Irish Tales of Woe and Wonder, Part 2

After a seven and a half hour flight, and a six hour time difference, we arrived in Dublin around 10 in the morning. After getting our passports and customs papers all checked in, we headed over to Hertz to pick up our rental car. We got all the paperwork taken care of and paid our $1200 liability deposit and the kid at the desk led us out into the parking lot.

I was horrified to find that I'd be driving the only pink car in all of Ireland... It was a bright pink, four-valve Suzuki Alto. My sister and mother loved it. But, this car would prove itself to be the single greatest source of the strife I encountered during my week overseas.

Surprisingly, it only took me about an hour to adjust to driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the street. I really thought it would be incredibly difficult to figure it out, especially after watching the difficulty Chevy Chase had with it National Lampoon's European Vacation, but it turned out to be pretty easy.

You know—after I hit my first three curbs, lost a hubcap, drove in the wrong lane in downtown Dublin, almost got in a head-on collision with a double-decker bus, and accidentally dinged a parked van's bumper while attempting to parallel park. So, just within the first 45 minutes, I put our €1200 liability deposit in jeopardy. As if the missing hubcap wasn't noticeable enough, hitting the parked van put a long, deep dent in the car, just above the wheel well that housed the tire with the missing hubcap.

So if Hertz managed to somehow overlook the fact that the car only had three hubcaps, the giant dent just above the missing hubcap would certainly attract their attention.

I managed to put this dilemma out of my mind for a while ("outta sight, outta mind") and we hung out in Dublin for the first day. That night, we stayed at a bed and breakfast called Egan's House in Glasnevin—one of Dublin's nicer, upper-middle class neighborhoods. Unfortunately, we had no idea what Dublin was like or how it functions on Day One, so we spent a lot of time wandering around aimlessly, trying to figure out what we were going to do. After our first day of getting adjusted to the city, we discovered that the best way to see all of Dublin in one day is getting an all-day bus pass, then hopping on and off the bus at various attractions. The pass was only €10 and it was good for 24 hours; so you could spend an entire day hopping off at any of its 25 stops and back on the bus when you were done.

Of course, we didn't figure this out until after our first day; but it was good information to have for the last day of the trip, which we also spent in Dublin.

Anyway, my proposal was that our first order of business should be hitting up the Guinness Storehouse at St. James Gate Brewery. Ever since I first fell in love with Guinness, at the tender age of 19, I have always wanted to see the place where it was made.

The seven-story storehouse and museum are absolutely brilliant. Wonderful. It was everything I ever dreamed it would be and then some! In the museum, you learn about the entire history of Guinness and the Guinness family; even more impressively, you learn the entire brewing process. They tell you all of the ingredients, where they acquire the ingredients, how they make the stout, how they store it, how they ship it all over the world, how they advertise, how they've branded themselves for the past 200+ years, how 2 MILLION pints of Guinness are consumed in Ireland alone PER DAY...

Then, after learning about all of that, you make your way to a small bar where they let you sample a half-pint. Since my mother doesn't drink, I got to have her's as well, making one full pint. Then, you make your way all the way up to the seventh floor, to a place called the Gravity Bar—a bar with glass walls that overlooks the entire city of Dublin. And if you kept your ticket stubs, they treated you to a free pint of Guinness! So, I had mine; then I had my mother's; then I had my sister's. That made four free pints of Guinness.

Then we went back to Egan's House a little early, myself a little buzzed and all of us severely jet-lagged, and slept for 14 consecutive hours.

As it turned out, I would end up needing all the rest I could get to prepare for the stress Tuesday and each subsequent day would provide...

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