Like any government office (in any country...) this is a depressing, poorly-lit hellscape of desperate-looking people (ourselves included) waiting for their magical number to show up on the display. It could have been much worse for us, but the attendant issuing our waiting number recommended we go out and walk around town for 90 minutes before returning, as the office was swamped.
And we couldn't figure out why. Last July, the place was dead when we went in the midafternoon. Maybe they get a bottleneck first thing in the morning, but we took the advice and went out for a coffee at Sherie's Cafe just off of O'Connell Street on the north side.
|GNIB Waiting Coffee|
After coffee, we walked through Henry Street and the (in)famous Moore Street to see the vendors setting up for the day. On offer was the usual selection of suspiciously-low-priced fruit, possibly stolen smartphones, and tax-free tobacco. We also saw the fresh (?) fish cart setting up. As we watched, a seagull landed on the fish cart while the vendor was turned away. It picked at an expensive salmon filet (seagulls must have good taste!) and tried to take off with it. The pecked and picked-up filet dropped on the sidewalk, and the attendant casually picked it up, wiped it off, and put it back on the cart for sale. Hmmm....
When we made it back to the GNIB office, the line hadn't moved much, but we just had to camp out and wait. A full four hours after we first arrived at the office, we were finally legally approved for one more year in Ireland, and our bank account was much lighter having paid the hefty yearly registration fee.
To celebrate, we decided to go out for lunch in a very touristy pub, The Brazen Head. We hadn't been to a tourist-trappy place in a long time, so it was a bit shocking when we first piled in to Ireland's Oldest Pub, dating to 1198.
|The Brazen Head|
The tourist vibe was actually quite welcome, because we were interested in drinks and lunch on an open-air patio. All the local favorites' patios were full of lunching Dubliners chain-smoking the tobacco they may have purchased illegally on Moore Street. No sign of fresh salmon, though...
Luckily, it was still (just barely) lunchtime, so the menu had the smaller, cheaper(ish) portions of the tourist menu. Toasted sandwich and fish and chips with a Smithwick's Pale Ale and my first Kilkenny Cream Ale. I hadn't ever tried this light red, nitro-carbed ale before. It was ok, but not as good as...
|Temple Brau and Hop Head Cask|
The Porterhouse beers! We were committed to taking the rest of the afternoon off, so we popped over to The Porterhouse in Temple Bar to have some of their locally-brewed beers. For the first time, I had one of their ales from the cask rather than the draught. Cask ales have a unique character to them. Traditional draught beers are stored at refrigerator temperatures, machine-carbonated, and pumped through the taps by electric pumps.
Cask ales, on the other hand, are kept at cellar temperature- much warmer than a refrigerator. The beers are also less carbonated, and pumped into the glass by hand. The bartender has to make several long pulls of these special handles to fill up a regular pint glass.
|Celebration Porter (left) Plain Porter (right)|
After the Temple Brau lager and Hop Head ale, we couldn't resist one of Porterhouse's famous... porters. We tried a Plain Porter, our old standby, and a Porterhouse special edition Celebration Porter. The Celebration weighed in at a whopping 7% ABV, with a big chocolate smack right up front. We don't get the chance to taste beers like this very often, so we have to savor it when we do.
Finally, we had to wrap up our legal status celebration and head back home. Here's to one more year in Ireland!