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Dublin, A Chief's Tale....

The MTAS 5th birthday trip to Dublin began waaaaay back sometime last year, probably in a pub in Frankfurt now I come to think about it...surprising venue huh?

The idea had been around for a long time but things had always come up to wreak it...to be honest it was meant to be the MTAS 4th birthday trip to Dublin followed by a 5th birthday bash in Paris but many things conspired to put last year out of the question and so 2003 was going to be our year in Dublin......probably!!

Advance warnings went out to the list as far back as last July and a hotel was chosen. The date was going to be the weekend of the 11 - 13 April however in January the dates had to be changed, due to a certain person being unavailable, so I hunted around for another weekend.....not as easy at it seems as Dublin is kind of busy in the Spring, 6 nations rugby, St Paddy's day etc. Finally we got it narrowed to 21st to 23 March, Ireland playing away from home so no problems there (yeah right! Little was I to know that every Irish rugby fan who doesn't travel to an away match goes to Dublin to watch the match!)

OK so we speed forwards a couple of months and eventually we get to Friday 21st March. 5:30 am to be precise which is when I had to get up to catch my 6:30 bus to get to Edinburgh to catch the 11:00 plane to Dublin. Marcus wasn't even awake when I left home and he had to travel from Germany!!

So I land in Dublin and hang around the airport to meet Max who's flight is delayed. Eventually it lands and I spy a familiar figure trying to push a luggage trolley with one hand while having a conversation on his mobile....that's our Marcus :)
Actually it wasn't anything to smile about as it turned out that the Chamber tour due to start at the beginning of April had been cancelled while he was flying over France somewhere. Huge disappointment and a major problem which was to take up a lot of his mind for the weekend. Much as he tried to enjoy himself it obviously took a lot of the fun out of the trip for him :((

Anyway we grab a taxi into town and check into our hotel for the weekend confusing the hell out of the poor receptionist at the desk. I've got two rooms booked, one for three people for three nights and one for one person for two nights. Eventually we manage to get her to understand that one room is for me and the other for Max and that the other two for my room will be arriving later and finally make it to our rooms. Max goes in search of razor blades and I have a quick shower and a read of 'The Holy Book of Pubs' (tm) until The Siliva Travelling Curse (also tm) rears it's familiar head.

For those of you who haven't travelled with our beloved Silvia or heard about 'The Curse' it is a quite simple phenomenon. If your travel plans involve Silvia Barlaam be prepared for cock ups.....it's not like she causes them they just happen around her (remind me to tell you the saga of our trip to Miami sometime ) Anyway this time round I got a call to say that the train they were on had broken down and they weren't sure if they would get to the airport in time.......well we should have known right?

So, time passes, Max appears sans stubble and with a pile of Chamber t-shirts. I take the shirts and give him last years birthday pressie and we chat for a while about plans for the weekend. I tell him of Silvia's problems, we make plans for the evening and he heads off again. Very soon my mobile rings and Philippa announces that she is the in the hotel, I give her my room number and soon we are sprawled on the beds talking about life the universe and everything.

after a while....ok so a couple of hours.....we decide to dine at the hotel instead of heading out into the town as Jeanette, Dawn and Sean are due in about nine and we think it a plan to wait until they have arrived before heading pubwards. (Silvia has meantime called to say that they missed their flights and are going to be put on the one at 11. This should mean Dublin at midnight and hotel sometime around 12:30ish.....or so we think....)

After a decent meal in the restaurant we headed into the bar and eventually about 10ish Dawn, Sean and Jeanette arrive. We head out to reception to meet them and I head to the loo while they check in. As I walk back to the bar I spy a familiar figure and discover that Silvia and Stephania managed to get an earlier flight, (well an earlier one than the later one they got 'cos they missed the right one....you *know* what I mean!)

Much rejoicing - the gang is all here now we a can PARTAY!!

Everyone got sorted out and back to the bar by which time Max, Philippa and myself were well settled in and as none of us could be bothered to move after a long day of travelling (for some of us anyway) we decided to spent the rest of the evening there rather than heading off to try and find a pub with room for 7 people to sit down at about 10:30 on a Friday night in Dublin....a sensible choice I think you will agree

We spent the remainder of the evening sitting drinking and chatting and putting the world to rights until we decided that it was time to retire as we had a reasonably early start in the morning.

Saturday? Saturday.......what the hell did we do on Saturday?

Oh yeah :)....
Saturday started off fairly early... (before 10am anyway) with a nice yummy cooked breakfast at the hotel and then a leisurely saunter into the centre of town to pick up one of the Dublin City Tour buses. Timing was of the essence here as everything was planned so that we (ok I ) would have finished the Guinness Brewhouse tour in time to watch the Scotland v England rugby match on their big screen in the bar......a girl has to have her priorities you know!

The tour was good was cool, literally - we were on the top deck, open to the elements and although it was a lovely sunny day it was March and therefore not so warm.
We stayed on right till the end and the Jamieson Distillery where we had a very informative tour and Silvia volunteered to be a Whiskey Taster (note the 'e', Scottish whisky doesn't have one, Irish does...isn't English a wonderful language?)
After the end of the tour, and after Silvia had 'failed' the taste test by preferring the only Scotch on the table (yeah - go girl!!) we headed off Guinnesswards. Silvia, Stephania and Max went off at this point as they wanted to see the Book of Kells and as Max had to leave on Sunday he wouldn't get the chance the next day.

The Guinness Brewhouse was a bit of a disappointment - it's hyped so much as the ultimate thing to see in Dublin but I found it too dark, badly laid out and although the information was interesting it was so difficult to figure out which bit you should be looking at next and soo hard to read it in the dark Dawn and I gave up and went in search of the others who had drifted off too. Found them at eventually in th Gravity Bar at the very top of the building (why are we not surprised!) nursing their free pints. Now I'm not a Guinness fan, I've tried it a few times but I find it too bitter and just generally nasty however it was free and you have to have at least one pint of the black stuff when you are in Dublin...in any case do you think I would have ever lived it down if I had asked for a soft drink...with you lot? Yeah right!!

Anyway I handed over my little token and the nice man passed me my pint.....I held it reverentially, smiled at the little shamrock embossed on the head and slowly took a sip..........

Oh Heaven!!

Bliss!!!

Perfection!!!!

The best thing I've swallowed for a long long time....absolutely wonderful, smooth, creamy, no bitterness just wonderful wonderful......ohhhhh heaven.

While I was still enjoying my orgasmic introduction to Dublin Guinness we spotted Jeanette and Philippa who had grabbed a spot on the floor by the window and were also nursing their pints of Black Heaven. We stood around for a while took a few photos (I took a total of three photos during the whole trip and they are all from this bar!) and then want in search of Rugby. Ireland had narrowly beaten Wales in the first match of the afternoon which was wonderful as it set up a Grand Slam match between England and Ireland the following weekend - you can tell I was confident of Scotland winning can't you :)

We found ourselves a couple of seats in front of the big screen and then managed to snaffle a couple of others and settled down to watch Scotland get slaughtered.....again!!

Oh well at least I had my Guinness to comfort me...my third pint by this time...or was it four.....have I mentioned I like :))

After the match finished we headed downstairs to try and meet up with the others for dinner...yeah right - like that was ever gonna work!!

We'd arranged before they left where and when to meet so when we got there to find no sign of them I phoned to discover that they were back at the hotel. It seemed easier to go back and join them, dump our shopping, (nice shop in the Guinness Brewhouse ) and then head out in search of food.

Hmmmm.....Saturday evening, Dublin, rugby weekend, seven people wanting to eat together.....ohh *that's* going to be easy!!

The decision was made, Max voted for anything except Chinese and we caught a minicab into the centre of the restauranty bit and wandered around for while until w found somewhere that we all agreed on and had space for us.....yup a Chinese :)

After a nice lazy meal we wandered off in search of some traditional music and more Guinness. Templebar was heaving with queue outside everything that even looked like a bar and we eventually found a little place on the other side of the river with traditional music and seats for about half of us and decided that it would do.

I'll never forget the look on the face of one of the guys in the band when, in the midst of a conversation, I happened to mention that the pint Max had just brought me was my eighth of the day.....kind of "what a woman! Eight pints and she's still capable of a sensible conversation" ...priceless :)

We finally left and wandered back to the hotel and bed....

(okay - the final part will appear here just as soon as I've found my notes...oopsie!!) Andi

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