May 18

The Check-In/Check-Out Diaries: Dublin

by in Destinations

To ring in the New Year, my wife Beth and friends Terence and Olya went to Dublin. Leading up to the trip Terence expressed his concern over the overnight flight and the need to sleep on a plane. Thankfully he was unable to sleep, leading to one of the greatest travel pranks of all time.
Dublin: New Year’s Eve, and “The Edge”.

THURSDAY Night “I’m bombed” says Terence from an airport bar in Philly. Terence and Olga spent approximately seven hours at the airport, it is assumed five of those were spent in the bar leading to Terence stealing a bottle of Jack Daniels from the duty free shop. The purpose of this public drunkenness was to forcefully overcome with his fear of sleeping in long metal objects. Some would say there is a Freudian response to this, but he insists it only extends to planes. MEANWHILE Beth and I are at Gallagher’s restaurant inside beautiful Newark Liberty airport enjoying excellent food and awful service that includes a glass of red wine being dumped on a customer and little flies circling all around the stain. One bartender pisses off Beth to the point where she was almost unable to finish her glass of wine. Almost.

FRIDAY On the plane Beth and I got some semi-drunk sleep as did Olga on their connection flight from Philadelphia to Manchester. Wide awake, Terence watched five movies. Our flight from Newark arrived in Dublin on time; we were at the great O’Callaghan Davenport by 10:30am, checked in and ready to see the sites. MEANWHILE Terence and Olga where delayed in Manchester by approximately an hour, making it “tight” for the planned Guinness Brewery tour.

Back in Dublin (and away from airports) nice walks through Merrion Square, on to view the National Gallery, walk through Grafton street, and then looking at the incredible St. Stephens Park…we were well into our site-seeing vacation. The weather? Rain. Gray. Sun. Rain. Gray. Sun…all within fifteen minutes. MEANWHILE at the great O’Callaghan Alexander hotel Terence and Olga had unexpectedly accepted an “amazing race” mission when they accepted a packet (left by us so we wouldn’t have to spend our first day sitting in a hotel lobby waiting for them) at the front desk explaining simply: “Be at the Long Hall pub at 2:30, leaving for the Guinness tour at 3pm”. It was 2pm when the package was received. BACK IN THE city Beth and I found the way to Temple Bar, an incredible neighborhood made up of seemingly only bars, where we consumed several beers and a small pizza, figuring out the quickest way to get to “The Long Hall” pub, arriving at the pub only to find that it was closed. Where were Terence and Olga? Apparently they had unintentionally taken the scenic route and were walking around the Dublin Castle, several times before eventually finding “The Long Hall”, at 3:05pm. Way past the deadline noted on their paperwork they had received from the front desk. Tired, jet lagged and one would expect, sick of the Dublin Castle, they decided to eat and head back to the hotel. AT THE GUINNESS brewery long lines greeted us, but the lines moved quickly and the tour was self-guided ensuring a quick journey to the top where the bar is located and the views are the best in the city. I was tired, feeling a little sick, and Beth was just plain not liking the taste of her first Guinness. We both drank half our pints and rushed for the door.

Friday night started once contact was made between both parties and a nap was agreed upon. Meeting at 7pm Terence showed up (on-time), impressively waking from his nap just three minutes prior. We headed back to Temple Bar, specifically a restaurant named Mexico to Rome…because when you think Dublin you think Mexican AND Italian food. The weather? Rain. Gray. Rain. Rain. Gray. Rain. Being told we had to be finished eating within 60 minutes did not start off the meal well; however, all was good and the food was outstanding (not too mention the several beers consumed)….Next, it was The Temple Bar (not to be confused with the name of the neighborhood) where I confidently walked up to the bar and ordered two Strongbow cider beers only to be visually stabbed in the face by the bartender. “This isn’t England. We have Bulmer’s” is all he ended up saying. The four of us, hastily drinking Bulmer’s and vodka at The Temple Bar as we discuss where we would celebrate New Year’s in two days, eventually we come up empty with ideas before moving on to another bar nearby. The constant response from the locals when asking “where are the good places to be for New Year’s?” was usually either “New York” or “Somewhere outside of Ireland”. Good times. Next bar was through a small alley that had live music in the basement. The music was pretty good (a cross between Irish folk and rock) and the band really stoned. Terence’s attempt at a picture did not go well as the band turned their heads and continued packing their equipment. After the failed photo opportunity it was off to “Rick’s” where Terence and Olga order burgers, fish, and apparently strange looks from the locals. The next day Terence would proclaim it was one of the best burgers he had ever had…given the situation this is not surprising (burgers are always three times better when drunk or hungover). To our surprise the hotel bar was still open. A nightcap was had, sleeping around 3am.

SATURDAY “SADDAM HUSSEIN HAS BEEN EXECUTED!” is how we awoke at 6am on Saturday. Apparently the hotel wake up call is controlled through the television, so when the TV turned on at 6am the news was being reported. Still drunk, and not aware of my surroundings, I curled up in a fetal position and went back to sleep for another five minutes.

Today we would head to the southern part of Ireland and explore Cork and kiss the Blarney stone.

At 6:30 a.m. we were all in a Taxi heading to the train station. The country song, “Looking for love”, was playing on the radio so everyone in the back seat decided to rip on the driver’s music preference with phrases like “I remember when Eddie Murphy did his Buckwheat impression of this song” and “Country Music sucks”. Somehow we made it to the train station and then into our seats with no problems. Olga was the first to fall asleep followed by myself and then Beth. Terence stared out the window, looking for sheep in the rolling hills.

In Cork, we take a taxi to the bus station, board a bus and all fall asleep (except Terence who feels the bus smells like a three year old wet towel). We arrive at Blarney, walking through the gorgeous grounds of Blarney Castle. We walk up, narrow slippery stairs, admiring the rooms and views as we near the top. At the top I feel uneasy by the short ledges at the current height and there is an Irish man whom is the same guy from travel books and the Discovery channel. Beth kisses the stone. I kiss the stone several times. Olga kisses the stone. Terence kisses the stone. The gift of eloquence is now with us. Viewing the photos after it is noted that my picture (lifting up from making out with the stone) looks like that of a corpse.

At The Lemon Tree in Blarney we have another fantastic meal and then it’s back to Cork where on St. Patrick’s street there is more Pubs and shopping. At O’Brien’s Beth enjoyed a pint. At Lush, Olga purchased soap while Terence destroyed a bowl for customers by dropping one of the soap bombs inside. The weather in Cork? Rain. Rain. Gray. Sun (Blarney). Rain. Gray. Walking to St. Ann’s Church where tourists are allowed to ring the bell was an uphill journey, pun intended, and also very disappointing when we learned that the church was closed and that we had missed the world’s tallest man (a note had been placed 10 feet high on the door). No bell ringing would be had so we went to the disco bar (four disco balls) where we had a bottle of wine, and Terence had the “Classic” sandwich and explained how when he sleeps he “does the X” with his body. On the train ride back I kicked some old people out of the reserved seats and everyone slept, even Terence got in about twenty minutes of Z’s.

BACK IN DUBLIN we meet at The Ginger Man, a bar that was definitely not to be confused with the Euro Pub (a regular spot when in Amsterdam) and then we went to Bocca to eat Italian (again) and have another bottle of wine. Once dinner is complete Terence informs us that he is exhausted and has to go home and “go sleepy”. He is read the riot act that after review included the word “disappointed”, but did not include “disgrace”. Terence and Olga go home. At The Dawson Lounge, Dublin’s smallest bar, Beth and I enjoy a Bulmer’s and then go to Baibar where with time and Bulmer’s on our side a gag is born. MEANWHILE back at the great Alexander Terence is presumably doing the X. BACK AT BAIBAR the gag is set: Tell Terence and Olga we met “The Edge”, the guitarist from U2, and that he was jamming with the house band, playing cool music on the juke box, and buying pints for everyone. Keep it simple. This would certainly work. Off to “The Long Hall” for another round, followed by another round at a bar with blue lights. It wasn’t until The Temple Bar when things escalated. When I found a hotel key I came up with a new twist on the gag: Not only did “The Edge” party at the same bar, but also invited us to a party on New Year’s Day (conveniently after Beth and I would be gone, but Terence and Olga still there). The Edge (according to the gag) gave me the hotel key and tells me to show up at his party.

Sunday (New Year’s Eve) Terence cleans out the Davenport by cashing his Traveler’s checks so the first stop is to the bank. During the walk the gag is set as “The Edge” story is told and the key is carefully handed over from my hands to Terence. “Room 134, don’t forget”. Around noon we are walking to the Dublin Castle. The weather? Clear. Gray. Rain. Wind. Wind. Rain. Rain. Dreadful weather, leading me to spend five Euro on an umbrella ($27 after conversion) that is ruined within two minutes by the wind. Only half of the umbrella is still operational. After being led around the entire castle, getting soaked by the rain in the process, we realize the castle is closed so we head to a Pub for food and drink. Another meal, another group of satisfied people as the food was once again amazing (not to mention the several drinks). While inside the Pub the sun shined outside. Off to Christ Church where the weather quickly turned to awful again, making us run into a church that expected people to pay $5 ($27 after conversion) to see their sanctuary. We decided against (I believe Beth dropped an F Bomb) and then we took a taxi to Mulligan’s, self proclaimed home of the best pint of Guinness. This is where “Joe Friday” was sighted behind the bar. Rain. Rain. Gray. Rain. We drank pints of Guinness and then went to O’Connell street where I took 45 pictures next to the Joyce statue and then we went to a Pub where Terence played Delilah and I showed off my new Grilz I got for Christmas. In addition to the music and mouth accessories, Pints and Baileys were consumed as well. Outside we move another few feet. Another Pub. More pints and more talk of “The Edge”. “Remember, room 134”. Walking up to the Ha’ Penny bridge, Pravda, a Russian bar was found. Terence had a tall strong Russian beer, Olga Vodka, Beth wine, and a Bulmer’s for me. Crossing the Ha’ Penny Beth almost flew off the bridge. There were several F bombs screamed while crossing the bridge. Dinner was at Boticelli, another Italian place, another bottle of wine. On the way home I (presumably drunk) confessed that for 2007 my goal was to learn how to walk the dog with a Yo Yo. From the back seat there was a comment made regarding The Smuthers Brothers. After this, it was a silent ride back to the hotel.

A drink in the great O’Callaghan’s, the hotel bar, then a taxi to The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin. After arriving we realize there is a 24 Euro cover ($154 after conversion), but con them into letting us stay for one drink. During our stay the couple next to us dumps a drink, but it was Terence to the rescue delivering napkins, doing the old people a solid. Next we went to The Temple Bar where Terence (presumably drunk) had sightings of Marilyn Monroe, Janet Jackson, and Benson. After a round of drinks we moved onto a hotel bar with blue lights and had several large bottles of Bulmers while random items (like a doorknob) continued to be placed in front of us. Around 11pm it was time to find a bar that was busy, but not too busy and one that we would be able to successfully ring in the New Year with. Welcome to THE VAT. Moments after walking in the DJ began playing “Delilah”. Terence proclaimed that this bar would work just fine. Obsessed (Terence especially) with a guy wearing a Mohawk we consumed many drinks and took many pictures (of the Mohawk) before the stroke of midnight. At one point a limbo contest broke out, Olga may have won, but it’s tough to compete with European judges so we’ll never know.

At the count of 15 we weren’t quite ready, at 10 Beth looked over at me, at 5 I reached for the confetti. 3…2…1…

The way it was suppose to go down was for me to lob the confetti over the top of everyone, creating a steady sprinkle of joy. Instead the confetti bag came crashing down, mostly landing in Terence’s glass and the rest on the floor, spilling onto the streets of Dublin. For a full minute Terence stood in shock, and then continued drinking.

Vat’s was another hour of drinking (at least) and also Olga and Beth riding “the train” around the bar. The next bar was in a basement where everyone was extremely trashed and a lot of George Michael was being played. Beth and Olga danced. I had two more Bullmers. Terence did nothing, unable to move at this point.

The night ended with Terence and Olga at Rick’s, Beth and me finding a taxi. Terence stopping by around 3am to say goodbye, and we all wish each other a safe trip home. “Remember” I say. “I know” Replies Terence. “Room 134”.

Monday We fly to Shannon and then have a 7.5 hour flight back to Newark. An amazing turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich is served, which for me is the highlight of the flight. MEANWHILE, back in Dublin on New Year’s Day, Terence and Olga approach the Dublin Hotel with the key for “The Edge’s” party. Once inside the hotel something is awry, because there is no party, and the only people in room 134 are two girls. They go to the front desk. After several inquiries into which room the party for “The Edge” is at the hotel manager rips the key from Terence. At this point Terence should have turned around and smiled instead of insisting he is there to see “The Edge”.

David S. Grant is the author of several novels including Corporate Porn, Bliss, and Rock Stars.  For more on David’s books, travel writing, and rock columns go to: http://www.davidsgrant.com

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