Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's the little things...

So it has been cold and snowy now for over two months and I am starting to get sick of it. Don't get me wrong, the snow at times can be very beautiful, but at other times it gets nasty. I just can't stand it when everything is wet. Every building, store, office you walk into the floor is wet. My new boots are getting a beating. The most disgusting thing is when a dog just poops on top of the snow and then it melts and you are left with soggy brown poop snow....GROSS!
In spite of all that there are moments in this weather that just make me smile. Take for instance what I saw outside my window this week.

Look a little closer.

How precious!

A bunch of little kids building a snowman family. They looked like they were having so much fun and I could hear their little laughs. Like I said snow has it's downfalls, but it has opened my eyes to it's joys too. I have never lived anywhere where it snows all the time. It is strange and don't think for one second I am a new snow-lover, but it is nice from time to time. As I forge forward into Germany's winter I am going to embrace the snow. If you can't beat it join it right? I hope to build my first snowman soon and maybe get some sledding in!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Troubles

                No, this post doesn’t have anything to do with hardships that we’re enduring in Germany.  Rather, I want to take a minute to reflect on some of the violent unrest that Northern Ireland has endured over the past several decades.  Since we recently visited Belfast, in Northern Ireland, I was fascinated by the history, yet I realized that I really didn’t know much about “The Troubles” as they’re referred to in the area.  I was aware that there were some problems in Ireland between Catholics and Protestants and I’m familiar with U2’s “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”, but that was about the extent of it.  In this post I’ll attempt to give you an overview of the conflict from an outsider’s view based on what I saw in Belfast and what I read in a book entitled Pocket History of The Troubles by Brian Feeney who is the head of the history department at St. Mary’s University College in Belfast.  I’ll also conclude with personal thoughts and remarks.
                  First off, Northern Ireland was established by the Government of Ireland Act of 1920.  I couldn’t tell you much before that, but at that point the six northeastern counties of Northern Ireland were considered part of the United Kingdom and the rest of the island was the Republic of Ireland.  Northern Ireland had a working class that mainly consisted of Catholics and an upper class mainly consisting of Protestants.  In general the Protestants, most of which were Unionists or Loyalists indicating their desire to be part of the U.K., held a tight grip over the jobs and political positions in the North over the Catholics; many of which were Nationalists, indicating their desire to be a single nation combined with the Republic of Ireland which was also mainly Catholic. 
                  Over the course of the first 40 years of Northern Ireland’s existence the classes stayed about the same, with the Protestants running the country while the Catholics took the blue-collar jobs and held few positions in political offices (partly because the Unionists wouldn’t allow them to and partly because the Nationalists refused some of these positions because they failed to recognize the Unionist regime).  It seemed to be a classic case of the ruling class doing everything in its power to maintain rule by bending rules (i.e. gerrymandering) and making laws to give themselves special privileges over the working class.  To me it seems strikingly similar to tactics that Whites used in the U.S. to maintain control over Blacks and other minorities.  The interesting thing in this case is that the dividing characteristic is Catholic/Protestant, which I’ve come to find out is much more a social difference than a religious one (clearly they weren’t arguing over paths to salvation or other theological differences).  So, after 40 years of oppression people tend to get tired of getting the short end and when an opportunity arises they will do whatever it takes to take advantage of it.  Such an event happened in 1963 with the election of Terence O’ Neill as prime minister of Northern Ireland.
                  O’ Neill didn’t really do that much politically, but was the first prime minister to reach out to the 35% Catholic minority in an effort to level the playing field.  Like I said, he didn’t really do much himself, but what he unintentionally accomplished was bringing the plight of the Catholics to the surface and identifying the social disparities as a problem.  This served as a spark to the generation of Catholics living in Northern Ireland in the 1960s, a time when major changes were happening all over the world, that now was the time that they needed to let their voice be heard and fight for their rights.  Simultaneously, the Unionist Protestants were getting unsettled about the possibility of losing some of their advantages.
                  To keep this post relatively short, I will try to summarize the 40 years from 1963 up to present.  In the 1960s Catholics began to organize protests and marches which were met with violent resistance from the majority Protestant police force (Royal Ulster Constabulary – RUC) as well as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) which was a loyalist paramilitary group.  The Catholics literally had the shit kicked out of them on most occasions and found that they couldn’t trust their own police force.  Police abused their rights to random search-and-seizure and arresting individuals without cause.  It was a very corrupt system and a handful of Catholics were killed in the 1960s at the hands of these attacks.  Eventually some of the Catholics reformed the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to protect the Catholic neighborhoods and they even founded their own political parties in order to be the voice for them; namely, Sinn Fein (pronounced “Shin Fain” - notorious for being the political wing of the IRA) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) which was the largest nationalist party during the Troubles. 
                  Throughout the next 30 years a frustrating cycle of events played out like a broken record with bombings from the IRA targeted both in N. Ireland and England, matched by bombings and retaliation against Catholic targets in N. Ireland and Ireland, hopeful political progress dashed by violence and mistrust from both sides, ceasefires that never lasted, violent attacks against individuals based on religious status, etc.  Both sides showed incredible stubbornness, the Nationalists refusing to recognize the Unionist government and not settling for anything less than a share in running N. Ireland or a unification with the Republic of Ireland, and the Unionists not wanting to give up control to the traitorous Republicans.  There were also divisions amongst Protestants and Catholics as well, where one group of Republicans may decide that they’re ready to work with another Protestant group, but the IRA wouldn’t agree and would terrorize the country with more bombings that would weaken and jeopardize any talks of a peace agreement. 
                  While the violence in Northern Ireland has been mostly quieted for the past 12 years, it still took until 2007 that a power-shared “executive” was agreed upon between a representative from the Democratic Unionist Party (Ian Paisley) and a representative from Sinn Fein (Gerry Adams) in the presence of the leaders of Ireland (Bertie Ahern) and England (Tony Blair).
                  Reflection:  While reading through this tragic part of world history I couldn’t help but think of similar events in history, such as the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.  When a certain people group is discriminated against and receives the short end of the stick for decades at the hand of a people group that has power and works hard to hold on to that power over them, it’s a situation likening to heating a closed container with liquid inside.  When the opportunity arises, eventually a generation will decide that they’ve had enough and they will fight tooth-and-nail for their rights to equality.  Now obviously in contrast, the African Americans reached that point but responded in a nobler way with peaceful marches and demonstrations to earn those rights.  I think that the Republicans were inspired by the same peaceful movement, but not everyone was on the same page unfortunately.  Namely the IRA insisted on taking the violent approach with the goal of “sickening the British” of the situation with horrific bombings both in N. Ireland and in England in very public areas.  I can only imagine the frustration of trying to make progress in that situation with some members from both sides willing to work with each other and others on both sides that utterly refused to seek a middle ground. 
                  Visiting recently for the first time, a couple of things stuck out to me.  First, I was amazed at the murals that still decorate the sides of buildings in Belfast neighborhoods, both Protestant and Catholic.  The Catholic murals tended to commemorate their own heroes, such as Bobby Sands and the other martyrs of the Hunger Strike, where ten republicans starved themselves to death in prison.  In contrast I found that many of the murals in Unionist neighborhoods depicted scary men with ski-masks (“balaclava”) and machine guns, informing you that you are entering “Loyalist” territory.  I was a little surprised that some of these murals are allowed to stay up on the walls.  I mean, I’m all for preserving history, but I would find it difficult to move on from past events with those constant reminders in my face on a daily basis.  Not that people should forget about the terrible events that took place in Belfast, but it would seem a bit of a hindrance from an outsiders’ perspective to a peaceful future in Northern Ireland. 
                  It’s definitely sad to see a dispute carried over such a long period of time.  I felt enlightened with our visit to both Ireland and Northern Ireland and I’m glad to finally know a lot more about a conflict that I remember hearing about as a kid in school, but never really understood.  By the way, this conflict is about as “over” as racism is over anywhere in America – you can feel a bit of tension under the surface that’s hard to explain without being there.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Geburtstags!

     I like birthdays...but don't we all?  I just celebrated my 28th last weekend and the whole weekend was a blast.  To give credit where credit is due, my wife is awesome at birthday celebrations.  She was raised on the idea that the entire birth month is fair game to be celebrated - kind of like a Mardi Gras or something like that.  Much of that has rubbed off on me, but I have only expanded out as far to claim a "birthday weekend" at this point.
     I would say that in my upbringing there was always a birthday celebration that typically included a dinner of my choice and a home-made cake from my grandma.  Otherwise it was pretty low-key with gifts and time spent with family.  Marisa likes to let everyone know weeks in advance about upcoming birthdays and have a themed-party to mark the occasion.  She is also really thoughtful to make the day/weekend/week special.
     Over the years I've enjoyed a surprise party with dozens of CCFers after a Thrashers game at the campus house........a co-party with Randy Arrowood........and a surprise get-together at the Vortex.  Sometimes I try to downplay my birthday, but Marisa just doesn't go for that.  I can see where she gets it from when I get cards in the mail from her mother, filled with confetti so that it spills out everywhere when you open them up.  After the first one I started opening them all up very carefully, but now I'm embracing the idea and violently opening them up to ensure full coverage in our apartment!
     I must also say that my mom is an incredibly thoughtful person as well.  This year she mailed over a package with candy, books, and jeans - all decked out in dorky Star Wars paper and other themed gift bags like guitars and football.  I don't think that crap will ever get old.  I'd like to think that my 70th birthday cake will have a velociraptor on top or something badass like that.  

B-day package from mom - including Donald Miller's latest book and Rick Steve's "Best of Europe 2010" (we're pumped about using that one)

     This year I came home to an empty apartment (she was still at work) and a bag of hand-selected Haribo gummies and a note on the table.  She had also gone down to one of the local bakeries to buy a slice from six different cakes and pastries to give us a variety, since Publix cake was a no-go this year.  We went out to a bar and met up with a dozen or so teachers from my school for a couple of drinks and had plans to go to a hockey game, but that never materialized.  Instead we went over to our neighborhood restaurant for Sonnenuhr schnitzel.  Our waitress, Tanja, hooked us up with a couple of free birthday shots of pear-flavored moonshine schnapps and that would make it a night.  With a trip to Cologne on Saturday, co-celebrating with our church's 20th anniversary, and skyping with family on Sunday.....it was a nice little ex-pat birthday weekend.

scored a new scarf - one step closer to being eurosexual.


Our selection of cakes and pastries - if you can't decide, just try one of everything!

     So here's to all of the people in our lives that help make our birthdays special!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tell me your thoughts!

We have decided that in 2010 we will be doing a lot more reflecting on the blog. I know you enjoy reading about our travels and we love writing about them, but we want to share with you some of our thoughts as well. We are not saying we will have some deep and intellectual thoughts (maybe), but more we just want to share some of our thoughts about living in another country and just random things that we think about. So here is to more random and not so random thoughts on the blog. Also I would love to hear from you, the readers. Is there anything you want to read about? Specifics of living overseas, being married, sports, or what do I cook, really anything. I really want the blog to be more of a discussion than just us posting. Also I love comments and feedback so please feel free to make that jump and be a follower of the blog or leave a comment (plus it makes me feel good). I hope to leave you with some questions to respond to or maybe a topic to discuss. Thanks so much for reading up to this point and looking forward to more blogging in 2010!

Monday, January 18, 2010

My girl Alex

We had the pleasure of seeing my friend, Alex, last night and we had not seen her since we arrived in August. We went to go see her play in a city called Wiesbaden against the second place team in the division, but managed to get lost so bad that we got to the game right as it was over. A quick match to say the least. After a minor freak out about missing the game, I turned my attitude right around when I saw Alex's smiling face. She was just so glad to see us and we were so glad to see her. We also got to see her Mom and Justin got to practice lots of german with her.



Alex is such a joy to be around and I am so glad we are friends. She is fun, outgoing, and just a sweet heart to us. She might be tough on me for not knowing enough german by now, but she is so right. Thanks Alex I will work on it! After the game we all went out to a Mexican restaurant and just chatted away. We also got to hang out with her friend, Nadja, who played on the Wiesbaden team and was also one of Alex's old teammates. It was a great night and I look forward to hanging out with Alex more. Enjoy this silly video of us in the snow!


Friday, January 15, 2010

You're my boy, Blue!!

I am very excited and so proud to announce that my good friend Ryan Kiesshauer has just released his first CD. But first let me give you a little background about my friend. I first heard Blue, as I like to call him, at my college ministry CCF. He lead praise and worship there and this was around the time I first came to Christ. I loved his voice and he had a way of giving everyone an amazing worship experience. Over the years we have become good friends and I was able to watch him grow as an artist. I remember telling him my favorite songs and him slipping them into the set sometimes, what a guy! One of the coolest things was Ryan played in our wedding and it was such an exciting day for me and I wouldn't have had it any other way then him playing on that special day.


At our wedding

Blue has such a unique voice and such a gift of making a song really come alive. He has been working on this CD for almost 3 years now and I know he has poured his heart and soul into it and I am just so honored to be along for the ride. I joke with Ryan about being his manager and how I will take him places, but I truly pray that God does amazing things with him and through his music.  I have only seen a glimpse of this journey he has been going down to putting an album together and and I have to say what an adventure.

Please check him out and hopefully you will love him as much as I do.

Blue, this is an amazing accomplishment and it is so awesome to know someone who is following theirs dreams. We will be praying for you and Bethany and we are so excited to see where God takes you on this new journey. You're my boy, BLUE!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities Part Two- Belfast

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland which is part of the UK. I only say this because I wasn't sure about all this for a while when I first learned about Belfast. This trip was also very educational and we hope to get into some of that later.

The reason we picked Belfast was because my good friend, Melanie is from Belfast and her dad, Maurice, and step-mom, Gwen, still live there and Mel and her husband, Chris, were going to be visiting them after Christmas. We were so excited for this reunion because Melanie and I have so much fun together. Mel also has a brother, Matt, that is around our age that lives there too. We had met Maurice, Gwen and Matt in Atlanta when they had visited and we just loved them - especially with those accents. So after a few days in Dublin we got on a bus for two-and-a-half hours and ended up in Belfast. When we got off the bus we saw Melanie and it was a joyous reunion. We went back to Maurice and Gwen's house in a city seven miles outside Belfast called Carryduff or as Matt likes to call it, "the Duff". We had a great time catching up, laughing, exchanging small gifts, eating and drinking into the night. 



The next morning we were up early to head to the Northern Coast and see the spectacular sight that is the "Giant's Causeway". It was even an adventure getting ready in the morning since there was only one bathroom for six people. We managed to do it and had wheels up at 9am. We got there around 11 and as soon as we stepped out of the car we almost got knocked over by the wind. Once we recovered we made our way down a hill and out to see the Giant's Causeway. There are many myths about the Causeway, one being that a Giant named Finn MacCool built the steps to go to Scotland. The truth is that the column looking stepping stones where formed 60 million years ago by the cooling and shrinking of molten lava from a vast volcanic eruption. The Giant's Causeway is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I don't know if the pictures will do any justice to the stones or the extreme weather conditions we endured during our visit. I will say it was worth all of it. This is one of those things that you just have to see. It was amazing. The other fun thing was they had turned it into a scavenger hunt by having you look for things in the stones like the Giant's boot, the wishing chair, the organ, etc. After about an hour-and-a-half of cold wind and rain we were ready to get warm. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Causeway hotel and it was here I enjoyed my first Magner's cider. The Irish might not be able to make some good beer, but they make fantastic cider.  On the ride back we drove all along the coast and Maurice was our personal tour guide. With the wind blowing it made for crazy coastline conditions, but a good show for us. That evening we enjoyed a home-cooked meal by Gwen and this was the first of many home-cooked meals, it was awesome!

Our fabulous tour guide, Maurice and our good friends, Melanie and Chris.


Just getting started!

All bundled up and me looking like a bubble gum colored mushroom.


The Giant's Causeway




















The wishing chair! Even though Justin looks like he is taking a dump.


The Giant's boot. Also the sight for one of Maurice's many paintings.


Lunch at the Causeway Hotel

The next day we headed into the city of Belfast and did a little shopping and sight seeing. Right outside the city hall they had a ferris wheel, but we are talking about a deluxe one. We went into the city hall to witness a couple taking wedding photos and also took pictures of some stained glass windows. Belfast is a very cute city that has a lot of history. I enjoyed all of the great pubs and restaurants, each with its own personality. This was New Year's Eve day and Gwen and Mel had set up a reservation at Mel's favorite bar, The Crown Bar. She had told me all about the Crown bar and it did not disappoint. They reserved something called a snug. This is an enclosed booth with a door, it was like our own little space. Everyone was there and it was a really good way to start the day off.  



Belfast city hall and the deluxe ferris wheel


Stained glass windows in city hall.


Our "snug" door





The whole crew sitting in our snug!


My mom would love this place. It was made for her royalty.

After lunch we decided it would be a good idea to go home and rest up for the late night. Gwen cooked up some Shepard's pie that rocked my face off. Around eight we headed over to Matt's to meet some of his friends and for Justin to enjoy Metallica Guitar Hero. While we were there I met two of Matt's friends from Dublin that will be moving to Newport Beach, CA in February. For those of you that don't know, that is the city next to my hometown. What a small world. I told them all the things they need to see and places they need to eat. (Las Barcas of course!) It was good fun, but around 10:00 the boys shipped out for a much crazier night than ours. We all decided we wanted to have a quieter New Year's Eve so we headed back to the Duff to celebrate. America has Dick Clark and Ryan Seacreast for New Year's Eve well the UK has Jools Holland. This was the best NYE show I have ever seen. Jools had tons of musicians from all different styles and they played up to, and well into the New Year. I had never heard of some of the artists, but they were fantastic. They had some you would know like Boy George (can't sing anymore), Tom Jones (can definitely still sing and rock it out) and Paulo Nuttini.  A few new ones I liked were Florence and the Machine and Dizzee Rascal. There was hardly any talking and lots of  upbeat music. So we rocked into 2010 and as the clock stuck midnight there were hugs, kisses and Maurice leading us in a dance around the coffee table. It was a special night spent with great friends. We ended the night with some Bailey's and headed to bed around 2am.


Looking good for New Year's Eve! Silk shirts were in this year if you didn't get the memo.

The next day Maurice took us around the city looking at all of the murals painted around the city. I will have Justin give you more of the history about all this later (he is reading a book on it), but to make it short throughout the city of Belfast areas that were Catholic and areas that were Protestant have murals painted either as memorials or for patriotism. It was quite interesting and Maurice again was a great tour guide as he has lived through "the Troubles." From the pictures you will be able to see some of the ridiculousness and also some of the pride. Like I said it was very educational and even made us want to buy a book which we are reading right now. We were a little too young to really grasp this whole event when it was happening and now having been there and talked to people from there I am starting to understand more. This is one of the reasons I love traveling - learning. You can only read and hear so much, but by actually going there it truly opens your eyes to the real history. After touring we stayed down in the city and Mel, Chris, Justin and I enjoyed a relaxing lunch and a few pubs. 

Murals of Belfast


Bobby Sands memorial. He was the the first person to die during the hunger strike.


Titanic mural. Did you know that the Titanic was built in Belfast?  Locals claim "it was fine when it left Belfast".


Now doesn't that look inviting?  Right across the street from the Day's Inn.





Cloth Ear pub


Ferris wheel at night.

The following day we all hopped on the local bus and Maurice and Gwen treated us to one of the best meals for lunch at Deane's Deli. It was a famous chef from Belfast named Michael Deane and the food was to die for. Justin had to have the fish and chips while I enjoyed some organic salmon. From Deane's we went to Morrison's and had to have some Irish whiskey. Man that will put some hair on your chest. At least we can say we did it. We headed home because we knew the next day we had a full day of traveling starting at 2am. We said our goodbyes and honestly I was sad to leave. Maurice and Gwen were fabulous hosts and we felt like one of their own. It was so great to see Mel and Chris and just pick up right where we left off. 

Deane's Deli.

All the essentials: Guinness, Magner's cider and Irish Whiskey - Bushmill's of course.

The trip home was a bit crazy with a two and a half hour bus ride to Dublin to catch a plane at 6:50am. We arrived at the Dublin airport at 5:15 am and I have never seen an airport that crowded. We got on our plane and towards the end of the flight we are told we couldn't land in Frankfurt due to heavy snow and so we had to land in Dusseldorf and take another bus two and a half hours to Frankfurt. What a day, but more than anything what a trip.

I have decided in all the places I travel or live I am going to miss things. From Dublin I am going to miss the music. From Northern Ireland I am going to miss the funny sayings like, "Fancy a chinkie?" and, "a wee". Also the Magners cider and british chocolate will be up there too. I know Justin will miss the Carryduff meat and veg.

Carryduff meat and veg one of Justin's favorite's.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities Part One- Dublin

After Christmas we were kind of over Frankfurt, so we flew over to see Ireland and Northern Ireland for about a week.  So, what can I say about Dublin, which is where this journey starts off?
            Dublin is a good-sized city that was relatively easy to walk around.  The bus system was more complicated than hieroglyphics, but we managed to make it to all of the big sites.  On our first day we walked down Grafton Street, which was a nice little pedestrian shopping street with several street musicians “busking” for change.  That was a new word that was added to our vocab just before the trip – we’ve all seen it in a downtown area or subway but might not’ve known what to call it.  As it turns out, on Christmas Eve (a mere three days before we got there), one of our favorite musicians Glen Hansard was out busking with other Dublin musicians for charity and none other than Bono himself showed up to support the cause.  No joke – saw it on youtube.  Anyways, Grafton Street is awesome and you never know what you’ll get.

Grafton Street - where it all goes down


            Also on our first day we checked out an Irish pantomime at a really old theater called the “Gaiety”.  A “panto”, as the locals call it, is basically geared towards a family setting, is usually a children’s story (in our case it was “Jack and the Beanstalk”), and is a combination of a play with singing and dancing, lots of humor, and audience participation.  It was very well done and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.  As far as audience participation…….we found ourselves having to sing and dance to a Hannah Montana song (unfortunately it wasn’t “Party in the U.S.A”).  Lots of fun and it is a tradition for families to go around Christmas time, so we felt like locals for a moment.

Pantomimes - much more entertaining than regular mimes


            I know that there are all kinds of jokes consisting of Irish people being drunk and liking to drink so I know that’s a stereotype that’s out there, but seriously……….I’ve never seen more bars and pubs in one city in my life.  Now to be fair, pubs seem to be works of art, rather than raunchy watering holes.  We got to see our fair share and they were all unique and some of them were hundreds of years old, but they all seemed to be really cool in their own way.  We were also able to find a couple of places that had free live traditional Irish music which was incredible.  I’m a big bluegrass fan and this was basically where the roots of bluegrass came from, so it was a real treat.  Check out some of the videos below for a sample – the one video has several clips from different places.



Inside the "Vat House" listening to live music


"Bruxeles" pub (our first experience in a true Irish pub)


"Vat House"


            Dublin is home to a ridiculously old college by the name of Trinity College.  It was founded in 1592 and it’s a nice little place to walk around.  It’s also home to a really neat library which houses the “Book of Kells”, which is apparently a really old Irish manuscript containing the four Gospels hand-copied and beautifully illustrated in Latin by monks around the year 800.  That’s right, the 9th century, so we’re talking a really old book here.  Unfortunately, since the university was closed for holidays, so was the library during our visit so we didn’t get to see it.  That was a trip low point, but it got better.



Trinity College entrance


just inside the gates, in front of the Campanile (much older than the GT "shaft")


False advertisement


interesting sculpture outside library at Trinity


            No one in their right mind would come to Dublin without visiting the Guinness St. James Gate Brewery – the home of Guinness.  We were no exception.  To be honest………..neither of us really like Guinness very much, but have you ever tried a Coke at the World of Coke?  Ever had a burrito in Mexico?  Ever had tea and crumpets in England?  A 4-piece meal at the Big Chicken?  ……then you know what I’m talking about – you’ve got to do it.  The Guinness complex was originally founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, where he signed a 9000-year lease on the original grounds at £45/year to start his business.  He started out making Ales, but switched soon thereafter to making stout which was growing more popular in England.  Today the St. James’s Gate Brewery sits on 64 acres in Dublin and produces around 3 million pints per day!  The Guinness Storehouse tour was fantastic and walked you through the whole process, business and marketing history, etc. much like the World of Coke in Atlanta.  At the end, of course, you can enjoy a free pint at the top of the museum (shaped like a pint glass) in the “Gravity Bar” that overlooks Dublin and gives you a 360-degree view of the city.  Although it takes approximately 2-minutes to pour a pint of Guinness, it was the best one I’ve ever had.  The other pints of Guinness I sampled in the pubs were also pretty good, however I am convinced that it can’t be done right anywhere else.  If you like Guinness you need to plan your pilgrimage to Mecca sometime – trust me.

Mecca for Guinness lovers


Guinness advertisement characters over the years


the perfect pour - approx. 2 minutes


the best Guinness we've ever had overlooking Dublin


            Before we headed out of Dublin we were also able to check out a couple of churches: namely the Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 



Christ Church Cathedral


Christ Church interior


Christ Church Cathedral interior (catacombs underneath actually have a mummified cat and rat that were both trapped inside the old church organ)


St. Patrick's Cathedral - named after the obvious, who apparently is credited for spreading Christianity to Ireland; this park beside the church is said to have been the very spot where he baptized a bunch of Irish people a long time ago


St. Patrick's Cathedral

            On our last day we visited the National Art Gallery, which was sub-par for European art museums, but we really enjoyed the work of Jack B. Yeats.  Couldn’t take any pictures, but check him out if you get a chance.  We also took a brief walk through St. Stephen’s Green, which is a beautiful park and would’ve been more enjoyable had it not been freezing cold and raining during our visit.  We did manage to pull off a couple of photos to give you an idea though.



St. Stephen's Green - most likely a really beautiful place in the summer


            We will definitely make it back to Dublin sometime – perhaps on the way to the South and Western parts of Ireland, which we’ve heard is amazing.
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