Growing up, my mom loved an array of Irish films that we would watch together over and over. The first time, I missed a lot of details due to the thick accents of the actors, which surprised me considering they were speaking my own native language. Ever since getting a glimpse of what Ireland looks like in these films, I’ve had a strong desire to set foot in the soggy country, drink a perfect pour Guinness and discover what a big Irish breakfast was all about.
While I will admit, a few days in Dublin is hardly enough to experience all that Ireland has to offer, it was a great introduction to the country and I cannot wait to get back to explore other cities.
Getting from the Dublin airport to the city center is a very easy task. We booked an AirCoach on my mobile phone and just showed the confirmation email to the driver both ways. The buses run every 15 minutes and are easy to find outside of the airport. It was about a 30 minute ride to Westmoreland street, to our beautiful hotel, The Westin Dublin.
GOOD TO KNOW: Ireland (not including Northern Ireland) uses the Euro, which I wasn’t sure of before arriving, which made it easy to travel there and not have to convert to pounds (and ultimately lose more money)
Food & Drink
The Westin Dublin is located right in the middle of the Trinity College/Temple Bar area of Dublin, a cool, hip area that draws crowds of young people looking to party and have a good time in a cozy, urban environment. It takes less than 10 minutes to walk around essentially the entire Temple Bar area, making all the bars and restaurants easily accessible for bar hopping in the rain.
Leo Burdock Fish & Chips
Our first night in Dublin we went to Leo Burdock’s for their famous Fish and Chips. It was really amazing, I recommend the garlic sauce as an additional sauce, it is like garlicky ranch!
Due to the heavy load of breading and grease, Katie and I could have easily shared the order, but our leftovers proved to be a great snack later that night.
We managed to wake up just in time (I have really adjusted to Spain time, so getting up before noon is difficult for me now) for a full Irish Breakfast at O’Neill’s Pub in Dublin.
I even tried a little taste of the black pudding, which for those who haven’t heard of it, is pudding from pigs blood. I’ll say I’m glad I tried it, but I have no desire to have it ever again. The Irish breakfast is something I could easily fall in love with, besides the pudding I love every aspect of this tradition. O’Neill’s is also a beautiful (albeit strange set-up for service) restaurant to enjoy breakfast in.
Located in the Temple Bar neighborhood, The Norseman turned out to be a great place to get a drink, much less crowded than actual Temple Bar, and playing good music at a reasonable volume. Katie and I spent the last moments of 2015 here, enjoying a pint as the clock struck 12 into 2016.
One of the main tourist attractions in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse. Located a short bus ride (#13 or #40) away from Temple Bar area, the storehouse is easy to access and a must-see of Dublin. The tour is self-guided, making it easy to go at one’s own pace. I would recommend booking tickets ahead of time to avoid the long queue, but eve with a queue well out the door, we still only waited about 15 minutes.
The “Guinness Academy”
Part of the tour (included in the admission fee) is the opportunity to learn how to do the “perfect pour” of a pint of Guinness. Our instructor was a cute old man, and the process was fairly easy and enjoyable.
After pouring our beers and receiving our “certificates” that we passed the test, we took our beers up to the Skybar lounge, an enclosed bar on the top floor of the Storehouse offering a 360 view of the city.
I highly recommend a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, even for people who aren’t huge fans of the beer. It is a great way to spend several hours (especially on a rainy day) learning about the history of the company, which is very important to Dublin’s history as a whole.
GOOD TO KNOW: There is a slight student discount, I believe it drops the price from 20 euro to 18. There is also a cafe/restaurant within the establishment with reasonably priced food, and the items in the gift shop run the same price as they will at any tourist souvenir shop, so stock up if you see something you love there.
For anyone remotely interested in Irish history, a visit to Kilmainham Gaol is an absolute must. It is a former prison, now functioning as a museum. Our tour guide was really excellent, she painted a great picture of the struggle for Irish independence and the museum holds a lot of interesting items from the days of operation of the prison.
GOOD TO KNOW: Admission is 4 euros for adults and 2 euros with student ID, be sure to get there early, as tours for the entire day book up quickly, and reservations cannot be made in advance. Walking from Temple Bar area to Kilmainham Gaol is possible but I would not recommend it, as it is a really far journey that can be easily shortened with a bus ride on the #13 or #40 leaving from O’Connell Street.
St. Stephen’s Green
The beautiful, central park of Dublin, St. Stephens Green is a great way to escape the pub scene for a few moments and take in the literal “green” of Ireland. It is adjacent to Grafton Street, and a short walk from Temple Bar area. I love parks because they give some insight into the nature of a city, as well as providing some brief mental refuge from the concrete and twinkling lights.
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