In October 2009, my friend Anna and I decided to go to Dublin for a city break in the spring of 2010. The weekend that we chose seemed so far off at the time, but now it has already come and passed.
We flew to Dublin late Thursday afternoon and got on a bus from the airport to the city centre around 8 p.m. without knowing where to get off. During the bus ride I recalled the name of the stop that had been listed on the web site of our hotel, however, as the stops were not called out on the bus there was no way of keeping track of where we were. Luckily I overheard some other tourists talking about our bus stop so when they got ready to get off, so did Anna and I.
Managing to get off at the right stop didn’t mean that our problems were solved though since the map that was inside Anna’s Dublin guide proved to be quite inadequate when it came to displaying the street names. Again, we proved lucky as a local stopped to help us and pointed us in the right direction which saved us from spending too much time searching our hotel hungry and wet (being Ireland, of course it was raining!).
After checking in and finding that our hotel was way above the standard one is used to when staying at hotels abroad we headed back out again in the search of something to eat. Fortunately for me, Anna stumbled on to a pizza place on Wexford street which we decided to try out. The restaurant, that was called Hell, is a pizza serving chain originating from New Zeeland. In contrast to what the name of the place might suggest there was nothing hellish about it as far as the food was concerned. The pizza suggested to us by the very friendly Hell-boy was truly delicious as was the dessert – the Unearthly – a pizza with bananas, mixed berries, chocolate and custard. Strike one!
Friday morning we went looking for a breakfast place serving pancakes. The search brought us to the Temple Bar area where we finally decided to enter a place called the Brick Alley Café. Here we got ourselves some pancakes with maple syrup and a bagel, just what we needed to be well prepared for a long day of walking. We had a look at the castle, some old churches, located the Old Jameson Distillery which had been recommended to us by the Hell-boy and then found ourselves entering Henry Street a shopping Mecca. The first store that we came to was Pennies and when introducing this store to Anna I had no idea what I got myself into. We left the store about two hours later, each of us with a shopping bag and a little less money at hand. However, since I got a summer jacket, a t-shirt, a top and a pair of sunglasses for less than 28 euros the feeling wasn’t all that unpleasant.
We bought ourselves a cup cake each from Johnny’s Cupcakes at the ilac shopping centre and continued walking down to the inner dock where we enjoyed these yummie pastries before continuing our walk across the Liffey, via Trinity College and Grafton Street and last but not least back to our hotel. After getting changed we returned out on the streets of Dublin and walked down to Temple Bar where we had dinner at a five-storey party complex. The food was nothing out of the ordinary, but the music entertainment on the ground floor was very good. Unfortunately we got there just before they decided to go on a break so we only got to hear three or four songs before we headed out on the bar street in the search of some live music and Irish pub atmosphere. After entering and exiting a few bars we found this one place that was hidden in an alley and located on the second floor where three men in their 60ies were playing traditional music accompanied by a bunch of people of mixed ages. We stayed there and sang along for a song or two before moving on as the place was too crowded for us to find a seat.
Saturday morning we started the day by having breakfast at Keogh’s café. We had passed this café the day before and their scones had stayed with me since then. I ordered one walnut/apple scone and one mixed berries. The walnut/apple one was good, but not nearly as tasty as the one with mixed berries!
After finishing our breakfast we walked over to the Guinness Storehouse, something that kind of felt like an obligation when in Dublin. However, except for the exhibition showing how to make a Guinness and the part where we got to serve ourselves the perfect pint this visit was not that mind breaking. Straight after being done at the Guinness Storehouse we went over to the Old Jameson Distillery. Unfortunately the next guided tour was to start 40minutes after our arrival, which seemed like bad luck at first considering time was not something we had a lot of, but it turned out quite well as this pause gave us a good opportunity to have our first Dublin served Irish Coffee and I have to say that I have never had one as good as the one served there, but hey, where else to get a perfect Irish Coffee if not here!? As for the guided tour I found it to be very good in deed! If you decide to take it, make sure to seat yourself in the front of the movie theatre so that when the guide asks for eight volunteers you can make sure that you’re one of the lucky one’s to be chosen. Anna and I did this and it resulted in us getting to taste and to compare the Jameson whiskey with a Johnny Walker and a Jack Daniels. Even though Whiskey is not my favourite drink, I had to focus not to make a face when drinking, it was a nice experience!
Anna and I were recommended to visit the Distillery in order to get a good view of the city from above, apparently the view was to be better from there than from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse. When heading towards the shopping street after finishing our tour and having picked up a souvenir bottle each from the gift shop, it suddenly hit me – we had actually FORGOTTEN the reason for which we had visited the Distillery and left the place WITHOUT checking out the view!!!! Well done…
After visiting some more stores we walked around a bit in the city, and when walking along Nassau Street we stumbled on to a restaurant called the Pig’s ear. I still don’t know what it was that made us stop at their sign but for some reason we did and we ended up reserving a table for later that night. The dinner turned out very well and best of all was the dessert, – the “Pig’s Ear’s own vanilla cheesecake with mixed berries and crumble” – it was heavenly and a good ending to a great trip.
I know that this entry is a little bit too long by now so I will try to rap it up. However, I’d like to finish off by saying that I really do recommend a visit to Dublin. The size of the city makes it perfect for a city break as you quickly learn how to navigate the streets without a map and finding your own favourite spots will definitely not be difficult. Next time I will make sure to check out the view from the Distillery and have after noon tea at the Shelbourne Hotel, two things that weren’t done this time…
Ps. don’t forget to bring your charger for the camera battery, having a low battery day 1 is not too enjoyable. Also, if flying with Ryanair and not planning on checking in any luggage – don’t bother packing any clothes, there’s plenty of that in Dublin and the prices are dangerously low Ds.