We set off on our first morning in Dublin, sleep-deprived, and sick. Our day only had one event on the calendar: a tour of the Guinness Brewery. We set off to St. Stephen’s Green and the downtown area to take in the same sights we had seen the night before with some added daylight. The Green’s scenery appealed to us as a place to just rest in the sunlight, hoping maybe some sunbeams would kill off the flu-like germs that had infested our immune systems.
We mustered up the energy to walk around the neighborhood and found a mall that sold kitschy wool products, with Celtic symbols stitched on the sides. It was then that we realized we had neglected to get our families any souvenirs from our trip, and with 48 hours left abroad, we’d better start looking for tat. But we were unsuccessful in the wool shop.
The day seemed daunting, and the city felt small. At least, it did to me. We walked 30 minutes across the entire city to the Guinness Brewery for the last tour of the day. The Brewery is in a corner of the city, but its building looms so large over its neighbors that it feels like its own world built of brick and cobblestone.
I was surprised at how poor the security for the tour was. For having booked our tickets months in advance, we were able to walk into the basement of the building with printed tickets in hand, straight into the gift shop and begin our tour.
The tour begins with the ingredients of Guinness and how they are harvested and processed. Winding up a series of ramps and staircases, the tour walked us through the history of Guinness’s founder, Arthur Guinness, and his relationship with the City of Dublin. On the upper levels of the building are a few cafes, restaurants, and the tap house where tourists could learn how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness. I did it, and have the certificate to prove it!
The tour ends on the top level of the building which is made of glass and holds a bar. It sucked. By the time we finished the tour, it was around 7 pm and the bar was packed. We stood shoulder to shoulder with strangers, sipping our stouts, angling for a view of the city. It shouldn’t have been as hard as it was– the bar was made of glass. Yet I couldn’t see beyond the end of my nose because of how busy the bar was.
So sick, full on 3/4 of a glass of beer, we set out into the dark Dublin night in search of food and cough medicine. We found both on the same block near our hotel. First stop: the pharmacy. We walked in, and I tugged on Kenny’s sleeve to point out the sign that very well could have led to our trip’s demise: Cold and flu products would only be sold to individuals over 25 years old. At 23 years old, this was bad news for us. So we settled for the less potent medicine that would help us sleep at night.
We found a pizza place where the business model was likely based on that of a nightclub or Abercrombie shop. The tables around us were stocked with youths who looked like they were hitting the town. Us, in our sweatshirts with our runny noses, were purely looking for sustenance, which proved difficult in the pizza place/nightclub/Abercrombie. We tried to flag down service for too long before someone took our drink and pizza order. But this crime was easily forgiven once we had the most delicious pizza we’d ever had delivered to our table.
After a few drinks and pizza, we returned back to the worst hotel I’ve ever been in for another restless night of sleep.