Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Guinness, Guinness, Guinness (and Prison)

Don't let the title disturb you - I promise that my group's second day in Dublin was completely thrilling and decidedly legal. But we'll get to that part later.

After sleeping off the majority of my jet lag, I woke up with Sylvia and Neha in the hotel room to a bright Dublin morning. While Neha got ready to take on the day, Sylvia and I beelined to the breakfast bar. She opted for a light and healthy breakfast of granola and yogurt, while I opted for the full spread.

What can I say? "When in Dublin..."

The group gathered our bearings and headed out for one of the major tourist attractions in the area - the legendary Guinness factory. Sure, some might question our decision to go get beer at 11 am, but we feel we were simply trying to economize our time.

The tour was self-guided, which definitely cut down on the wait time. Not to mention, like most things in Europe, having a student ID gives you a generous discount on ticket prices. 

While we walked through various waterfalls and barrels, we stopped into an optional part of the tour - the tasting room. Surrounded by barrels of beer-scented aromas, we were explained the four primary flavors that go into creating the complex taste of a Guinness. Then, to fully appreciate this combination, we were given mini glasses of beer and instructed how to appropriately taste them.

After becoming true taste connoisseurs, we headed for the big boy room - the pouring station.

Joined by another group of travelers from England, we each got to try our hand at the pump in order to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. Spoiler alert - you need the Guinness glass to really get it right!

With perfect pints in hand, we headed for the elevators to enjoy our beers in the skybar.

A full glass of Guinness, tasting and pouring lessons, and a tour of the factory certainly make the ticket price worth paying. But what really seals the deal is the phenomenal view of Dublin from the top of the factory.

Downing our pints, we headed outside to hop onto a tour bus and find the nearest restaurant. Although Guinness is filling, it couldn't replace a meal.

After detouring through the park and seeing several prominent political buildings, we stopped off at a strip of restaurants and stumbled into the first one that sounded good and could fit our large party.

Let me just say that we made the right decision. I promptly ordered the Guinness pie (I know, I said Guinness wasn't a meal but just go with it), and was given this delicious platter of goodness.

Flakey pastry filled with pot roast and topped with a Guinness-infused gravy, plus a side of buttery mashed potatoes. Absolutely heavenly, and a meal I hope to re-create soon using this recipe by the masterful Jamie Oliver.

After our meal is when the prison portion comes in. Our party split up, and I went with the portion that chose to check out a restored Klimainham Gaol Prison. Not only did we end up on the last tour of the day, but the student price was a fantastically affordable 2 euros.

Beautiful architecture and a phenomenal tour guide made this a great stop on our trip.

The evening consisted of downing fish and chips, then accidentally stumbling into the biggest tourist bar in Dublin - Temple Bar.

Which, of course, involved more Guinness. Gotta love Dublin!

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