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The Most Expensive Pub Crawl: UK & Dublin

It’s difficult to talk about England, Ireland, and Scotland without mentioning pubs. It’s a part of their history and culture. So, this week in the "How Did I Get Here?" series I’m talking about the pubs I visited on my 5-week journey throughout the British Isles.

The Curlew in Dorset, England.In 32 days I visited 46 pubs in 8 different cities. It should be noted that I went to many of these pubs more than once. This became the most expensive pub crawl ever. This wasn’t my intention at the start of my vacation but it truly is what made my trip so memorable.

Pubs throughout the UK and Ireland are not just a place where you stop in for a pint. They are the town square. You meet old friends and new, share stories, debate, and support your local teams. Even though pubs and pub culture is slowly dying, it is still the heart of the cities and towns that they occupy.

Greyfriars Bobby's Bar in Edinbugh.I was a single woman travelling alone and I can tell you I met some characters. I met 71 people on my trip, only 13 of them were woman, and almost all of them I met in pubs. I should mention that I’m an old man magnet, which was fine with me because they had some of the best stories.

Here is my “best of” list for the pubs I visited on this trip:

  • Best Pub/Bar name: The Nice and Sleazy, Glasgow. This technically is more of a bar than a pub but what a great name! They are known for their live music. Glasgow was the only city I got lost in on my tour of the British Isles.
  • Best Bartenders: The Foggy Dew, Dublin. These guys took very good care of me and I would check in with them once a day. They kept me away from the weirdos and even gave me a Foggy Dew t-shirt on my last night in Dublin. Which I somehow lost before I made it back to my hostel.
  • Most difficult pub name to pronounce: Uisge Beatha, Glasgow. Pronounced "oos-ga BAY-uh," this place is known for it's whisky and the bartenders don kilts. I met a lovely man named Angus there who shared his knowledge of Glasgow with me.
  • Best story behind the name of a pub: Greyfriars Bobby's Bar, Edinburgh. The story goes that John Gray, an Edinbugh policeman, had a beloved Skye Terrier named Bobby. In 1858, John Gray died and was buried in Greyfriars churchyard. His loyal dog Bobby visited his masters grave every day for 14 years, until his own death. They also have a fabulous ploughman's lunch.
  • Most ornate pub: The Philharmonic, Liverpool. This isn't your ordinary pub, it's very posh. Apparently, the men's bathroom is something to see. The bartender, Dave from Texas, offered to let me see it if I came back the next afternoon. I didn't get a chance to go back. According to my "Let's Go" guidebook, "John Lennon once said that the worst thing about being famous was not being able to get a quiet pint at the Phil."

Here is the full list of the pubs I visited on my amazing pub crawl.

By spending time in the pubs and immersing myself in pub culture I learned more about the cities I was visiting than I could from a guidebook. The locals are the best source of information about places to go and things to do.

There was only one time when I felt slightly insulted. I was at a pub in Inverness, Scotland when two locals came over to talk to me. They said that I must be "common." I responded with, "Um, no! Thank you very much, but I'm certainly not common." They were actually commenting on the fact that I was drinking a pint, a full pint.

This was the 3rd week of my trip and I had been drinking full pints everywhere I went. It was a bit late to find out that as a woman I should be drinking a half pint, a full pint is unlady-like. I explained to these "gentlemen" that I was not going to wait for service twice for the same amount of beer, lady-like or not.

Oh, there is one more memorable pub on my "best of" list:

The pub that changed my life: The Rat and Parrot, Holland Park, London. This pub doesn't exist anymore, it's now called The Mitre. But this is where I met my husband. Yes, I met my husband in a pub in London. 

This is The Rat and Parrot pub in Holland Park, London. This is where I met my husband.The series of events that led me to finding this pub, coupled with the difficulties my now-husband and me had in getting to know each other, are quite astounding. It may make you believe in fate. Or some other fantastic occurrence.

Come back next Monday for the full story of how I met my husband.

Read Part I: How Did I Get Here?

Read Part III: How I Met My Husband

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Reader Comments (3)

I'm enjoying these stories about your UK adventures!

Should I ask how your favorite hangout here compares to real-live pubs?

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Great stories. Can't wait for the rest of the story!

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Dominique & Tim,
Thank you for your comments. I'm liking going down memory lane and sharing my experiences and I'm glad they are appreciated.

I'll get back to you on the differences between my local pub here in the States and the pubs in the UK. They serve the same purpose but there is a different feel. I'll have to think on it.

September 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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