Today's destination: Dublin. We're actually going to spend the night here in a B&B, so I can drop in to a couple of recruitment agencies and persuade them that Australians really don't have two heads and that we're acceptable to employ.
First impressions: Dublin is far more city-like than any other town in Ireland. It's still a town rather than a city. A large town, to be sure, but just a town nonetheless. Apart from anything else, a city can generally be expected to have a functioning public transport system The population is around 1.2m, but you wouldn't think it to look at it.
Dad had encouraged me to go and see the Dublin GPO - yes, the General Post Office - from where the Proclamation of an Irish Republic was read on Easter Monday, 1916. I'm told that there are still bullet-holes in the front of the building from when the British troops stormed it.
In the GPO itself there are framed copies of the Proclamation, including one of the original print run. The printing of the proclamation is a story in itself: it was printed mostly in the dead of night the day before it became public. There wasn't enough movable type to do it all in one hit, so there had to be two print runs - one for the top half, and one for the bottom half, the latter of which was printed after the former on the same page.
Our next stop in Dublin was the Guinness Storehouse. (And yes, I know everyone's eyes just lit up.) On closer inspection, the Guinness family pretty much built Dublin. I couldn't believe it when they told us that the brewery itself still occupies 55 acres in the middle of Dublin city. In the middle of the city! Unbelieveable. Oh, and that the brewery was situated at St James' Gate so that it would have preferential access to the city's water supply, being the River Liffey.
The Storehouse is the heart of the old brewery, but has been converted into one single, huge Guinness museum. There are exhibits there that take visitors all the way through the brewing process, from the harvesting of the barley and hops, to the brewing itself, to coopering and the kegging of the beer itself. The tour finishes with the obligatory taste testing and then a free pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar.
The Gravity Bar is one of the highest buildings in the city, and with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the entire city. I loved it. Syndia hated it. But at least we've been there and seen it now. If you're a Guinness-drinker (or even if you're not), the Guinness Storehouse is well worth a look.
Our final action for the day was to buy tickets on one of the city tour buses. Yes, I know, the ones that everyone looks at, rolls their eyes and say, "How touristy." How touristy, indeed. But since we're tourists in a strange country, why not? The bus took us all around Dublin, from Grafton St to Merrion Square and St Stephen's Green. We ended up jumping off near the river and walking back over the Ha'penny Bridge to our B&B.
Oh, and one point of interest on the walk back was Dublin's answer to the Moulin Rouge: a pub named "The Red Windmill."