Our [Abbreviated] Amazing Race – Days 9 & 10

After dominating Todd in archery, we hopped in the car and got on the road to Dublin. It was about three hours south of Ashford Castle but very scenic so I didn’t mind the drive. I took in all the green, sheep pastures, cottages and B&Bs. Todd, on the other hand was a little uneasy and understandably so due to the narrow roads and driving on the donut. In an effort to get the clipped tyre (the Irish spell it “tyre”) fixed, the castle staff was super accommodating and called several tyre shops along the route to Dublin to see if anyone would be able to patch the tyre. So I guess hardly anything is open on Sundays there… On the route there was one tyre shop that seemed like it would work and had Sunday hours. We detoured off our route to get to this place only to be greeted by two young mechanics standing around and told us they didn’t have the tyre fixing machine in house until the following day. So what are you doing all day then? You’re a tyre shop. It’s like Arby’s saying they’re out of roast beef. C’est la vie.

We finally made it to Dublin, after driving slowly the entire way since we were on the donut and letting all the other crazy Irish drivers pass us on the highway. We were staying at the Westin in Dublin (points) and it happened to be right next to the Temple Bar district. Nice. Lots of restaurants and of course, lots of pubs. We took a brief rest and then met Tessa and Anthony in the lobby to head out for the Guinness tour followed by dinner. They arrived the day before from Galway and had already spent some time in the city. The Guinness Brewery was super old and industrial as you would imagine it to be. Sadly the tour lacked in excitement as it wasn’t free, wasn’t guided and you walked through, watching screens of Guinness employees going over each step in the brewing process. So Budweiser > Guinness there. But at the end of the tour you go to the top floor to get your free beer. And what a view from the top! The all-windowed room overlooked all of Dublin, giving guests a view of the beautiful city at night. Good surprise for a mediocre tour! 

After Guinness we headed back to the district by our hotel. Our bellman gave us some recommendations of restaurants in the area and suggested one that served boxty. What is boxty, you ask? Think meat served wrapped inside a potato pancake… but not latke-like… it almost looked like a really thin piece of bread/tortilla. They love potatoes in Ireland. It didn’t disappoint. 

After that, I retired for the evening while Todd and Tessa stayed out and bar-hopped a little in the area. The next day, Todd took the tyre to a shop to get it repaired so Hertz didn’t try to charge us for way more than it should cost to fix. He got back and we wandered around the area for a bit… in the pub area there was a crazy drunk Irishman yelling to himself while wondering down the street and even though we were inside a store, we could hear him before we walked outside and saw him. People we watching him. I’m guessing this is normal. 

We had lunch at a kabab house called Abra-Kababra because we saw it had fountain sodas when walking by. We also really like gyros. So we ordered and the lone Eastern European woman on staff made our meal. Once served, our Diet Cokes were served warm, with no ice. Upon asking for ice we were told she didn’t have ice. Then Todd found a long black hair in his gyro. I thought I was going to be sick and lost my appetite but Todd thought it was pretty good (the gyro, not the hair). 

After that we made our way over to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The line was a mile long when we got there so we decided against it. We wandered around campus though and it was beautiful. 

I finished the day at the Aran Sweater Store looking for my family’s pattern. Each clan has their own specific weave and each weave means something different. 

“Each stitch carries its own unique meaning, a historic legacy from the lives of the Island community many years ago. The Cable Stitch is a depiction of the fisherman’s ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea. The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth. The Zig Zag Stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran Sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The Tree of Life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects the importance of the clan, and is an expression of a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.”
– History of Aran Sweaters, http://www.aransweatermarket.com/history-of-aran-sweaters

Farrell was pretty easy to find but I knew I wouldn’t wear a sweater or scarf with Texas being as warm as it is a majority of the year. We did find a throw blanket but with all the stuff we were already bringing home, we didn’t get it. It would be an awesome gift though, and that was hinted to Todd. 

Next Todd headed out to meet T&A for the Jameson tour. I bailed because I’m not a Jameson drinker, or a whiskey drinker at all for that matter. They said it was pretty cool but I didn’t feel I was missing much. You’ll have to ask Todd about that one!

We ended our last night of the trip out and about at the bars around our hotel. Most had live musicians playing and we had a few drinks before dinner. And then we got on the plane the next morning to come home. Sorry for the anti-climactic ending there, but I think it reflects our tiredness.

What was one of the first things I did when I got back to the good ol’ US of A?!? I went to RaceTrac and got a 32oz fountain soda with lots of ice, of course!

So, in summary…….

Favorite part of entire trip: Hands down, Ashford Castle… and the archery.

Favorite parts of Japan: Robot Restaurant, Kyoto steakhouse, people-watching and scenery in Kyoto

Favorite parts of Ireland: Listening to an Irish band play at an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, archery, the people, Irish pride

What did I like better… Ireland or Japan? Ireland

One thing I wish I could bring back but can’t: The weather in Japan

Top 3 favorite cities visited to date (based on EuroTrip Part Une, Eurotrip Part Deux and this trip:

1. Galway

2. Prague

3. Barcelona

Guinness tour

Near Temple Bar District

Trinity College


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