Thursday, August 29, 2013

Weekend Trip: Dublin, Ireland

Actual date of this event: 23-25 August

Normally with my trips, I can go step by step with what we did, what we saw, with a little bit of history thrown in there. Dublin... I got nothin'. 
I had been told that Dublin could be done in two days because it's small and there isn't much to see. Here is the real truth: Dublin can be done in one day. But if you plan to really really enjoy Dublin, you need a second day to recover from day one. As much as you may try to avoid it, you end up in a pub with a pint in your hand, listening and singing along to live music. And before you know it, it is 2am and you are wandering back to your place of stay while stopping in another pub because it's there. And it's open. And there are people inside. And music is still playing.

So I will start with the non-alcohol related things first, and then I will move on to the fun but painful stuff.

Luke and I took the AirLink Express (bus) from the airport. There are a few different options for transport to/from the airport, the easiest being a taxi, but according to online research, the AirLink was the most economical. It is 6 one-way or 10 round trip. It took us about 40 minutes for each trip, but it all depends on your stop.

We stayed at Castle Hotel which was about 0.8 mile to the southern side of the River Liffy. It wasn't super close to the center of town (or Temple Bar, I should say), but it was close enough and came with free breakfast and free wifi. And the price was the best we could get!

Dublin has a castle. We did not enter, but we did make our way into its square where, oddly, large sand sculptures had been built. Something to do with art, I guess. They were pretty unique. So according to Wiki, the castle was built in 1230.

The Spire of Dublin, officially named the Monument of Light (nicknamed Stiffy at the Liffey, Erection at the Intersection, and Stiletto in the Ghetto - its the beer talkin') is a really tall needle thing. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and is just so random. The only tall structures in Dublin are a few steeples of churches, so this thing towers over the city. At night, its tip lights up which to me looked even more weird. We walked by this thing every day and night as it was en route to our hotel.
Christ Church is located at the end of Temple Bar (read more about Temple Bar in a minute) and is one of two cathedrals in Dublin, part of the Church of Ireland. From the outside, there wasn't much special about it except that it takes up a large amount of space in the small city of Dublin. We walked by on our way to the Guinness Storehouse, so one quick picture and we kept going.
Note: The other cathedral in Dublin is St Patrick's, part of the Church of Ireland as well. It is the largest church in Ireland. The church was not "near" the other "things" we planned to "do" in Dublin, so we did not make it over. Eh, whatta ya gon do??
Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland and was modeled after the University of Oxford in England. It is right in the center of the city and impossible to miss as it is surrounded by walls, although its inner square is accessible to the public. The university's library is the largest in Ireland and is the home of the Book of Kells (an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables - source). We did not enter the library as most tourists do - look at the line below!

Merrion Square is just around the corner from the University. It is a very green park with a few statues and flower arrangements. It isn't a super big park, but its a nice place to relax for a few minutes. As well is St Stephen's Green which is located at the end of Grafton Street (main shopping street in Dublin). St Stephen's Green is larger than Merrion Square and much more touristy. If you are in Dublin for a Sunday, both parks host an art market around its borders.

The Ha'penny Bridge is a small pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Liffey. There are other pedestrian bridges that cross the river but this has the most history. It was built to replace ferries that took folks from one side of the river to the other and was a toll bridge for 100 years. Its name comes from the toll charge, "a penny and ha'penny" (half penny). I had read online that to get an iconic picture of Dublin, this bridge would do the trick. I don't know about y'all, but this one does not do the trick... most of the pics in the rest of this post are way more iconic than this bridge!

So I guess there is more to do in Dublin than I have lead you to believe, but trust me when I say that the pubs are very difficult to avoid. They are EVERYWHERE, but there is one main area that you will be attracted to - Temple Bar. It is a little bit confusing... Temple Bar is an area of Dublin, but there is also a pub called The Temple Bar (has the word THE). Temple Bar area is pretty much just pubs. Okay, there are other things too but your eyes dehydrated body only notices the pubs.
(day and night pictures of part of Temple Bar area below)

To get us started on Friday, Luke and I did the Literary Pub Crawl. We visited some random sites around the city, got a little bit of history, had some laughs, and drank some beers along the way. We don't usually do stuff like this, but it was fun and we are glad we did it. Next time, I would like to try the Musical Pub Crawl (thanks Kristal for mentioning it!).
We saw two BrewDog signs, but Dublin strangely does not have a BrewDog.
We also visited the Guinness Storehouse better known as the Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate. We walked through 5 levels of brewing history and facts before going to the 7th level where we got our "free" pint with a view looking out at the city. The tour and building were extremely beautified, and there was loads to read and see. We also went into the tasting room which had only opened two weeks prior. We got to smell the different ingredients used in the brewing process, we were taught how to drink a Guinness properly, and we were given a teeny-tiny glass of Guinness to drink. There is also an option to learn how to pour the perfect pint, but the line was forever long so we chose to go straight for our pint on the top level.

We took matters into our own hands and made our way to a few pubs through the city. After drinking Guinness on Friday, I could not take any more (I like it, but can only take so much) and stuck with Smithwicks for the rest of the weekend. It is a much lighter beer, its delicious, and its Irish! Here are the pubs we went into where I remembered to take a picture :-)

The only one we visited twice...
Just a few, right?

Before Luke and I began traveling, we were told that once you start traveling, you wont want to stop. We had said that we want to do all the traveling we can now, so we wont have to worry about it with kids. The recommendation we got was the make a list of places you can visit with kids and places you wont want to visit with kids. Well, we never made that list, but my suggestion to those of you that plan to make a list is to put Dublin on the "do not do with kids" list. It is just my opinion of course!

Dublin is a super fun city! Super fun! Great to do with friends... we wish we could have worked it out with some other folks, but it is what it is. As for the rest of Ireland, we hear the country is beautiful and would love to take a road trip around the whole island one day. I will probably still favor Scotland though :-)

Dublin is FULL of beggars. Lots of guys walking around the streets asking for spare change.
Dublin Airport has a United States Preclearance (excludes going to Chicago and Boston airports).

1 comment:

  1. We had a fun time in Ireland, and I feel like the live music and pub scene is better than Scotland...but on everything else, Scotland takes the cake:) The pubs are definitely the main draw in Dublin. So much fun!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...