13 Sept 2006 Wednesday - Dublin

Today was a very busy day. After an unimpressive breakfast at the hotel, we walked to Dublin Castle.

It was only about three blocks from our hotel. We had to wait a little while, so we took some photos of the adornments around the castle

and nearby churches.

We got into the first guided tour of the castle. It was pretty cool, but I think we’ve seen better castles on this trip. The best part is that we were allowed to take photos on the inside.

Again, I took my photos without a flash so I wouldn't harm the decorations.

There were several highly decorated rooms. Also, they took us down underground where archaeologists had excavated the foundations of the ancient fortress. That was cool.

After Dublin Castle, we walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral,

the site where St. Patrick supposedly baptized people and such.

It had a nice park surrounding it.

The Cathedral wanted more than five Euros (six dollars) to enter the church, and that offended me greatly. What would Jesus have said to them, charging money to enter a house of worship? The money wasn’t excessive, but I left the church on principle. It was an impressive building, however.

Next, we decided to walk to the Guinness Brewery, the place where Guinness stout is brewed.

The walk was a bit tedious and off our map. The Irish don’t seem to believe in straight roads, so I navigated the twists and turns as best I could until we found ourselves at the back of the factory. Then we had to walk all the way around to the front. Oh well.

It was interesting, but I was somewhat disappointed. The whole place was noisy, crowded and disorganized. The price was too expensive and self-guided, so we wandered around the place looking through the crowds to the signs and displays. The Guinness company had obviously spent a lot of money on the display because it was several floors of displays, many of which were high-tech video loops, supplemented with old obsolete brewing equipment

with some signs. I didn’t appreciate the high-tech displays; I think I would have been much happier to have seen the working factory and had decent explanation of the brewing process from a live person. The coolest thing were the old photos from the brewery they had displayed around the place. I even took photos of some of the photos.

At the top of the place was an overlook with a good view of downtown Dublin.

There was also a small bar where we got our free pint of Guinness stout.

Actually, it was two tickets, two pints, but I just wasn’t in the mood for a second. All the escalators went up, however, so getting down was a pain in the butt. We waited a long time for several tiny elevators crammed full of people. We finally gave up on that and went to a seldom-used out-of-the-way elevator and went down there.

We bought a few gifts at the gift shop for Kathy’s brothers.

When we came out of Guinness, it was raining again. We hiked through the rain until we got close to the river, then we found a small pub and ate lunch. By then it was getting pretty late, like 2:30pm.

After lunch, we walked across the river until we found the Old Jameson whiskey distillery. Although much smaller than Guinness, Jameson was much better. We were guided by a real man–a very entertaining man

who walked us through the place, explaining what the various parts of the process were.

This distillery was no longer in production, but like Guinness, it had some obsolete equipment, some of which were rigged to show what it would have looked like in operation.

At the end, we were allowed to taste some of their whiskey. A small panel of two men and two women from the tour were invited to do a taste test against two leading competitors of Irish Whiskey and the two best selling whiskeys in the world: Johnny Walker Red and Jack Daniels. The two men preferred the Jameson. Jameson is the world’s best selling Irish whiskey.

I’ve never liked the taste of whiskey, but I sampled it and found it to be alright. We bought a bottle of it for Kathy’s dad, because he’s a whiskey drinker. I still prefer that stuff we had with Sujay in India: Royal Stag, but I’ll probably never see that again.

After the Jameson distillery, our feet were hurting, but we didn’t let that stop us. After having paid more than ten Euros for both Guinness and Jameson tours, I decided I could swallow my pride and pay five Euros to see St. Patrick’s. So we walked back to St. Patrick’s and we found out that they were just about to perform a service including a boy’s choir. They weren’t charging a fee for entrance, so we decided to sit for the service.

The service was boring. The choir, although good, was deliberately monotone and inexpressive. The priest was English so he didn’t even have an Irish accent. The readings from the Bible seemed irrelevant and boring.

After the service, I got a few photos,

but they quickly ushered us out of the place.

From the inside, this was definitely one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen many.

Outside, they had several patches of flowers in the park.

If we get extra time tomorrow, I’m tempted to go back and get some more photos of the place.

We walked back to the hotel, dumped our things, then walked to a pub near the river. The pub had live music–this time with a fiddle–and ate a very nice dinner. Kathy had the Irish beef stew, and I had the fish and chips. It was very good. I have to give the Irish a lot of credit here: they make very good food, quickly and consistently. Outstanding!

Then it was back to the hotel again, after buying some coke and water at the grocery store across the street from our hotel.