After sleeping damn near twelve hours, I awoke this morning just after six am. My Ipod, the little liar, said it was just after seven am. You see, there’s this little function called ‘daylight savings time’ and it was on. I got ready and went downstairs to partake of my free coffee and toast from, courtesy of my hostel, where I was informed by the guy brewing the coffee that it was only six thirty and I’d have to come back in an hour for breakfast. Oops. Daylight savings time has been turned off now. I didn’t want to waste an hour lolling around an empty, quiet hostel because I was too pumped up to get started. I walked back to the McDonalds at O’Connell Street and ate a bagel and cream cheese, somewhat healthier than a sausage McMuffin, and read my free Dublin newspaper. There was some strange man sitting beside me at the little bar, and from the corner of my eye I kept noticing him glance up and behind me. I swear he was looking at the security guard who was posted up against the wall, like he was planning some kind of Egg McMuffin heist.

I hopped a bus off Ashton Quay and eventually found my way here to Phoenix Park. All the touristy stuff in Dublin doesn’t open until nine or nine thirty each morning, so I just spent the last hour walking through this national park and getting more exercise than I had planned. The little cafe in the Visitor’s center finally opened, and I’m drinking a REAL cup of filtered coffee. Thank you Phoenix Park. The actual visitor’s center opens in ten minutes, I’m gonna check it out and get a bus pass so I don’t have to walk thirty minutes back to the Dublin Zoo (which I passed on my walk here while it was still closed). My Dublin Pass gets me in free to the zoo, so now that it’s open, I’ve gotta get back over there. Phoenix Park itself, what I’ve seen during my walk, is very pretty and very monstrous. It puts Cherokee Park back home to shame.

Riding on the bus earlier, I noticed vacation billboards everywhere. They advertised vacationing in Turkey, India, Australia, Spain, and so on…but not a single one for the United States. He he, kinda got a kick out of that one. Are we unliked??

The bus system is pretty easy to use i.e. the bus drivers are really kind and patient with the stupid American. I’m going to try to find a pamphlet that tells me which bus goes where, so I’m not bugging every driver I meet to tell me where to get off. Lol, wow, that could be taken in a rude way.

We went through a very suburban area to get out this way (Phoenix Park is on the outskirts of the city). The homes we passed were still the kinds that were all connected like patio homes, but what really sets them apart is that each is unique and individual. They’re exactly what I would expect Irish homes within city limits to look like. I’m trying to remember to get some good pictures so I can post them on Picasa when I get back.

I love the Irish accent. I really have to force myself to listen to the words when I ask for directions, because I start focusing on how much fun it is to watch their mouths move. A lady was telling me which bus to take to the park this morning, and I was marvelling at the differences between the way she says words and the way I say words, lol. There’s just a lilt and a happiness to their voices that you can’t match in America. Oh, and I don’t feel as bad anymore about not understanding them at times, because many of the people I’ve talked to have had to ask me to repeat myself! I’m making a conscious effort to speak slower and tone down the slight country accent.

The wind today is outrageous. Screw Chicago wind, it’s got nothing on this place. I brought a scarf and gloves because I knew it’d be chilly in the evenings and early mornings, but I should have brought a hat. Half an hour into my walk through Phoenix Park, I was covering my ears with both hands to keep them from tumbling off my skull. I’m gonna do something cheesy and purchase a cheap touristy beanie that says ‘Ireland’ or some such nonsense. A souvenir with purpose, my kind of treat!

Mar 26 500 pm
I’m currently sitting in the Gravity Bar, the 7th floor of the Guinness Storehouse, drinking my first ice cold Guinness in Ireland, and admiring an amazing view of the city. I have 3 Days Grace blasting through my Ipod because for some reason they think it’s cool to play really loud, very bad 80s music here.

The Dublin Zoo is a cute place, only slightly larger than the Louisville Zoo. The have a wide variety of animals, I was definitely impressed, but really a zoo is a zoo no matter where you go. While there, it was sunny and with a chilly breeze one minute, and the next it was a torrential downpour. Three times. An umbrella definitely came in handy. The funniest part is after the rain each time, it got just a bit warmer. How does that work?

I went to the restroom after eating a light lunch there (priced just as high as our zoo). Apparently the just play the radio over the system because it was commercials, and I could hear them really well in the silence of the space. It was weird, one of those things you don’t really think about. Obviously Irish commercials are going to be narrated by Irish people, there’s no reason for them to be in American like our commercials back home. I still had to laugh–just another one of those reminders that I’m not in Kentucky anymore.

On a side note, talking about Kentucky, every single time someone asks me where I’m from and I tell them, they go ‘Ah! Kentucky Fried Chicken!’ Only a few times I’ve gotten the ‘Oh, yeah! The Kentucky Derby!’ Ladies and gentlemen, we are famous for a drunken horse racing party and secret recipe fast food chicken. Aren’t we so proud?

Back to the zoo…it was undergoing some serious renovations and I didn’t get to see every animal due to pathways being shut down. Now what I find to be great is that the Dublin Zoo is already a nice place, all pretty buildings in earthy tones and high tech cages, but from what I could tell of the construction, it’s going to be even nicer. It was similar to our zoo in that the entire area was situated around a central lake, the difference being the many islands dotting the water around the edges, upon which all the primates live.

The fences around the dangerous predators (lions, tigers, wolves) reminded me of the T-Rex fence in Jurassic Park. That took me back, lol.

One thing that I was bummed about is the fact that a Magazine fort is situated on the Phoenix grounds, and it’s one of those huge star shaped forts famous for hauntings. The problem is, it’s been permanently closed for many, many years I was told due to it being ‘unsafe’. I would have loved to see the inside, but as I’m by myself and a wimp when I am, I wasn’t about to sneak in.

The Old Jameson Distillery was so much fun. I don’t like whiskey, I’ll be the first one to tell you just how much I despise the taste of Jack Daniels. I wanted to take the tour because the process of creating alcohol is neat, not to mention the fact that without the process of distillation, I wouldn’t be able to get drunk. Let me tell you, I had the best time. The gift shop was moderately priced considering how much of a trademark the Jameson name has become (though I didn’t buy anything). My tour guide was wonderful, he told all the proper corny jokes neccessary in such a setting as well as being super knowledgable and an all around great human being. The tour covers the entire process of creating Jameson Whiskey apart from the next (scotch, bourbon, etc). Even cooler is the free drink waiting for you at the end of the tour. Since, hey free alcohol, I took a Jameson and Coke. Here’s the kicker: I LIKED IT! Can you believe it? I actually enjoyed a whiskey drink. I even liked it so much it could become my new favorite drink when I’m not in the mood for Captain.

Yesterday I learned that the harp is the official symbol for Dublin, though for the life of me I can’t remember why. Am I the only one who has never noticed that a harp is part of the Guinness symbol? Yeah, I’m real observant. There you go, that’s why there’s a harp above the Guinness name, lol, it’s a symbol for Dublin, the home of the brewery. The Guinness Storehouse is actually a self-guided thing, and to be honest, it’s just not as cool as Jameson’s. For one thing, it isn’t the actual brewery, it’s just a museum type way of learning how the beer is brewed and for another it’s really crowded and loud. The best part of the tour is the view from the Gravity Bar and the free pint of Guinness (as we all know, one of my favorite beers). We Americans don’t know how to serve Guinness, btw. My first drink was ICE COLD, the way beer is supposed to be. I’m one of the lucky ones here who is currently seeing a rainbow span the city before us, both ends looking like they’re coming straight up from the buildings. It’s pretty awe-inspiring, how the city of Dublin stretches before us as far as the eye can see, 360 degrees around. There is not a single sky scraper in Dublin to mar the skyline. The tallest buildings to be seen in the entire area are the approx fifteen church spires or historical domes. The buildings are all old and the variety of colors really seems to draw the eye.

I’m still nursing my pint, because after my Jamesons, I had to power walk to Guinness to make the last admission before close (my Dublin pass expires today, and it was my last thing to do for free admission). We all know how bringing up the heart rate speeds up the absorption of alcohol,heart rate and blood pumping and all. Now, over half a glass of Guinness later I’m feeling the effects.

It’s five o clock, all the touristy sights have shut down for the day. That’s a bummer because the sun is still up and I’m not ready to go back to the hostel just yet. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see today, I spent an hour at Phoenix Park before the zoo chatting with Margaret, the head guide at the visitor’s center. She was an absolute lovely woman, so I wouldn’t take that hour back for anything, but it certainly set me behind. I ended up walking to Jameson’s (approx thirty minutes) and then from there walking to Guinness (another thirty minutes), so my time was severely cut short. Then there was waiting for the PP shuttle and riding on it making the loop around the park and back to the station, a total of approx an hour’s time.

Yep, really felt the Guinness there for a while. lol. It’s eight o clock, I’m going to grab a bite to eat in the pub across the street. I’ve showered, and after eating, I’m going to be down for the count. Tomorrow is another great day ahead!