DUBLIN / IRELAND
Trying to decide where to go on your next adventure can be hard-you found your travel partner; you have the time off work and its time to start the fun part! BUT HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHERE TO GO? That was my problem this time around. I had 10 days off, so I wanted to go somewhere overseas but not TOO far where I would spend most of the time jetlagged. I am in LOVE with Europe, so I decided I would head back to knock a few more places off the bucket list. There are certain airports where prices are significantly cheaper to fly into and Dublin appeared to be one of them. We found a round trip for just over $600 from Toronto, which seemed like a steal to me. The main reason I was interested in flying into Dublin was that Ryanair had a direct flight into Faro, Portugal, and I was able to get down to the Algarve from there, my mind was made up. I had already been to England and Scotland-so it was time to check the entire UK off my list!
The day had come to depart, and I couldn’t have been more ready to hop on the plane! We flew Aer Lingus, Irelands charming airline with the shamrock on the wing. The staff was friendly and the food was oddly not terrible for airplane food, so I was content. We did an overnight flight on Friday evening to avoid loosing any time there, and got on Irish soil at 5:30 am. First impression-Irish people are hilarious and the weather is cold! When the man at customs couldn’t have cared less that I forgot to fill out my immigration sheet and threw it in the trash and said welcome to Ireland, I was sold! We left a sunny 25 degree Toronto for a rainy 10 degree Dublin, but that wasn’t going to stop me from exploring all day.
Tip number one: Getting from the airport to the hotel: There is a bus that you can take which takes you into downtown but if you want a direct hotel drop off, ensure the cab driver puts the meter on. Our cab driver clearly saw us coming, and charged us 40 euro for a quick 10 minute cab ride <obviously we had never been there, so didn’t know the difference> Our hotel manager told us we had been scammed and it should have been only 20. THAT was annoying, so we ensured the meter was running going forward. NOTE TO SELF: google how much cabs should cost ahead of time, and don’t admit this is your first time there-I wont be fooled twice!!! We stayed at the Crooke Park hotel, next to the stadium-it was about a 15-minute walk into town or a short bus ride, but overall a really nice hotel. We got to the hotel around 6:30, and the staff was nice enough to let us check in early to grab a few short hours of zzz’s so we were rejuvenated for the day. We walked straight into the action and started at our day walking the adorable streets of Temple Bar. We scouted a few places we wanted to check out later <When it was more acceptable to indulge in a few drinks> The Temple bar has countless pubs and little shops and is a photographers dream- you could get lost throughout the cobblestone alleys. We then continued to Graffton Street where shopper lovers can get their fix. I personally love the shopping in the UK-there are a lot of places which we don’t have at home <Pull & Bear, River Island and Next to name a few!> If you want to feel some real shopping chaos, stroll into Penny’s, where there are clothes racks for DAYS, I lost my boyfriend in here for a solid half an hour, but there could be worse things, right?
After some much needed retail therapy we headed over to the Dublin Castle where we walked the grounds. We didn’t go into the Castle to do a tour, but you can buy tickets for less then 10 euro. It was turning out to be a lovely day so it was nice to relax amongst the newly blossomed flowers, but not getting TOO comfortable because there were things to do and see! We basically walked through out the entire day, seeing the main sites along the way. We took a stroll through St. Patrick’s park <I’m guessing he’s the man behind one of our favorite drinking holidays>, Trinity collage <Where we caught a bit of a football game> and St. Stephens Green park <Which reminded me of a mini central park, great for a picnic or some relaxation!> One of my favorite things about Dublin was the colorful doors on a lot of the houses! Pink, blue, green, red-it really brings some color into the temperamental weather conditions! I’m pretty sure that day, the temperature varied by at least 15 degrees from morning till night and we saw it all: rain, clouds, sun, hot, cold-this is even a challenge for someone who writes about packing spreadsheets! The key is layers, and pack an umbrella even if it looks picture perfect outside; this place has proven to be tricky!
Of course all this wandering has made us work up quite the appetite, and we heard great things about this fish and chips place in Temple Bar called Leo Burdock where numerous celebrities have come to eat. I’m not a big seafood fan, but even I was impressed! After that we took a walk to The Brazen Head-the oldest pub in Dublin, which was opened in 1198-so we obviously stopped for a beer and took a break from our sightseeing to join in on the traditional Irish hobby of beer drinking!
There were 2 tours we wanted to do, but had to choose only one: The Jameson tour or the Guinness tour. Most people go for the Guinness tour but we are more ‘whisky peeps’ so we decided to do that one instead. It is a good idea to book a tour in advance due to the long waits and tours tend to sell out. We went in and bought a tour for 5:30 at 2, because all the others had been sold out! There is an area where you can sit and have a drink at the Jameson Distillery, so if you wanted to go to the tour at Guinness you could always come here for a drink later on, however Guinness dosent have that option <because we tried! > After this tour and our drinks at the Brazen head we were hungry, yet again so we went to an Italian resteraunt called Wallaces Italian Wine bar, there were a few through out Dublin, and it was great! We got a 3 course meal and wine for 20 euro each. After our late dinner we were pooped and needed some well earned sleep to prepare for our next days events.
We were toying with the idea of doing the Cliffs of Moher and the Giants Causeway, however it was a full day tour <and on the other side of the country-so you probably would need a bit more time in Ireland to do this> So we decided to take a morning trip to the seaside town of Howth. This is a fishing town with awesome cliffs, winding roads on the hilltop and sailboats. When I would sit at home and think about what I pictured Ireland to look like, this place was it! There isn’t a TON to do here besides take in the beauty and hit a pub or café. <They really like their pubs there!> We got to Howth via train, which was really easy and we could come and go as we pleased. After we retuened to Dublin, we decided to do some more shopping and continue to walk around the maze-like streets. There are hop on hop off tours available which takes you to all the points of interest, but I love to wander the streets by foot, you always catch more hidden gems that way! Overall I felt like I saw everything I wanted to in the 2 days. <I would have liked to go Cliffs of Moher and possibly the jail and a bit more shopping, but I was content with what we accomplished.> Even if you use Dublin as your starting point, because a lot of the European airlines fly out of here for great prices, it is well worth it to spend at least a few days seeing what Ireland has to offer! Nice people, great shopping, cobblestone streets great for photo opps: Im sold!