Wednesday, January 31, 2007

First set of my photos in Flickr

Ok, the first set of my photos is in the Flickr at URL:

Susanne's photos from Ireland already available

Susanne managed to get her photos from Ireland online already ... on Monday, I think. They are stored at: . Today I also managed finally to go through all 600+ raw photos I took during the trip, 248 photos survived and will now block my uplink bandwidth for quite a while when I upload them to Flickr. Stay tuned for Flickr URL.

Shopping whisky and the last few pints in Dublin

Visited Celtic Whisky Shop and Messr Maguires. A detailed report coming.

Porterhouse Brewing Co., the Ireland's largest genuine Irish brewery

Porterhouse Brewing Co. A review soon here.

Day #4: Bray, a town with a very nice coastline

Bray CoastlineDART tracks on Bray Coast

On Saturday we decided to leave Dublin and go and see some other town for a change. One the suggested places was Bray, which I initially thought was the location of the Porterhouse's brewery. This was a misconception as Porterhouse's Brewery is really in the Porterhouse's Temple Bar building and in Bray there's just Porterhouse Inn and Brewery Restaurant, which we (Ari, Susanne and I tried) tested for lunch. The lunch was quite ok, but nothing really special. A huge beef with potatoes for 17,50 EUR and a Irish stew for 10 EUR.


The heavy lunch gave us strength to walk around Bray's coastline and also to climb up to the Bray's Head, a huge hill you will soon see in my Flickr album. The landscape, coastline and the nature were the interesting things about Bray, at least now in winter. In summer the place is crowded with families on vacation, but now in winter the place seemed somehow hollow and empty. Also the nature and the remains of building and walls reminded me about the fairies and their world in Susanna Clarke's book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Not the high elfs of J.R.R. Tolkien type of fairies but the more darker and perhaps evil fairies of Clarke's or even Terry Pratchett's. You will probably understand what I mean, when you see the photos. At least there were few ones about the remains of a house, which kind of captured the mood.
IMG_4569.jpgSunset in the Fairy ForestIt is always dark before it gets pitch black

After the walk the sun had set and we found a place for dessert and coffee before leaving Bray and heading back to Dublin with the DART train we had used also to get from Dublin to Bray.

Day #3: Friday Night ...

... was pretty full at least in the Porterhouse on Nassau Street. Luckily we (Ari and I) tested local Burger King before trying to get our dinner from any of the pubs. Burger King's Angus hamburger with extra bacon and cheese was like any other hamburger in any other junk hamburger restaurant and so were the french fries. So if you have a chance to try one, just forget about it and steer to some place offering real hamburgers or some better options.

In Porterhouse we could not get any seats and decided to try to find some other place with lesser crowd. It seems that if you want to eat or get a nice place to sit in Dublin restaurants on Friday night, you should get there earlier than we did. I had marked a few places roughly on the map, but the day's worth of walking had its toll and we did not feel wandering around finding all them. Also I once again remembered why I will not buy any shoes made by Umberto anymore. Compared to by Clarks walking shoes, Umberto managed to wear out my feet in an hour walk in the shape it would take with my regular walking shoes a whole day of walking. Lesson learned, do not buy Umberto shoes.

After wandering the streets trying to find few places we managed to find Viperoom Bar & Club, which should have been a late night R&B, Soul and Jazz place and which it very well might have been, but we seemed to be early for the place or perhaps the club just was not open that night. After getting my overcoat too close to a candle flame and getting bartenders wondering around the place trying to find the source of smoke smell, we managed to finish our beers and head back to hotel. Another lesson learned: If you want to do a serious evaluation of some city's night life: Start early, wear good shoes and do not walk the whole day around the city during the day.

Or maybe we were just too old for that kind of thing.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Day #3: Visiting Jameson distillery and Guinness brewery

Jameson distillery was closed for renovation, but giftshop offered a complementary glass of Jameson 10 year blended whisky. Bought a 12 year old distillery reserve edition (42 EUR) for myself from there as 18 year version would have costed 100 EUR and I don't like to pay that much without knowing I really want the whisky.

We also visited some kind of sightseeing tower build on top of the old chimney and near the old Jameson distillery. The glasses in sightseeing tower were so dirty I took my pictures of Dublin from the elevator.

A better view with a pint of Guinness was offered at the old Guinness brewery were they had managed to construct a very efficient tourist luring attraction. Once all those beer and Guinness history displays in 4-5 floors were through, you could continue to Guinness' Gravity Bar in 7th floor. In the Gravity Bar were clean windows, breat view and pint of dark Guinness offered as a return of the 14 EUR selfguided tour to the place. An OK experience and worth checking out, but maybe not worth of repeating.

Lunch was consumed in one pub called Pale between Guinness brewery and Temple Bar. Nothing special, we just wanted to try pub food and the 8 EUR cod and chips with less than 4 EUR Smithwicks were enough to satisfy immediate hunger.

After lunch we visited Christ Church Cathedral. I have several photos from the cathedral including the on e of the mummified cat and the mouse found also on the Wikipedia page. The cathedral was impressive as old cathedrals usually are and an OK place to visit since it was on route back to central.

On the way back to central we also located Porterhouse Temple Bar, which was a three floor version of the Nassau Street pub. Also a place worth checking out as is the whole Temple Bar region. In the evening the region looks really nice and I managed to took a lot of photographs about the colours and the lights.

Now the next mission is to see what kind of place Dublin is on Friday night. More about it later on the same blog channel... Now where's the beer?

Day #2: Dublin Castle and remains of the day

After the lunch we walked via various shopping street to Dublin Castle ar participated on a 50 minute tour for 5 euros. The Dublin Castle is pretty new so the tour was more about watching beautiful decoration and listening the tour guide describing Irish history and making obligatory jokes. Kind of interesting, but not really anything spectacular.

It got dark while we were visiting Dublin Castle and as Ari and Susanne decided to continue shoping on Grafton street, I came back to hotel to deposit my camera in room's safe and blog about parts of the day. We agreed to see each other in Porterhouse brewery restaurant on Nassau street sometime after Ari and Susanne had finished shopping and I naturally did not mind waiting for them in the place. :)

Once again I will probably write a separate entry about the Porterhouse Brewery, but it may wait after we may visit the brewery itself in Bray on day 4. This evening, Thursday, we noticed how early pub kitchens close and our second choice, Messr Maguires had already closed its kitchen at 22:00. We managed to get a table however, a thing we could not manage to do in Porterhouse and it still was a Thursday evening. But Porterhouse beers were equally as good as in Messr Maguires so also this recommendation was verified.

Mackerel, a fish restaurant in Dublin

So the restaurant where we ate on Thursday afternoon was called Mackerel. The restaurant is located on Grafton Street in B building and on the 3rd floor. There is a cafe/pub downstairs sharing the same entrance, but from cafe there is a staircase leading upwards.

In the lobby there was a list of various fresh daily fish dishes and we picked grilled whole black sole (me), oven roasted whole sea bream (Susanne) and baked fillet of plaice/piaice (Ari). For wine there was an option of half bottle of one of the house wines, which in this case was Pouilly Fume 2005 (Serge Daguneau & Filles).

The fish and the wine were both very good, but the price was also higher. The food was 20-30 euros and the price for half/full wine bottle was 20-50 euros depending on the wine selection. The wine selection was large enough and I noticed several nice wines on the menu.

Even though the price was higher I was not disappointed and truly recommend the place for eating fresh fish in Dublin if the price for good fish food does not seem unbearable.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Day #2: Sightseeing

After a hearty Irish breakfast of bacon, sausages, egg, hash browns (and also musli, grapefruitjuice and naturally coffee) we headed to see the Trinity College, the third oldest university of Europe. The campus was very impressive although they also have made the mistake of introducing modern (70s you know) buildings alongside those respectable old buildings.

In the Trinity College library the was a moderately interesting Book of Kells (and a few books more) expedition and after that the real, old library of Trinity College, which was really impressive. Seeing all those shelves full of old, original books in a great hall was a moment I would have wanted to capture on camera, but that was not allowed.

After Trinity we went to see St. Stephen's Green, a nice large, old and tidy park, which had a very nice lawn. I am sorry if this description sounds like a Monty Python line, but I do not really have enough vocabulary or even vocabulary to describe parks, even the nice ones. So I probably upload a photo sometime.

Then we walked a bit more, some of us went shopping and then we had lunch. The lunch is more interesting than the time between the very nice park and it. We ate lunch at a fish restaurant called Mackerel, which is in Bewley's building on Grafton Street, a shopping street by the way. But more about it in a separate post.

After lunch we visited the Dublin Castle and joined a guided 50 min. tour to the place. Once again I hope that my photos later will describe the place far better than me.

As Ari and Susanne went shopping, I returned to hotel to leave my camera to my room and blog about our experiences so far. Now, as the clock approaches 20:00, I should be approaching Porterhouse Central, one of the pubs on the recommended list and a one worthy of serious review. So off I go...

Walking around and finding beer in Dublin

After visiting Messr Maguires we returned to hotel and I made a short solo walk by the river, O'Connell's street and one pub where I had a pint of Smithwicks for 4.50 euros. Not a very special place, but I was thirsty from all that walking. :)

I noticed that it seems that in regular pubs there are just few lagers and few major Irish beers so also in the land of very good beers, you really must still know where to find them. I hope that some of you may find them through the notes in this blog.

Messr Maguires, a minibrewery restaurant near the river

The first one of the recommended minibrewery restaurants was an easy one to spot on Burgh Quay. Quite near to it was a huge Heineken sign and a trendy looking place named Q.

Messr Maguires, navigation instructions

Inside Messr Maguires there were something like four main floors with each equipped with own bar serving at least four own beers brewed in the restaurant's minibrewery. The beers were priced 4 EUR/pint, which was nice. It also seemed that you could get also "gastropub style" food there although we did not find any menus near tables.

Messr Maguires decoration

Pub decoration at Messr Maguires

A very good pub with really interesting dark wood decoration and good beer so I consider this recommendation of Sami verified.

Happened so far...

No problems whatsoever. The flight departed late, but was on time in Dublin and we had plenty of time to walk around and get some idea of our surroundings.

We, that is Ari, Susanne and I, walked around the river and the Temple Bar region and had lunch in Quay's restaurant. The Temple Bar region had a bit higher tourist prices so for all of us, the price of regular main dish, two beers, soft drink and two desserts including the regular tip (10-15%) was 82.05 euros. The food was ok. but not special and at least Ari's dessert was a bit, or should we say wee heavy mix of cream, butter and sugar.

After that we started walking back to our hotel with the intention of dropping by in Messr Maguires, the brewery restaurant I had spotted earlier. But more about the place in separate post.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Important background research

It is always good to be prepared and so I talked a few people about my trip to Dublin and managed to gather some important background information about the city, namely locations of the good breweries and brewery restaurants. Today I actually found out that our lodgings, Townhouse of Dublin is only two to three blocks away from Messr Maguires on Burgh Quay. Mess Maguires is one of the brewery restaurants Sami Lappalainen of Gastropub Restaurants, here at Tampere, suggested. Other suggested restaurants or small/mini breweries included Porterhouse both in Dublin and Bray and Dublin Brewing Company.

Quick list for locations:
I and my friends also welcome suggestions for other interesting locations, breweries or not... :)

Monday, January 22, 2007

First post ever

As the trip to Dublin, Ireland, gets closer, I decided to start making notes and blog entries about my trips and tips for different places. Let's see if I can manage to get myself to write entries even after the trip to Dublin.