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Day Five: Dublin
For once, the ship actually stopped in the intended city. Andres and I decided to walk downtown instead of paying for the shuttle. That may not have been wise, because it took us half an hour just to work our way out of the port, plus another half an hour to get to the city center.

The first thing we saw once we cleared the port was a tall ship flying a Mexican flag. We also found a postbox, which let us mail the postcards we'd picked up in Cork the previous day and made the entire expedition a success. (That was our goal for the day, mailing the postcards; all further exploration was bonus.)

We sighted on Trinity College as destination one. It was pretty enough, but less open and green than I'd been expecting. The Book of Kells exhibition hadn't opened when we got there (9:15), so we kept wandering. By the time we got back, the line was too long to be sure we'd see anything if we got in it. We also found better information about the admission price and the content of the exhibition, so then we felt better about missing it.

Next stop was St. Stephen's Green, a pleasant park with an unexpected photo exhibition on the wildlife of Poland, including a very dramatic hedgehog on a hillock silhouetted against a setting sun. Actual Dublin wildlife consisted primarily of magpies, seagulls, pigeons, and unusual large pinkish pigeons with white neck patches.

From the park we proceeded to Dublin Castle, where we did not take the guided tour and therefore did not see the inside of the building. However, around back there was a little walled garden and a tiny hidden museum about the history of taxation in Ireland. They had a display of various smuggling-related things the inspectors had found, assorted historical documents, and a symbolic sculpture made out of a hundred or so locks welded together to form a sphere. They also had, in a case of artifacts from the process of computerizing the revenue service, a curious metal object, about eight inches tall, in the form of a smooth sphere with eight telescoping legs. Upon inquiring, we learned that this was an award for automating things well, but as there was no information about it in the cabinet we had a good time speculating before we asked.

Somewhere in the wandering around, we spotted this place and took a picture for eeyore_grrl:

Then Andrés tried a Guinness (he says it's less bitter here; I enjoyed watching it settle out from its initial chocolate-colored state into separate foam and black liquid layers, but I don't like the taste) and we got back to the ship in time for all-aboard at 1:30. It wasn't a long day, but it turned out to be pretty full!
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I know it's not really part of your tour, but that's a great hedgehog photo!

Oh, I don't know. Just because I didn't take a photo of the photo doesn't mean it wasn't a memorable part of the trip. It is an extremely dramatic hedgehog.

I only like Guinness when I have it in Ireland, I don't drink the stuff here at all - though I am a beer snob and do like other stouts a lot in the right context, Guinness just has to be had in Ireland and nowhere else.

I need to go back to Ireland.

As far as the Guinness goes, I'm not sure if it's a "fresher in Ireland" thing, or if it was just on tap, as opposed to poured from a can or bottle, as I've had it stateside. I did pick up an 8-pack upon getting home, a surprising fraction of which has been consumed as Guinness floats through the addition of good vanilla ice cream.

We get it on tap here in the UK too, but Guinness is notorious for not travelling well (I said I was a beer snob!), maybe it's just that in Ireland I'm in the right frame of mind to drink the stuff. I wouldn't touch it from a can (nor any other beer either), possibly bottled, but I drink so rarely at home that it's not a question that's really likely to come up.

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