Today was a great first real day of vacation. I woke up to an alarm (unfortunately) and had a really nice 3.5 mile run around the grounds of the castle hotel as well as the village we are in. It was pretty brisk but thankfully it wasn't raining. I bundled up as best I could and headed out. The first half of the run was fairly boring, as I was running along a main road with little to see except some fields and cars. But after doing the bigger loop around the town, I ran through the village center and through a neighborhood. I hadn't realized it but apparently around 9am is when the kiddos go to school here, because I was like frogger dodging all the children and mums walking to school or theh bus.
When I got back I took a quick shower so we could get down for breakfast. We sat at a small table by the window and enjoyed a very good buffet breakfast. The eggs looked really weird but ended up being my favorite thing. We didn't eat too much because it was a bit late and we needed to finish getting ready and head into Dublin itself.
Since my mom is still a bit wary of driving, and since Dublin is a big city with traffic, and since parking can be expensive and desiel sure is expensive, we decided to take the bus into town. We had checked and thought that it left at 11:05, so we rushed out the door and literally ran to the convenience store to buy a bus pass. After standing in an annoyingly long line, I was told that the store was out of passes. So I went to find mom who was supposed to be finding out about where to get the bus, but she didn't have much luck with a surly bus driver.
We walked to the stop and waited about 10 minutes for the bus, realizing that we must have read the timetable wrong and that it would come at 11:15 instead. When the bus pulled around, we were told we needed exact change. Frustrated and flustered, my mom pulled out a handful of change and we sorted through the coins. A gentleman who had boarded the bus before us came up and offered to help with some change, and he spotted us the last 0.05 we needed to board the bus. He was very friendly and began to chat with us about where we were going, tips on Dublin transportation, and various other topics such as his summer home in Italy and his prior career as a French teacher (which conversation was prompted when mom noticed he was reading a book in Italian.) We found out his name was Dermont and he agreed to be photographed for your viewing pleasure (although he assured me that he would probably break the camera just by being a subject of a photo). He entertained us the whole way into the city and ensured we alighted at the correct stop.
As the bus pulled away, we waved goodbye to Dermont at the window and headed down Bow Street to the Old Jameson Distillery. Our trip package had included these tickets at a discount rate and we wanted to take advantage of that. Since my Nana was supposed to be here, we were given 3 tickets. The tour itself wasn't too impressive. Jameson is now distilled in Co Cork rather than in the original location we were at, so everything was simulation and replication. However, at the end of the tour, I got to be a whiskey taster!
My job was to taste three kinds of whiskey and judge the qualilty. Using my newly obtained knowledge about the process of making and distilling whiskey, I was quite the professional. There were 10 of us total to do the testing, only about a quarter of the tour group. We were sat in front of three mini shot glasses. In the middle was Jameson 5 year, to the left was Johnny Walker black label Scotch, and to the right was Jack Daniels. We were given a description of the whiskeys, which may have contributed to the overall judgement, but I found it helpful. The Jameson, triple distilled, was the smoothest and had the best taste, in my opinion. The Johnny Walker was alright, but had a very smokey flavor that I didn't care for, and the Jack Daniels was just a disgrace to America. Literally it was the only one I didn't finish the shot. My mom brilliantly captured my reactions as you will see when I update with photos.
After the taste test, I got a certificate proving that I am a Certified Whiskey Taster! Then we were all given a choice of a glass of Jameson neat, or a Jameson and ginger ale with lime. Since we actually had three entry tickets, we got three glasses, so I got one of each and my mom got the Jameson and ginger ale. By the end of the Jameson straight up, I was feeling a bit buzzed, and I very much enjoyed the Jameson and ginger ale, as well.
As we were finishing our drinks, two British girls started to chat with us and asked us how we liked the tour. I told them honestly that it wasn't very interactive but I liked the tasting part. It turns out that they are working for Jameson to try to improve their tour quality and marketing. We chat an interesting chat, then they were on their way to Guiness (to compare the tours, I assume. What a hard job!)
We left the distillery and went to search out some nearby Geocaches (google it if you don't know what it is!). We were hunting for one and had just found it when a really odd looking woman approached us and said something indiscernable. We frowned and said "No thank you!" She again mumbled something then turned to point at a man flat on his face behind her on the side walk (we'd seen him fall over; high or drunk or both), and said "Me and him". Still unsure of what she even wanted, and less inclined than ever to interact with her further, we again said "No thank you" and walked away quickly. There seemed to be quite a few drunks and drug addicts around, now that I was paying attention.
We went a few blocks over for another cache, which I found quickly. We decided to get some lunch at that point and after consulting trusty Yelp, we headed for a restaurant very close by. We had the best meal ever; cheesy chicken with mash and salad. For the portion size, it was so cheap at 7 euro 50. We shared the meal sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. As we were both checking our phones, a shadow fell across the table. ANOTHER weird guy had approached us and started mumbling incoherently. I literally had no idea what language he was speaking. I glanced up at my mom from under my bent head, trying not to give the man any attention so heh would leave. My mom returned my freaked out look and we tactfully ignored him; he stumbled away 10 seconds later. What a weird neighborhood! It looked so unassuming, but there must have been an asylum with a security lapse nearby.
Finally we left the area and walked several blocks over to a shopping district near the Spire of Dublin. My mom wanted to look in a store called Penney's (like Primark in the UK), and she found a few things. A few shops and a lot of walking later, we ducted into a cheap but highly rated bar on Yelp, called O'Reilly's. We had a beer then a cider (much cheaper than the bar at the hotel!) before deciding to make our way back home. We stopped for some fish and chips, then got the bus heading to the hotel. On the way, I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and it felt amazing. Between my run in the morning, all the walking we did, as well as just being out and about for 8 hours, I was exhausted.
Once we got into our room, my shoes came off and I realized how bad my feet hurt. My boots aren't the best quality and I think I really messed up my feet. I'm now resting them after a relaxing bath and we plan on an early night, since we have a very long day with a lot of driving (aka stress) tomorrow. We will go north into Northern Ireland then west to Donegal for the night. It should be an adventure!