Friday, July 29–Dublin city, Co Dublin

Laundry again; City Sightseeing hop on, hop off bus tour; the tour, lunch, a pint and the Gravity Bar at the Guiness Storehouse; 1916 Easter Rising tour at Glasnevin Cemetery; dinner and the trad music show at the Abbey Tavern out in Howth

Jury's Inn Parnell Street



Today I did indeed do most of what I thought I might last night. After getting up at 7 AM in order to drop off my last load of laundry here in Dublin I wasn't feeling particularly well because I'd only had about five and a half hours of sleep. I hadn't even showered before taking the laundry downstairs, just put on a clean pair of underwear, a clean t-shirt, my clean slacks and the pair of shoes that feels most comfortable without socks.

I came back up here and went back to bed until around 9 AM, when even if I don't think I actually fell asleep again I still felt more rested than I had when I took my laundry downstairs, especially after taking a shower did its bit to make me feel at least a bit more awake. I skipped breakfast downstairs, though, and had one of my Slimfasts instead.

There are three main competing bus tours here in Dublin–the green buses run by Dublin Bus, which I took earlier this week; the yellow buses run by City Scape; and the red buses, which seem to be part of the same company running similar red, double decker tour buses I've taken in many different cities which is the tour included as part of the Dublin Pass package. They all have cover much the same sites and all stop on O'Connell Street just around the corner and down a couple of blocks from my hotel.

Since a two day pass would only cost me 3 euros, a day pass being already included in the Dublin Pass, I got that instead. Even if I don't use it tomorrow, it only cost me 3 euros. The blue route of the red tour buses goes all the way out to Glasnevin Cemetery, which is olne of the two places I most wanted to go to today. The other place was the Guiness Storehouse and the famous Gravity Bar with its view of the Dublin skyline. I was interested in having lunch before having my free pint of Guiness, so I had lunch in the café up on the 5th floor where two guys who were pretty good were playing mostly Irish traditional music. I of course had the beef & Guinness stew.

The place was packed. I didn't go on the whole tour, just straight up to the café, then up to the Gravity Bar which was so jammed all I did was kind of politely shove my way through until I could get a look out of the windows and take some pictures and go back downstairs. There was a long line of people waiting to go into the Guinness Academy, one of the three places where I could get my free pint, and since I didn't care about learning to pour the perfect pint of Guinness (a skill I'm unlikely to use again) I went back up to the café on the 5th floor instead. While I was having my lunch I had read the small booklet about the different kinds of Guinness available there and saw I could have it with a squirt of blackcurrant syrup. I've liked many berry flavored beers I've had in the past, and so I ordered that and it was very good–I think I liked it even more than straight Guinness itself.

Even though I didn't go on all the tour, it was easy to see why it's so popular. What I could see looked very well done, using and displaying all the original machinery quite well and with interactive and I think in some cases multimedia displays as well.

Other than having lunch and my free pint, the only other part of the tour I went to displayed some of the old Guiness advertising, which has always been pretty cool and often funny.

After the Storehouse I got on the next blue route of the red bus and went all the way around to the Glasnevin Cemetery which is about a ten minute drive away. The Cemetery is adjacent to the National Botanic Gardens. Admittance to the museum there is free with the Dublin Pass. I got to Glasnevin just in time for the 4 PM, ninety minute tour of many of the graves of people involved in the 1916 Easter Rising, so I paid the few euros and went along. Our guide, John, was quite good, very intelligent, informed and informative, and had a good sense of humor when it wasn't inappropriate. Our tour began with a re-enactment of the speech Patrick Pearse gave at the funeral of American Fenian Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (I use the English spellings instead of the original Irish Gaelic–sorry) in August 1, 1915, a speech and funeral which are generally regarded as having been the real start of the 1916 Rising.

Glasnevin is amazing and wonderful and oddly enough one of the most enjoyable cemeteries I've been to, and I admit I am fond of a good cemetery with the historical or merely interesting graves of historical or merely interesting people. Much of it is visually stunning. At first I thought the nice café with outside seating was a little odd, but no more odd than the Café in the Crypt at St Martin in the Fields in London where I had dinner before a concert last year.

I caught a cab from Glasnevin all the way out to the lovely seaside suburb of Howth, which I didn't get to see much of except what I saw along the way to the Abbey Tavern. Seating for the dinner was around 7 PM, half an hour after I got there, so I walked the short distance down to the harbor where I had some very good ice cream, then walked back up to the Abbey Tavern.

The Abbey is a place that I would gladly make my local pub if I lived anywhere near it, and is wonderfully kept rambling old building. Dinner and the show are held in a room downstairs. All the tables are arranged perpendicular to the stage so everyone has the same pretty good but slightly awkward and uncomfortable view. Since I seem to have been the only person there by themselves, I had a table for four all to myself. Even better, my table was in the first row of tables a little to the side but I still had a great view of the small stage.

There were a couple of different tour groups there. One was a large group who belonged to the same choir in San Diego who had been touring and performing in different locations in Ireland for the last week or so.

Dinner was pretty good. I didn't have the corn beef and cabbage, which I still remember as not having been that good ten years ago, but had some tasty cream of vegetable soup (very popular in Ireland right now), a very good chicken dish, and an Irish cream cheese cake.

The show was excellent. Although all of the dancers were probably in their twenties, none of the three musicians or the singer were probably in less than their late thirties or even older, maybe near my age, but they were all very good. There was a guy who played guitar and bodhran and sang, a female vocalist, a guy on fiddle, and a guy who played flute and whistle. When they weren't playing for the dancers, the band played a lot of stuff favored in your average Irish American sing along, which was still very well done and rather fun.

There were four dancers, two guys and two women, all in their twenties. Although the guys always wore the same black slacks and shirts, the women changed outfits–and dance shoes–several times. All four of them were very good and did a variety of dance styles, including one set of polkas.

Dinner and the show at the Abbey Tavern aren't cheap, and it's about a thirty minute taxi ride out of Dublin town center, but as a whole I think it was well worth it and I enjoyed it a great deal.

I got back here to my hotel around 11 PM, now almost two hours ago. I picked my clean laundry up as I passed through the lobby then it took me a while to sort everything out, decide which t-shirts and shirts for two weeks I'm going to keep with me, and then repack everything else into the smaller suitcase and rolling book bag/attache case I'm going to take to the nearest Mailboxes Etc in the morning to send back home. From there it's about a 15-20 minute walk back here to my neighborhood or a 15 minute walk to the National Wax Museum, which is free with my Dublin Pass.

Other than the Mailboxes Etc and the Wax Museum, and my trip out to the dinner and a show at the Merry Ploughboy (pickup is at 6:10 PM from the Writers Museum, less than a ten minute walk away from here) I think I'll spend my last two days here in Dublin going to things just in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. There's plenty to see just around here.

And so to bed.

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