Dublin was the first city in Ireland we visited, only because flying in and out of Dublin was cheaper for us than flying in and out of Galway. Landing in Ireland was gorgeous, and from high up we were able to see the green landscape stretching out every way we looked.
Checking into the Staycity Aparthotel on St. Augustine Street was trickier than we thought – it took us a while to get used to driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the street, and even longer to actually find the Staycity Aparthotels. We arrived at the hotel right before dinner time, so after unpacking and settling in a bit we walked the block or so to Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest bar which opened in 1198. While trying their fish and chips (which were amazing!!) we were able to observe some rugby fans in their element during the Ireland vs. Scotland game. (Ireland won!!)
After dinner we crossed the River Liffey towards the Jameson Distillery and took part in the Distillery Tour. Lasting maybe an hour, we were first introduced to the family and distillery’s history. We were taught the steps the actual distillery in Cork takes to produce a bottle of Jameson, and were also taught how to properly taste whiskey. Afterwards we were able to compare three different types of whiskey – Jameson vs. Jack Daniels vs. Scotch. We were then also given a free drink at JJ’s, the bar on the first floor of the distillery, making the tour very informative and interactive.
After crossing the River Liffey back towards the Aparthotel, we continued our way to the original Temple Bar, stopping at some churches along the way. It took us a while to find the Temple Bar we were looking for since we didn’t realize the Temple Bar was also the district we were in, but after we did we instantly realized why it was so recommended. With so many people at the bar, we could barely fit inside and the live music was fantastic as well.
The next morning we were up bright and early, and were able to grab a few freshly baked croissants at a nearby market for breakfast before heading out to explore. We began by walking to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where they still regularly hold mass, and then hopping on the Green Line for the hop on hop off bus tour. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1191, was amazing – with colorful stained glass windows and holding a number of regimental colours (flags) that represent the Irish men that fought and died in the Napoleonic wars. For a small entrance fee we were able to explore the tallest and largest church in Ireland at our own pace.
Our next stop off the Green Line was Kilmainham Gaol, the County Gaol that opened in 1796. We weren’t here for too long, as we didn’t have enough time to take the full tour. Instead, we were able to explore the Courthouse and the Museum for free. We learned so much about Ireland’s history here, including facts about the rebellions leading up to the Irish Civil War.
Hopping back on we were driven through Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed public park in any capital city in Europe. With almost 3 square miles of green land, be prepared to feel lazy as you see all the people running by. Within the park, we were shocked to see Ireland’s president’s house and the US Ambassador’s house, both across from each other in the main cul-de-sac. We also saw the huge herd of fallow deer!
Continuing our journey, we stopped at the main office to get off and stretch. This was a very busy shopping area, and we seemed lucky to grab a spot in Flanagan’s for lunch. We tried the Irish Stew and pizza (leave it to Tyler to get pizza when we’re abroad) and both were delicious! We were beginning to wonder if there was any food here we wouldn’t like.
Afterwards we went to a nearby gift shop to get some souvenirs. We hadn’t seen many other gift shops so far and were excited to add to our ornament collection. (I also got a “captured leprechaun” for my kiddos at school.) ALSO, if you need to exchange some dollars for Euros, this shop had a side kiosk where they can help you with that!
Back onto the bus and on our journey we went. Our next stop was St. Stephen’s Green and the Little Museum of Dublin. To be completely honest, we only went into the Little Museum of Dublin to use their bathroom…but we got free admittance through the Green Line. We then crossed the street into St. Stephen’s Green, another public park. They had a huge water fountain and pond, where we were able to see some swans from only an arms distance away. It was also surprisingly empty!
Rather than getting back on the bus, we walked the short distance to the Dublin Castle! We had heard of Grafton Street and wanted to see it in person, so we took that up towards the castle. This was, again, a huge shopping district with many street performers. We saw one booth where you could “Leprechaun Yourself” and this is most definitely something I regret not doing…
Arriving at the Dublin Castle about 10 minutes later, we were amazed at how well it had been kept up. Being the most furnished and livable castle we visited our entire trip, we were shocked. Instead of paying for a tour, we explored on our own for free and didn’t feel like we had missed out on anything. We learned more about the political history of Ireland, and found out that the main room is where the Presidential Inauguration is held every 7 years. (This is how long their presidential terms are.)
Staying at the Castle a little longer than we should have, we were almost late to the Guinness Storehouse! We had booked our tour online for the last one of the day, at 5:00, and it had said that if you were late you would not be allowed in and would not be refunded either. Luckily, our driver on the Green Line Bus was AMAZING and took a “shortcut” to get us there on time. We thought the tour itself started out a little boring, and it felt almost like we were getting herded through the points and up the stairs. Luckily, things changed on the second floor where we were given a taster, and on the fourth floor where we could pour our own “perfect” pint of Guinness! Each person is given a free drink with their tour admittance, and you have the choice to either spend that token on the fourth floor to become certified in pouring the perfect pint or up on the seventh floor in the 360 degree bar. The catch is they only take tokens in the bar, no cash. So instead we decided to become certified and then bring our drink we had poured up to the seventh floor bar, just make sure to take the stairs as there is no glass allowed on the escalators. ALSO, while we were waiting in line to learn how to pour the perfect Guinness pint, a security guard told us that the celebrity they had been expecting had canceled. To this day I still say it was Niall Horan, who had a concert in Dublin the next night, but Tyler disagrees.
We ended the day by stopping at O’Shea’s Merchant, across from the Brazen Head, for dinner. Although they were very busy and not properly staffed, their food and kindness more than made up for it. Here we tried the Cabbage and Bacon that came with mashed potatoes, although their bacon is more of what we consider ham, it was still pretty good!
~Tyler & Deborah