Éire – Ireland

Last year I befriended a lot of Irish people, supported Ireland at the European Football Championships in Poznan, saw Ireland get beaten by Italy 2-0, drank like an Irish man and yes, even sang like an Irish man (although mostly football songs). Having gotten to know the Irish culture a bit, I hadn’t had the chance to actually visit the green island itself, that is until last weekend.

It took me 2, not pleasant, hours on-board a Ryan Air aircraft to get my Finnish Ass to the land of Guinness and supposedly Leprechauns. Now, I could go on and on how much I dislike Ryan Air, but that seems to be rather pointless, but at least they’re affordable…  What struck me initially as I got off the blue and yellow coloured “cattle” carrier, was definitely the weather. I as a Finn hear often that I shouldn’t complain about it being cold somewhere, but in Ireland I complained like Dudley in Harry Potter(which is a lot). I already had a bit of a cold as I flew to the birthplace of Bono and sure as Summer follows spring, my flu didn’t get better…even with the help of Guinness.

I had the pleasure of staying throughout my whole trip at my friend Daragh’s place as well as having him as my personal guide to the city founded by Vikings in the year 840. Having met Daragh basically the last time at the Euros in Poznan (and a bit after that in Berlin) we had a lot of catching up to do, so the first day went by fast,  just talking about things that had happened in the past months. We had previously met in the Spring a couple of Slovenians who had now also traveled to Ireland to explore, like me, the Irish culture. It was no accident that I happened to arrive in Ireland on the 26th of September. The next day was a day that has in the recent years received a nearly national holiday status, due to excellent marketing, it was the birthday of Arthur Guinness.

On Arthur’s day we headed down to the downtown pubs to enjoy a drink derived from roasted unmalted barley, a drink that is almost synonymous with Ireland… Guinness. To be honest, before I moved to Berlin I wasn’t a big fan of the dark strong flavoured drink, but as I got to know the Irish, I got to know their drinks as well, and now I can honestly say that I am rather fond of the beer that is thought of as one of the original stout beers. “Sláinte!” Was heard on the 27th day numerous times as our Pints went up to knock on the pints of others as if to say “we’re in this together” and indeed that is how it was, from pub to club the dark pints found their way in groups onto our tables and as if by magic the content of the glasses vanished nearly as quickly as it had been poured into the glasses.

After a few “casual” drinks, we made our way to a bar/club called the Village, which had a nice atmosphere and seemed to be popping. Last year my friends had introduced me to an Irish comedy/rap group the Rubberbandits, whom I had been listening to also before I left for Ireland and as if by the luck of the Irish they happened to playing at the Village that very same night. I couldn’t have been more pumped, I was with my good mates enjoying Irish beverages and now I was even going to see the guys who’ve made songs like  “Horse Outside” “I wanna fight your father” and more!  (If you haven’t heard of these lads, at least peep them on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljPFZrRD3J8 , they’re grand!)  As we walked up the stairs to the room, where they had just started playing, I could already recognise familiar lyrics ” …I wanna fight your faaaather…”  and I knew that this was definitely a great night!

Those of you who might not know Guinness ,alongside having a strong taste, also contains alcohol, which can tend to cause “sluggishness” the following day after being consumed. Having slept a bit longer we decided to continue with the Guinness theme of our visit and head to the St. James’s Gate brewery, or as it is better known as, the Guinness Brewery. Our housing was rather far away from the brewery itself, thus it would take us sometime to make our way there, which meant we had to be swift with our moves and cut our “breakfasts” short and head towards the bus.

As we made our way to the brewery, I could see a clear change in scenery, from pubs and houses to more industrial style buildings with a main colour of gray. After numerous walked blocks, we made our way inside the brewery area, where we were greeted with the surprisingly friendly ticket staff. I have to seriously tip my invisible hat off to the whole Guinness brand for doing such a great job of ensuring that each and every guest felt welcomed to the brewery, as most transactions started with the phrases “where are you from?” following the staff small talking and even in my case switching to German to serve me (after which I did say that being a Finn, English’ll do).  As mentioned earlier, I had a ongoing flu which basically took a lot of my energy out of me and at times it was really hard to stay concentrated during the tour of the home of the dark nectar of the Irish. Having survived to the end of the self-guided tour my energy was restored by seeing the amazing view over Dublin from the Gravity bar on top of the brewery (whilst obviously enjoying a complementary pint of the Arthur’s world famous stout). We spent a good while taking pictures and enjoying the view from the extraordinary glass bar packed with other tourists after which we headed home like boring old men to heal up so as to still be able to do something the following days.

The last day we decided to go check out the seaside of Dublin (to be honest can’t remember what area it was), if I had thought the inner areas of Dublin were windy, boy was I in for a treat. Yes, I should know that on the shore of any sea it is going to be windy, but still, you never really are prepared for it. I felt like I had someone pointing a hairdryer at me constantly, blowing out nothing but chilly seawind, nevertheless I had a nice day with my friends and was able to take a couple of nice pictures as well, before heading back with the DART train to the city. As it was our last night in the Irish capital, we decided to go out with a bang and head to the clubs, ensuring that my flight the next day would be one of the worst in my life… I did indeed survive the flight and am now happily back in Berlin writing this blog. I will for certain visit Ireland again in the future, but I will first have to rest for sometime to recover fully from this trip to the island that is Éire.

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