Friday, June 19, 2015

Bad Shakespeare Takes Ireland: Bad Shakespeare and the Guinness Factory.

When you’re living in another country for a month, you don’t want to come across as a tourist. You want to blend in as much as possible, despite the fact that the second you open your mouth everyone can tell that you’re not from this area, and the fact that when you try to count out the funny looking coins in front of you, you’ll stick out even more.

No country needs TWO coins that represent TWO dollar amounts, Europe. Seriously. Especially if they look the same, one is just slightly bigger.

Then some days you want to just say “forget all of this” and do something ultra touristy. Like when you’re in Dublin, you make the tourist pilgrimage to the Guinness Factory, because Guinness is magical, and available at every bar and some McDonald’s in the country. (Note: I haven’t been in a McDonald’s just yet, so I may be making that up. But it seems likely. I'm currently out of all the money I brought, so a trip to McDonald's seems destined in my future.)

So, without a golden ticket in hand, I made my way to the Guinness Factory where there was far less of a chance that I’d be murdered by a psychopath and his orange minions, but I’d still see people clad in their finest wacky clothes. 

The first thing to notice about the Guinness Factory Tour is that it LOOKS very much like a city in Dublin would look. The rest of Dublin essentially resembles just about every other city in the world with more of an Irish Flair, which means more pubs and less… what did I see in London? Was it that long ago? Feels like it. But this is decked out with old stones, and even some horse drawn carriages if you want to plunk down 30 Euro for a ride. Once again, using those damn coins!

Inside is a magical world where the beer flows like water, there’s a whole room dedicated to a magical version that makes you… you want me to stop with the Willy Wonka References? Ok, just one more at the end, but I’ll get to the actual tour.

The actual tour (attended by my Professor for the trip, her husband, and another student) begins with a very long line, and one person who totally spaced out and didn’t purchase his ticket online before the trip started, and three very nice people who made themselves busy while he stood in said line. (Thanks, Lisa, David, and Hilary.) The tour then directs you to the gift shop, which is a bold move considering you haven’t had your first taste of Guinness just yet. But this leads to… the lease.

Apparently the lease for the Guinness plant was signed and set to include a 9,000 year lease on the land, which should mean that the robots who eventually take over humanity will have a place to get a good beer to lubricate their innards before they go on another killing spree. The lease is placed at the bottom of the tour, which, in addition to being self guided so the person giving you the introduction is nicely saying to move on and let the next group come through, but it’s also shaped like a giant pint of Guinness. It could hold something like 9 million gallons of the stuff, which sounds like the start to a movie starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zack I’m not going to try to spell your last name and the wifi is still too unreliable for me to really google stuff right now. you know who I mean. 

I could go into detail about every little thing, but I sum up: Guinness is made like just about every other beer, except the barely is better (which… duh, we’re in Ireland) and the water is better. Also, it has a long history of being a really great beer, filled with beerness. 

The ticket also comes with a ticket to taste your own pint. But more on that in just a minute. 

So, one of the rooms you can check out is a “proper tasting room” that teaches you how to properly drink Guinness, because this is a drink to respect and not something that will go into any ordinary beer bong. So we get led into this room that is completely white with a bar in the back, two taps that dispense nothing but Guinness (don’t ask for Harp here… they don’t think it’s funny) and four aromatic fog… like… things… (I guess) that dispense the smells of Guinness. It’s like a spa, but with more healing power. We were given a short talk about what it means to taste it, then we’re given the worlds smallest glasses and led into another room, filled with wood and portraits and kinda classy to taste it. The lessons there are a deeply held secret* so I can’t divulge them to the reading audience, but needless to say, it was pretty good.

*Not really. You’ll find out why I’m not going to divulge it in a minute.

But you get two options when you have a disappointingly not golden ticket. One is to go up to the Gravity Bar, an awesome bar that overlooks all of Dublin and have someone pour it for you. The other is to learn to pour your OWN Guinness at Guinness Academy. 

Guess what the adventuresome people did?

So, we made our way into the Academy and got the speil that the poor tour guide probably gives about 50 times a day. We learned how to pour the perfect pint (tip at a 45 degree angle, let it hit the harp, straighten it out, let it set, then finish it off.) Then we got our certificates (so even if I fail the class I came here for, I’m walking away with some kind of degree) and we ended up  drinking our freshly poured Drinks. Essentially, we poured our own drinks, but had to pay for them.

This is also the part where I should flash back for a second and tell you about the start of my day, going to the Yeats Exhibit in the Library! It was amazing, and we learned all about Yeats and his genius. He was a great man. I walked all the way to the Library. Then I walked around there. Then I walked back. Then I took a trip to the Celtic Whiskey Store. Then I walked back to the hotel in enough time to walk 30 minutes to the Guinness Storehouse. The tour, though self guided, still ended up being around 3 hours. 

Essentially, I downed two and half Guinness after a day of walking, and not having anything to eat other than Breakfast at 9. It was about 3 at this point. They hit me harder than they should have, so we quickly decided it was time to go eat, whereupon I did NOT order another Guinness, but I did order the Beef and Guinness Stew, which was AMAZING, and along with the mashed potatoes, allowed me to regain my composure a little bit.

We did end our day at the Gravity Bar, which was overlooking all of Dublin, and currently contained about 90% of the tourist population of Dublin. After getting our pictures, we quickly scurried down to the Guinness Store to spend more money on shirts and things so people knew we had attended it.

Oh, and for the end I was going to throw in another Willy Wonka reference that included an Oompa Loompa song set in the factory. Sadly, I’m a little wiped, and my poetry is “Vogon-like” at best. So, I’ll spare you.

Next Post: The Bad Shakespeare Takes Ireland/Summer Movie Season Crossover Edition!

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