In Dublin, beer lovers have elevated their iconic beer, Guinness, into something much more than just an alcoholic pastime. It approaches the divine. At the Guinness Storehouse the brewery has erected a seven-floor tribute to all things Guinness in a museum-pub-store-commercial-alter structure in the shape of a gigantic pint glass. Pilgrims to the shrine embrace it with all the enthusiasm of, say a Taylor Swift concert attendee. (Not that the monkey has actually ever been to a Taylor Swift concert). This is not something you just go to. It’s something you experience in a meretricious, touristy kind of way
Of course, the monkey experienced it. He’s been to breweries before, plenty of them, but nothing quite like this. Mrs. Kongo endured it as a good sport. She really doesn’t appreciate the rich, ruby-red brew with 1.2 trillion yeast molecules or the 300 billion bubbles in every pint. Not to mention the unique taste, described as sweet but coffee-flavored by the perfectly roasted barley. In Ireland, young mothers used to be rewarded with a pint of Guinness. For strength. Yeah, the shrine is like that.
In fact as you work your way up through the giant museum in a Guinness pint, you come to an all white heavenly room filled with misting aromas and a white-clad angel who instructs you on how to properly drink a Guinness. Smell, big-gulp, savor.
The true aficionados in the crowd were quivering with excitement. Finally, we work our way to the top of the giant Guinness building for our pint with a really nice view of the city. Mrs. Kongo had an orange Fanta. Go figure.
The next stop was an actual shrine. The Anglican Church of Ireland cathedral known as Christ Church. Its story begins about 1,000 years ago when the Norse king, Sitruic Silkbeard, built a church on the site about 1030 A.D. It was rebuilt in the 12th and 13th centuries and heavily restored in the 1870s. Although it started out as a Catholic Church, Henry VIII’s marital machinations anglizized the church to become the Church of England and the Church of Ireland.
This church has some massive flying buttresses, an architectural detail Kongo really likes. Buttresses were added to cathedrals when the original builders realized the soaring ceilings and walls would collapse without reinforcement. The beautiful add-ons were designed to account for the lateral thrust of the tall arches and transmit them to massive piers in the ground that were designed to hold everything in place for thousands of years.
The beautiful tile floors contain French fleur de lis, English lions, and Celtic symbols that reflect the heritage of Dublin.
Of course, there were other attractions too. For example, Mrs. Kongo keeps her record for not passing promising souvenir shops until she checks them out. So there was that.
Tomorrow, there will be some more shrine visits and of course, more souvenir shops. Hold your breath.
Travel safe. Have fun.