Home > Blogs > Robert Study Abroad, Spring 2007 > 27 May 2007 - Dublin, Ireland

27 May 2007 - Dublin, Ireland

Posted by admin on May 27, 2007

Let me start off by apologizing for my blogging absence for the past month and a half. During the past few weeks I've covered 8 (count 'em, eight) countries: Holland (obviously), Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, France, Germany, and Ireland. I've got a list of stories to tell, so they'll eventually make their way onto my site. For now I'm going to write a bit about my most recent adventure: Dublin.

Krunal (a fellow Iowa State aerospace engineering student) and I left for Dublin Friday afternoon. The trip to Schipol airport was uneventful, but I was able to experience some new things once we arrived at the airport. For starters, this was my first trip flying without checked baggage so I was able to use the easy check-in instead of the ticket counter. That was wonderful. After we had our boarding passes we had to pass through immigration control on our way to the departure gate. This was my first time through a passport station since arriving in Holland (Other than during flight check-in, I never had to present my passport during my Scandinavia trip).

After getting my passport stamped, coincidentally exactly four months after entering Holland, I went with Krunal to find our departure gate. We didn't actually go through a security check point until we entered the gate's waiting area. That was also a new experience. In all my other flights (including the one returning from Ireland) we passed through security right after the check-in counter and then had nothing between us and the departure gate.

We flew Aer Lingus to Dublin and their planes were very comfortable. The seats were leather (most likely “pleather”, actually) and the aircraft was actually refreshingly cool inside rather than the normal hot and stuffy. Our flight was pretty uneventful, although it did seem like the plane had a lot of lateral motion as we were taking off and landing. That just made those parts of the flight a little more interesting.

After arriving in Dublin Krunal and I had to find our hostel. We got on one of the airport shuttles to take us to the city center. The hostel's directions claimed that it would be a 12 minute walk from the city center...it turned out to be more like 25. Not that we had any plans/obligations to cause problems, but Krunal and I both appreciate relatively accurate time estimates. Checking in at the hostel went smoothly and we were pleasantly surprised to find out that our room was over-booked. I say pleasantly surprised because that meant that even though one of us would be sleeping on a mattress on the floor rather than in a bed we were given a 50% discount on the price, saving us nearly €50.

Krunal and I dropped off our clothes and set out to see Dublin. We asked about how to get to the Cliffs of Mohr, and were told that we had to go to Galway which is on the west side of the island (opposite of Dublin). We decided to hit that up the next morning. As for the rest of Friday, Krunal and I chose to wander around the city center and see what was around. We had heard of Temple Bar, which is supposedly famous (I'd never heard of it until we arrived in Dublin), and set off to look for it. What we found was a whole section of the city where every business had “Temple Bar” in its name. Finding the actual bar would have to wait until a little later. We were more concerned on getting some dinner than finding the actual Temple Bar. There was still plenty of night left to find it.

After dinner Krunal and I returned to the hostel to rest a little before heading out for the evening. Our roommates were there when we returned. We shared our room with a guy from Ohio and two girls from Missouri who are on a two-week vacation in Europe. They had found Temple Bar the night before, so the five of us left to head that way.

Temple Bar itself was very crowded, and I was surprised at how old the crowd was. It seemed as if most of the people there were at least 30 years old. We were able to find other people closer to our own age, so we had a good time. Looking back, I think that while heading there was worth it, I doubt I'll go back. A bar is a bar to me, and there are several more cheap than Temple Bar. I did, however, learn an important bit of beer knowledge at Temple Bar: Guinness must be allowed to setup before you drink it. When the bartender handed the beer to me it was a light brown color, like chocolate milk, rather than the normal black. And it tasted like a milkshake. An older gentleman in the bar who was standing next to me informed me that I had to let it setup first. After a couple minutes the beer had transformed from brown to black and tasted like Guinness. It was pretty cool to watch the color change, partly because it changes from the bottom up.

Krunal and I got up early Saturday morning so that we could catch the 7:10 train to Galway (3 hours away). We were cutting it close on time when we got to the station, but we got our tickets in time to catch the train. Not realizing that the track was a ways away from the main concourse of the station we stopped in a convenience store to grab some sandwiches before leaving. As we left the store we realized where track 7 was (which had our train) and took off running. We reached the end of the platform at 7:09, thinking that we had just made it...as the train starts rolling away. It turns out that trains leave Heuston station in Dublin 2 minutes early. As a result, Krunal and I had to wait and catch the 9:10 train. One of the railway station employees told us that our tickets, stamped for the 7:10 train, would work just fine on the next one. And he suggested that we grab a beer at one of the station's cafes. We passed; it was a little early for that.

We get the 9:10 train without any problem (we were there plenty early, after all) and catch up on some sleep as we crossed the Irish countryside. Our train arrived in Galway just shy of noon. We ask at the Galway station main desk how to get to the Cliffs of Mohr and are told that we have to ask one of the tour companies across the street. We go to the first company, only to find out that the last day-tour bus left at noon (we walked into their office about 12:05). All of the other companies we checked with said the same thing. Our day was off to a great start: we missed the first train by 1 minute and then we miss the bus by 5. Krunal and I made the best out of our time in Galway by spending a couple hours walking around the city. There wasn't much to see there, but the view across the bay was very pretty and we had lunch at a restaurant that served a delicious beef stew.

Krunal and I got on the 3:05 train back to Dublin. After arriving in Dublin we had the intention of doing some souvenir shopping along Grafton street, but all of the shops were closed. It was only 7 pm on a Saturday and things were either closed or closing. Grafton street is one of the main streets in the city center (it's packed with people during the day) and everything was closed. Krunal and I ended up heading back to the hostel without doing any shopping. Both of us were pretty tired from a late night on Friday and the traveling/frustration of Saturday, so we just hung out with Doug (the guy from Ohio) for the evening.

Our roommates had an early flight Sunday morning so Krunal and I offered to set our alarms to help make sure they woke up. We set our cell phones for 5:15 am, forgetting that our phones don't automatically change time zones like phones do in the US. Dublin is an hour behind Holland so when our alarms went off at “5:15” it was actually 4:15. Krunal and I realized this at about 8 am, well after our roommates woke up and left. Hopefully they were able to catch up on their sleep Sunday night.

We checked out of the hostel Sunday morning and started walking in the direction of the Guinness storehouse. Tours of the storehouse were a great deal for students (€9.50 for students vs. €25 for adults). The tour didn't actually go through the brewery itself, although they had videos playing to explain the process, which was basically the same as any other brewery. Some of the exhibit areas were in old coppers (where the mash is boiled) and vats (barrels on steroids...holding up to 700,000 pints), which was pretty cool. Our entrance “tickets” are small glass pieces, similar to a smooth rock, with a drop of Guinness inside. Attached to each ticket was a plastic ring good for a complimentary pint at their Gravity Bar on the top floor. More on that later.

One of the coolest parts of the tour was when they talked about tasting the brew for quality control before it is bottled for retail sale. As part of the tour we got to sample a bit of Guinness before it was packaged for sale. It tasted much different than what we found at the bar. The bit we tried at the taste testing station had a strong “roast” flavor to it. Just like you can taste the roast of a coffee, we could taste the roasted barley. It was a pretty cool sensation.

The Gravity Bar is located on top of the storehouse and its walls are nothing but glass windows, giving a spectacular view of the city. Seeing Dublin itself wasn't necessarily so cool, but seeing the hills to the south made for some nice scenery. If we had been in Dublin for longer Krunal and I would have investigated trying to get to the hills. There isn't much to do in Dublin other than shop and go to the bars and you can't really see the country until you get out of the city, hence Krunal's and my desire to sightsee outside of the city.

We timed our storehouse tour perfectly because when we left the lobby was packed and there was a line a few hundred feet long outside the door. After grabbing some lunch and swinging by the hostel to pick up my duffel bag we caught a coach to the airport and had a rather uneventful flight back to Holland (although again there was a lot of side-to-side motion as we landed and took off).

Looking back on the trip (it's only been a few hours since I got back) I'm glad that I went and my only regret is not seeing the Cliffs of Mohr. Oh well, I guess that means I have to go back sometime. I also learned the importance of looking up information ahead of time (although when Krunal and I Google'd the Cliffs of Mohr we didn't find any useful transportation information, so I don't know how we would have known the bus schedules in Galway ahead of time). Part of the beauty of being on vacation is having the ability to just relax and adjust your schedule with the circumstances. Even though we didn't get to see the cliffs, we did get to see the Irish countryside and have an excellent Irish lunch in Galway.

Hopefully I'll be able to work on getting this blog up to date soon. Once again, I apologize for not writing sooner and I'll try to be better about timely writing in the future.