For the last two days we have been in Ireland. We arrived on Saturday and breezed through customs. I was shocked at how quickly they let us through – I’m not even sure if the officer looked at us. On the other hand, to board the plane we had to have our tickets checked by 4 separate people at 4 different locations, and our photo taken at two separate sites, so I guess it all balances out.
When we landed, we met up with Joe and Jamie and decided to meet them at their place and go into the city of Dublin for dinner. After the hour long process of getting our car, we headed to our apartment, dropped off our stuff and set out to find them. With bare bones details, and 6 different universities or colleges in the area, it was harder to find them than you might think. We finally bumped into them, and took a bus in to the city.
We stopped at Madigans, had a Guinness and a meal (it was carvery day and the food was delicious) and after a while listened to the live music (a single guitarist) sing some Irish tunes (and the boxer by Simon and Garfunkel) before calling it a night.
In the morning, the guests of honour arrived and we met the O’Keefe clan at the car rental area. It was so good to see them again – there were many hugs and many tears. From there, it was another trip into the city (where a horse show and many other events are going on, so navigating is difficult). It turns out that the road our beautiful hotel is on is shut down because the horse show is right next door. We had to drive around for about 20 minutes on very tight streets with vehicles not exhibiting the courtesy of English or Scottish drivers and yielding to oncoming traffic or pulling into passing spots. The conditions were not great.
Anyhow, we finally sorted all of that out and walked to a park to let the kids run around while we chatted, looked at a map to decide what to do, and just enjoy the weather (sunny but cool) and the company.
We took the hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city (mostly because it is the cheapest way to get to the Guinness tour) and rode on the top of the open air bus. It took us past Trinity college and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which is gorgeous). The Guinness tour is nothing special (it isn’t at the brewery, it is just the storage facility) but it is a huge building (with a HUGE souvenir shop). The highlight was the open bar area half way up. There was a four piece band (banjo, accordion, fiddle, and acoustic guitar), the kids all sat on the couch listening and drinking their sodas while the adults enjoyed an ice cold pint. The bartender poured the last third through the froth and made the shamrock design in it. After about 3 songs, they brought out some Irish dancers, and put on a show. Then a couple of songs later, the dancers brought up people to participate. Nathan had a ball, and so did Melissa. I had myself a Hop House 13 (brewed by Guinness as well) and then we went up to the top for the 360 view of the city. Shawn had to carry Gemma since she was asleep by this point. I think every O’Keefe may have caught a nap at some point by then.
The top was nice, but crowded. We were there for 10 minutes, then exited the building, caught our tour bus back to the hotel and grabbed a quick dinner (at the Horse Show House). Another new beer, and home to bed. Tomorrow is a late check-out, and we are travelling into Northern Ireland and stopping at a couple of places along the way. Should be fun, and it looks like we will have nice weather for it as well.
Regardless of the itinerary, I’m sure having our friends in town will make every day of this trip great.
One last note – Clara lost her iPod (left it on the plane on the way back from Strasbourg). We have tracked it down and it is being mailed to us, so I unfortunately do not have anything to take pictures with 😦