Ireland – The greenest of greens

Ireland is a place with incredible landscapes. During my 2012 Eurotrip, I had the opportunity of traveling in this awesome country during two very busy days. Although it was very short and rushed, I loved the trip.

Carli, Alexia, Paige and I arrived in Dublin around 9:30 a.m., exhausted from our London trip and anxious to lie down and sleep for a bit. We caught a bus in front of the Airport and went straight to our hostel. We stayed at the Four Courts Hostel, a huge, well located hostel, with 24-hour reception, some funky decor, super comfortable beds and breakfast (although it left much to be desired) was included. For “just” 15 euros, we stayed in a room with 10 beds. But, believe it or not, I slept like a baby both nights. We were really lucky to share the room with very laid-back and, let’s say, non-snoring people.

Since our check-in was only after 3p.m. and we arrived around noon, we left our bags in the luggage room of the hostel and went out to eat some lunch and then nap with a full belly. Don’t ask me why, but when we sat down at a diner, the first thing I did was ask for a cappuccino. I don’t usually drink coffee and I’m very sensitive to caffeine, so when it was time to lie down and nap, I spent more time trying to sleep rather than actually sleeping. But, anyway, one more thing that a long trip can do to you, leave you with the inability to make rational decisions.

Well, after the food and the long-awaited nap session, we went for a walk in downtown Dublin. Unfortunately, the weather was crap, so we quickly headed to the Old Jameson Distillery, where we learned all about the famous Irish whiskey. We took a tour that explains the history of the drink and how it is made. At the end of the tour, the guide selects around 8 people to do a comparative taste testing of Jameson whiskey and two other famous brands (one was Jack Daniel’s and the other I can’t remember.) Since Alexia and Paige had chatted up our guide before the tour, we were “lucky” enough to all be chosen for the tasting. We were able to verify that Jameson really is the smoothest whiskey, since it is distilled three times (yes, I learned that on the tour.)

So as not to lose time, as soon as we left the Jameson distillery, we ran (ok, we walked) to the Guinness brewery, to learn about another Irish drink known the world over. Unlike at Jameson, the guided tour was optional and, since the brewery was nearly closing, we were forced to “opt” for the visit without a guide. The architecture of the building is fantastic, and so are the details about how the beer is made. At the end of the tour, we get a glass of delicious Guinness. We have the option of learning how to serve our own, perfect glass of Guinness, or going to the Gravity Bar, a bar with a 360º view on the 7th floor of the building. Of course, we went with the first option!

After Irish whiskey and beer, we went to dinner at Temple Bar, a district in downtown Dublin full of life,  bars, restaurants, stores, cobblestone streets and happy people. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, who knows why, but it was delicious, and we went to a bar to meet up with our Jameson tour guide. Imagine my surprise when we went up the stairs to the second story of the bar and I heard forró (a type of Brazilian music) on the highest volume! There were at least 15 Brazilians dancing like crazy and putting on quite a show. Half an hour later, a huge group of elderly people came into the bar and took over all the available seats. An interesting bar, to say the least, but whose name I unfortunately can’t remember. We also went to a gay bar, The George. I saw, for the first time, a drag queen show, and I was mesmerized. It was an amazing performance, in the middle of a packed club, with an incredible production and great music, including a song from the animated movie The Little Mermaid. Anyway, I loved it. We went back to the hostel at 2:30 a.m. and passed out.

The next day, we woke up around 8 a.m. to take advantage of the free breakfast and then take a tour of Glendalough and Wicklow, two areas around Dublin with stunning landscapes. The tour was around 25 euros, but it was worth every cent. We were exhausted, cold, annoyed due to the rain, and hungover from the night before, but when we saw the incredible landscapes and the indescribable green that is unique to Ireland, everything was great. Our bad mood went away, the rain no longer bothered us and the hangover was gone. My jaw dropped, spellbound by the beauty of what we were seeing. It was simply breathtaking. Our guide, Eamon (pronounced “Amen”), was excellent. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the places we visited and even sang us an old Irish ditty. We also stopped to eat at a restaurant that served typical Irish food, and we had an amazing Irish stew. It was a last-minute decision to go on the tour and we didn’t have any great expectations for it, but it really made our trip extra special. It was a breath of fresh air and renewed our energies. (To see the pictures in a larger size, just click them.)

After the tour, the girls went out for dinner and I went to meet up with a dear aunt that is living in Dublin. My aunt Luciane has an incredible story, after years of frustrated attempts at learning English, she decided that this would be the last time. So, she took an English course in Brazil for a couple of years and in the middle of this year she moved to Ireland to pursue her studies more intensely. I thought her adventurous spirit was awesome and I was extremely happy to be able to meet up with her on this side of the world. I went to her house and we had a great night together. We ate, talked and laughed a whole lot. It’s a shame that in all the excitement, both of us forgot to register the moment. But, no problem, it’s definitely imprinted in our memories.

Before sunrise the next morning, we left the hostel and Carli, Paige and I caught our flight to Paris and Alexia headed back to England. Although we had little sleep, we had two extraordinary days in a country that is the greenest of greens.

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