Yes, more of Ireland...
Whilst atop the Emerald Isle the travelers three decided to take a couple of factory tours. So, first off we hopped in the rental Beemer and traversed yet another set of narrow two-lane Irish highways to the city of Waterford, south of Dublin.
And what is Waterford famous for? Yep, crystal! Now, I have to admit, I had never been a huge crystal fan. Yes, it's very pretty when it catches the light and glistens, but I am more of an earthy girl. I love pottery and stoneware. Oh, and I love glass too, but more in vein of Dale Chihuly (who by the way, I believe to be a genius with glass right down to his piratic eye patch) than cut crystal. Anyway, when in Ireland one must go to the Waterford Crystal Visitors Centre where they allow you to slap down some euros and get on a bus for transport to their working factory floor (please note that I said working factory floor, relevant to next "tour").
Upon leaving the bus we were guided through the various artisan workshops to witness the magic of making glass. The glassblowers and cutters being my faves:
Then we were shuffled onto the engraving room where I fell in love...
Skellies on Waterford Crystal! Had this piece not been close to 500 euros, it would be mine.
Wait, there's more:
Okay, the fetus one is a bit much, but nonetheless I had not expected to see any piece of glass like this at the Waterford Crystal factory.
At the tour's end, we were dropped off before the GIGANTOR gift shop and yes, I purchased a few pieces...and a few more. So, yeah, I like crystal now...
LadyLinoleum's rating of the Waterford Crystal experience is definitely two thumbs way up!
Unfortunately, my thumbs are pointing downward for the next factory tour...or whatever the next experience was supposed to be.
A little background...months before embarking on our Emerald Isle tour I had heard that visitors can tour the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. I was so excited at the prospect of learning how the dark molasses-y brew was magically conjured that the notion of such a visit was far and away becoming the focal point of my impending journey. Okay, so I don't get out much. Whateva!
Anyway, upon entering the Storehouse we were asked to plunk down 14 euros apiece. Then and only then were we told that the "tour" was self-guided. Okay, fine, but how am I to know how the dark molasses-y brew is conjured??? Well, from the reading materials posted on the walls.
Seven floors of reading materials posted on the walls. Oh, and did I mention that this isn't actually a factory tour? No? Actually it's just seven floors of reading materials posted on the walls with a few antique brewing machines spattered about. Why are you looking a little hot around the collar oh Lady of the Linoleum??? We show you the ingredients for Pete's sake!
And you get a free pint of Guinness...Uh, that would be a big ole NO to the free part. IMHO, that pint is compensation for making me read seven floors worth of verbiage with little to no visuals at the highway robbery price of 14 euros. Thank you very much. Bitter? No, not me.
A word of advice, when visiting Dublin just hit a few pubs, order a pint (or three), watch some football on the television, dialog with a few of the locals and relax. From that experience you will learn more about what goes into the local brew than plunking down Disneyland ticket prices to self-guide through the maze of verbiage at the Guinness Storehouse.
More green highlights to come...