I don’t even know where to begin with all the stories of great times I had in Dublin. I was thinking about out of context conversations and quotes such as the hotty that said she is a really good spreader or the wandering barfly that if you’re aren’t careful could give you a serious case of the ProperClop. But those references won’t make a lot of sense and this blog is all about you (not really) so I’d like to help you enjoy the next few minutes of reading while also preparing you for your next visit to Dublin.
First of all, beware the stereotype of typical Irishmen being friendly, jovial, alcohol-infused people. It is completely true. They actually like Americans, so you know something is different about them. We made lots of friends with locals and you can too simply by smiling and asking them if they are from Texas.
If you don’t like Guinness there is a beer alternative that won’t lower your street cred too much with the locals. Smithwicks (pronounced Smit-icks) was bought by Guinness in 1965 and they have a new pale ale that I lived on for four days.
With that said, if you don’t like Guinness then there is something wrong with you. It isn’t a secret in Dublin that Guinness is good for you and makes you stronger. One morning we overslept and missed breakfast. We barely made the bus for the Guinness brewery tour. Therefore breakfast became three pints of Guinness. And it was pretty damn good. Next time I go to Delectable Egg for breakfast, I think I’ll ask for a Guinness and tell them to keep them coming.
Guinness really does taste better in Ireland.
Every pub in Dublin will be crowded (because everyone drinks). But don’t stay out of one because you think it’s too crowded. Keep looking. There will be a hidden stairwell or disjointed hallway and suddenly you will find two or three more rooms in the pub that aren’t quite as crowded.
The only late night food in Dublin is either room service, Indian or fast food. Eat at a decent hour or you will find yourself and three buddies drinking Kingfisher beer while eating things much harder to pronounce than “fish & chips” such as bhuna, jalfrazi and biryani. Don’t get me wrong, I love curry and the like but it did feel a little weird to be in Dublin evaluating kabob options. A local even came over to our table and wondered how we found the place. She must not have known about the pub next door.
That pub next door was The International. It isn’t as cool as many other pubs we frequented (and by frequented I mean frequented), but we had as great a time there as anywhere else. The reason? Because we found their hidden extra space which was in the basement. The only people downstairs were the Bulgarian bartender whose name had way too many consonants and syllables for me to recall and a local Irishman named Johnny. We spent the next couple hours rapping with Johnny about everything from cricket to which specific taps in specific bars pour the best Guinness (he made the Bulgarian go upstairs to get the Guinness we bought him). Our conversation got cut short because the band blew off the gig so Johnny called a drummer, grabbed his guitar and filled in on the fly. The secret here? I don’t know, but we had fun with Johnny so I had to include it.
Women from Malta like to be escorted to the Temple Bar area by handsome Americans.
Speaking of Temple Bar (the bar itself), yes it is touristy, but we are tourists so you have to go there. Go for lunch around 1p. Live music starts around then. Order the #38 with extra cheese. Trust me. We went back to order it again on our last day.
Whelan’s has three stages of live music. Rotate back and forth between the back bar stage and upstairs. You won’t be disappointed.
Find someone that is staying at the Merrion Hotel (that is where we were). Once all the pubs close (tiered closing times – there are some 3a and 4a places), the Merrion will be your nightcap, er, morningcap. They keep their bar open 24 hours for guests. It takes two warnings to be quiet to get kicked out of the courtyard in which case you continue the party in the lobby areas.
Gaelic football is really fun. Your home team is the Dubs. Watch with an old local that has money on the game and your experience will be much more fun and tension filled. I learned some new swear words that I can only say with a heavy accent.
Take the Dart out to Howth (rhymes with ‘both’) and take a walk to the castle. Keep going up toward the golf course for incredible views of the castle, town and sea. And there is a tree you can climb by the corner of the parking lot, but I promise you will not look graceful. It is debatable on whether or not this hurts or helps your street cred but it is damn funny (thanks for the bellyaching laughs Jeff).
Eat and drink at the oldest pub in Ireland, the Brazen Head, established in 1198. Get the seafood chowder or the beef and Guinness stew. Or do what I did and order both. Oh, and if a foreign waitress yells "mangos?" at you, she is actually saying "main course."
If you can't pronounce the Irish cheers of 'slainte,' you can probably get away with saying 'cilantro,' as long as you say it fast and with a slurring Irish accent.
Go to the smallest pub in Dublin, Dawson’s Lounge. Be careful though. You might get picked up by local lasses that take you and your friends out to ‘suburban’ bars where you are the only Americans and the next thing you know it is 6:45am and you realize you have a massage scheduled for 8:30am so you may as well stay up and have breakfast.
And the last secret I have for you right now is that what happens in Dublin stays in Dublin and in my blog. Beware. More stories to come…