Well, we are officially back in London but I have to take a moment to revisit our time in Ireland. While the trip didn’t turn out exactly as we had expected (there were more than a few obstacles), I have to admit that I am thoroughly impressed with Ireland on the whole. Everything was working against it: I had a mishap at the airport, the weather was terrible, emotions were all over the place, it was the busiest weekend in Galway (unbeknownst to us the Galway Races were on!) and thus prices were through the roof and availability for everything was low. Despite that, the place was gorgeous. I really, really liked it. It packs in a wealth of scenery, which definitely adds to its charm and I would easily recommend it to other visitors. I plan on going back in the future with more money in my pocket and more time on my hands to appopriately explore the the West Coast and the Southwest.
Dublin: Day One
There’s no way I can capture everything in a single post, so I’ll start with Dublin for today. After that crazy airport debacle and a four-hour delay, we arrived in Dublin in the early evening. A short bus ride (€7) took us to the city centre where we jumped off and took a quick stroll to our Temple Bar hotel, Farrington’s. We were thoroughly confused when we approached Farrington’s — it’s a pub and we were certain we booked a hotel to sleep at and not a pub (although I questioned whether they were one and the same for Irish folk). After entering, we met the manager and got keys to our B&B which was right around the corner (not in the pub). The room was extraordinarily nice — big room, huge bathroom (with a jacuzzi tub!), internet that mostly worked and, above all, a perfect location. While we may have gotten it a bit cheaper if we booked in advance, we were pretty happy with the price for the location (€118 for two nights).
After getting settled, we headed out to The Purty Kitchen for dinner, a gastropub in the heart of town. I was impressed with their menu (I was expecting typical greasy pub food) and their prices (€5 for deliciously wonderful crostini and salad) were definitely a bargain. We planned out our excursions for day two and headed back to our comfortable beds for the night.
Dublin: Day Two
Day two was our Dublin sightseeing day. We had a few things on our agenda and had everything mapped out. Stop number one: St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A church was built on the site in 1191 and they recently (broadly speaking) celebrated 800 years of worship. 800. We didn’t to go in, but we were impressed with the architecture… cathedrals like this always makes me wonder how people built these amazing structures without technology and machinery.
The next stop was definitely on the top of my list: Christ Church Cathedral. One awesome thing about Dublin? It’s such a great walking city. Everything that tourists typically want to see in Dublin is within walking distance. The Guinness Storehouse is the furthest point and it’s maybe a mile from everything else. Christ Church, for example, was about five minutes walking from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Early manuscripts apparently date Christ Church back to around 1030 AD. Pretty astounding. There was no way I was going to visit and not go inside. For a mere €3, we got in on a student discount and got to check out the inside:
Next stop? Dublin Castle. Oh, how I wish I could say I was impressed with the castle, but no. Perhaps seeing Edinburgh Castle jaded me? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely not what I expected. On the bright side, you can explore the majority of the castle grounds for free, so it’s certainly not a waste of money.
The picture above is actually the only ‘castle-y’ part of the castle. The rest of the castle grounds look more Victorian and are definitely not what you envision when you think of fairy tale castles. The gardens, though, are quite nice. Definitely worth a stroll around, even if just for a few pictures.
The Guinness Storehouse
After Dublin Castle, we grabbed lunch (seafood chowder was our food of choice for the entire trip) and headed down to the Guinness Storehouse, my cousin’s number one must-see for the Dublin leg of our adventure. Every living human being knows Guinness and the factory is certainly a testament to its legacy. The place is massive and the marketing is absolutely amazing. It’s not cheap to get in (€11 for students, €13 or €15 for adults) but the ticket includes a free pint at the end of the tour plus pretty incredible views of the city from the Gravity Bar on the top floor.
All in all, we had an amazing day. We had only allocated that day and a half to exploring Dublin and though we could have easily enjoyed a few more days there, I think we had enough time to see the things we really wanted to check out. The city is great, the people are friendly and the Temple Bar area is so charming, albeit a bit touristy. As vegetarians it was a bit difficult to feast on real Irish fare, but we managed. On the bright side (?), it was mostly chilly outside so seafood chowder and potato & leek soup definitely fit the bill.
Check back tomorrow to see our trip to Clifden, Connemara by way of Galway. Lots of traveling and lots of gorgeous Irish countryside.
Have you been to Dublin? What were your must-see sights?