Sep 26, 2012

Dublin, Part II: poetry in a pint

At 4:30 pm on Friday, I woke up with an imprint of my scarf on my cheek and the following graffiti on the wall outside my bus window:

It doesn't get any clearer than that, I thought groggily.  The excitement in the air was nearly tangible as the group trooped off the bus; as you might imagine, the Guinness Brewery visit is one of the most popular excursions on this entire term abroad.

Who needs tour guides when Guinness is so straightforward?
There's the map of the brewery, along with a voucher entitling me to a free pint at the Gravity Bar, which is fittingly located on the top floor of a factory that just happens to be shaped like a pint glass.  Go figure.
Guinness signed a 9,000-year contract.  Go big or go home!
As I made my way from floor to floor, I was literally walked through the brewing process.

That's the most barley I've ever seen in one place.
These hops vines were terribly extensive, and snaked in and out of each other in tangles that made my head spin.  That glass display case must have been at least fifteen feet high.
Sadly, I didn't see any yeast lying around; if I had, I would have snapped a photo of it, too.
Apparently, brewers are precious about their water.  Guinness water comes from a very specific place in the mountains around Dublin City.
The second floor was all about the brewing process.

I never knew how seriously brewers take their craft.

A little excessive, but who am I to argue with a man who believes this much in his beer?

The next floor was the story of how Guinness has been advertised over the years.  I'm sure you're all quite familiar with the ads, so I'll just show you the two that made me smile:

At the time, I was just starting to come down with whatever flu-head cold thing has had me in its grip for the past few days...and I'll admit to wondering (deliriously) if that free pint might do anything to help my headache.

I've found over the past month that any references to the US or India tend to get me overexcited. As Prof. Jenkins likes to note, "We go to a foreign country to immerse ourselves in a foreign culture, but end up clinging to the cultures we know."  Good word, my friend...good word.
Another amusing one.  Signs like this were peppered all around the place.
Some of these were really ridiculous.  I mean, Guinness ice cream?  Give me a break. ( that I'm thinking about it, I do know a few people who'd be excited to try such a concoction.)
An hour from when I'd begun, I stood on the second floor from the top of the brewery.  When I was at the entrance to the next flight of stairs, I glanced upward and allowed myself a little chuckle.

The scientist in me was flipping that arrow around, of course, while the musician in me was dying to bust out singing "Defying Gravity" (from "Wicked".  Anyone?)
It was packed...but then, they were giving out free alcohol.  Fun fact: the whole place was circular, offering one a 360-degree view of Dublin City (in theory).
Look closely...
...and after.
Those of you who know me know that I'm not a "drinker" by any stretch of the imagination, but I won't lie to you: it didn't taste half bad.  It looked like tar for sure, but I think my trek through the brewery had primed me to appreciate its flavor.

In any case, that was how I ended my Friday.  By 6 pm, we had arrived at the student hostel that would house us for the next two nights.

To my friends in Saratoga: see that church up the street?  It was an Episcopal church called Christ Church.  (And yes, I know the odds, but humor me for a moment; it reminded me of home.)  Although she never got a chance to check it out, this all made for a very happy (albeit nostalgic) Sonika.
This is the last photo I took of the hostel.  It's a good thing, too, because the room was an utter disgrace (crooked floors, rickety beds, musty pillows...the whole nine yards).  I actually ended up thankful for my dissatisfaction, because that meant I was used to better.
Next up, friends: a tour of Dublin City!

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