After a substantial amount of sightseeing, I encountered a hostel and decided to check in. I dropped off my backpack (rucksack, as they call it here), resisted the urge to take a nap, and headed to the Guinness Brewery for a tour. For the first hour of the 90 minute experience, I felt as though I'd been had. 20 Euros to get in, and all I'm doing shuffling along in a big crowd to look at TVs with images barley fields, big containers of actual barley, a host of Guinness advertising, and people acting like they just saw water for the first time (see picture).
Fatigue started to set in big time, and I wanted out. The only thing that kept me going was the promise of a beer that I had already paid for, and when it was time to receive it I had to wait in a long line to get it. Brutal. Things took a turn for the better, however, when they sent us up an elevator to a nice perch with a panoramic view of the city. Things were looking up, as were my spirits.
Upon arrival back at the hostel, I met my new roommates, Jenny and Shin. Jenny, who hailed from Hamburg, Germany, was very friendly and suggested we go out on the town and see what Irish Pubs are all about. Shin, who was from Taiwan and was not nearly as excited as I was regarding the phonetic similarities of our first names, was not as social and chose to stay in. So be it.
I was the first American that Jenny had ever met, and apparently shattered her stereotype of Americans because I was not "fat and eating KFC all the time." Further, when she learned I had only packed two shirts for the entire trip, she also became aware that not all Americans are materialistic narcissists.
The Irish pubs we visited were nothing short of phenomenal. Jenny insisted on seeing live music, and this was definitely the right move. Just when I thought the guy with the acoustic guitar who covered Van Morrison couldn't be beat, the Irish band that followed him completely blew me away (see attached video, which doesn't really do it justice). We stayed out all night, and only when I laid down to sleep did I realize I hadn't closed my eyes in 48 hours.
This morning, Jenny and I took a guided walking tour of Dublin, learned some history, and further discussed stereotypes and differences between German and American culture. Here's a difference that stood out to me: Jenny couldn't fathom that I drink my water "flat". To her, drinking water has to be "sparkling" (which, it turns out, is fancy for "carbonated"). While I conceded that Germans had the upper hand on a number of cultural differences (Oktoberfest Lederhosen easily trumps 4th of July jean shorts), I would not budge on this one. Sparkling? You kidding me?
Jenny boarded a bus and is off to Galway. I'm back at the hostel, updating the blog and trying to figure out my next move. The long Monday/Tuesday followed by last night's pub marathon are beginning to catch up with me, so this might be an early night. Meeting up with the homeboy Paidraig Hourigan tomorrow. Paidraig's great-grandmother was my great-grandfather's sister. I don't know if there's a term for my relationship to him, so I'll just refer to him as the homeboy.
Until next time...