Oh, the Emerald Isle. An island full of friendly locals, rich history, renowned beer, ancient castles, and of course, the green hills and lush landscapes.
This trip had been in the making for about a year prior to our departure from San Francisco. We flew for 11 hours via AerLingus directly into the Republic of Ireland. As we touched down in Dublin, I was anxious to deplane, immediately catching my second wind and forgetting that I hadn’t slept in roughly 24 hours. Not that I needed an excuse for a Starbucks run.
The plotted itinerary had us spending eight nights scattered around different parts of the country. And while I was excited to experience Dublin for the first time, my expectations were dampened by friends who told me we didn’t need to spend much time there. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed it so much. Dublin exceeded all my expectations.
We started (and ended) our trip in Dublin and spent about 48 total hours in the city. We did our best not to sleep much of that time away and fought the jet-lag hard, ignoring our internal clocks telling us to nap.
We checked into our hotel around noon and immediately began exploring the city by foot. Our hotel, The Morrisson (a DoubleTree Hotel) was positioned right on the River Liffey directly across from Temple Bar. Not your typical DoubleTree hotel, location or aesthetic wise. It was the perfect distance from all of the action - close yet quiet.
Temple Bar is a square in Dublin with narrow laneways and side streets lined with cafes, boutiques, galleries and pubs. In the evening, the streets come alive with live music and nightlife. Pubs rule the streets in Dublin. It seems as though you can’t walk ten feet without seeing a Guinness sign or accidentally turning the corner into a pub. Some call Temple Bar Dublin’s playground as it always has a lot going on.
We dined at one of the most reviewed restaurants in Dublin called The Quay, which served traditional Irish cuisine. Traditional Irish food is rich and heavy. Some of the classic staples are Sheppard’s Pie (pictured), Irish Stew (pictured), Soda Bread, Corned Beef with Cabbage and of course, potatoes (pictured). Lots of potatoes (pictured).
Believe it or not, Ireland kills the chicken wing game. And I love chicken wings. I had some of the absolute best buffalo wings I’ve had in my entire life, right in Dublin. The restaurant was called Elephant and Castle and is a definite must in Dublin (and in NYC). You’ll find that locals come in just for an order of the wings.
I’ve never been a fan of beer, but in Ireland, it is heavily ingrained in the history and culture. I was told by many that a must-do in Ireland was St. James’s Gate Brewery and the Guinness Storehouse Tour - even if I didn’t like beer. Frankly, I had no interest until I found out that it is Ireland’s largest tourist attraction and receives more visitors per year than the Cliffs of Moher. So, Cameron and I decided to “Do-as-the-Irish-(and tourists)-Do” and experience culture. The history, the facility, and the Guinness story was quite impressive. If you’re interested in reading more about the history of Guinness, click here.
My favorite part of Dublin was our trip to Trinity College, home of the Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells. The Trinity college campus is gorgeous. After a brief walk on the grounds, we entered the Book of Kells exhibition which ends in the Library. The Book of Kells is Ireland’s national treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. It is a 9th century book, richly decorated and contains all four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. No photography was allowed so you’ll have to go see it for yourselves.
The Trinity College Library is the largest library in Ireland and has over 6,000,000 volumes with 200,000 on display in the 213 foot “Long Room”. With the oldest part of the library being over 300 years old, it felt like we were on the set of a movie. On display in the library were many of the country’s other historical artifacts such as the Brian Boru Harp, an Irish icon which influenced the Guinness logo.
One of our last stops in Dublin was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is the tallest and largest church in Ireland and is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It is also known as the earliest Christian site in Ireland, where St. Patrick baptized converts. Today the park outside is open to the pubic and is a beautiful place to sit, enjoy a cappuccino, and admire the history and architecture standing tall in the foreground.
As amazing as Dublin was, I couldn’t wait to start exploring the rest of Ireland. The city was just one of the many stops on our tour of the country.
Onto castles and such! Stay tuned...