Tales of a Certified Irish Whisky Taste Tester

Leap Year posterFirst, a mini film review of Leap Year. I love a good chick flick, but I hate it when the female lead leaves her fiancée for the male lead. I know that’s the point of the whole movie but in 2010, when Leap Year came out, about 12 other movies used the same plot. The next year’s theme was, of course, the “friends with benefits” storyline which essentially produced two identical movies, only one with better casting. But I digress. Despite these flaws, Leap Year is pretty cute. First of all, anyone who doesn’t just smile at anything Amy Adams does probably doesn’t have a soul. Second, Ireland is beautiful so it’s nice to look at pretty sites. Third, Adam Scott cannot play a jerk without still being adorable. Last, calling her suitcase “Louis” (because it’s a Louis Vuitton) still makes me giggle. So all in all, it was worth my hour and a half. Now on to my personal Irish adventure.

The day began around 5 am. At this time Morgan, Meghan, Julie, Nora, Jocelyn, and I made our way to the tube to take a subway to the shuttle bus stop to finally take us to Gatwick airport. We were naturally 2 hours early for our 9:40 flight but better safe than sorry, you know? RyanAir graciously accepted my carryon as the acceptable size once I curled the wheels in (it’s a rolling duffle) and we were finally on our way to Dublin!

After purchasing our three day bus pass, we hopped on another form a public transportation that would take us to our hostel, the Bunk House. This hostel was nowhere near the awesomeness that was Kaiyue in Qingdao, but you really can’t expect quality in Ireland like you can in China (just look at Fisher Price toys). The six of us were in a 16 bed mixed dorm with a communal bathroom but we managed fine (despite the occasional arrogant man). When it costs $30 for three nights, “suck it up” tends to be the philosophy.

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After lunch we got some questionable directions from the hostel reception dude (who I am pretty sure hated us) to the famous Kilmainham Gaol, the largest jail in Ireland. We asked the bus driver which bus stop we get off at but we only heard some sort of mishmash of sounds that only sounded even less comprehensible the second time. He ended up stopping the bus at not a bus stop to let us out because we missed the stop he mumbled earlier. By then jail was going to stop admittance in 5 minutes so we literally sprinted to the jail, me in obnoxiously heavy Hunter Wellies. We made it in time and had a nice, albeit kind if gloomy, tour around a placed filled with a sordid history of revolutions, crimes, and executions. It should also be noted that we learned the meaning of the Irish flag. Later that day, we grabbed dinner at a Tesco (a grocery store) and fell asleep by 9pm.

The next day was filled with even more history than the first. We visited the Dublin castle,the only castle in the city and the oldest in Ireland.

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This was one of my favorite sites…mostly because it was such a stark contrast to the grey and depressing jail. The castle, now used for mostly ceremonial purposes, is beautiful both inside with its classic Georgian influence, and outside which encompasses three different architectural styles-Georgian, Medieval, and Viking. During the tour we learned about the Ireland under the Vikings and the British, the revolution, and of course the meaning of the Irish flag.

We lunched at Eddie Rockets, a 1950s American style diner before taking a three and a half hour walking tour around this magnificently walkable city. This was a great way to get used to the city layout, see famous sites, learn a little history (there was even mention of the meaning behind the Irish flag), and watch our tour guide Peter get so excited he would close his eyes and stand on his tiptoes during a story. It was definitely a draining activity but well worth it…well, it was a free tour, but I still loved it. That night we visited a pub that Jocelyn’s friend recommended for a bit before coming back to Bunk House to rest up for the next day’s adventure.

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Friday was a good day. We started at St. Patrick’s cathedral, which I now pretentiously like to refer to as the real St. Pats. This isn’t to bash the one in NYC but I feel fancy having been to the original one. It was of course beautiful in side but in classic cathedral fashion, the lighting was not the bet for picture taking. Outside jumping pictures were great, however…after a few takes, of course. After the cathedral and some lunch, we went to the Jameson Irish Whisky Distillery.  Here we had a nice little tour of the distillery before Meghan and I naturally volunteered to be a part of the whiskey taste test challenge. Between a shot of Jameson, Scotch (which is whiskey but from Scotland…who knew?), and Jack Daniels, in additional to the free drink we get for the tour, Meghan and I were feeling pretty good by the time they awarded us with an official certificate that qualified us as Irish Whiskey Taste Testers. IMG_1605That night we participated on a pub crawl that encompassed four different bars and one club. Each of the bars were completely different, some more like pubs, others with live music, one with an Irish band that really jammed well with my signature clapping dance move.  The club was also really cool, mainly for the stage in front of the DJ booth where I sat/danced for the majority of the time because my feet were hurting. Also because the DJ was our best friend and played “We found love” even though that was not the type of place to be playing Top 40. All in all, a great day.

Saturday was our last day in Dublin and we finished it in true Irish fashion: with a visit to the Guinness factory. This place is massive. Nowhere near the tiny little Jameson tour. The building was 7 stories high that included thee levels of history, a place to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, lots of interactive computers, a whole floor devoted to advertising, rooms to rent out for events (Canon was having an event…I wanted to steal the chocolate cake they were serving), and finally the Gravity Bar where you can retrieve your free pint and over look the entire city.DSCF2023 This was absolutely beautiful, mostly because of the tiny patch of sunshine and countryside we saw in the distance. But also because it was a perfect way to sum up the past three days.

Words cannot really describe my new found love of Dublin. Granted, the concept of a blog is putting things into words so I tried my best. It wasn’t love at first site- but how can anyone fall in love with grey skies and drizzle upon introduction. It’s also not a deep rooted kind of love like the kind I have for New York or London- you know, the kind when you’re walking down a street and suddenly smile because you are in one of the greatest cities in the world. Dublin and I became the fondest of acquaintances and if we ever should meet again, we’ll certainly greet each other like old friends (but perhaps with a bit more sun). Until next time,

Cheers!

Lindsay

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PS This story didn’t really flow with the rest, but coming home RyanAir DID NOT accept my rolling duffle as a proper size for my carryon and made me pay €50 to check it and see this depressing image at baggage claim. I hate RyanAir.

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