Thursday, August 7, 2008

2 days in Dublin

I think it was the dark grey sky's that blended into the old grey, grimy buildings that stick out most to me about Dublin. Walking through the streets of the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, it had a feeling of something that I haven't felt with any city I've been to in 5 weeks of traveling throughout Europe.
It was hard. Something rough about it's demeanor which emanated from it's brick buildings and old bridges. Nobody seemed to make eye contact with you. I didn't see a lot of smiles. If you were able to make eye contact with someone, it's almost like you were able to glimpse into their lives just a little bit and you could see that there was something tough about them. Their lives seemed rougher than any country or city I've been to. Their beards, heavy clothes and deep set eyes spoke to me of hard work and survival.

I don't know as much about Ireland as I would like. I don't know what the people have been through. The flight was a lot cheaper to fly back to the states from Dublin than it was from London. I thought it would at least be worth it to stop in and have a pint of Guinness. I was only there a couple days, but I was so fascinated by my first impressions that I was fully motivated to learn more.

My first stop was the National Museum of Ireland. When I wondered through the 200 year old building and browsed it's exhibits I saw a common theme forming. It seemed that the history of Ireland is full of two things. Invasion and emigration. Dating back over 2000 years ago it started with the Norms, then the Vikings, then the English. Fighting for what was theirs, the Irish have always has some sort of foreign aggression to deal with. Many of you know that still exists today in Northern Ireland. Then there has been the people fleeing the country. Either from war or famine or sometimes both. I read in the airport that almost half of the people ever born in Ireland have left the country. This is more emigration than any country in Europe has ever experienced.

I went back to the streets and watch the people walking around. The pubs the grey sky's and the decrepit buildings. I wanted to understand more. So I went to the place that has become synonymous with Ireland and Irish culture. The Guinness Brewery.

It was a self guided tour through one of the largest and most fascinating brewery's I've ever ventured to. I've been around the world. Literally. I've sampled beer in every country and have entertained claims to the "worlds best beer" everywhere I've been. I'll tell you right now that nothing comes close to the micro’s we have back home in the Northwest, but the one beer that is served everywhere and has huge respect on an international scale has been Guinness. I think Guinness has been the only beer I've seen served everywhere. It's a mind boggling dark brew that looks one way but throws your taste buds off with it's rich, smooth and creamy flavor. I will answer the myth right now for anyone who is curious. Yes, Guinness tastes distinctly better in Ireland than anywhere else. I had a many of conversations about this as I waited for the foamy “head” to slowly dissolve before returning the pint back to the tap to finish it’s age old ritual of a “perfect” pour.

My conclusion to Ireland was that I’m fascinated. Very fascinated and would love a return visit. This country deserves some exploring. I was only in Dublin and I loved my experiences there. I felt I could relate to the people here. I was fascinated to learn of a culture and land that has been through centuries of hard times but has remained intact and true to their traditions and beliefs. I only had two days, but it was enough to know that I will be back.

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