We arrived in Dublin on Friday with plenty of time to enjoy the day, which you can read about HERE. We woke up Saturday even more eager to get started after everything we had seen the day before. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of eggs, soda bread and black pudding (blood sausage) in our hotel’s restaurant. As Jen drank her fresh-squeezed orange juice, I poured over my cheesy, hyper-animated tourist map of the city. I came to two conclusions – animated graphics of tourist attractions are as helpful as pictures on a menu at Denny’s. That, and we were going to do a lot of walking!
A helpful reminder to Americans that they drive on the opposite side
I had a route strategically designed to maximize the enjoyment of our walking tour. I imagined the original architects of the city would be proud of my clairvoyant understanding of their intentions. But Jen had a different plan – she wanted to go to Merrion Square to scout a kids festival she had read about (a few miles due east of where I wanted to go). “Sure thing, honey – sounds perfect!!” Ladies and gentleman – I’m no rookie.
We departed from the hotel and walked along Nassau Street (no via‘s or strada‘s in Dublin) toward the 250 year old Merrion Square, largely considered one of the city’s finest parks. The city had set up the, Big Day Out which included street theatre, music, fun zones for kids, workshops, arts and crafts, etc. A perfect place for a family… if it were open. We had gotten a bit too early of a start and arrived ahead of the opening. I consulted my map and re-routed our course. Our primary destination – the Guinness Factory… with a few “pit-stops” along the way. You know, things of lesser importance such as the infamous St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Dublin’s Castle. Only a few impressive, historical sights were in between me and my freshly brewed pint.
Walking west in the southern section of the city, we passed the back-side of Leinster House (currently the National Parliament Building) and then Department of the Taoiseach (the most impressive in a complex of Government Buildings), sights we took in through the gates along Merrion Street.
Department of the Taoiseach
We passed by St. Stephen’s Green and subsequently the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, which houses the largest indoor clock in Europe (according to the advertisement on my map). While the building was beautiful and everyone loves a giant clock… it wasn’t enough of a draw to lure us inside.
St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre
We crossed over South Great George Street, which houses the South City Market (also referred to as George’s Street Arcade). The Victorian-style indoor market was originally opened in 1876 and re-built as it stands today after a great fire in 1892.
South City Market -or- George’s Street Arcade
We arrived at St Patrick’s Cathedral early enough to enjoy some quality time before many of the other tourists arrived. In the year of it’s founding, 1191 – St. Patrick’s Cathedral was dedicated to the same Saint for which we now devote a day of drinking Guinness and dressing in green. The cathedral is Dublin’s second largest cathedral. Since there was no precedent for two cathedrals in one city – many believe it was built 100+ years after Christ Church Cathedral in order to replace the larger church just up the street. If that was the intent, they were unsuccessful in crushing the competition. They should have consulted Sam Walton’s Irish ancestors.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Julia, who had been kissed by a leprechaun
My Irish lassies
The sky was simply beautiful over the cathedral
By the time the crowds descended on St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we had departed toward the Viking/Medieval area to continue our tour. We arrived at Christ Church Cathedral just as a light drizzle cut through the otherwise strikingly blue sky we’d enjoyed all morning.
Christ Church Cathedral – the larger and older of the two
A perfect time for lunch – and as fortune would have it, a make-shift food market had been set up on the grounds of the church. An easy decision was made easier because we are always huge fans of vendor-food.
Vendors in front of the church
Kilts are back in fashion this spring
After lunch we stopped by Dublin Castle which was sadly, a bit disappointing. We have had grand visions of seeing many of Europe’s castles this year and this was to be our first “real” castle. What we didn’t know is that most of the original structure no longer stands – only one tower from medieval times remains and it is now attached to a much more modern government building. Oh well, there’s still time for more castles – I don’t suppose they’re going anywhere anytime soon.
Dublin Castle – what remains
We had made the perfect loop to put us in line with the Guinness Factory, or Guinness Storehouse as it’s called in Dublin – about two miles due west. We still didn’t know quite what to expect when we made the left onto Crane Street, except that we’d be in for a treat. The brewery-site was absolutely enormous and filled with Irish charm. Outside of Las Vegas, there’s only one other “candy store” for adults – and we had found it!
Turn left for fun
Want to increase your “cool factor” – stand here
I was a bit nervous when we saw the size of the line (our two-year old has many wonderful qualities, but patience is not one of them). I walked to the front and realized that was only the first leg – it wrapped around the building in a depressing right angle. I was slowly walking back to ask Jen the inevitable, “should we wait” when fortune stepped in and saved the day. A Storehouse employee saw us with our stroller and whisked us out of line and in through a back door. He escorted us to a special ticket counter and then directly into the Storehouse. Thank you, Mr. Guinness for mixing in customer service with your perfect balance of hops and barley.
Guinness St. Jame’s Gate – our VIP entrance
I would highly recommend this tour to anyone! The Guinness Storehouse is a single building in a larger campus of buildings designated for brewing. Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease for the property, so you can rest assured there will be many more pints to come. The Storehouse is a modern architectural dream, with glass and steel set around a museum, shop and multiple bars.
Just a portion of the enormous campus where Guinness is brewed
“I’m so excited, I could dance”
You start the tour in the atrium, at the bottom of the worlds largest glass pint (which, if full could hold 14.3 million pints of the delicious black brew). The tour winds it’s way up four of the seven stories in the building and then back down to the first floor.
Escalator to start the tour
Part of the giant pint
The Store to buy merchandise
Hops grown in one of two parts of the world
Water is critical in the brewing proces
An old barrel used for aging
Old barrels now serve as a gate to a bar
Quote by Rupert Guinness
At the end of the tour, you can sample a free taste of Guinness. It was funny to watch people go back again and again and again. Although a bit awkward when we kept running into each other at the bar!
I heard more consecutive glasses break than ever before
Just a taste…
Then, with your paid admission – you are entitled to one free full pint of Guinness at any of the many bars of your choice. We chose the most popular, Gravity Bar at the top of the building. The Gravity Bar offers panoramic 365 degree views of the city. On a beautiful blue day like we had – we couldn’t get there fast enough.
Imagine the most amazing club you’ve ever been to – great music, tons of pretty faces, and a wonderful mood. Then add the best views of an incredible city and free Guinness… and you’ve got a proper image of Gravity Bar.
Gravity Bar overtop Dublin
The perfect pour…
…complete with shamrock…
…and a mate!
Only trouble… Julia didn’t quite get into the fun. Whether it was the loud music, the packed room or the gaggle of buzzed patrons that got a kick out of seeing a baby in a bar… she lost it and could not be consoled. We took our freshly poured pints and descended down to a quieter level to finish our drinks. Since it is our intention for this blog to one day serve as a journal for our travels… it is my hope that Julia reads this (many years from now) and knows the sacrifice we made for her!
Julia couldn’t be consoled
“Well, maybe just a sip will help”
“Why would you give me that?! I’m just a baby!”
Since we had so much fun walking and sightseeing, we decided a walk back to the hotel was not the proper way to put a punctuation mark on the end of our day. I flagged down a handsome cab and thought we would ride back in high fashion. Only thing… these horses were trained to run, not stroll! Julia loved having the wind push back her hair and even pretended to drive for a bit. Good thing she’d only had a little Guinness!!*
Riding that horse like a boss!
The wind was blowing her hair back
“Who’s next? Only 20 quid!”
*No babies were harmed or really given any Guinness in the making of this post