In Ireland! Day Eight, Dublin Edition Part Two

Another day in Dublin, another batch of pubs.

In our defense we did attempt to start the day with straight up culture (aka kulture) by going to Trinity College so we could see the library and Book of Kells. However a very cute charming curly blonde Irish college student told us it would be better to come back later when the line wasn’t as long. He did encourage us to pay the additional 2 Euro to take the tour when we returned — just 2 Euro more than seeing the library and Book sans tour. None of us were particularly pro-tour but after talking to the cute charming lad, I for one seriously considered it. He was just that cute and charming. Then I remembered that he was born sometime well after I graduated college, which is decidedly less cute and charming.

So we did a bit of shopping then stopped by McDaid’s where Sara and I met the Seely PICs last night. The return visit gave me the chance to snap some pics which I didn’t do before.

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92. The second pub of the day was the Stag’s Head, where we had a delicious lunch with (again! hooray!) some solid veggie options. I fell down on the job and didn’t take any pictures of the pub except for this creepy fox that watched us eat lunch

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93. Then we returned to Trinity College and the exquisitely intricate Book of Kells and glorious library (no tour), which were both amazing. I’ve never seen anything like either. I also can’t imagine that anything in recent history comes close to being a modern day equivalent (it’s not like anyone will be queuing up in 2000 years to see the oldest Kindle in the historic Amazon marketplace).

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94. Next, off to the Temple Bar district and the pep rally in advance of tomorrow’s Penn State vs. UCF game. Just us and 10,000 of our closest friends.

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95. We wrapped up the day with a happy hour at the Gin Palace, where I was able to meet up with some of my favorite and most long-standing partners-in-crime, Rich, Everett, Mark, and Kimberly. It was also great to see PICs Dan and Sharon for the first time in a good long while plus many more friends new and old … about 40 or so total. I don’t want to brag but I’m pretty sure we made the Gin Palace’s day.

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I know, I know. We don’t look like we had any fun at all.

Game day tomorrow!

In Ireland! Day Seven, Dublin Edition Part One

It must be Thursday (for two minutes more at the time of this writing). PIC Sara and I know this only because today is the day we met up with the rest of our PIC crew as planned — Lynn, Drew, and Carol. The Seely PICs (Wayne, June, Randy, Judy) of Cliffs of Moher cruise fame (or infamy?) also arrived in Dublin today, so the gang’s all here.

87. First stop, Delaney’s, a late addition to Lynn’s “Grand List of Pubs to Visit in Ireland.”

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Delaney’s does not appear on Lynn’s carefully and impressively labeled map,

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but our airbnb apt host recommended it for its fine Guinness and toasted ham and cheese sandwiches. He did not steer us wrong.

88. In fact, Delaney’s was the site of my first Irish Guinness and my first full pint of Guinness ever. (I know! I’ve never really liked it, but it honestly wasn’t so bad today.)

89. Sufficiently fortified, we moved on to our tour of the Old Jameson Distillery.

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We learned all about how humble barley from the South of Ireland grows up to become Jameson whiskey. If you want more detail, you will have to ask one of my more studious tour-mates. To be honest the fact I remember most clearly is that the Jamesons had dozens of cats to keep the bags of barley free of mice and rats, and they rewarded their hard workers with bowls of milk at the end of each day.

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No, the cat isn’t real — it was part of the tour display. And in case you are wondering, yes, maybe I did sneak away from one part of the tour to go back to take a better picture of the cat. And it was totally worth it.

The other highlight was being selected as an official whiskey taster at the conclusion of the tour. Okay, maybe not so much selected as raised my hand before the guide finished his sentence asking for volunteers. Our group of PICs may or may not have accounted for more than half of the total volunteer tasters as a result. Also totally worth it. We got certificates and everything. (Is it wrong that I am equally as excited about the tube that holds the certificate as about the certificate itself?)

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90. We had a fabulous dinner at Oscar’s cafe bar, chosen mainly for its proximity to our apt when jet lag hit our latest arrivals like a freight train.

91. Once the others turned in for some much needed sleep after powering through the day and time change post-red eye flights, Sara and I made our way to McDaid’s pub in the Temple Bar district, where we met up with the Seely PICs for a pint and some non-Irish live guitar classics played by Judy’s friend.

And just like that I’m in sight of my 100 experience goal. Being in Ireland makes it almost too easy though. Lots more slated for tomorrow and the next couple of days as well.

In Ireland! Day Three, Killarney Edition Part Two

Today, we got a taste of true Irish damp and fog. Fortunately we decided to take a tour bus around the Ring of Kerry (70), so that I could see the beautiful views during the drive.

Also, so that we didn’t risk panic attacks when passing tour buses on the narrow, wet, winding road. Like this:

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There was no shortage of spectacular mountain and water views as we passed by Dingle Bay (really), the Lakes of Killarney, and Gap of Dunloe along the way. (However, to avoid being totally misleading, the first two pictures below are from the Dingle Sea part of the trip and the last from a town called Sneem.)

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Our sundry stops included an Irish coffee to start the day — for PIC Sara…I’m pretty sure nothing good can come from giving me caffeine and whiskey then loading me into a packed bus. See, e.g, me in my natural caffeine and whiskey free state:

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— rainy cliff side spots, and the highest point in the Ring, where we got the obligatory picture next to the … ehrm … statue of the lady (remembering the actual names of landmarks is not my strong suit). (Update: PIC Sara informs the statue was … Mary. Whoops.)

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71. My favorite stop by far was to see a sheepdog demonstration. And not only because it was the sunniest portion of the trip. Those dogs are beautiful and amazing.

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And lest anyone think the entire day was rainy and gray, I did manage to find some spots of color by a church in Sneem.

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72. Tonight we’re off to see the Celtic Steps: An Evening of Spectacular Irish Music, Song & Dance. Then hoping for dryer weather as we head westward tomorrow!

Update: The Celtic Steps were really really good!

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#TBT – Kulture Edition: The Dahnce. Experiences 29, 37, 41, and 58.

It’s true. Summer is almost over and I’ve yet to write up an ever-growing number of escapades experiences (how does everything seem to end up in the “shenanigans” category?).

In an attempt to reach some semblance of being current before heading off to the land of green and plenty, a/k/a the land o’ Guinness, a/k/a Ireland, my quarter-homeland (¼ Irish; ¼ Welsh; 1/36 Native American; the rest European hodge podge), I am taking advantage of Throw Back Thursday to try to catch up, even in some brief fashion. (Editor’s note: as usual, the drafting process took longer than planned. It is, however, still Thursday on the West Coast.)

To wit:

29. In April, PIC All-Star Sara and I headed to Silver Spring (fun random fact: I am apparently incapable of typing “Silver Spring” without first typing “Silvery Spring” then having to delete the “y”) to see sometime PIC Sarah (the ballerina) perform with her contemporary ballet company, Moveius. Moveius’ spring show, Outside In, featured works by a number of different choreographers, most from outside of the company (see what they did there?), whose work I’d never seen. I’d also never been to the venue, Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, and Sara had never seen Moveius at all. A bunch of firsts, really.

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I’m so Fancy – the Art Wall. Experience 56.

A friend’s Facebook posts about 20×200 and the site’s images of hip zippy art walls inspired me to tackle the blank hallway wall that has been mocking me since I moved into my place four years ago.

An art wall! It will be fun! It will be easy! I can do it on the cheap! It will be fancy!

Using a canvas painted by my Great Grandmother Sinback as the focal point,

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I found three complementary prints from 20×200 (Art! Really pretty affordable!).

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Run, Pussykat, Run! Experience … wait for it … 50! Fiddy! 50!

This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival – an annual cultural celebration during the weeks leading up to July 4th – featured China and Kenya. Along with the traditional food, music, arts, and crafts, the Kenyan exhibit offered daily fun runs with Kenyan runners.

How often do you get to run with a Kenyan Olympian? Exactly.

The festival and runs took place on the National Mall, which is conveniently located just steps from my office. Which also meant that, for a mid-morning work-day run I needed to recruit a partner-in-crime from outside my usual pool of suspects. I enthusiastically recruited co-worker and sometime running buddy, Peter. Who in turn recruited another co-worker, Greg (who runs so fast that he seems like a Kenyan to me). The three of us met on a fine sunny and hot Tuesday morning at the designated festival corner. And waited. And commented on how the festival was suspiciously empty.

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Free(!) Kulture (and a couple of yahoos). Experiences 25 and 26.

In the interest of fiscal responsibility, it’s always a bonus to find a new experience that is also a freebie.

Who’s got two thumbs and loves a bargain? This girl.

To wit,

25. The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Happenings at the Harmon, weekly free(!) lunchtime performances, which I only recently discovered. (Note: once a month the Happening is a happy hour. Who’s got two thumbs and really loves a bargain plus a glass of wine? Do you even have to ask?)

As appealing as the happy hour version is, my first Happening was the lunch edition. I saw A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup, presented by Shoshinz, apparently “one of Tokyo’s most acclaimed clowns.” The performance featured a ridiculously creative and clever combination of physical comedy, quirky music and sound effects, and a parade of props (see a clip from last year’s Fringe Festival here).

I can’t say that I loved all the bits – see, e.g., cracking a dozen imaginary eggs for breakfast, releasing chirpy chirpy imaginary birds, marching them around the apartment and generally having a grand old time with them, making me LOVE the cute chirpy chirpy imaginary birds and THEN?

Eating them.

Live.

Imaginary live, but still.

With gusto.

One crunchy chirpy bite at a time.

Imaginary chirpy crunchy birds aside, it was bizarre and fascinating and never the teensiest bit boring.

Almost as fascinating was the motley crew that assembled to catch the free performance – a couple other worker bees like me, random and sundry tourists of all ages, and a remarkably well-behaved student group. Also, some weirdo hipster yahoo whose cell phone rang on cue as they were making the pre-performance “silence your phone” announcement. Which he answered. Then proceeded to talk at a normal volume while he was still in the room. If it’s not one clown, it’s another.

All-in-all, it was not a bad way to break up the work day. It’s never a bad idea to get away from your desk at lunchtime, to take a walk and let the stink blow off you (as Momma Pussykat would say).  If you can find a way to add some free(!) kulture to the mix, all the better.  But save the wine for happy hour. They seem to value sobriety in the workplace.

26. Hip Hop Theatre Creator Award-winning performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

I’ve been Millennium Stage adjacent on multiple occasions, but for the first time went specifically to see one of their free(!) daily performances (every day! 6pm!).

Repeat partner-in-crime Sara and I saw Blood at the Root, part of a two-week festival, One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide, “a celebration of this uniquely American art form, positive cultural movement, and global phenomenon.”

Blood at the Root, written by Dominique Morisseau, told the story of the “Cedar Six,” young black men imprisoned after an altercation with a white high school classmate, following a series of events fueled by racial tensions. It was inspired by the “Jena Six” of Jena, Louisiana. The play posed tough questions and illustrated the complexities of finding answers when friends and family members perceive and respond to the same events very differently. The play and production were excellent (and free!) and I’m proud to say that the director, choreographer, and talented cast hail from Penn State’s School of Theatre.

The performance seemed to be well received by all. Except for the couple of people who departed when the dialogue became particularly colorful. And the inevitable couple of yahoos who took phone calls mid-performance (seriously, what is that about?), including the man who climbed over us THREE times – when he arrived late, when he left to take his phone call, and when he returned, after which he promptly fell asleep.

Who’s got two thumbs and gave that guy the stink eye? Oh, you’d better believe it.