European Vacation: Dublin, Ireland, 16.06.15
Our flight delays added up to us being behind schedule about six-and-a-half hours. Before we landed at 1:30p, Katherine and I had already scrubbed our itinerary to account for the loss. Unfortunately, we had to scrap a bike ride through the neighborhoods of Ballsbridge and Donnybrook and along the eastern Ireland coast. At that point, though, all we really wanted to do was check in to our room.
As soon as we exited the airport, we caught a doubledecker bus to the Temple Bar Hotel. The silverish blue sky was a little overcast, but the clouds were a peaceful canopy. We sat on the top level because who wants the bottom bunk. I was a tourist for the moment the bus started moving. In my lap I juggled our brand new Canon G7 X, my iPhone for those essential Instagram pics and a loaner GoPro from a colleague. I’m going to take thousands of photos. I had to pinch myself to keep one hand on Katherine’s knee as comforting assurance of how much I loved just having flown across the Atlantic with her because I was preoccupied quietly screaming to myself with long overdue excitement about finally making this trip.
We got our room and learned our first lesson about European hotels: electricity is a respected commodity. In order for the lights to work and the outlets to be fed with juice, a box on the wall required the insertion of our room key (i.e. card). Different to me and slightly frustrating at first, but I can respect it. We took fifteen minutes to freshen up before we ditched our bags and headed out to tackle the first item on our collective bucket list.
My sweet wife was on board from the very beginning in making sure my first beer in Dublin was a pint in a pub, and she made it happen at Sheehan's. I slowly enjoyed a pint of McGargles’ Knock Knock Ned’s IPA, and may have shed one of the happiest tears in my life. It was even better than I had imagined it would be. We sat at the corner of the bar, each with a beer in hand and split an order of fish and chips. We had to. I’d trade another six-and-a-half hours of my life without hesitation to do it again.
With a nine-page itinerary as the guide for our entire trip, this vacation kept us moving with focus. We walked through the shopping district along Grafton street to St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely Victorian public park. It was a quaint, cared for peaceful reprieve from everything I’m used to. It was decorated with eighteen monuments honoring Irish historians and literary figures, intertwined among patches of beautiful flowers, trimmed shrubbery, fountains and ponds. Dubliners mingled, read, slept, played and embraced. We also stumbled upon a group of teens getting stoned. They could tell we were harmless. No big deal. We weren’t in Kansas anymore.
We made our way to the student driven suburb of Rathmines, and found two barstools at Blackbird. It was an easy decision - they had bottles of Founders and Sierra Nevada in their window. I didn’t go to Europe to eat a Big Mac, but seeing these beers smile at me was a familiar invitation. Katherine drank half of her Ireland’s Trouble Brewing’s Vietnow IPA (what up, RATM!) and I finished it after my BrewDog Punk IPA. I made friendly with the bartender and left our first official mark from Michigan by slapping a #GRBCUSA sticker on the place - conveniently next to one from Left Hand Brewing. Blackbird was my kind of place. I could’ve sat there for the rest of the night. If I would’ve, my next beer was going to be Heineken on cask. Each corner of each room was decorated independently funky from the rest. Every table and incongruent chair were secondhand vintage, propping up with them drunken stories of pint glasses clinked. The patio buzzed with happy hour conversations, and I wanted to make friends, but we had to press on. Stay you, Blackbird.
Okay, so shoot me. We needed dinner, and our bartender at Blackbird recommended their sister bar, P. Mac’s. We got there right after their kitchen closed, but not before the bar, so I had another beer and got a handful of other recommendations from another way cool bartender. Before leaving, I tagged their pole out front with another #GRBCUSA sticker.
Embarrassingly, I didn’t know how deep Ireland’s food reputation went, so we trusted our bartender because BBQ sounded fantastic. We split a pulled pork sandwich and bone marrow mashed potatoes. It wasn’t Slows, but it was meat, sauce and potatoes. First time for bone marrow, and I’m pretty certain I get its flavor. Kinda like when you taste truffle fries for the first time - you know they’re different. I drank a nearly room temperature Rí IPA from Ireland’s Brú. Katherine ended up satisfied because they complemented every dinner with self-serve soft-serve vanilla ice cream cones. Maybe she was still in Kansas.
Despite every effort to kid myself into believing I could hang, the pubs of the Temple Bar District were going to have to wait until tomorrow. If we wanted to sustain ourselves through our intentionally aggressive agenda for the next two weeks, salvaging sleep was a must. In order to get back to our hotel we had to walk through my college self’s dream nightlife scene. Street musicians were starting to plug in, smokers were congregating outside and I could feel the pulse of Dublin starting to beat with the music. Until tomorrow, my new friend.
To be continued...
Stay tuned for European Vacation: Dublin, Ireland, 17.06.15