Today we set out to explore Dublin…the capital of Ireland. We grabbed a city map and quickly familiarized ourselves with where we were and where we wanted to go. The city was bustling with people eating at restaurants, shopping for souvenirs and drinking pints in the pubs. Dublin was full of historical buildings but at the same time felt like a larger city. We took pictures of a few of the more well-known cathedrals including the St Patrick’s cathedral before finding a bakery filled with home-baked goods and plenty of people in line placing sandwich orders.
We got in-line and as we saw them making a sandwich, we pointed and said we wanted the same thing. It was turkey, melted cheese, tomatoes and coleslaw all toasted on thick slices of homemade brown bread. I am not a huge mayonnaise person nor a coleslaw person but once I was deep into a bite realized…it worked.
We continued walking through the busy city, specifically admiring a set of sculptures throughout the area…all of homeless people made by a sculpturer for a project under “Focus Ireland” whose motto was, “Out here I survive, in a home, I could live.”-it was an ending homeless exhibition and the statues were in busy areas.
After much exploring and walking around we found the infamous Guinness factory (set in a rather industrial portion of town). This place was HUGE!! We walked in, bought our tickets and took the first escalator to the main level…it almost felt like being in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. There were so many levels of information in the building…all was self guided with the help of signs and pre-recorded programs and videos. In every direction was some type of beer stimulation
The most interesting fun fact we learned right away was that the owner Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease when he was first starting the beer business! They had the signed lease under glass for all to see dated Dec 31st 1759. Can you imagine opening a business and signing that long of a lease? Talk about confidence in what he was making…
The tour explained the beer is made with 4 ingredients and a secret recipe…water, barley, yeast and hops (which by the way is only grown in 2 regions of the world). They had a huge container the size of a room full of barley and proceeded to share all kinds of facts about barley. Then a wall full of hops behind glass which could be smelled in the room, with information on hops…followed by a large waterfall surrounded by water fun facts and so on. The next level continued with showing machinery and videos on how the ingredients are processed to create the end result.
As we kept walking through, we saw the tasting room. They had a quarter of a glass of Guinness poured and handed them out for tasting. They had us use all our senses to experience the taste properly. First, we held the glass to our ear…and listened for the distinct hissing sound of the gas bringing the beer alive. Next, we held the beer to the light and noticed the deep ruby-red color and the thick white frothy head. Third, we felt the cold temperature of the beer on our fingertips. We followed that with swishing the beer in the glass and sticking our nose in to take a big whiff of the aroma. Lastly, we held our breath…took a big gulp of the beer and swallowed noting the bitterness of the hops on the back of our tongue, the roasted barley in the middle and the sweetness of the malt on the tip. Who knew there were so many steps to drink a beer.
After our tasting lessons, we spent some time walking through the many other levels which were full of Guinness history and fun facts. They had old campaigns on display, advertisements, beer bottles etc. After information overload, we made our way to the Gravity Bar at the very top of the building which they designed to look like the “head” of the beer. The bar was circular and had floor to ceiling glass overlooking the whole city. We took our entry ticket to the counter and turned them in for 2 pints of Guinness which were poured and given a few seconds to settle before handed to us in a glass with the Guinness logo. We drank and enjoyed the scenery after a long day of learning all about this dark brew. This has been hard work but we are happy to do it.
We made our way back down all the stairs and escalators to the Guinness store where we purchased some stuff and made our way back to a main area in Dublin in the rain.
The neighborhood we found was lined with pubs and packed with loads of people even though it was raining. We walked into a very cute bright red pub called the Temple Bar. They were playing live music and we managed to find what must have been the last table in the place. We ordered beers, munched on potato chips and listened to the live Irish band play great bar music. We later realized the Temple Bar was a very well-known spot in the area.
After leaving the Temple Bar, we walked a little further down, passing by all kinds of places and found The Old Storehouse. It was a pub/restaurant and we grabbed a table close to where the live music would play soon. We ordered a salad, Guinness beef stew and a couple of beers and listened to the fabulous Irish music before heading back to our hotel for the night.