Vacation: Racing to disappointment


Imagine the weather as a blog. Day after day the weather posts something new, rearranging the clouds, sending winds first this way, then that; then one day it needs a break, and reblogs an earlier post. That’s what Dublin’s weather did the Sunday we were there. Instead of posting a summery June day, it reposted a day from March, an especially cold and rainy day that barely made it to double digits on the Celsius scale.


It turned out to be the perfect weather for me.


The night before our one day in Dublin, I had looked over the brochure for the Hop-on Hop-off bus and selected bus stop number 3 as my must hop-off must-see place to go. I was going to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. No matter what.


Life, of course, has a way of showing us what’s what. And sometimes “what” matters. Our “what” turned out to be Formula One: Bavaria City Racing. To accommodate and showcase F1 cars and other means of transportation that go zoom, the police cordoned off half the streets of Dublin for the small crowd of 100,000 people expected to attend.


We waited until almost lunch to leave the hotel, and I dressed as warmly as possible with my I’m-pretty-sure-I-won’t-need-anything-too-heavy-because-it’s-summer-and-I-mean-how-cold-could-it-possibly-get clothing that I had carefully packed several hours before I left on vacation. Four layers later, I stepped outside and began the long, slow process of freezing to death.


We took the tram downtown and waited in the cold for the bus. For a while I stood inside a telephone booth, but then we discovered we were waiting in the wrong place. Once we found the bus stop (the one without a phone booth), we made sure we were first in line. That way we could choose the best seats. Because brilliance runs in my family, both my brother and I thought it would be a good idea to sit on the top of the tour bus under the little roof. The one that doesn’t cover the entire top half. The one that lets cold wind blow down your neck and find your skin beneath the four layers of summer material. Surely, it would be heated. And we could see so much better. In a better world, a warmer world, a not-so-rainy world, it would have been a good idea. We thought we would have to scramble to get the front seats at the top, but oddly no one else went up top.


But no matter, in just two stops from this first one, we would hop off and see the Book of Kells. Except we didn’t because we couldn’t. The bus had to go a different route and visit places out of order because the race cars needed the streets. So we sat in the cold, waiting to hear the driver announce stop number three, which was difficult to hear over the chattering of our teeth.


We passed interesting stop after interesting stop and stayed put. Finally, when we stopped at Number 13, Guinness Storehouse, we got off. Just to warm up. Really. No, really. And we were hungry. So there.


Inside the Guinness Storehouse: Water + hops+ barley + yeast = beer



We spent a couple of hours exploring the seven-story building, learning the history of Guinness, and walking through a mock-up of the brewing process and cooperage (beer barrel building). We took the glass elevator up to the top floor, the Gravity Bar,with its circular wall of windows that provide a panoramic view of Dublin, weather permitting. The weather did some intermittent permitting, but no one seemed to mind. Everyone there was enjoying a pint of Guinness, which is included in the price of admission.


At the Gravity Bar


Hey, bartender, there’s a girl in my Guinness!


When my brother and I de-bused at the Guinness Storehouse, we discovered that the lower level of the bus had a surfeit of heat. While we had suffered up top, all the other tourists basked in the warm and cozy seats below us. To understand why we didn’t just move to the lower level right away would require more explanation than I can give you in just one blog post. Let me just say that one of the defining characteristics of my family is a determination and hardiness that looks vaguely like stupidity in a tuxedo.


From that point, we rode in the lower part of the bus, waiting for number 3 to be announced. It never was because that part of the route belonged to Formula One for the day: it’s route ran right in front of bus stop number three. By the time we realized this, we were headed back to O’Connell Street where we started. We were too tired and hungry to go through the tour again, so we walked over to the Spire of Dublin, officially called the Monument of Light. Our bus driver pointed it out on the tour and called it The Stiletto in the Ghetto. Dubliners have a few other colorful nicknames, which you can search for on the web. The Spire stands almost 400 feet, and everyone on the web says it’s the tallest sculpture in the world, so I believe it. You should, too. (It cost somewhere between four to five million euros, approximately €40,000 per shiny, pointy foot.)



Normally, after any kind of disappointment such as not seeing the Book of Kells, I pull out my small dark cloud and place it over the center of my head, halo-like. But that day in Dublin, I decided not to do that. Why waste my time walking under a small dark cloud when I could walk under the big dark cloud over Dublin. It seemed friendly somehow, as if the entire city shared my disappointment, and I felt strangely cheered. Then again, maybe I felt strangely cheered by the Guinness.


Next installment: On the rails

33 thoughts on “Vacation: Racing to disappointment

    • If I had brought warmer clothing it wouldn’t have been so bad, but I wasn’t prepared for 52 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m very much a warm weather person in spite of living now in Wisconsin.

  1. Loved your pictures of the Guinness Storehouse… and I have no doubt that it is a nicer sort of place than the Queen’s palace, if just because they let you photograph there. And my second rule about taking tourist buses on the British Isles (the first is never take tourist buses), is, if you manage to visit one place that you like, you’ve done it well.

    • It was definitely an interesting place to visit.

      The hop-on hop-off buses are not a bad way to get an overview of a city. I can’t imagine getting off at every stop though. We only rode double-decker buses in London.

  2. Another blogger I read who lives in Dublin has been writing about lousey weather. My curiosity made me look up the weather and the forecast is 61 degrees and rainy all week. Currently it is 98 degrees and blazing sunny here in PA. I didn’t realize it was that cool there.

    • I wasn’t prepared for the weather. Online I found the average temperatures for June, so I thought it might be warmer. The day were there was the coldest in the entire month of June (I looked it up: 11 degrees Celsius or not quite 52 degrees Fahrenheit.)

  3. Guiness was the highlight for many in our family during our trip to Ireland. The bar was difficult to leave. As there was no Formula one racing at that time, we were able to see the Book of Kells. Although it is quite spectacular (just the colors are amazing, let alone the writing) it was very difficult to actually see it. There were many other people there who thought that they should be able to see it as well, and they seemed to feel that they were the only ones who should be allowed to see it. We waited in the line a very long time, shoved our way to the square box where it is displayed, and then were forced back away withing just a few minutes. Not much time to appreciate it. Hope you enjoyed the racing!

    • It’s encouraging to hear how disappointing the Book of Kells were for you. So either way, the weather would have been a perfect accompaniment to my disappointment. 🙂

      We did not stand outside to watch the racing. My car IQ is abysmally low – I have a hard time telling one from the other.

      • Oh thank goodness someone else suffers from vehicular blindness. Shortly after I learned to drive at fifty when my ex gave me his old car and some parting driving lessons … I was filling out an insurance form and without thinking wrote “green” when asked the make and model of my car. ( I think it’s a Nissan …)

  4. A delightful story despite the disappointment of not seeing the Book of Kells (which I’ve heard is highly over-rated, just like House on the Rock…). 🙂

  5. Ah, that’s a shame that you didn’t get to see The Book of Kells although I tend to agree with Natalie that it is over-rated – it’s very beautiful but you only get to see a couple of pages and I would mark the report card of the exhibition that surrounds it ‘could do better’. However you missed a real tread because the ticket to see The Book of Kells includes admission to the stunning Long Room library. You may be interested to know if you don’t already that the to make way for The Spire another monument was removed it was a representation of Anna Livia that gloried in the nickname The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’.

    • I definitely have to go back and stay longer in Dublin.

      I did read up a bit on the Spire and saw that Anna Livia’s statue also had some very funny nicknames. You have to love that in the Irish.

  6. Oh no! That would have been my choice too, I love illuminated manuscripts 🙂 Still, it sounds from some of the comments as if it’s not as great as it could be.

  7. dearfriends

    Life is about choices, including dark clouds and what beer to drink. So pleased that you’ve been able to ignore the blackened clouds of unmet expectations.
    And, as to the real weather: Living in the coldest state in the US–Washington–we used to say we had “sun breaks,” but now we have deleted that description for a more apt one: “Sun Sightings.” It is 56 degrees today and the sky is lighter. We’re planning to grill corn tonight and pretend we are having summer. Sound familiar? Thanks for sharing, Barb

    • Your weather is much cooler than here in Wisconsin, but wait until winter; we’ll definitely capture the title of coldest state from you, or at least be in the top ten.

      Thanks for reading.

  8. I visited Ireland when my middle daughter lived there. I was also going to go see The Book of Kells, but for one reason or another, didn’t manage it. From the comments in here, I’m sort of glad I didn’t, as I would have been disappointed that I could only see it for a couple of minutes and only a couple of pages…. sigh…
    I would have wanted to leaf through it (very funny that thought – the book would be long gone by now if everyone who wanted to got to look through it).
    I’ll just have to content my self with the idea of creating my own illustrated manuscript.

      • Wikipedia has a lovely list of what they call “Insular Illustrations” (apparently a radical deviation from classical) of the Book of Kells, and a lot of information about where the book came from and where it resided, etc. You can blow the pictures up a little bit, to see the details a better but you still can’t handle them (sigh…..).

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