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What do £2000, 3 hats and 366 emails have in common? The answer is Dublin.
Read on for the Wibbler Tour of Dublin 2003…
Ireland is a place of culture. Its beautiful scenery allows for spectacular views, and its capital, Dublin, is a city full of friendly people, diverse cultures and imposing architecture.
It’s also a great place to get drunk.
It was with this in mind that Michelle organised a trip there for my 25th birthday. Jac and Nick quickly signed up, and we had 7 months to plan. Although as usual, I managed to leave everything to the last minute.
After several days of mind changing, we all descended on Nick’s house on Friday night, with Nick’s girlfriend providing nibbles and Domino’s providing the pizza. After a brief discussion about Shunta’s recent altruistic turn (his recent charity work and golf-playing prompted Nick to ask, “he’s not gay is he?”) we tried to bed down for the night. The plane was due to take off at 6am can you believe, so we set our alarms for 3am and settled down for our beauty sleep.
Shunta had other ideas. After refusing to come on the trip due to financial problems, he instead found enough money to go out, get drunk, and phone my mobile phone at 1am in the morning, to helpfully remind us not to miss the plane. Used to the drunken late night ramblings (see my fone fun page for proof), I left the phone beeping and vibrating and drifted off again.
Jac, however, didn’t. He sleepily assumed that the phone call was in fact the alarm bell, and spent the next 10 minutes trying his best to wake up, before turning on the lights and announcing that we must leave. Michelle and I gave each other confused glances. “But it’s 1am… Surely the alarm was for 3am…” “What?” queried Jac, before uttering the immortal word “B***ocks” unnecessarily forcefully. After fits of giggles, we tried our best to go back to sleep.
At 3am, we got up. We also got Nick and Sarah up with a rude flash of the camera. A cracking picture, we all agreed, before turfing the tons of useless rubbish out of my car boot, in an effort to force our suitcases in. Jac had kindly nominated my car to be the one that should be parked in an obscure car park vaguely near the airport, unattended, for 4 days. Within 1/2 hour, we were on our way, Nick and Jac becoming supreme back seat drivers, while Michelle became honorary DJ, introducing Jac to the cracking band Nine Days.
Thanks to stunning map reading by Michelle and Jac, we arrived at the Purple Parking area smack on time, and as they drove my car to its allotted space at approximately 70 mph, I cringed. We were expecting it to be parked in the 3rd skip from the left, under a blue Vauxhall Astra.
We travelled for 20 minutes, eager to fly off. The airport was still fairly busy even at that early hour. We ate an overpriced meal, and boarded the aircraft.
Saturday 25th October – The Beginning.
We touched down just after 8am, and managed to stumble on a handy coach going straight to Temple Bar, in the centre of which was our hotel. We clambered aboard, and spent the next 20 minutes bouncing around the bus, getting in everybody’s way, highlighting the inadequate road system and marvelling at the unfeasibly helpful bus driver (“I’ll yell ya when we get o’er the way, don’t ya worry”). Once we’d found the hotel, The Parliament Hotel, we wondered around the town centre, remarked on the astonishingly expensive prices, and realised that if the night was to go well, sleep was high on the agenda. We bedded down, and woke up ready for a night of debauchery.
Which, as it turns out, we got. We started with a pint of Guinness and an Irish Stew (which allowed Nick to humour us with his “Irish stew in the name of the law” gag) and headed out for the best bar in town. Lack of planning meant we had no idea where that was, so we ended up in Captain America’s, an apparently famous TGI Friday-style bar at the end of Grafton Street. We ploughed through the cocktail menu, made friends with the waitress, and asked her advice for the best club. “Well”, she said, noting the “I’m single” aura around Jac, “Club M is full of girls…” Jac’s eyes brightened. “They’re mostly slappers though.” Jac made for the exit.
And so there we were, bopping around, Jac constantly taking pictures, and Michelle constantly cringing with embarrassment, the poor girl. By now it had become obvious that she would have to look after us for the next 3 days, as a kind of guardian angel, and had settled for regulating her drinking. Jac, Nick and I, however, didn’t, and the sight of a no-legged woman dancing on the podium, apparently oblivious to the fact that she had, in fact, no legs only became funnier as the drink took hold. Jac, naturally, managed to fall asleep on the dancefloor.
Sunday 26th October – The Birthday.
I started the day with apprehension. Jac and Nick had been threatening to pull a prank on me for weeks, and today, if any, would be the day they’d pull it. We sauntered downstairs for breakfast, laden with presents, and I opened each one to the sound of a click from Jac’s camera. As we waited for the lift, the first prank came – my tracksuit trousers came down with the aid of Nick’s well-positioned hands, with only bags of presents to cover my modesty. As the icing on the cake, the lift doors then opened to reveal a very startled family. I bid them good morning, and rushed into the lift.
This was also the day of the England vs Samoa rugby match, and with huge difficulty we found a hotel bar screening it. It was a quiet hotel, which made Jac’s cries of “COME ON”, “LEGS” and “WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING AT?” all the more embarrassing.
Our by now regular siesta was next, followed by watching Tottenham Hotspur play a dull game while supping pints in a 3-level bar called FitzSimons. We moved on to an TGI Friday-inspired bar The ThunderRoad Cafe, where we found a particularly friendly Russian barman. Michelle also found a breathalyser machine, which only prompted us to beat each others’ alcoholic scores. To help us, I announced it was my birthday. This prompted the barman to ominously ask if we wanted to get really drunk. We all agreed, apart from Nick, whose cries of “nooooooooooooo” fell on deaf ears. Up came a highly alcoholic “special” cocktail for me, and two sambucas, “russian-style”, for Jac and Nick. Michelle buried her head in her hands.
We decided that we’d drunk enough when Jac began to dry his hands under a condom machine, mistaking it for the hand-dryer.
The Zanzibar was next (we renamed it the Splendibar), as recommended by the barman, and it was a very classy affair. Nick, trying to balance a drink on his stomach, managed instead to spill the entire thing down his trousers, which looked embarrassingly as if his bladder had caught up with his age. Jac soon decided there weren’t enough women, and off we went to the AllSports bar, closely followed by the Ballroom club. Jac had started, inevitably, to fall asleep by now, but managed to stay awake enough to ogle two clearly paid-for women (mostly likely escorts, in Jac’s considered opinion).
My birthday was over, and Michelle safely guided me home, relieved at the lack of pranks.
Monday 27th October – The Final Onslaught.
We arrived at the Guinness Storehouse in the late morning, marvelling at the sheer size of the thing. It was tens of stories high, and covered a good square mile or so. We found the Guinness shop, and there we set eyes on 3 outsize Guinness hats so amusing that we wore them continually for the next 2 days (Jac even managed to sleep in the thing). After paying for the Guinness Tour tickets, and gaining discount rates due to my now wearing thin cry of “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!”, we trundled off round the building.
The hats, we found, could be pulled down over our heads so that our heads, in effect, became large hats. This provided endless comedy photo opportunities, and we never really took in the extremely tricky brewing process, nor the historical artefacts they had dredged up. We were too excited about our hats.
We ended up an hour later at the top of the building, which they had turned into a glass-walled bar called the Gravity Bar. The bar staff took our hats and wore them (an Irish tradition, supposedly, although I believe they were just jealous). This, coupled with my cry of “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!” enabled us 8 free pints of Guinness, and a photo of all of us behind the official Guinness bar. It was an amazing experience – the glass sides only enhanced how high above ground we were, and we could see the whole of Dublin from our chairs. Nick also provided one of the two comedy videos we took, which I cannot even begin to describe. Hopefully it’ll appear on Jac’s website in due course.
Once our stomachs had decided it was time to go, we wondered all the way down, constructing hat capers the whole way. I mistakenly asked “Am I straight?” in a lift, which everyone took to mean a query on my sexuality. “I meant is my HAT straight?” I responded, trying, and failing, to rescue the situation.
After several more cocktails and games of cards at Captain America’s, we settled on a meal at Wagamamas, multiple efforts to pull each other’s hats down, and a reasonably early night. We had worn ourselves out.
Tuesday 28th October – The Homecoming.
We trudged to the airport after a brief visit to a souvenir shop, The plane was delayed but we eventually got back to Blighty, still wearing our hats. Nick’s age-old bladder almost exploded due to the untimely inaccessibility of the Gents on the plane, and scarpered to the nearest place to relief himself, after a brief problem with his passport, which he had cleverly left on the plane (“Which seat were you in, Sir?” “I don’t know, can I show you?” “No, Sir, security reasons. Can I see your ticket?” “No.” “Why?” “It’s with my passport. Look, shall I draw you a diagram?”).
And so ended the Wibbler Tour of Dublin 2003. I came home that night to 366 emails, mostly offering me free genital extensions and viagra. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and will remember the trip for years to come. And we managed to spend around £2000 between us (although, bless her, Michelle paid for me as a birthday treat). Our bank managers WILL be pleased…
(An alternative Ireland 2003 report can be found here: www.jonola14.co.uk/dublin2003.html)