I spent the better part of four days in Dublin last year with a close childhood friend. I say ‘the better part’ because we spent a great deal of our time in and out of pubs, and perhaps of the four days we spent there I can only recall three. And we happily discovered that they do, in fact, serve beer before 11.

The striking architecture, that old-city feel, is characteristically Dublin. We made it to the tourist haunts, but given our seven-Guinness count by three in the afternoon, we weren’t too excited about the twenty-euro price tag on the factory tour. That was money better spent on the black beer elsewhere.

Having not spent more than a few hours together since high school it wasn’t hard to walk and talk for hours. We took breaks only to rest our feet and quench our thirst. Rowan and I share few interests; he is an extraordinarily talented musician, and I, despite all of my wishes, was never bitten by that bug. But we met when we were four over Legos, and like all friends you meet when you’re four, shared interest doesn’t need to extend farther than your toes.

As Rowan was a musician we were often stopped in front of some busker, or trekking up dark stairways following our ears; they led us to some unusual places, but never to a dull moment. The best of these forays was a small pub where the “No. 1 Irish fiddle player”–surely one of many–had turned what would have been a little quiet pub into the most lively, and raucous of parties. The nightclub across the street was visibly dead in comparison. This was real music, played with real instruments, grins and Guinness all around.