|Stoudt, Rain, Chips, and Stoudt- Adventures in Ireland
||[Oct. 22nd, 2006|10:55 pm]
I got back from my weekend in Ireland a few hours ago and I have to say I really like Ireland.|
I got early Thursday morning and made me way out towards Schipol airport. The train ride was fine, but check was confusing. I'm used to each airline having its own spot, but here KLM handles all the check-ins for their partners. I walk in and only see KLM, asked, and figured it out. I wish someone posted a sign or something. The Dutch can be so unhelpful at times.
They stamped my passport leaving the country. Why?
The way security is done here is rather smart. There is no check going into the departure area, rather at the gate itself. The gate is a room and entrance to that room requires the traditional security check. It’s ultimately more expensive to operate, because the move machines and personal required, but it cuts down on the stress and aggravation of the whole. I think it is a better system, but I could be wrong.
The flight itself was uneventful except for me finding myself in the second row and thinking, "Now if the plane crashes, is it the people in the back or front more likely to die?" And then thinking, "Did I just jinx myself?"
Cork airport is one of those airports that don’t really need to exist, but you're grateful for its existence when you realize you can fly there, like Lehigh Valley. The place is very small, but very nicely designed including the traditional Irish paneling everywhere. I got to passport control and stood at the non-EU desk alone until someone came out from the office, sandwich in hand. They give you two stamps coming into Ireland, although I can't figure out why. Sort of like the customs guy at Schipol stamping the fourth page of my passport instead of the first, its probably to piss me off.
I caught a bus into town, marveling all the way that everything was in Gaelic as well as English. Kyle, one of the fellows from Prague who I stayed with, met me at the bus terminal. I wasn't sure if it was him at first. So I leaned against a pole and waited until to look and surprised the hell out of him. I love doing that.
Kyle and I walked around the city for a while, made our way up to the apartment to drop my bag, and immediately went out for a pint. We found the Gateway Bar and their 3euro pints. It was a small place with few people (it was noon or so) and I had a Guinness. It is better in Ireland. Everyone says it and he or she do because it’s true. To quote Patton Oswald, "it’s like drinking a hand job and cup cake smoothie." It is. The problem was there are two beers brewed right in Cork, Murphy's and Beamish. As a proponent of always drinking the local brew I was faced with a tough decision. Drink Guinness or follow my own advice and drink the local. I came up with a positive solution- The Cycle. Drink all three, but in a cycle. Guinness, Beamish, Murphy's, repeat. It served me well.
Kyle had to go to class so I stayed, had another pint and hung out in the pub. I talked with the bar man and the old guy with an accent so think I had trouble understanding. We watched Home and Away (a crummy Aussie soap the makes The OC look like The Wire) and I read the paper, just reveling the fact I was in a pub in Ireland.
I walked around a bit and went back to the apartment where I met back up with Kyle, Brian, and their roommate Monty. It was decided a pub-crawl was in order for that evening.
Cork is a student town. Pubs and clubs line the streets along the river; even more densely packed than the rest of the city (there were plenty on our street alone). The guys were resolved to go to new places that night so we started off at Nancy Spain's where we were joined by Monty and an Irish guy who Monty met at school (in America) for around 20 minutes and ran into on the street. Alan, the Irishman, was good company. We moved on to a pub across the street from the Beamish brewery. That was a real chilled out place. Quiet, warm, guy with a flute and another with a guitar (Irish music in a Cork pub, I was happy). We were joined by a friend of Alan's who was rude, crude, and incredibly funny. He let us in on the text war he was having with his girl friend (?). I can't repeat much of it ear, but she fought back as hard as he and we laughing like a bunch of retards. He also told us the story of him sleeping in the Prague train station and getting up the next morning and walking the 4 meters back to his hostel.
The best part was Monty hated this guy, hated him. Monty was loaded and it became downright comical.
We hit a few more bars and I met an American girl the guys knew who kept rubbing the Penn State logo on my chest. It was weird. We hit up the gravy fries at Hillbillies Fried Chicken and called it a night.
The next day Kyle and I went to Blarney Castle. We took a bus and it wasn't crowded at all. The area is beautiful (looks like Tinicum) and the castle is neat in its self. I did also kiss the stone. I don't know if locals pee on it, but it would be difficult to hit and there isn't anything in Blarney to begin with. I do know that the tradition was some sort of medieval joke that spun out of control. One guy looked at the other and said, "Ya know what would be funny, Seamus? If we told people that rock up top by the poorly built wall was special and it was good luck to kiss. They'll have to lie on their backs and look lie idiots. Oh it will be grand."
After the castle I immediately jumped a bus to Midleton to see the Olde Midleton Distillery. All the Irish whisky (with the exception of Bushmills) is produced in Midleton now and the old distillery is a museum. It was a small group that included an old guy who was real nice, but probably retarded. Or something. The man didn't understand anything the guide was saying. Not troubles with the accent, mind you, just the concepts. I ended up being the guide's helper and got to do the guided tasting at the end. I also gave the correct answer on what was my favorite and got a certificate saying I am now an official Irish whisky taster. The test was 5 whiskeys, 3 Irish (Jamie, Paddy, and Powers), Red Label, and JD. It wasn't hard to answer correctly saying I'd drink the Irish over the Scotch or JD. I don't like Red Label or JD. The certificate is cool. I think I'll put it on my resume.
Saturday I went to Dublin. Yes, I took a 3 1/2 hour train ride to Dublin for the day. Hey, I had to see the Guinness brewery. The problem was I didn't know where the hell I was when I got in. So hopped a bus going into the center and realized only after I bought my ticket and the bus was moving that the Guinness brewery is pretty much next door to the train station. I hiked back; it wasn't far, and waited in line to get inside. The line was long, but I had a book (Eagle scout after all). The museum is very cool all around. It’s very big and has the whole history laid out from the beer to the cooperage and transport to the advertising. The crown jewel though is the Gravity Bar. Its on top of the whole thing and is one of the highest points in Dublin. You can see the whole city up there and the Guinness is the best in the world at that bar. Really spectacular.
I left the brewery and walked around. I saw the old Jameson Distillery (didn't take the tour though, its probably identical to the Midleton one), the post office, Trinity College, St. Steven's Green (closed though), Grafton Street, St. Patrick’s, and back to the station. It was a nice long walk around the city center, but I was early at the station by around an hour and 15 minutes. Not enough time to go anywhere cool, long enough to feel weird. I got dinner at an Irish fast burger joint in the station because it was advertised at 3.50. It was good and filling and got on the train. Then I got kicked off the train because it wasn't ready. Well nobody told me. When the train did leave I slept a bit and got back to Cork at about 11:45.
One my way back to the apartment I was stopped by two girls who wanted to complement my knit hat. When they found out I was an American they got really excited and asked all sorts of question. They had a few in them by then I'm sure, but they were fun. They kept apologizing for scaring me and bothering me, but I was enjoying myself.
"Oh, you just look so cute with your hat and your bag and headphones and your hood up."
"Can we try on the hat?"
"Oh, your hair is so short!"
"If you were a Cork boy you'd be worried about two random people coming up to you. American's are so friendly."
And on and on it went. They were allot of fun. They even invited me to come along with them, claiming people just buy you drinks. I had to point out that it doesn't work the same way for guys, but they were persistent. Unfortunately I had resolved to not spend anymore and I had people waiting for me so we said our goodbyes and headed off. I wonder if they remember the incident.
We hung out when I got back and stayed up until 4 watching the tail end of the Bodyguard and then watched the Banger Sisters in its entirety. I'm not sure why, but it was one of those night where you keep saying, "Why is this on?" but never turn it off. The Banger Sisters, is awful, but the scenes with Geoffrey Rush and very funny. His character is very neurotic and crazy. He makes the movie tolerable.
I left today on an, again, uneventful flight. The taxi back at Schipol was the longest ever though. It felt like we could have gone all the way to Centraal Station.
The food store closed before I could get there so I have no breakfast stuff around. Damm.
My weekend in Ireland was great. I loved the beer and most, but who wouldn't and when will I ever hit for the cycle in anything but beer?
I love and miss you all,