September 27th, 2007
The day has finally arrived. Packed and ready to go, we try frantically to see if we have forgotten anything before the cab gets here. Not remembering what we forgot, away we go.
Took the cab to Tampa International and took the plane to Philadelphia where we had some cheesesteaks in the airport, then to TGI Fridays. There we drank with a travel weary CPA who is to get married very soon in his home state of North Carolina. From the sound of it, we got off a lot easier at our ceremony then he will with his.
After waiting for 2 hours on the tarmac in the plane, we finally took off. It's 10:45 p.m. EST and we should be in Dublin around 9:30 a.m., accounting for the six-hour flight and time change. Time for some shut-eye while we can.
September 28th, 2007
Awoken by sunlight, we gather our things in time for landing at Dublin Airport. Nabbed a chicken Caesar wrap in the food court area on our way to catch the connecting flight to Cork. At 40 minutes, the fastest flight I have ever taken. Took the bus to Cork City Centre where are destination accommodations at the Victoria Hotel is room 323.
After checking in and fresh clothes, we go forth and search of our first Irish pints. For no reason, we choose the Ovens pub. Actually, we believe that there would be food in a place that has the word oven in its name. No such luck. Stephenie, in preparation for this trip, has acquired a palette for Harp since her beloved Miller Lite is an import here and she desires to absorb as much Irish culture that her liver can process. Alas, no Harp here. She gets an Irish cider called Bulmer's and I order a pint of Guinness with a shot of Jameson on the side. Our bartender Brian takes our picture and answers any concerns that we have about tipping he tells us about Clancy's, which is supposed to have excellent food.
We split a burger and fries at Clancy's because we don't really need a lot to eat right now. Tried Beamish for the first time. Not bad, a little darker taste than my favorite stout, but good. We continue down Oliver Plunkett Street to Grand Central. We asked the guard at the Beamish Brewery when the tours are, and we find that they are on Thursdays. It being Friday, we are out of luck.
Ziggy's Bar is across the way. I ordered a Murphy's and Jameson shot, Steph gets a Coors Light bottle because the Coors Light draft she had at Clancy's was a little skunky. She asked if they had peach schnapps so she could get a Red Headed Slut shot. The bartender looked at her as though she had two heads. Not only is Harp available only on the east of Ireland, liqueurs are not bar standards here. I am curious as to if there are any on this island nation.
We went up to Washington Street and turn left. Costigan's Pub was our next stop. Very large and nice Pub, everyone was watching the rugby match on TV. We decided to head back and went to the bar in the hotel. A fellow in there was kind enough to explain some of the rules of rugby so I was able to follow some of it. An excellent way to start our honeymoon.
September 29th, 2007
We awoke at the ungodly early time of 6:15 a.m. No alarm needed. I suppose we were better rested than I thought. We caught the first bus to Blarney to visit the famous stone. Blarney Castle is situated on a beautiful piece of land bested only by the view from the top. We both kissed the stone, upside down is the only way to do it. The castle was fun to explore with many rooms and historical info on plaques all around. The dungeon at the entrance of the castle and the cave to the right of it were pitch black. A flashlight is needed to do proper exploration, which we did not have. The rock close is a quasi-garden area near the castle. We did poke around there a bit and walked on the wishing steps. It's about 20 stone steps you are to negotiate with your eyes closed and concentrating on your wish the whole way. We both were successful and look forward to seeing if the wishes come true in the next year.
Before we hopped on the bus back, we picked up some souvenirs for some people back home. Once back in Cork, we did some shopping in Merchants Quay and on St Patrick's Street. All I have to say about that is Penny's makes Walmart's checkout lines look short as hell. I started my search that day for the ideal reminder of our honeymoon, a leather Irish cap for myself. There were none to be seen.
After some freshening up, we headed back to the Ovens because Brian had told us the day before there would be some live traditional music from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It was also packed with folks watching soccer. A fellow named John got to chatting with us. Middle-aged and good-natured, he encouraged us to go just up the street to a favorite pub of his called Hi-B.
Once there, we were made right at home by Gerald, a guy about our age and John number two, and old retired jockey. Both of them kept us well entertained, and John number to saying a few songs for the bar, which could have fit in most people's living room. He also gave us some information about the name of our favorite Tampa Pub, Four Green Fields. Apparently it came from a sad song about a mother who loses her sons as they try to defend her land. They died and she loses her land. Very sad, but very Irish. We were scolded by a couple from County Clare for not starting there instead. We replied that we did not hear back from them after the wedding invites went out. We all had a good laugh.
From there we went to Captain America's for dinner. 34 tiny chicken wings and a bowl of nachos later, we cross the street to the Raven Bar for a quick pint. Then we continued our quest for the Mutton Lane Inn. The tour book said it was off of St Patrick's, but we never found it on Friday night. We asked for directions from a local and found it without a problem. We walked right by the little side street many times in the last day. Talk about right under the nose.
It is a small pub, and very crowded, but we managed to get a few seats at the bar. We did help a couple of extremely wasted customers, one of which ordered three Jagermeisters about 5 minutes after she ordered three Jagermeisters. Steph introduced her to Jager Bombs by suggesting Red Bull. Lord knows she needed it more than the Jager. That broad was all over the map. She asked "What am I waiting on?" after she already gotten her drinks. We told her nothing, so she went outside. We worked our way through the alley way which had gotten three times more packed than when we came in. We went back to the ovens one last time for a quiet pint and called it a night.
September 30th, 2007
After an early start, we left by bus to get to Kilkenny through Waterford. It took most of the day to get here, but very scenic. I realize that a lot of the brown fields we saw from the air were actually cornfields.
The Pembroke Hotel is a wonderful place. Brand-spanking-new and great amenities. It even has a plug that fits U.S. appliances. Very nice! We are in room 312 with a great view of Kilkenny Castle, exactly as Steph wanted.
We took a tour of Kilkenny Castle. It was very informative and really need to see it restored to the periods in which it was used. Afterwards, acting on a tip, we ate at Matt The Miller's. Excellent lamb along with fish and chips. We walked around the city centre, which is quite small but lots of neat shops. Plenty of Irish caps, but no leather ones.
We began the evening's festivities at the Pumphouse, which seems to be heavily influenced by our culture, as evidenced by the multitude of movie and band posters. One of the bartenders encouraged us to come back later to hear a band called the Barflies around 9 p.m. Steph asked for a Red Headed Slut shot since they had liqueurs here and was given the drink version, not the shot version. She still drank it. Such a trooper. We then went to Tynan's, which seemed like a traditional pub. Very nice people. We then went back to the pump house. The bar flies were very good! We met a couple there that will be getting married soon and loved our reception dance blocks idea. After an hour, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at Super Mac's for a quick burger along the way.
DT's is in the basement here, but it just looks fabulous for a hotel bar. A man named Martin chatted with us a little about world politics. It was nice to get a different view of goings-on. We agreed on a lot of things, never getting into any disagreeable conversation. It was good to see my thoughts on how we Americans are viewed by the Irish Community were validated. After this, we called it a night.
October 1st, 2007
We headed out to Waterford by train to take the factory tour. Very cool how they make it all by hand. It takes a long time for someone to learn how to do this craft.
We came back in the afternoon and got ready to do a little hotel bar hop. We had a round at DT's, then headed to Pembroke's sister hotel, the Kilkenny Ormonde for dinner. The bartender there, James, suggested we go to John Cleere’s for something called “poitin”. He said that it is similar to Moonshine, so it's homemade and illegal. So that means we absolutely have to try it. He told us to ask for James or John, he wasn't sure which. Before we left, I introduced him to the Irish car bomb shot and he gave us both an Irish Flag: creme de menthe, Bailey's, and Jack Daniels layered in a shot glass.
Cleere’s was two doors down from the Pumphouse. When you walk in, it is definitive Irish pub. It's Monday night, soccer is on, and there will be music and poetry after 9 p.m. We ask for James and told him James sent us. He said he didn't know him, but he gave us a shot of the poitin anyway. It had raspberries sitting in it for a while, so it was red in appearance. It was a lot smoother than I was expecting.
We decided to head back to DT's because even though we were prepared to stay out late, the night was done with us. The fellow behind the bar at DT’s said the name came from the owners Dick and Tom. When asked what his name was, he said “Dick”. Turns out he is THE Dick in DT’s!
October 2nd, 2007
After running a few errands, including collecting a winning wager at Ladbrokes on New England beating the Bengals (€1.34 on a €5 bet), We say goodbye to the Pembroke and Kilkenny. What a pleasant stay. Time now to catch the train to Dublin.
After a short 2 hour ride on the train, we caught the local tram called the LUAS. We really could use something like this back home. The Anchor Guesthouse is a quaint little hotel that shall be our headquarters until Saturday.
After a quick sprucing up, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe and gave money to the Seminoles. Food was good but expensive even for HRC. We buzzed around a few shops looking for the elusive leather cap. From Cork to here, not even a glimmer of hope.
We then went to the Duke pub to meet up with the literary pub crawl. We met a couple from California named Ron and Rita. Super nice folks who gave us a USA Today sports section after they saw my Lightning jersey. The crawl was informative and amusing. Learned a bit too.
Afterwards, we nab something at McDonald's (not seeing anything else to eat quickly), and headed into Temple Bar. We drank a round at the Temple Bar on Temple Bar in Temple Bar. You couldn't get more touristy than that. The duo playing traditional music knew one of our favorite songs “Alice”, but didn't know how to play it. Dirty shame. We mosey on back to the anchor because we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.
October 3rd, 2007
after breakfast, we braved a very steady drizzle on our walk to Dublin Castle. As we attempted to dry out, we learned that the original Castle burned down some time ago, that heads of state have slept there (Nelson Mandela, the Clintons), and that Vikings were “horrible, horrible wallbuilders”. We found a cab as it was still raining, and took it to the Guinness Storehouse. The tour is self-guided and ended in the Gravity Bar where there was a wonderful view of Dublin. The gift shop had plenty of “tookie” souvenirs for Steph, who is a new fan of the Guinness toucan.
We caught the LUAS to the Jameson Distillery, which is open for touring, but the manufacturing is done in Middleton, County Cork. We watched the processes of distilling, participated in an Irish whiskey tasting, and picked up the whole reason we went there: 12 year old Jameson Distillery Reserve. Not available in the states, I wanted something special for Bill and I to toast for the kids when they are born, whenever and whatever the hell they are. Nice sentiment, eh?
After drying out in the hotel, we head to Fusciardi’s on Capel street on a tip from Steph’s co-worker. Scampi is fried shrimp and the fresh cod and chips were excellent. Our first stop on this evening store is Kehoe's on Ann Street South. An unassuming place, we finally saw what a ‘snug’ is. The Catholic Church did not want women to be at bars drinking with the men because it was immoral, so they had their own area of the bar, a semi enclosure.
We moved on to Grogan's Castle lounge, a true old timey Irish pub. No TVs or stereo. We met a man named Tony who used to work for Guinness for 20 years and had visited Tampa 35 years ago. He was surprised to hear that the brewery was gone. He and his friend Mona suggested the Stag's Head and The Bank as good old-fashioned types of pubs. They gave us a few good other ones, but it would prove difficult to get to them from Trinity College area.
After saying our good-byes, we went to the Stag's head. It was easy to nab a couple of seats at the back bar. After a round we went to The Bank, an old bank that was fitted for a bar. High decorative ceilings and nice furniture, I was expecting high prices. I was wrong to do so.
We were a bit hungry, so off to Eddie Rocket's, a 50s style burger joint with huge burgers. Very tasty!
October 4th, 2007
After breakfast, we walked to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells, which is a very old book containing the first four gospels of Jesus. Very intricate detail that must have taken a very long time to do. Having said that the artwork and parts of the book are not complete. There was a lot of sacking and looting going on back then and it would be understandable that the monks would be distracted.
We then jumped onto the DART to Howth (rhymes with ‘both’), a seaside town that John from Four Green Fields told us about. It's a clear day and it is beautiful out there. We ate at the Wheelhouse, where Steph’s craving for chowder was satiated. We caught the DART back and napped for an hour or so. Lots of walking was done today.
We started our evening at the Brazen Head, Dublin's oldest pub dating back to 1198 AD. The mark of many travelers has been made here especially by Americans, evidenced by the written-on dollar bills, police and fire patches, as well as the business cards.
The next stop is Ryan's, just over the bridge from Heuston Station. Funny thing about that. We accidentally went into Rea's next door thinking it was Ryan's because we didn't see any other signs and with Tony's heavy accent, it could have very well been Rea's. We went in and ordered a drink. Really old guard in this pub. While halfway through our drinks, we mentioned to the bartender that Tony sent us here to Ryan's. He informs us that Ryan's is actually next door. We all laugh about it, finish our drinks, and go next door. Ryan's sign was kind of obscured by a steakhouse sign that is on the same building. Inside, it is old but ornate. We see the remnants of a snug in the back corner. We head out to catch the LUAS before it stops running and go to where our evening dinner was: O'Shea's. It was a fantastic meal earlier, I don't know why I forgot to mention it. Shepherd's pie and roast rib were way better and a little cheaper than we expected.
When we returned to the bar area, it was a little packed but we managed a seat in the snug in the back. We left after one drink because they were closing at midnight. So we ambled the block-and-a-half home to the Anchor Hotel.
October 5th, 2007
Not much to say here but damn do we got some souvenirs! The elusive leather cap was found! Now we're off to O'Shea's for dinner then to the National Stadium for Incubus.
We had dinner at O'Shea's again. Other than convenience and good food, I wouldn't normally come here because this place might just be server hell. The wait staff are slow and not super-friendly, as we have come accustomed to here in Ireland. It's not their fault, I think that they might actually be French. The bartender was curt but not rude, it just looked as though he has had a better days.
We catch the LUAS to Rialto Station, then a cab the rest of the way to National Stadium. It is a very small place, maybe 2,000 seats. The line, or cue as they call it here, stretched from the closed door to the gate of the college next door. So we went a little further up the road to the Headline pub for a few drinks, then headed back to see if the line had gone down. The doors were not even open yet. It was almost 7:30 and the ticket said 7 p.m. One of the guys I spoke to an line said this was a perfect illustration of “Irish time”. I told them we could relate to a point. He also said if it was raining, they would make us wait longer. That was probably a joke.
So we went to the pub across from Headline for a change of scenery, called Leonard's Corner. We stayed until 8:30 and went back. The opening act was a band called Huggy. Never heard of them, but they were good. Not buy their CD good, but good.
Incubus came on right about 9 p.m. and played non-stop until 10:20 with a short encore. Half the songs they played I was not super familiar with, but great show. They did play our wedding song “Dig”, which we danced to of course.
We caught a cab to Rialto Station and took the LUAS back to Abbey Street Station so we could enjoy Eddie Rockets one more time. Fabulous burger to end a fantastic day on a wonderful honeymoon!
October 6th, 2007
We left the hotel around 9 a.m., the bus station was 2 blocks away, and somehow we arrived at the airport late. The flight was for 11:15 a.m. and we got there around 9:50 a.m. Everyone kept telling us ‘you're late’ as we rushed through Dublin Airport without turning in our tax back forms, without buying duty-free Jameson, nothing but rush, rush, rush.
We finally get to the gate where there was a bunch of folks standing around. Our flight number was on the screen and Steph asked one of the workers there if we were okay. He said it had just left. Mind you, it was 10:25 a.m. He then said he was only joking. Steph was not amused.
The flight was long but a passenger next to us, Daniel, was on his way to Orlando on business and he helped make the ride a little shorter just by being kind and with a little bit of conversation.
We arrived in Philadelphia around 1:30 p.m. local time. We checked our luggage again with customs and caught the SEPTA train into central Philly because we have more than a few hours to kill. We head over to Campo’s on 2nd and Market, the best in the city from my information. Excellent sandwiches to get our pallets adjusted to American cuisine again
The Philly Hard Rock Cafe is at the Market Street Station where we got off the train. We had to stop in because how often do you get to HRC pins from two different cities on two continents in the same trip?
We got back in plenty of time for our flight, with only a slight delay on the tarmac this time. The passenger next to us, John, was going back to Tampa and updated us on current events in the bay area and a little on the sports side, too.
We nabbed the first cab we saw because we are very tired after such a long day. The Jameson is intact and the souvenirs are in good shape. What a trip! I never expected such a wonderful experience on the Emerald Isle. We will go back eventually, I'm sure, but we will forever hold fond the memories of our first foray into Europe as our honeymoon comes to an end.