I have no idea why it started, but I’ve had a travel crush on the Emerald Isle for years. From the accents, movies, books, and plays, to the beautiful green scenery, history, cosy pubs and traditional music, I love it all.
While visiting London and Manchester for a catch up with family and friends, I felt that we should treat ourselves to a weekend getaway to explore somewhere new. And as we had never been to Ireland before, Dublin seems to be the ultimate tourist spot to indulge in the Irish charm.
After flying in on a bargain of a flight, I was already swooning at the airport just looking at the landscape photography on the walls. I’ll add in here that we later went to a stand-up comedy night, where they joked about how annoying it is when you fly into Dublin Airport on RyanAir. You’re dropped a mile off, and because you’re so bloody far from anything, they have to display those stunning landscape shots just to motivate you to keep walking towards the exit!
From the airport, we got the Airlink bus to the city (€7.00), which was cheap and simple enough, though a Game of Thrones superfan did spot my comfy-travel GOT T-shirt and excitedly assumed that I was going to the convention that week. No, no I’m not.
We booked in for two nights at Dublin Central Inn on Talbot Street, which is a perfectly convenient location – everything is within walking distance. The outside view from the street reminds me of Grimmauld Place in Harry Potter, in that it looks like it’s magically hidden from muggles. Blink twice and you’d miss it, but once you go inside it’s massive. We were randomly given a family room with four beds and a mountain of Irish tea, so that was nice. It’s an old-style hotel, but also spacious and clean, which is all you really need for two days.
My first favourite moment was walking past a hyper-commercialised Irish tourist shop in all its green glory with the Irish jig playing out the doors – like yes I am HERE. Using The Spire of Dublin as our compass, we crossed quite a few eateries and activities off the list:
The Stage Door Cafe: This cafe is a tiny place in the middle of Dublin’s cultural quarter, Temple Bar, with friendly service and a warm, local atmosphere. We both got the full Irish breakfast and a cup of tea to start the day and it did not disappoint! They even gave us a green lollipop on the way out.
Trinity College Dublin: Due to its picturesque setting and the famous people connected with it (Oscar Wilde studied there), it’s a lovely campus to wander around with a coffee. We were lucky in that it was an abnormally hot Autumn day so the jumpers came off and the sunnies went on.
Dublin Castle: We didn’t go in for the guided tour, but instead took a stroll around the exterior grounds, which has an impressive courtyard and pretty gardens.
National History Museum: Popularly known among locals as the ‘Dead Zoo’, I had high hopes for this place (visions of London’s giant dinosaur skeleton), but I kind of just found it to be the largest amount of stuffed animals I had ever seen in one place! However, it’s free, Joe seemed to enjoy it, and it doesn’t take long to get around.
Quays Irish Restaurant: Also nestled in Temple Bar is Quays Irish Restaurant, which specialises in traditional Irish dishes, such as Irish Stew, Dublin Coddle, Cottage Pie and Slow Cooked Beef and Guinness Stew. I went for the hearty Irish Stew, which consisted of diced Wicklow lamb, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and finished with fresh parsley and thyme, and served with brown bread and butter. After not having kitchen access for the past week in Manchester, and eating very unhealthily, it was a delicious and very welcome source of nutrition. I’ve been craving it ever since and whipped out the slow cooker as soon as we got home – it’s on my regular dinner menu now.
The Stag’s Head: This traditional Dublin pub, also in the Temple Bar area, has a beautiful old wood interior and is perfect for soaking up the Irish atmosphere. We were lucky enough to catch a free stand-up comedy evening, ‘The Comedy Crunch’, which included three comedians and a host who kept things moving smoothly. This was the highlight of our short trip – it was so good to hear self-deprecating humour again that the Irish/English do so well, and have everyone in the room find it hilarious too. When moving to Australia, there are all the obvious things you miss about living in the UK, but this evening really highlighted how much I miss hearing the English sense of humour! You also get FREE ice-cream, what’s not to love?
Guinness Storehouse: Although I’m not a massive Guinness fan, Joe loves it (when in Ireland… apparently it tastes bitter in Sydney), so of course, we couldn’t go to Dublin without visiting the Guinness Storehouse. And dedicated we were, with a 40-minute walk in the diagonal-slanted pouring rain at 9am and squeezing it in just before our flight to London.
I was dreading that this experience would be full of crowds, but as it was early on a weekday, it was pleasantly quiet. The self-guided tour shows the process of making Guinness, as well as the history of the company, and although it’s not my favourite drink, I still found it interesting, particularly the segment about their marketing campaigns. It concluded with us being taught how to properly pour a Guinness pint, and mine was actually perfect – all those years of bar work finally paid off. Now, why isn’t there an Irish Bailey’s Cream tour?
All in all, it was a brilliant taster trip to Dublin. I wish I had listened to more live music, found a great Irish coffee and browsed more local stores and bookshops, but with so much to explore, I know I’ll be back in Ireland again one day.