Monday, April 1, 2013

F**kin' Dublin

We only spent about 24 hours in the city of  Dublin, but I think I can conclude the stereotype holds true that the Irish are a foul-mouthed lot.  At least in the city.  We made an excursion to Cobh, a port town in southern Ireland near Cork which was a completely different experience, but equally a good time.

Henry Grattan near the old Irish Parliament in Dublin. One of many statues scattered around the city.

I should back up.  I haven't posted anything in 3 weeks, and I'll be remiss if I don't account for my activities here, if only to have some record for myself to fondly recall years from now as memories fade. 

One thing that has taken up a large majority of my free time over the last month has been the 2013 CrossFit Open.  This year is Kerry and my 3rd year participating in the Open, a world-wide CrossFit competition consisting of 5 workouts.  We submit a score each week which counts toward both individual ranking and a team score.  Last year we were on a team which qualified for Regionals - the 2nd stage weekend-long stage of the competition which took place in Columbus, Ohio.  This year we are on Team Crossfit Nottingham, and we're fighting tooth and nail to get our team into the Europe Regional which will be in Copenhagen!  Either as spectators, cheerleaders, or competitors we will be attending this competition in Denmark on May 17-19.  This is Nottingham's first year competing as a team, so we're trying to help the team succeed with our prior experience.

Here's a quick recap of what we've been up to.
March 9-10: 
Lots of gym time for Week 1 of the 2013 Open, and I stuffed myself with food surrounded by friends - we attended two birthday meals.  Saturday night was a group dinner at El Tropiero, a Brazilian steakhouse concept where you have to hold up a white flag and admit defeat when you're full.  I woke up Sunday morning not hungry at all, but managed to take out a large pile of food later at the Coopers Arms carvery with another group of friends.  Good thing I'm spending so much time at the gym...    I should also mention I discovered English mustard at the carvery.  Like a cross between typical yellow French's mustard and horseradish, and is now my new favorite British condiment.

March 16-17:
Another birthday celebration in downtown Nottingham!  I wore my green on Saturday, because I knew back in America everyone would be celebrating St. Patrick's day Saturday night, and I assumed the same would be true here.  I have never been so wrong.  I only hope I didn't offend anyone by ordering an "Irish Car Bomb", which was received by blank stares...

Now I know better: St. Patrick's Day is not a universal celebration.

I will say the same is true in England.

Blinking during this photo only made me look more ridiculous in my green shirt.

March 22-23:
My parents rolled into town on March 19th and stayed with us for 6 nights!  During this time Kerry also sent our camera out for repair (from last November when I crushed the screen...).  The timing was great since my dad brought his camera.  So, I'll have an anachronistic post about their visit next time, as soon as my dad sends the pictures!  I will say for now that the weather did not cooperate.  Snow and cold wind put a bit of a damper on my activity plans, but we tried to make the most of it.  Stay tuned.

OK that sort-of catches us up to Easter weekend.  I had a 5 day weekend (Easter Tuesday?!? I won't complain...), but this trip was only 2 nights.  We couldn't just sit around the entire time, but we also have major trips planned for May and need to keep our budget in check.  

We caught a very early flight into Dublin on Good Friday.  If you're planning a trip to Dublin, here's a tip:  don't go on Good Friday! Judging by the sheer number of pubs I walked past, Dubliners must party 363 days a year.  The two days where no alcohol is served is Christmas Day and Good Friday.   On the bright side, all of our flights, trains, buses, and all the associated logistical operations were executed nearly flawlessly with very little stress.   Also, all of our meals were delicious!  Either we're getting good at this or Dublin's an easy town to visit!

As it was a bank holiday, many of the city tourist attractions were closed, so we had to scramble a bit to fill our day.  We walked around a bit to take in the city and then made our way over to the famous Kilmainham gaol.  

Bank was closed (duh)

Feeling refueled and ready for a cold day after our first Irish breakfast

Posing with a voluptuous Molly Malone crying "cockles and mussels alive ho!".  Here's a song about her. 

Little-ass burrito bar. haha.

The sun emerged as we walked under this arch in to St. Stevens Green park.

Cold but sunny, a nice park!

Ha'penny bridge, all smiles

Do you think "junk" mail is objective?  You're leaving a lot to the discretion of the mailman; I mean one man's trash is another's treasure, right?  

The gaol was open, and was very popular attraction on Good Friday.  The gaol held the political prisoners who lead the Easter Uprising.  This Easter marks the 97th anniversary of this tumultuous time in Ireland's history.  We had to book a later tour, so we found a pub and warmed up with some tea and soda bread.

Memorial to the executed leaders who started Ireland's movement for independence from Britain. The plaque is a copy of their declaration - very similar to the USA's own, only 140 years later.  Close up:

And the faces represented in those statues:

The guided tour was excellent, as I was largely ignorant of Ireland's past.  We walked through the gaol - cells which held notable political prisinors were marked with name cards.
COLD - glass was added over the barred windows only in the 20th century...

View into a cell through the peephole.

The momentum equation used to determine the length of rope required to snap a man's neck in the gallows based on his weight - more humane than strangling him

The "modern" wing of the prison

What it must have felt like...

Our tourguide at the location where the Irish uprising leaders were executed via firing squad

The two small square stones above window were where the gallows were installed. Folks would be hung, dangling with their feet above the main entrance.

We walked down to the Temple bar area afterward, which was completely dead on Good Friday.

Kerry says 2 thumbs down

Hahaha - truth in advertising

Despite my previous assessment of St. Patricks Day, this store looks like it's ready to go all out any day of the year...

Playing with the panorama shot setting on the newly refurbished camera on this odd spike in the middle of town.   Pretty impressive, I can't believe I didn't know this existed.  This monument is about 3 miles tall!

The next day we hopped on the train south to Cork, where we caught another train to the harbor town of Cobh.  The train ride was so relaxing, comfortable, and easy: huge thumbs up go out to Irish Rail.  It was 80 euros each with return, so not cheap, but definitely worth the money if you can afford it.  We had free wifi so I could surf the CrossFit Games leaderboard, and access to an outlet to charge our phones (essentially wifi devices while traveling in other countries).   

Prepare for a massive photo dump - we had a great time in this little town and I just couldn't edit out any more pictures.

Kerry enjoying her reserved window seat - her name is literally on it.

This picture goes out to our friends and Rick Steves' fans - the Schetzel's. I reserved this B&B through email.  No credit card, no deposit.  Paid cash upon leaving.

Easter deal at Supermac's - a combo fastfood restaurant serving chicken sandwiches and Papa John's pizza

Cobh's empty pavilion on a cold and windy day

24 hours in Ireland and still no Irish stout in my belly... I made a mental note to return here tonight.

Palm trees...but still freezing cold
Cobh has an interesting history.

Named Queenstown after Queen Victoria visited once...good grief! Renamed Cobh (pronounced "cove", Gaelic) after Irish independence in 1921.

Memorial to the victims of the sinking of the Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland during WWI as it was returning to Liverpool from New York.    1195 casualties, 764 survivors, 289 bodies recovered.  148 bodies buried in Cobh where the rescue ship was stationed.

Murphy's is the southern Ireland stout - brewed in Cork, milder than Guinness. 

St. Colman's Cathedral on the hill - cathedrals are everywhere, but to make it really look impressive you just have to make sure everything else pales in comparison.  Well done here!

View from the hill - nice jump Kerry, your ankle must be healing!

Colorful row of houses dubbed "the deck of cards"

Inside the cathedral - always results in introspection

Safety first, electric pushbutton candles

Reverend "Mole-man"
Interesting picture with undergarments in the breeze...

Statue of Annie Moore with her little brothers, she was the first emigrant of many to be processed through Ellis Island in New York.  Cobh (Queenstown) was the last port before the transatlantic journey.  

Spotted the Bourbon Topaz from Fosnavaag, Norway.  This 3790 gross tonnage vessel is used for multipurpose offshore shipping.

Oh I forgot to mention - Cobh was the last stop for the Titanic before it sunk...

We went through the Cobh Heritage center.  A really well done museum for the price, which talked about the history of the Cobh port as a the embarkation point for thousands of Irish emigrates from the beginning of the potato famine through the importance of the city as a port-of-call during the transatlantic steam ship era of the early 20th century.  The museum explained how Cobh was connected to two of the worst civilian maritime disasters - the Lusitania and the Titanic.  It was the last place to say goodbye to the homeland of millions of Irish men, women, and children who left for America.  Additionally the place shipped off thousands of inmates to Australia, many who never made it in "coffin" ships - boats that were unsuitable to make the journey, and didn't.

This exhibit shows how early emigrates had pretty rough conditions crossing the Atlantic

I have my ticket along with these small people! The rate of emigration through the 19th century into the early 20th century is staggering.  
Old unseaworthy ships served as offshore floating prisons for inmates waiting to be shipped off to Australia.

Maybe one of the last pictures ever taken of the Titanic as it left Cobh.

In the museum we were overtaken by a very large group of French schoolchildren, it got a bit chaotic, but they had short attention spans to take in all the exhibits

A goodbye message in a bottle, thrown overboard the Titanic by a passenger as he set off for America, which was recovered years later.

Most people got on the Titanic in Southampton, the 2nd stop was in France.  Only about 120 people listed here got on in Cobh mostly Irish, and just a few people got off...  All the left-hand marks on this list indicate people who died when it sunk.

Until the jet airliner took off as the main way to get from Europe to America, steamships were a popular method to cross the ocean.  Here's a funny American advertisement - we look through the sexy legs of cruising travelers to behold a single guy creepily staring back an the ladies, a guy in the background with his highwaist briefs takes off his bathing robe, while a couple awkwardly holds a balloon above the swimming pool.

Ship's menu:  Melton Mowbray Pie on the cold buffet?  Count me in!  I'll also try the pressed ox tongue and head cheese.

Early photo of Cobh, with the cathedral minus the belltower

Pit stop - Ahh, finally!!!

Bulmer's cider for Kerry

After the delicious pit stop we set off on a short hike (3 km round trip) to the Old Church Cemetery, where 148 Lusitania victims were buried en masse.

The old graveyard at dusk

There are 3 plots like this for most of the victims, with a few additional individual plots.
A picture of all the coffins during the funeral before they were buried. 

The oldest gravestone in the cemetery - 1698

A bit creepy...some of these headstones are in disrepair

We returned to Dublin on Easter Sunday to visit the Guinness exhibit - it was closed on Good Friday.  It's really well done for the layperson, but I was unahppy with the level of detail on the self-guided tour.  I guess I'll have to find out on my own about the whole nitrogen/carbon dioxide mix to get the very thick foam that Guinness is famous for, because the whole bottling/kegging operation was sorely lacking on the tour and my questions were unanswered.  I've been to Miller Town in Milwaukee and they have a tour of the REAL process of beer being made.  At the Guinness plant you do not actually see any beer being made, only video screens and diagrams.  Good thing they offer lots of beer as part of the ticket price.  And the Gravity Bar made the exhibit worth the visit - very cool.  I also enjoyed the advertisement history display.

Jumping for joy!

Mr. Guinness's 9000 year lease...that's a lot of rent

Water, the most important beer ingredient

The brewing diagram - that's a Siemen's logo in the top right - they also provide a software package that I use at work!  ERGO - I support the brewing process.

A very old bottle of Guinness that surived the turmoil of the early 1920's.

Guinness's first advertisement - it builds strong muscles!

Look Ma- I'm in a postcard!

Here's a tip: marry a girl who doesn't like beer so when beer is offered you get two!

What's on tap in the gravity bar you ask?

More panorama work in the gravity bar

After the tour Kerry was hungry and felt left out since I've had 2 pints already.  As if guided by St. Patrick himself, we landed on the Brazen Head - by all accounts a touristy pub, but it'll do on Easter Sunday!

The American flag was welcoming!

Kerry cheered up with a cider (another flag as a backdrop?)

Irish lamb stew - she said it tastes like mine!

While we were eating, a band started playing in the more crowded front room.  Luckily a speaker system let us listen while we ate, then after their intermission we went up to the main room to catch the 2nd half.  While this was a tourist pub, it was FULL of locals and we talked to lots of friendly folks while enjoying the band.

We bellied up to the bar and got another pint

This will take some of you a while to get, but I can relate.
We weren't in Ireland for a long time, but we sure had a good time!  I'd love to try to get back, but while flights are cheap, everything else was not.  A pint of the local brew still costs 5 euro ($6.50)!  Anyway, I'll leave you with some video footage of the band.  Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, we are going to Cobh is a couple of weeks. I also have discovered the joy of English mustard and Murphy's Irish Stout. Nice jumping pics also.