyone looking to see the city on the cheap. The rooms are a bit small, but tidy and comfortable with free wifi (a big deal for us when we travel). For our first evening, we visited the Chester Beatty Library. The collection of ancient religious texts are absolutely amazing with lots of other artifacts to highlight the different creation, storage, and spread of the books. Sadly, we couldn’t take any pictures of the exhibits but we did get some of Dublin Castle which is nearby.

From there we went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for evensong. The weather turned against us and got a little grey, but we still enjoyed the walk over. The cathedral was stunning and the service was lovely. However, the quiet atmosphere and peaceful music had us struggling to stay awake. We finished the night by having a pint a great local pub and then ate fish’n’chips while watching the crowds in Temple Bar. It’s somewhat amusing to hear a crowd belt out “Take Me Home” from half way down the block while not actually having to be in a bar with them.

After a quick brekkie the next morning, we made our way to St. Stephen’s Green. The green would be a great place to jog or wander through on a morning commute. We walked almost the entire way around and enjoyed sitting by one of the ponds and watching the swans. The National Museum of Archeology was next on our agenda. The museum crammed full of exhibits with a collection of artifacts from the Bronze Age through Medieval times. Ashley was particularly enamored by this cloak pin – if anyone can find a replica (or knows a good jeweler), you know what you can get her for Christmas this year. We didn’t go and look at the bog bodies, but the displays surrounding them were interesting and do a great job of giving people an option to view them or not.

And the gold. So much gold.

After lunch we visited the Book of Kells. The exhibit wasn’t laid out perfectly, as it funnels everyone towards the book but has three different tracks to get there.  Each of the different sections has great information about other illuminated manuscripts but you walk back and forth through a crowd that is trying to go in one direction. The book itself is amazing even if the crowds make it hard to see. We probably spent more time in the Long Room looking at the impressive stacks of books. This room is a frequent contender for most beautiful library and it was one inspiration for the library in Harry Potter.

We didn’t have much time to dawdle though, as we needed to go watch our high school team play football (real American style football). Pics are here and we’ll talk about the gridiron action in another post.