Defying Gravity for a Guinness
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 15, 2010.
We made our way down to Dublin on Saturday. On the way we took a detour through Belfast. Stephen wanted to show me where the real Troubles happened. In that city, it looked like there was another Berlin Wall running right down the middle separating the two parts of the population. Protestant churches had cages round the windows and even the doors, making them look more like fortresses than religious buildings. Along each side of the wall was a small No Man’s Land. On the Protestant side was a wide road, but on the Catholic side, the houses went right up close to the wall. Each of the houses had ground-to-roof metal cages around the patios. This was to protect against bricks and bottles lobbed over the wall from the other side. This was so they could relax if they wanted to have a coffee or a smoke outside without worrying about being beaned by a stray brick.
Driving through this city felt like driving through an Irish version of South Central L.A. I think of Belfast as the physical example of human stubbornness. While I definitely side with one, I can see both sides to the story- but I feel like I would eventually get tired of the struggle. The Protestants were planted there by the British to Anglicanize the Irish. Today though, Belfast is all they have known, and it's where they’ve lived and grown up for many generations. And the Catholics had always been there but had their homes and rights taken away when the British showed up.
On Sunday afternoon we made it to the Guinness brewery. I had been there two years ago with my family at 10 a.m. and it just wasn’t that cool. This time we showed up at 2 p.m. and didn’t leave again until about 7 p.m. With your admission ticket, you get a free pint up at the Gravity Bar. The entire museum is shaped like a giant pint glass of Guinness, and you pass through seven floors of history before you enjoy your pint at the top. Usually. This time, Stephen, Vicki, and I went straight to the top where we used up our first ticket. It was then when I began practicing my pint-swiping skills. It sounded like Stephen was intending to stay a while, and I was thirsty, so there was no other option. When a pint of Guinness is poured at the bar, it is poured about three quarters of the way up and then it sits until it settles enough to fill it to the top. Well the bar tenders would put these mostly full pints out on the bar for the settling or for the taking. And so I took and took and took again. By 6 p.m., I thought I had it down to a science, smoother after each drink. I thought I was smooth, but I’m sure I was much less so in reality.
We left without ever being caught and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Luigi Malone’s, an Italian restaurant just off Temple Bar. An Italian who works at Stephen’s hostel up in Derry joined us and sighed “you’re so American,” after I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. When she ordered a plate of lasagna, I chose not to say anything.
I had an absolutely amazing time on my WSA trip to Krakow, Poland. I felt like a got a lot out of my money and it was so nice not to have to worry about anything because WSA takes care of it all. Our guide was absolutely fantastic and was there with us for everything we needed-it was great to have someone around with you who knew the city so well. This is definitely a trip I will never forget. I already want to start planning my next WSA trip. What amazing destination to pick next is the hard part!Alison Wendler, Universsity of Washington ~ National University of Ireland, Galway, Spring 2016
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