Dublin 14/04/2006

Set off to get to Heathrow for 12 noon. Checked in using the auto check in and got a 1 PM flight, The flight was quick and uneventful and we caught a 747 bus to O'Connell St. From here we walked to our hotel the George Frederic Handel in Wishamble St. This was just to the west of temple bar the main cultural centre of Dublin or at least the place with all the pubs. Our room was nice and big and we got ready and nipped down to the Hotel bar, which was decked out in a very oriental fashion. We both had our first pint of Guinness in Ireland, and we both got a chance to practice with our digital cameras, me with my new Olympus MjU 810 and Ballu with my Canon V2 which I had given her as part of her birthday present. We wandered out into temple Bar then only to find all the pubs were closed, we ate in a Mexican restaurant, but they wouldn't serve us alcohol because it was good Friday. We tried to get served in another hotel bar but with no success, so returned to our own to sample more Guinness.
We got up and breakfast in the hotel then did a bit of sightseeing along the Liffey and into O'Connell St and the Dublin Spire. We stopped in our first Irish pub Madigans for a pint of Guinness. We just had a half then we set off to the Guinness storehouse via temple bar and the Oliver St John Cogarty quite a famous pub with authentic bicycles on the ceiling. More Guinness and a little bit of a problem with a statue. We walked on then to the storehouse, and jumped to huge Q's with the cheap tickets I had bought off expedia. We got our souvenir a drop of Guinness in plastic and a token for a free beer in the Gravity Bar. We sampled some beer on the way up to the circular bar on the top of the factory, then drank our free beer in the bar on the floor below which was a bit less crowded. We looked hard in the Guinness shop but couldn't find a Guinness Easter Egg for Ballu. After that we popped back to temple bar for some authentic Irish food, potato and leek in my case and chicken wings for Ballu. After a quick kip and freshen up, it was off to the porterhouse to try their stout and listen a while to the Irish band that played in the middle of the 3 storey pub. After this we went to the temple Bar another authentic pub in the heart of temple bar itself, and the on to the VAThouse stores. This again had some authentic Irish music playing which was quite good. What was great about everywhere in Dublin is that the pubs and Restaurants were completely smoke free making them excellent places. The only downside was that every photo of a pub has the obligatory smokers standing outside. After the VAT house stores we popped into club M and boogied away till nearly 3 in the morning, luckily it was not far back to the hotel.
Breakfast again slightly later this day, Ballu tried the white pudding in the full Irish breakfast and liked it. We set off and found loads of people streaming into the city centre. There were also lots of police and barriers, and at first we thought it might be a football match or demonstration, but it turned out to be a military parade to celebrate the 1916 uprising. We watched it for a while and had a coffee in a hotel while we watched it. We then wandered towards a park via grafton St and then found another porterhouse, to sample some more porters before picking up our bags from the hotel. We strolled back to O'Connell St then and picked up some special Guinness tee-shirts and some Guinness flavoured chocolate for Ballu for Easter. Unfortunately the parade had diverted the airport buses, but we got a taxi instead which wasn't much more and we got to the airport in time and had a bite to eat after we checked in. The return trip was uneventful and very short at just 50 mins, but did get some stunning views of London. Was a really good weekend Dublin is highly recommended especially when it is so cheap to get there when it's not a bank holiday.