“Pocléimnigh”– Closet English Translation: Frolicking
So if you read the previous post about our time in Cardiff and Conwy, Wales, you may remember that we took the 7:30 am Holyhead Ferry to Dublin. This was the first time we had taken a ferry like this (i.e. we were driving from Wales to Ireland), and it was very easy! We booked online, as if you would a flight and showed up a little early to make sure we were where we needed to be. We had almost an hour drive from our Airbnb in Conwy to the Holyhead port with an additional two and a half hours on the ferry. The ferry was a lot of fun, we brought a deck of cards, had some hot chocolate and muffins, and watched the water as we cruised across the Irish Sea to Dublin!
Our first day in Dublin we left the ferry port and made our way to get lunch in the Temple Bar Area at the Shack Restaurant that a friend recommended. This was a great location because we would meet our 2:30 p.m. Free Walking Tour nearby at the Ha’Penny Bridge right after lunch. When we got to the restaurant we were really cutting it close with our upcoming walking tour. We spoke to the host, and asked if he thought our tight time frame would work, and he was super accommodating! I was not expecting him to be so friendly about it, but he seated us and took our orders within minutes, the food came quickly, it was amazing and we paid the bill in time to dash across the bridge to make our tour. At the table we had Shepherd’s pie, lamb stew, and I ordered what may have been the best twice-baked-potatoes I have ever had. When we arrived at the meeting location for the tour there were probably 100 people waiting for the Dublin walking tour we had signed up for. There was another tour with the same company about Fables and Folklore that only had about ten people, so we asked if it would be okay to switch, and we did. I think we made the right choice.
“May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.”– An Irish Saying
Our tour guide, Ruairí, was an Dublin-native, so naturally he guided us through Dublin sipping a coffee cup of whisky, was a graduate student studying literature, had a class handlebar mustache, and was an animated story teller. At the end of the tour he invited us to join him to celebrate his birthday at a local bar with friends. Turns out that was the excuse for his afternoon whisky- it was his birthday (or maybe it was just because he is Irish?)
We started the Walking tour at the north end of the Ha’Penny Bridge, and made our way with several stops:
- Dublin Castle: we visited the museum a couple days later, it was very interesting, the most notable item was the throne that every British President sat on during their inauguration ceremonies from 1938-2004. Another interesting fact, I learned while eavesdropping on a tour, was that when the castle was built, in 1204 that a pineapple would cost like £7,000 (that is not the inflated price either)!
- Chester Beatty Library: the title is a bit misleading. This was more of a museum with super old books. We were expecting a legit library. Totally worth a visit, however it will not take you very long to get through the entire building. We enjoyed a rooftop siesta after walking around all day.
- We walked by the Christ Church Cathedral and the tour ended near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we snapped some pictures however did not go inside. The tours cost £8.00 if you are interested in booking a tour on your visit.
After a short walk from the endpoint of the tour we made our way to the Jameson Distillery where we had our 4:30 tour. We chose the Bow Street Experience tour (if purchased individually is £22, 40 minutes long, includes comparative tastings and a distillery tour, and a complimentary drink at the bar) and added on the secret tasting (£47, 40 minutes in addition to the Bow Street Experience, two additional tastings exclusive to the Dublin location, and access and tastings in JJ’s Office).
I never really liked whisky, however I love trying all the things. The tastings we did during the Jameson Secret Tasting was so informative! The guide taught us how to keep, prepare, and drink whisky. It was unbelievable the simple changes in adding a couple drops of water, or opening your mouth while smelling the drink, changes the flavors! Have you ever heard that you are not supposed to put whisky on ice? Or add water? Well, I think the best thing we learned on our several whisky tours in Ireland and the UK is that you drink your whisky the way you like it! On the rocks, straight, with ginger ale- however you enjoy it most is how you should drink it! It turns out I do like Whisky-ginger! This was one of the choices of our complimentary drinks at the end of the tour, and a great way to relax after a day of sightseeing.
The second day in Dublin we took a day trip to Kilkenny, about and hour and a half south of Dublin. This was one of my favorite cities we visited in the UK and Ireland. When we returned in the late afternoon we went to the Teeling Whisky distillery. This tour was interesting after having visited Jameson the night before. Teeling is much newer and you could tell. The whisky did not taste as good as Jameson- in my new-to-whisky-drinking opinion.
Our last full day in Dublin we started the day in true Irish fashion with a 9:30 a.m. tour at the Guinness Storehouse tour which was only a 10 minute walk from our Airbnb. It is suggested to arrive 15 minutes early. We did stop to get breakfast at Wuff first, it wouldn’t be a great idea to start drinking so early on an empty stomach! The website suggests a two-hour visit at the Storehouse, and I think we were there about three hours. At the end of the tour you are served your pint of Guinness at the top floor of the storehouse where you can look out at the city of Dublin. We relaxed and drank our beers, and recharged for the rest of the day ahead.
We picked up the car at the Airbnb and took the ten minute drive to explore The Old Library and Book of Kells at Trinity College which we were all pretty excited about. Here’s the thing, I’ll be honest. I had really high expectations for The Old Library, the pictures look incredible online, but I was pretty underwhelmed. The in-person tickets were surprisingly expensive and it was super crowded! I expected we would spend a significant amount of time here, but we kind of just zipped up and down the “long room” and were in and out in probably 30 minutes. Since I had recently seen the Peabody Library in Baltimore, I really expected to be blown away by The Old Library. So would I recommend a visit? Absolutely. Totally worth a visit. My friends had recently visited and spent two hours there and absolutely loved it. I think it really has to do with the crowd size, I probably would have enjoyed it much more without other people’s elbows in my ribs, and heads in my face.
Later we walked around the city, made a couple quick stops by Queen of Tarts and Butlers Chocolate Cafe, and visited the Irish Whisky Museum. This was a really neat tour, like all of the tours on this trip, we learned alot about the Irish History and history of whisky. We also got to sample a few whiskys at the end of the tour and select our favorites and talk through the tasting with the tour guide. At the end of the day we took a drive around to see various Dublin sights, we drove by The Spire, St. Patrick’s Cathedral , and the Dublin Castle to take in all the sights before leaving the next morning.
Where we stayed
We stayed in a relatively close location, very walk-able to nearby attractions, but we did drive a few places, and took uber a couple times in the few days spent in Dublin. We stayed in a great Airbnb that had a washer (ideal for our console packing), parking across the street which was perfect since we had the car, and they provided coffee, milk and cereal for breakfast. I would definitely recommend this apartment.
Places to Eat and Drink in Dublin
- Shack Restaurant: We stopped here when we first arrived in Dublin at the recommendation of my friend who had recently visited Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day. She did not lead us astray, they serve great traditional Irish food, had wonderful service, and is located right across from the temple bar and near many attractions.
- Queen of Tarts: We had been eating all day- no surprise here. But I had to stop in Queen of Tarts. We each selected a beautiful pastry and walked around with it all day because we were too full. I had my apple tart the next morning for breakfast and it was phenomenal- even after it had explored Dublin with us the day before!
- Butlers Chocolate Cafe: There are several Butlers locations, we visited the location next door to the Irish Whisky Museum while we waited for our tour; I ordered the traditional hot milk chocolate and it came with my choice of chocolate truffle. So delish!
- Bunsen Burger: We all agreed that this was one of the best burgers each of us had ever had! These burgers were so fresh and juicy, grilled on a fry-top (my favorite way), and they load you up with perfect shoe-string fries! Plus the chocolate shake was the icing on the cake! There are several locations, so don’t miss this place!
- The Bull & Castle: The entire trip I had it in my mind I wanted potato leek soup. When in Ireland, right? I was searching for the perfect bowl. I assumed this would be an easily attainable goal. Boy was I wrong. Everywhere we went there was Tomato-Basil, Mushroom (so gross), and Broccoli…but no Potato! As we walked around Dublin one day we were deciding where we wanted to get lunch, we walked by the Bull & Castle where they had a sign for a lunch special and the “soup of the day.” So when I saw the waiter setting the tables outside I stopped to ask about the soup of the day. He said “Potato Leek.” I am pretty sure I literally gasped and looked at our crew with way too much excitement! We returned a couple hours later and the waiter remembered us and already knew my order. It was hilarious.
- The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Dublin and has been in operation since 1198! We decided to go for dinner and drinks one night, and it was quite difficult to find a seat- you only seat yourself! We walked around aimlessly a couple times and finally found a four-top outside in the smoking section, not ideal for me, but we made it work. The food was great, and the service was relatively quick given the seemingly unorganized set up. I ordered the rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes- it was fantastic! Before we left a band began to play and it was so fun to watch them and the patrons light up when the music started.
- Wuff is a small cafe that serves great breakfast and was conveniently located about a 15 minute walk to the Guinness Storehouse.
“Sláinte!” Places to Drink…
“Sláinte!”Cheers! / Heath!
- Temple Bar: We did not get a drink or even attempt to enter the Temple Bar because there were so many people! Our tour guide, Ruairí, told us not to even bother going because it was a tourist trap, however we did get some great pictures from the street.
- Guinness Storehouse: You can choose from a variety of tours, or just visit for a pint!
- Jameson Distillery: There are several tours depending on your interests, or you can simply stop by for a drink at the bar.
- Anywhere with Live Music!
Things still on the list…
- The Little Museum of Dublin is highly recommended, we tried to reserve tickets like three months in advance, but all the tickets were booked!
- I read about the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre before our trip. Here you can find a lot of stores for shopping if that is your type of vacationing, but what I read is how pretty the inside of the building is. I really just wanted to take a peek inside- next time I suppose.
The last night in Dublin we walked home from dinner at the Brazen Head and passed by some young men drinking on the sidewalk. The drunker of the two men was just so happy and started talking to us in Irish. He quickly realized we did not understand, tried to teach us some Irish, and yelled “Americuhhhh” in the most guttural-American way as we departed ways, it was great. Definitely, a perfect way to end our night in Dublin.
Dublin was everything I expected, and more. I loved the history, the people, and the food. I was pleasantly surprised by the food, everyone always talks about Irish food being so bad, I think they just did not go to the right places. Is there any place you have visited that have surprised you for the better? or worse?
Labhair go luath,