Some tips for your prospective European travelers: never ever assume you can plan a last-minute trip to Dublin. You can’t. You may be able to get a cheap flight, but you’ll have nowhere to stay. That’s doubly true when you’re an idiot and you plan your trip for the same weekend as a hometown World Cup qualifying match. To get on with the story though, Rodd and I eventually found a place and headed off to the land of Ireland to sample some stout and hear some English-bashing for a change.

Our flight left London at 6:40 a.m. Saturday morning (yes, that sucked) and touched down in Dublin just about an hour later. As we were tired and it was spitting down rain, we decided to be decadent and just catch a taxi to our overpriced hotel. The guy who stopped for us, Joe, was the most insane Irishman I’ve ever met (and that includes four years at this university). Once he ascertained that neither of us were British, he let loose with a tirade against the English that would curl your hair. He had this curious habit of interjecting “Please, God!” into sentences that had nothing to do with the Almighty. For instance, he gave us his mobile number so we could call him to pick us up on Monday. “So here it is, and – Please God! – you just call me on Sunday night and tell me what time to be there. Just call it anytime – Please God! – and ask for Joe. Don’t be gettin’ any other taxi – Please God! – because they’ll just cheat you…” It was nuts. Anyway, we managed to get to the hotel and drop off our stuff before heading out into the city.

The final steps of a loooong pilgrimage

Our first stop was preordained. The Snook was like a pilgrim nearing the end of his journey. Thus at 10:30 a.m. in the morning, we entered the hallowed grounds of the Guinness brewery.

The big gates

Can you see the excitement? He was already drafting the celebratory e-mail to his buddies back home in his head.

Me, nonchalant

I’d actually already been to the Brewery three years ago when I was studying in London. I was surprised to find that they’d completely redone the visitor’s center though. Instead of the “Hopstore”, you now go around the corner to the Storehouse. It’s a lot bigger; it’s architecturally dazzling; and it’s got three pubs in the top. Sweet.

Snookums at one of the advertising displays

Here’s Snookums watching some Guinness commercials in the “Advertising” section. To be honest, I thought that the old museum had a lot more information. This new version had lots of multimedia and flashiness, but you didn’t get as many cold hard facts. It was more designed to promote the brand and get you to buy stuff in the shop than to celebrate Guinness’s long history.

Guinness is God

One of the floors had an exhibit called “Home” where you were supposed to leave a card saying where you were from and what “Home” meant to you. (What that has to do with Guinness stout is beyond me.) Nobody did that, of course. People just left messages saying who they were and where they were from. Some people got creative. This one was our favorite.