Category Archives: Britain

London Below

New things can often bring a feeling of trepidation – I was never concerned about the flight or our baggage getting lost, or any of those normal travel concerns. I’ve done this before and I’m pretty proud to say that I’m an old hand at most of it. I still get a little sweaty when I go through customs (though that might have been because London was just obscenely humid), but I’ve been pulled aside and searched and had my luggage gone though and I’ve been through customs when I didn’t speak the language; so that part of it isn’t as stressful as it used to be. This time it was something else. I was on my way to London, home of Windsor Castle, Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral and… the tube.  Continue reading London Below

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Ireland

My first impression of this famous city sounded something like this.

“OH DEAR LORD IT’S WINDY!!!”

After barely managing to prevent myself from blowing away it also occurred to me that it was cold.

Luckily the weather decided to play it smart for the rest of my time there and aside from spontaneous downpours each time I’d take the effort to straighten my hair, it was actually quite nice.

I arrived in Dublin early on a Tuesday morning and didn’t depart until late that Friday effectively giving me four days to explore. To prevent the length of this jotting from equalling the obscene amount of pictures I took I’m going to only write about a few specific things. Each one will be under a heading, so if you want to know about anything one thing just scroll down until you find one that sounds interesting. Enjoy!

History

It’s amazing what you can learn when you actually pay attention to the tour guides. And I’m not going to tell you all of it. Instead I’m going to recommend that you actually travel to Dublin. Hop on a flight, and check the city out. Take the open top bus tour, because you’ll get an awesome Irish tour guide, and once you actually figure out his accent he’s likely to be quite entertaining and very knowledgeable. (not to mention you’ll have an awesome view of the city and get to see all the good sights) I wouldn’t want to live in Dublin, or stay for any length of time, but it is definitely the perfect place to go for a couple days when you want something new. You’ll never manage to see everything on your list, but you’ll leave feeling like it was worth going and that you wouldn’t mind taking someone else some time to share the experiences you had with them. One piece of advice though, if you decide that you want to see the seaside, get a bus. Or a taxi. Or some form of transportation that doesn’t involve your own motor skills. Take it from someone who knows, if you’re trying to walk towards it, the coast will actually run away from you. So it’s ALWAYS going to be a little bit further. And you’ll never make it. (my only regret)

Temple Bar

If you are going to Dublin and you’re between the ages of 18 and 99 you’re definitely going to want to hit temple bar. This is a section of the city that contains mostly pedestrian lanes, massive amounts of pubs and eateries and is the hot spot for tourism and nightlife. (Just about a block from the edge of the River Liffey it was only a 20 minute walk from my hotel) When you manage to find a seat in a pub, hopefully playing live Irish music, taking a few good swigs of your drink of choice, you begin to feel really good about your trip. That’s when it really starts to feel like a vacation. The people are friendly, very likely to adopt you for the night, show you the sights, stick around to have a good time.

Aside from the man, dressed as a woman, with a sign saying his name is “Mandy” and a face full of stubble… You have nothing to worry about.

Sheep

The Irish are sheep obsessed. White sheep. Black sheep. Sheep with shamrocks. Green sheep. Sheep emblazoned with the colors of the Irish flag. Grumpy sheep. Happy sheep. Kissing sheep. Sheep playing chess.

After a day there I started having dreams about sheep. If I spent more than a few days I probably would have begun seeing them. I’m sure they have a saying about “When sheep fly” and a poem that begins something like this, “Hey diddle diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The sheep jumped over the moon….”

Jameson

For anyone who is wondering, it’s a whiskey. An Irish whiskey. I took a tour of the old Jameson distillery, which was more than worthwhile and a very good time. I was one of the few lucky people also chosen to be a whiskey taster, and was given the opportunity to sample and pass judgement on the most popular American, Scottish and Irish whiskeys.

I learnt one very important thing that day which will stick with me forever.

I really. Don’t. Like whiskey.

Tim Hortons

Not exactly something you’d expect when I’m writing about a place in Ireland. And trust me, the little sign pointing down the path with the familiar red lettering wasn’t something I expected either. My initial reaction was to point and screech “LOOK LOOK LOOK!!” To the horror of passer-by and confusion of anyone who actually obeyed. My shaking finger wasn’t pointing at the blue sky, or a strange animal that inhabited the Zoo I was in. No. It was pointing at a sign that told me that somewhere further down the path I was on, I would find the one thing that all true Canadians accept as being truly ours. A Tim Hortons.

How I have missed thee.

Guinness

A little fact that Wikipedia states as true:
“In 2006, Canada was the fastest growing Guinness draught market in the world and on St. Patrick’s Day in 2006, more Guinness was sold in Canada than in Ireland.”
That is amazing considering just how much the Irish can drink.
But that’s just statistics, lets get down to the more personal side of Guinness…

You start out hating the vile stuff. Dark, bitter, how could anyone enjoy it??
Brown. Beer-ness. Exactly the one thing you have been campaigning against your whole life. Gin. Wine. Baileys. That’s where it’s at. You’re too civilized for drinks that regular folk consume.

But suddenly you find yourself in Gravity Bar atop the Guinness storehouse in Dublin. The entire city spreads out before your eyes, a mass of ancient structures mixed in with modern marvels. The brilliant sun is lighting up the morning and warming up the bar. The room wavers for a minute, reality lurches, reasserts itself, and you realize the world has changed. The ice cold glass in your hand becomes appealing. You stare at the perfect separation between foam and liquid, feel the cool glass pressing against your palm. You’re drawn to it in a way that you cannot possibly explain, the pint glasses raises to your lips of it own volition…

You take a sip… and fall in love.