To the Emerald Isle!
We had our probably-final contact with Contiki this morning. First, in the form of the wake-up call that was set for all the Contiki people in the hotel. We didn’t need it because we were leaving later, so…that was a little annoying. And second, when we went down for breakfast, we bumped into three other people from our tour who had also ended their tour in Scotland, and were all going separate ways.
So we had our breakfast, called a cab, and headed off the the airport (after we learned that Glasgow has two airports, and figured out which one we needed). We were planning to be at the airport 90 minutes before our flight; the airline recommended being there a whopping 2.5 hours early, but that seemed excessive. As it turned out, our morning went quickly and the cab ride was fast, so we ended up a little over 2 hours early anyway…and check-ins for our flight weren’t even open yet! So I have no idea why the airline recommends checking in half an hour before it’s even possible…
The check-in area of the airport was pretty dingy, but check-in and security was very efficient, and once we were past security, the airport was like most European airports and had all sorts of shopping and restaurants. So we wandered through the shops and eventually made our way to our gate. We still ended up having about another 45 minutes to kill, and unfortunately there was no free wifi in the airport (boo!)
Oh well…then it was off to Dublin! Our flight had a crew of about six or eight high-spirited football fans in the back (just behind us), making enough noise and having enough fun for about thirty people. We think they were Irish, but aren’t sure. If the flight was much longer they probably would have been annoying — as it was they were annoying a lot of other people already — but as it was, I just found them amusing.
O’Connell Street (I think) in Dublin. You can see “The Spire” in the background, which is so tall it’s silly.
We got our luggage (it all made it!), went through customs and immigration (almost a non-event; I love the EU, it’s so easy to travel around), and caught a cab to the hotel. After a few minutes settling in, we decided to go to the Guinness Storehouse. First we had to figure out how to get there! After a little sleuthing, I figured we could take the tram. It was a few blocks down some main streets to get to the tram station (we stopped for a late lunch at the Kingfisher pub), then a fairly cheap tram ride, and a few more blocks walking through some weird industrial area (we only got lost once).
I’m at the big Guinness place! Check out me being a tourist!
The Guinness Storehouse itself is an impressively big exhibition. It’s really kind of a museum. It talks about the ingredients that go into Guinness (there’s a huge “sandbox” full of barley that you can run through your fingers), and of course how the beer is made, but there are also exhibits about the ancillary trades: barrel-making, transportation (Guinness had its own ships made to transport beer; one was sunk by a torpedo in the First World War), and advertising. There’s also a tasting room (Pamela and I both had our mini-Guinness), a place where you can learn to pour “the perfect Guinness” (long line; we passed), and a bar up top where you can get a free Guinness (insanely busy; we left). And of course there’s the gift shop, which is impressive.
Pamela in the Guinness Storehouse
It’s been a weird day with the traveling and everything, so we’re probably going to have a quiet evening. We’re planning on just eating at the hotel restaurant for dinner, and I doubt we’ll go out tonight (it’s already 7:30, and we haven’t eaten yet). Then we have a fairly slow-paced day planned for Sunday – our last day of vacation! (Hard to believe!)
Oh, one other thing: on the walk back to the hotel, just a block or two from the hotel, we passed what looked like every fireman in the city of Dublin. We had stumbled across the starting area for a parade celebrating the Dublin Fire Brigade’s 150th anniversary! So that was kind of cool. And very surreal to wander into the middle of!