May 7-9, 2015
It took six years but I finally made it to the coasts of Ireland.
When I studied abroad in Switzerland, and crossed the Atlantic for the first time ever, in 2009, the first trip I wanted to take was to Dublin. I missed it then as some friends and I decided October was too cold and rainy for a visit – years later I’ve discovered that the joke was on us as I now know it’s always like that in Ireland.
Ireland is rich and brilliant shades of green just as you find in photos across media. The people are sincere and do I dare say jolly? I hardly passed an hour in this country without hearing robust laughter pounce through the air and land on friendly ears.
My friend Jill and I arrived late Thursday, as most of our travels tend to do, and found our way to our hostel along the Rive Liffey and O’Connell Bridge, an ideal location if you’re wanting to reach all of the main sites by foot.
We went to bed right away as we we had to be at our tour’s meeting spot by 6:50am the next morning. We had scheduled a trip to explore the famous Cliffs of Moher among other gems along the way.
We booked with Irish Day Tours and absolutely loved the trip. Our driver, Bud, was entertaining and knowledgeable but most importantly easy-going. The bus stopped in Limerick, Doolin where we enjoyed some delicious foods at Fitzpatrick’s Pub, Burren and the 12th century Corcomroe Abbey, an unscheduled stop at Hazel Mountain Chocolate shop where I purchased dark chocolate bars with seaweed, lemon, and elderberry, and lastly drove along the Galway Bay route passing the Dunguaire Castle located in Kinvara. The day made for a fantastic exploration and introduction to Ireland’s lands and histories.
We arrived back to rainy Dublin late that evening and headed to the Temple District to find some dinner. We eventually wandered to Fallon & Byrne and had a delicious meal at the bar. The restaurant sits on the top floor of a three story building. The main floor is a ‘Whole Foods’ type market and the basement is a wine cellar. It’s definitely worth a visit for some good eating and drinking.
On Saturday we were greeted with a beautifully sunny day which was perfect as we were out to discover the city on foot. The Trinity College campus was our first stop of the day. Luckily a friend in Madrid had mentioned visiting the famous library and I am so glad that she did!
Stepping into that hall of books took me back to childhood days spent watching Beauty and the Beast, envying the library Belle was gifted by the Beast, and finally deciding that my future #librarygoals will resemble the aforementioned in any way I can make possible.
Notice the books descend from smallest to largest as you approach the bottom shelves.
We wondered slightly west through the city to find ourselves in awe of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral. St. Patrick’s was imposing and angelic in its appearance. The spans of grass and fountains and benches surrounding it were inviting and we found many families and passerby’s simply sitting and relishing in the cathedral’s 12th century Gothic facade.
After a morning of gawking at beautiful building we were off to find some lunch before taking on the infamous Guinness Brewery. We opted for a famous fish-n-chips place I had heard about and was also later recommended to us by some locals. Fish-n-chips had been on my mind for a month or so for some reason so by this point I was eager to arrive at Leo Burdock’s and get the take out in my belly.
We went with the original fish-n-chips and were fully satisfied. The fish is large and crispy and the chips are the perfect bed for such a delicious meal. #yum
Now that we had adequately fed ourselves it was time to adequately ‘hydrate’ ourselves. I have to say I read many mixed reviews about the Guinness Brewery Tour before making my final decision to go and I was not disappointed.
I loved it.
When I travel it’s often necessary to participate in guided tours to see the most of a destination in the limited time available. More often than not I hate guided tours, I hate being led around like a herd of animals and spoken at by people who rarely have more knowledge about the local sites than I do. With that being said, I love when tours can be done at your own pace, in the order you want and that’s exactly what the Guinness tour was.
Pouring our own perfectly crafted Guinness’s was of course one of the highlights of the tour but without question my favorite part was the room on the 4th floor.
Extending from floor to ceiling and encompassing the massive space with no light was a screen showing a reel of some amazingly produced Guinness commercials – one’s I had never seen and that were hypnotizingly creative. Jill and I sat there for at least twenty minutes watching them over and over.
The end of the tour lead us to the The Gravity Bar where we sipped one and then another four leaf clover topped Guinness and enjoyed the 360 panoramic view of Dublin.
We ended our time in Dublin the only proper way – enjoying the crowds and eclectic decorations of The Temple Bar – before finding late night street food and crazy Irish locals to entertain us.
Ireland was a happy place and it is a place I will return to in the future.
As the Irish would say – a million thanks!