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We flew to Dublin on RyanAir, sort of like taking Southwest from Dallas to Houston in terms of the type of plane and the time spent in the air. We arrived in Dublin fairly late, and had booked a room at a hotel on the airport grounds. It was a nice hotel, but the only place open for food was the Chinese restaurant downstairs. The food was excellent, however, and we slept soundly. Sunday we went to our hotel in Dublin, which overlooks the Grand Canal.

Next, it was off to the Guinness Brewery. We walked through St. Stephen's Green...


..then up Grafton St, one of the main shopping districts. It was quite packed. We had been led to believe that most of the city shuts down on Sunday. Most of the smaller shops and practically all of the pubs are closed, but the larger chains and stores catering to tourists were open.

After a few false turns we finally made it to St. James' Gate -- home of the Black Stuff.


The Guinness Storehouse is built in the old fermentation building, and houses one of the niftiest museums we've ever seen. The center of the first floor gives the impression of being inside of a pint of beer. This picture is also from the first floor exhibit showcasing the three main ingredients of beer - water, grain, and hops.

The top floor offered a free pint of Guinness (Coke for Chris) and a panoramic view of Dublin. We experienced cloudy skies and intermittent showers for most of our trip - not to mention temperatures in the 60's. Some days we had to break out the jackets.


We spent Monday in Avoca.

Tuesday was spent exploring the town and shopping. This is the River Liffey, which separates the north and south parts of the city.

  We stopped in at the Stag's Head for lunch. Built in 1770, this establishment had its last major interior redecoration in 1898 or so. It is also home to (at least in our opinion) the best-pulled pint of Guinness on the planet. I'm sure there are other pubs in Ireland that would like to lay claim to that distinction, however. Pulling a pint of Guinness is an art. It takes time to do it right, and when that pint finally gets to the table it's worth the wait to see the thick head and the bubbles swirling all the way to the bottom. We're convinced it has something to do with keeping the keg in the cellar without refrigeration - something that just can't be duplicated here in north Texas because of the temperatures.


We walked off our lunch and took a rest at Merrion Square.



This statue of Oscar Wilde reclines at one entrance.



...And Back to London

Wednesday afternoon we flew back to London and stayed in a hotel in Pimlico, not far from Victoria Station. We dropped in at Harrods and did  some more shopping. Between the 3rd and 4th floors a retro refrigerator was on display. The brand name - SMEG. (Red Dwarf fans will appreciate that.)

Thursday morning we went to Leicster Square to purchase tickets for Les Mis. Cats and Phantom were sold out. We opted out of "Mama Mia!" - featuring the music of Abba. Then we grabbed some food and made the trek to Gilwell Park.

Gilwell is a special spot for Boy Scouts. Lord Baden-Powell held the first adult training sessions here, and dubbed the award for for completing the course the Wood Badge. The Wood Badge is still given to adults who pass the rigorous course. In honor of Gilwell Park, any spot in the world that the course is held is called "Gilwell" for the duration of the course.

We made it back just in time for the start of the musical, which was wonderful. Unfortunately we were in the nosebleed seats. Friday we packed, did a little more shopping, then made the delay-laden trip to the airport. While we did make it in time for the flight, there wasn't a whole lot of time to spare after the three (yes, three) security checks. It could have been worse. One corner of the departure lounge held a hospital screen - no doubt for strip searches. Our planes were on time, we landed at D/FW just before dark. It was a fun, exhausting two weeks. And we're ready to go again!


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