About a month ago (I know, i’m behind) my friend Courtney and I flew to Dublin for the weekend. I’d heard mixed reviews about Dublin, some people I know loved it, while others thought that it was just okay, but I ended up really loved it.
Our flight left Amsterdam at 10am, and because of the time difference we landed in Dublin at 10:40. It was too early to check in to our hostel, but we were able to store our luggage there while we went to go find something to eat (more on that in another food post). After eating we still had a little time to kill so we found a small mall and wandered around there until it was time for us to check in. We headed up to our dorm at the hostel to change and make a plan for the day. Turns out, the hostel’s wifi didn’t reach our room so we relied on guide books and a map given to us at the airport’s tourist desk to help make a plan. Since it was already late afternoon we decided to go over to the Guinness Storehouse for the afternoon.
The storehouse is a huge, seven floor building, and the tour is self guided. It was kind of the perfect way to kill the afternoon because we could set our own pace and just explore on our own. For me, one of the coolest rooms was the taste room, where you learn all about how to taste Guinness. You start by walking into a bright white room that has four different scent diffusers that release the scents from the brewing process and a guide talked a little about what each meant, then we were given a small sample of Guinness and moved into a darker room, where we were instructed the “professional” way to taste Guinness. It was cool experience. We also attended Guinness Academy, and got certified to pour the perfect pint. After that we went up to the gravity bar where we enjoyed (or in Courtney’s case, drank) the pints we just poured and enjoyed the view. Between the brewery tour in Brugge, and the Guinness tour, I’ve determined that if you want the best views of a city, find a brewery tour.
After we finished up with our beers, we went and grabbed some dinner before heading back to the hostel to relax for a little bit. We then decided to go grab drinks somewhere, which turned into quite the adventure through Dublin as we tried to find an affordable, and relaxed bar. Finally we ended up at a restaurant/bar called Alfies where we each got a cocktail and talked for a little bit before heading back to the hostel for the night.
Our hostel offered a free walking tour every morning, so we opted to take advantage of this. It turned out to be really fun and took about three hours and went all over Dublin. We started at the Dublin Castle, then headed over to the temple bar area (which was gearing up for St. Patricks day) and then finished at Trinity College. It was a fun (and cheap) way to see the city and learn a little more about the history behind Dublin.
After the tour finished up we grabbed a quick lunch and then headed over to Merrion Square to see the Oscar Wilde statue and explore the park. In what was probably the happiest moment of my life, there was a dog show benefiting a dog rescue foundation and there were so many dogs and puppies around.
After wandering the park we stopped at the National Gallery (which is free) to look at some paintings, and then wandered through Grafton Street (a huge shopping street) before heading back to the hostel for a little bit. We grabbed a quick dinner at a pub right by our hostel and then headed back for an early night because we were getting up early the next day. When we got back we met a couple girls also staying in our room, and in a weird coincidence one of them had gone to high school with one of my Loyola friends.
Sunday was one of my favorite days since getting abroad. We booked a tour to the Cliffs of Moher through Paddy Wagon because it was one of the more affordable options, had great reviews, and a pick up stop right by our hostel. We had an early morning, and had a bit of a long drive before our first stop. We did the tour backwards because we had to stop in Limerick to switch buses, which is not a normal stop. We also made a stop at the “Barack Obama rest stop” which was hilarious (apparently the Irish have a thing for “sexy American presidents according to one of our tour guides). After Limerick we made a stop at Bunratty castle, before heading to the cliffs. Once we made it to the cliffs we were given an hour and a half to explore. They were incredible, but also kind of terrifying. After the cliffs we went into Doolin where we got lunch. After that we made quick stops at The Burren (an area of rocks that looks kind of like the moon, and the mini cliffs), Corcomroe Abbey (an old church with a graveyard and some cows that I made friends with), and Kinvara (where we explored Dunguaire castle). When we got back we were exhausted and went to bed early.
Monday was our last day, but we had a late flight so we spent the morning exploring. Our first stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where we explored both the cathedral and the outside park, because the weather was incredible and after living in the Netherlands for two months we hadn’t seen the sun in a while (who knew we’d find it in the UK?). After getting our fill of sunshine we walked back to the Dublin Castle and visited the Chester Beatty Library, which is an old archive of different books collected by explorer Chester Beatty. It was super cool to see how books have changed over time and between different continents, and best of all, it’s free!
We stopped to grab lunch, and then went to the photographic archives, which were pretty small and didn’t kill as much time as we were hoping. After that we just wandered around shopping a little, before getting garlic cheese fries (something I was told we needed to get in Dublin, and it was not wrong), and heading back to the hostel to hang out in the lobby before catching the bus to the airport and heading home.
Overall, I really liked Dublin. It doesn’t feel overwhelming, and has a nice, relaxed vibe that I really liked. I also found it pretty affordable. We were able to find a lot of museums and things to do that were free. There were definitely still some museums/attractions I would have liked to visit, but I guess that just means I need to go back!
Tomorrow I head to Budapest to meet a friend from Loyola for the weekend, so stay tuned for a post from that (I promise to get it up earlier than a month after the trip)!