Monday, December 16, 2013

Enter the Emerald Isle

Ireland in Winter... hooray! I'm touring the place with my parents and its actually been better weather than I thought it would be for exploring - much milder than Leicester (min's around 6-8 as opposed to 3-4), although much wetter too. Its no wonder this place is so green. 

We drove the car from Leicester to Holyhead port and caught the ferry across (car et al) to Dublin. Following an ad-hoc navigation to the south side of the the River Liffey we stumbled (if that is even possible in a car..) along to Kilmainham to the Hilton, our abode for the evening. Following a little priming of the stomach with a run and sauna, hit the fantastic breakfast buffet serving full irish and more coffee than I thought I could handle (seems I've set a new benchmark for myself) from a little thermos jug which keep yourself at the table - all hotels should be using this system for their brewed coffee. The priming of the stomach seemed to have done the trick.

Onward to Ireland - farewell Holyhead Port
Keen to complete some exploring of Dublin and challenged by the the tumultuous conditions outdoors I went with Dad to the Guinness storehouse tour where we learn't about the process of brewing.... Guinness! I've only been on a few brewery tours and this one was unfortunately less illuminating with no tour of the actual brewing facility - the storehouse is rather setup more like a museum with many video and textual exhibits, some historic equipment, and a walkthrough of the brewing process by a number of stands with information boards and videos of the master brewer. This compared to Samuel Adams brewery in Boston where we were treated with a guided tour by one of the staff across the floor. You are rewarded with a cool pint at the end of the tour though, and the Gravity bar (on the 7th floor) has grand views around the Dublin area.

View from the Gravity Bar towards Trinity College

Following on from a cheeky pint we drove back to St Stephens Green shopping area where I had dropped Mum earlier and met at Bewley's cafe on Grafton St. This cafe is said to be a bit of an institution, and is massive on the inside with huge stained glass windows and original fittings. They hand roast coffee and bake their own goods - so you know its good. Following a quick meal we headed south (a little later than I had anticipated - but the weather was so crappy all day we didn't miss too much by leaving late) and looked around for a place to sleep for the night. Limited luck was had around Cabinteely where we would shortly be visiting family, so we went further along to Bray which is right on the sea and found the Esplanade Hotel which fit the bill perfectly. A pint later and many sheep were counted. It was actually clearer this morning, so went for a wander along the beach - didn't go for a dip though, maybe later on.

Enjoying the clearer weather in Bray
I get the feeling this trip will involve many breakfasts of the large variety, and pints of fine Irish brew. The craft beer scene over here is very active too, so looking forward to trying the fruits of the local brewing talent. Oh and some running, and the craic.

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