Double Fun in Dublin
With only 2 days in Dublin, I set out to make the most of it. I’d tried repeatedly to book an affordable hotel, but there didn’t seem to be such a thing available, and I’d not found any couch surfs, so I checked out my Air B&B app, and was delighted to find an opening with 2 great guys in their 1930’s home, with a cool old tiled fireplace and beautiful backyard deck. Plus, Brian and Oliver gave me lots of travel info, brochures and maps, and even helped me with ideas of where to go when I left Dublin!
I’ve wanted to go to Ireland and Scotland for years, and despite the dismal weather predictions, I looked forward after tons of sun and the mediterranean cultures of southern France, Spain and Italy, to the completely different world of Ireland and the UK. It’s my heritage on both sides – great grandparents from Ireland, Scotland and England, (plus the Netherlands and Germany, but those will have to wait for another trip), and a Scottish maiden name, Morrison (which I discovered in Ireland as well). I had heard from a friend’s daughter’s Irish boyfriend back in Australia, that we Americans ALL seem to have Irish ancestry, so they poke a bit of fun at us for looking for our Irish roots.
First, I walked Henry Steet to Grafton, the famous shopping street, which was lined with stores full of shamrock-studded souvenirs, Celtic jewelry, designer clothing, and restaurants, pubs, and more pubs. In fact, you’ll see charming pubs all over the city!
Buskers filled the street, lots of musicians, as well as a very enterprising man with what looked like a little puppet stand, but was actually a small stage with a curtain you stuck your head through, which made you look like a leprechaun. The beard even matched my hair!
I ended up in St Stephens Park, a lovely green space with duck ponds and flower gardens, where hundreds of people, including many office workers in suits and ties, sat enjoying lunch in the sun (a rare warm day, from what I’ve heard – both Ireland and the UK have had a horribly cold, wet summer).
Growing hungry, I checked what’s nearby on my Trip Advisor app, a very handy tool for travel, and O’Donoughy’s Pub came up, where tourists and locals alike hang out. It’s a dark, cluttered place, a real authentic pub, with messages from people all over the world tacked to the walls, and basic fare like toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, and creamy pints of Guinness.
As you may know, Guinness is a staple in Ireland, and I read everywhere how good it is for you…
…that and Irish whiskey.
I stumbled, I mean walked, to Dublin Castle, enjoying the architecture and people-watching along the way, including lots of bridges (one is as wide as it is long!) and colorful buildings.
In fact, like many cities, one of the best things to do is put on your walking shoes, and just see where your feet take you. You never know what sites you’ll see…
I noticed they seem to have a thing about trash in Dublin, encouraging a clean city.
I had just enough time left to go to the Beatty library before they closed, to see a special exhibit of ancient illuminated manuscripts, from many different religions. It was quite interesting, and free (but no photos were allowed inside).
Dinner was at Ireland’s oldest pub, Brazen Head, where there’s a lovely courtyard area outside for warm days like today, and dark, memorabilia-cluttered rooms inside for a cozier ambiance. I chatted with a couple of nice Aussie girls at the next table – as I’ve mentioned, traveling solo doesn’t necessarily mean you spend much time alone.
That evening, my host Brian took me to the Ruby Sessions. Every Tuesday night at Doyle’s Pub, 4 different musical groups each play 4 songs, and sometimes famous people show up to participate. All of the 6 euro cover charges go to help the homeless in Dublin, so it’s a worthy cause as well. It’s a small, intimate venue, showcasing some amazing talent. Brian said not many tourists know about it, it’s mostly locals. Another benefit of staying at an Air B&B. The Irish are all about music, as you’ll see in future posts.
The following day, I spent most of the morning arranging a car rental, as I was told by many that it’s the best way to see Ireland, that the trains and buses are fine if you only want to see the cities, but the small villages and coastal scenery are what drew me here. This is a word of advice to plan ahead. Usually I do for something like this, but I hadn’t known I’d need to rent a car. At first it looked like I wasn’t even going to get one. They were all booked up, and I also saw that an automatic was about double the cost of a stick shift! So if you’ve never driven a stick, or are rusty, practice up a bit before coming to Europe, as that’s mostly what you’ll find. I didn’t dare rent a stick, as I haven’t driven one in decades, other than a few days in Europe in the countryside years before. It was just too much to contemplate, in addition to driving on the left side of very narrow, winding roads, navigating roundabouts, and other traffic differences I wasn’t even aware of. I finally found a car, and I was lucky, it was the last automatic.
When I finally got out of the house, I walked to see the Story of the Irish, a show I’d read about in the airline magazine. It’s quite informative, covering 10,000 years of Irish history in an hour or so, including the potato famine, where people were literally thrown out of their homes and left to starve. It takes the bits of Irish history I learned about in school (which wasn’t much) and stitches them together into a bigger picture. Two nice girls working at the front desk gave me lots of travel advice while I waited for the show to start.
I took a walk to Trinity College after the show, but the last tour of the campus, including viewing the famous Book of Kells, was over. Also, I was too late for the art museum, the cemetery tour, and the gardens Brian had told me about. Oh well, can’t do it all.
I returned to my B&B to find Oliver’s’s brother and sister-in-law and their young son visiting, all at the table having tea. They asked me to join them, and switched easily from speaking Irish to English to include me. It was nice being in a real Irish home, as opposed to staying in an impersonal hotel. Give Air B&B a try!
And if you can, spend at least 3 days in Dublin and have triple the fun!
What an amazing collection of photos! You sure cover the bases!
Just scratching the surface, Ginny. Wait until you see the rest of the country! I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm and not post too many…
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU IN DUBLIN- have a wonderful good time and a healthy, happy 2016
Thanks Gisela, Happy New Year to you too! I was actually in Dublin in August (my blog is a little behind 🙂 Currently, I’m back in Thailand working on a book about my year of travel, and it’s funny you write, because I was just writing about Australia and remembering meeting you!! Wherever you are (in Germany? Or I remember you were going to visit the US!) I hope you have a wonderful, joy-filled year!!
Well, I don’t know which is cuter – you as a leprechaun or your hosts. All of my ancestors are Irish and English, too…which does make sense, you know…but I have never been to Ireland. I would love to go…I’m just not sure I would want to leave.
Haha, I vote for my hosts, Susan 😉 You would love Ireland, the people are wonderful and the scenery is lovely. And you’re right, you would not want to leave! Stay tuned for several more posts from the Emerald Isle…
I’ve had a great time catching up on your adventures this evening Lynn. You’ve left inspired me to not only see the world but rediscover Ireland. So happy to see you’re having a great time. Best wishes Brian
Thanks, Brian! I’m so glad you’re inspired 🙂 It’s truly been an adventure of a lifetime, and it’s meeting great people like you that have made it so wonderful. Happy travels!
Thanks for sharing Lynn. Love your pics and thoughts. It’s our first day in Dublin and we covered Temple bar, a gorgeous live concert in a pub, went to O‘Neills for dinner the first night and enjoyed walking around a lot. There is sooo much to explore everywhere indeed! Since you mentioned the castle I will put it on the list as well. See you hopefully soon, dear traveling friend!
You’re very welcome! Have a wonderful time!! If you are going anywhere else in Ireland, outside of Dublin, I have several more blog posts for you to peruse 😉 Would love to run into you somewhere in the world again!! xo