Fortunately for our feet, the last leg of my last trip with Jen, Dublin, probably had the least amount of sights to see, definitely less than the madness that was London. For no real reason that I can articulate, I really wanted to go to Dublin, despite not really knowing much about it at all.
Sufficiently agitated by the time we arrived, my first impressions of Dublin were, well, lackluster. Our cabbie drove us through boarded-up parts of town that looked like some of the shadier parts of Baltimore, and the conversation he was making got borderline racist.
Jen and I loved Edinburgh so much, I started to wonder if the last few days of our trip were going to be a bust. We started with a shitty lunch at a pub around the corner from our hotel, but then our time in Dublin began to steadily improve. Here's why.
You might think that for two Jewish girls, we'd feel like "seen one church, seen 'em all," but churches in Europe are massive feats of art and architecture, and we tend to visit them in most European cities, especially if they're free. I'm not gonna lie to you, all the bleeding Jesuses do start to creep me out after a while, but I appreciate the massive vaunted ceilings and the ornate stained glass, so most churches are worth a lap or two as far as I'm concerned.
The two must-see churches in Dublin are Christ Church and St. Patrick's. Jen and I didn't see St. Patrick's, but we started our trip with Christ Church Cathedral since it was close by the hotel. It's a beautiful piece of medieval architecture both on the exterior and the interior, but two things will forever set it apart for me among all the churches I've seen.
First, there's a quaint little courtyard, and in that courtyard was a girl selling ice cream, tea, and assorted baked goods. So obviously, I had to get some. The girl explained to me that they had four types of ice cream and four types of sauces to put on top, and I could have whatever kind of combo I wanted! Bailey's flavored ice cream happened, and before even entering Christ Church I was pretty pleased with the whole experience. Ice cream always makes me feel better about life.
Oddly enough, Christ Church has a TripAdvisor rating, which they displayed at the entrance. Even odder still, they only had four and a half stars. I don't know how Jesus feels about that, but I feel like four ice cream flavors paired with four topping choices for your church-going experience easily garners five stars. EASILY.
The second gem that sets Christ Church apart is the crypt. It's not just any crypt; it houses costumes from Showtime's "The Tudors," which apparently filmed scenes there, and a large poster featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Yum.
AND! Deep in the crypt, in case the presence of dead people gives you an appetite, you can buy more ice cream and more baked goods! Postcards too! Double yum!
Dublinia is housed in part of Christ Church, and Jen was excited when she saw this mini museum because it features Dublin's Viking history, and she's super into the History Channel's show "Vikings," which I had never heard of.
So Dublinia is small. It only takes about an hour to go through, and I think it is definitely geared toward kids. It's full of interesting information about Dublin's Viking history as well as its medieval history, and then the third floor has some weird hands-on exhibit about excavation where we saw 12-year-olds taking duckface selfies in hard hats. The information is accompanied by the creepiest shitty animatronic people this side of Epcot. Honestly, I think I safely speak for Jen when I say we enjoyed the exhibit mostly for the unintentional comedy.
In fact, if we had time, I was considering paying another €6 to go through the exhibit again. Why? Because one Viking in particular blew my mind. Or maybe he was one of the medieval Dubliners, not sure. Because all I can remember is that he was taking a shit.
That's right. Keeping with London's poop art theme, some evil genius curator of the Dublinia exhibit thought it would be worthwhile to teach us how medieval Dubliners (or Vikings) shit. Which is to say -- they shit just like us. But there was some crazy super detail in this part of the exhibit, just in case we didn't get the point. There he was, sitting on whatever passed for a toilet back then, with a look on his face that made it clear he had too many potatoes and not enough mead to, um, facilitate a little booze poos. And in case that STILL wasn't enough to illustrate what was happening, this was one of the few parts of the exhibit that got its own sound effects.
Groans, moans, and farts. Friends, I have gone to Dublin so that I could come home and educate you that shitting is the same all around the world and across ages. So, like I said, I wanted to go back, shell out some more euros, and get video for you because, how could I not? But alas, we got drunk and ran out of time.
THE CLIFFS OF MOHER AND THE IRISH COUNTRYSIDE
OK, so technically this isn't a Dublin sight, but it was super easy to get from Dublin to the Irish countryside so that we could see the stunning Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Limerick, and a few other beautiful spots. You can check out more of our pictures from this day trip here, and if you're going to Ireland, we highly recommend booking a day trip through Extreme Ireland. It's way better than the Hairy Coo.
There are two massive libraries in Dublin that are worth visits. The first one we visited was at Trinity College. We hadn't planned on taking a tour at Trinity College; we intended first to just walk around and then check out the library. But when we walked into the courtyard, these Trinity students who looked like baby models and had charming accents asked if we wanted a half hour tour. It was cheap and got us into the library, so we figured why not? Besides, when they asked if we were students and we said no, I asked if we could still get the student discount, and they said sure, so these guys are OK in my book. Plus did I mention they look like baby models?
Anyway, the tour was pretty good, and then we got to see the library, which was beautiful. It houses the Book of Kells, which is a really old illuminated manuscript with the four Gospels of the New Testament, so that's cool. It's kind of crazy to imagine going to college at a place that houses something so significant. I dunno, I went to a school whose claim to fame is accepting celebrities and celebrity children, who inevitably drop out to go into rehab.
The second library we went to was the Chester Beatty Library. Technically, I don't know if you can really consider this a library. I mean, it's really more of a museum. Basically this guy Chester Beatty was like "I think I'll collect all these religious artifacts," and sure, some of them are manuscripts and books, but it's really basically a museum. I liked it though. It was pretty educational about all different religions and their origins and I find that fascinating. I will overlook the fact that Judaism was stuffed into a tiny dark corner and the curators followed us around like we were going to try to steal something.
Like Edinburgh, Dublin has a castle, but I have to admit, it is kind of a shoddy castle. This isn't a knock on Dublin. I kind of liked that about Dublin. Because while Jen was in the bathroom, I had a chance to read the information prior to entering the castle, and what I got out of it is this: English people are assholes and made the Irish build them a castle. That may be completely historically inaccurate because I was probably delirious at this point in the trip and I don't really have a mind for history anyway, but I like to believe that the Irish were like, "Fine, we'll build you a castle (but it's going to be a really shitty one so ha. ha."
Like I said, it probably didn't go down that way, but I like to think it did. What I do genuinely like about Dublin Castle is it has a really nice courtyard that is right across from Leo Burdock's. Leo Burdock's is a fish and chips hole in the wall that Jen found via Anthony Bourdain, and we have quickly learned to always trust in Bourdain. We grabbed the most delicious fish and chips the world has ever known and picnicked in the Dublin Castle courtyard. The old guy in Leo Burdock's (maybe Leo himself?) asked where we were from, told us his chips were better than any we could find in New York, and when we told him we were leaving the next day, he said, "Ah shit."
True story, bro.
THE GUINNESS FACTORY AND STOREHOUSE
Since we visited Dalwhinnie Distillery in Scotland, we opted to skip the Jameson distillery in Dublin, but we absolutely didn't want to skip the Guinness brewery. Neither of us particularly likes Guinness, but we heard great things. At this point in our trip (our last full day), we weren't too fond of the crowds, but I have to say, the factory and storehouse was crazy cool. If Walt Disney were to create a beer-themed fantasy land, this would be it.
You go on a self-guided seven-level tour inside the building which is shaped like a Guinness glass. I'd love to tell you that I read all the information and learned a lot about how Guinness is made, but I don't really care. I did, however, appreciate the aesthetic quality of the whole thing and REALLY enjoyed making it to the top where you enjoy a Guinness that comes with your ticket while checking out a super cool panoramic view of Dublin. Not to mention, Guinness tastes different there than it does here in the States. And then, as always, you end up in the gift shop, and I was able to buy my brother Guinness-flavored fudge, which is probably the best gift I've ever bought him.
Of course there is no shortage of pubs in Dublin. The first night we went to one in a touristy area, and that wasn't so great. But our last night, we visited a traditional spot called Kehoe's. Already buzzed and then some from the Guinness and the bottle of wine we shared at dinner, we opted to sit outside and somehow ended up parked on barrels in between two groups of guys -- the "suits," as Jen dubbed them, and the other guys. The suits struck up a conversation with us, asking where we were from, and suddenly, there was this rando guy who just appeared and started making jokes that weren't really jokes at all. They were kind of just statements. But we knew he was trying to make jokes because he would laugh really REALLY hard at the punchline. I laughed a lot too because I was drunk and because he was so unfunny that he was funny.
After some good old-fashioned Brit-bashing (since this guy was English), the suits and the other guys compared him to a British comedian named Tommy Cooper, whom I've never heard of, who was apparently equally unfunny. In fact, he was so unfunny that when he had a heart attack and died on stage, everyone thought it was part of his act and no one helped him. As quickly as Tommy Cooper appeared, he also just up and left, and by that time everyone had become best friends even though Suit No. 1 was a lawyer for the richest guy in Dublin whom everyone else hated.
My cider glass kept magically refilling itself, and the group of guys kept multiplying, Jen discussed the politics of Northern Ireland, and I laughed uncontrollably while one of the guys tried to tell me I had dimples just because he was trying to coax me into complimenting HIS dimples. (I don't have dimples. Not even close.) Jen discusses world politics; I have a nonsense conversation with a stranger.
Eventually, I realized I was really fucking drunk and it was midnight and we were leaving the next day. Plus I really had to pee and I hate bar bathrooms, so I told Jen to get me back to the hotel stat. Jen force-fed me water and Advil while I pushed around some of my clothes on the floor and called it "packing," I made some questionable e-mail decisions, and then passed out only to awaken a few hours later to catch our Aer Fellatio flight back to the States.
Ah, Dublin. You were good to me.