Where do I even start? In my experience, Dublin is great for two things: drinking and beautiful cathedrals. Unfortunately, on the weekend that we went, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral were booked for graduations, my friend wasn’t interested in the Book of Kells and we didn’t have time to go to the Jameson Distillery or the Malahide Castle & Gardens. But, we did do so many other things that made the trip 100x worth it!
5:00 PM- Hostel Check-In
7:00 PM- Bar Italia
8:00 PM- Pub Crawl
11:00 AM- Lemon Crepe & Coffee
12:00 PM- Exploring
4:00 PM- Guiness Storehouse
8:00 PM- Red Torch Ginger
6:30 AM- Onto the Bus
9:00 AM- Kilmacduagh Monastery
11:30 AM- Cliffs of Moher
1:20 PM- The Burren
3:00 PM- Galway
8:00 PM- Back to Dublin
10:00 PM- Last pub!
Going into this trip, we didn’t do much planning prior. All we did was make a list of things we wanted to do and then we booked the day trip for Sunday (which was such a good move!). So when we got there on Friday, we walked around to look at the menus of various restaurants to see what we were craving and I could not be more satisfied with our choice.
Bar Italia is an upscale Italian restaurant with some of the nicest staff you could ask for. Our host, who seemed to be doing five million things at once, offered to take our coats as soon as we came in. It was really crowded so we ended up just sitting by the bar and having a glass of wine while we waited for a table. I ordered a seafood risotto, which was one of the best I’ve ever had. The portion was large enough to make me full but small enough so that I was craving for another bite even as the night wore on. The clams mixed into the marinara sauce were perfectly tender and not too chewy and overcooked! The sauce itself was deliciously light but still creamy. I’m dreaming about the dish even two weeks later. The video of our dinner isn’t too high quality but I hope that the filming technique I used is effective in showing my excitement. The pizza that Becs ordered was apparently amazing as well. All in all, Bar Italia is a must visit!
After dinner, we walked around Temple Bar district. It’s absolutely made for tourists. The beautiful cobbled streets, the flowers hanging from window sills, the flags with Irish/Celtic symbols – it was all very overwhelming at first. Nonetheless, it was fun to walk around such a festive area. When we started our night, we weren’t planning to do get plastered while on a pub crawl. Ireland had different plans for us.
|Bar:||What I ordered:||Drink Rating:||Ambiance:||In Four Words…|
|Temple Bar||Pint of Guiness (duh!)||11/10||8/10||I am a tourist!|
|The Norseman||Whiskey & Coke||7/10||7/10||Let’s just chill.|
|Fitzsimons Bar||Whiskey & Coke x2||9/10||10/10||Crying in the Club.|
|The Church||Whiskey & Coke…x3||10000/10||11/10||So how was Dublin?|
Something to note about drinking in Ireland, though. If you are going to drink in Temple Bar District, be prepared to spend spend spend. Each drink that I got was about 10 euros each. It’s not cheap, so perhaps pre-gaming is a better option.
Temple Bar. If you’re a tourist, I’d say you absolutely have to have a pint of Guiness here. It’s a very nice bar, don’t get me wrong. There are multiple rooms with beautiful fairy lights and cherry wood beams, but it was just very crowded and there is not one local in sight. We got out of there as quick as we could. Perhaps that’s why we were so drunk. We downed that pint like no one’s business…
The Norseman. There’s live music and the drinks were good. The crowd was a bit older though so it was a bit more difficult to get into the vibe. There was live music though so it was really nice to just sit around and have good conversation.
Fitzsimons Bar. There was a rooftop beer garden here that was so nice! It was decorated with shrubbery and cute picnic tables that I’m sure would be a very outdoor-sy/Instagramable setting during the day. Becs and I were enjoying our time so much that we got two drinks here! Downstairs, there was live music but not much seating. The bar did wrap around the whole entire downstairs though, so drinks were very easy to get.
The Church. Initially, we wanted to eat here for dinner but it was so crowded that they turned us away. This building is a church that was converted into a bar and is now a restaurant and hosts traditional Irish dancing during the weekends. At the end of the night, we decided to try our luck and make this our last stop on our way home and thoroughly enjoyed the company here. The whiskey that I had, per the bartender’s recommendation, the Jameson Caskmates, was probably the best I’ve ever had. The building itself was beautiful with the high ceilings and wooden beams. The bar was right in the middle with dramatic lighting all around and the electronic remixes from the speakers made the church a bit less about repenting and more about doing things that you’re going to repent about. *wink* Disclaimer, we only briefly remember taking these photos, but we look damn good!
Friday, unexpectedly, ended up being the wild night out that I’ve always dreamed of having in Dublin but recovery on Saturday was not fun. I took a bit longer on Saturday getting ready but we left the hostel by 11, so we didn’t lose too much time.
While walking around Dublin, we quickly realized that there wasn’t much to do in the city. Though it was fun to pop into a boutique art store here and then a Brazillian churro shop there, it is definitely a city made for tourists. I think an indication of a tourist city is how many souvenir shops there are. There was easily a Carolls Irish Gifts Shop every mile that we walked.
We tried to visit the cathedrals but they were both closed for graduations. We walked around Trinity College, which was beautiful, but it didn’t quite measure up to the allure of the University of Glasgow.
Surprisingly, the Dublin Castle was smack-dab in the middle of the city! With the Edinburgh Castle, it is at the end of the royal mile and there’s a lot of buildup and advertisement leading up to the entrance. We walked past the entrance of the Dublin Castle and had to double-back because we were not expecting it to be so close to a main road or to a bunch of casual restaurants and cafes.
We opted out of doing the guided tour and took our time wandering the grounds. It only took us about 30-40 minutes to walk through the interior rooms, explore the gardens and to gaze up at the dramatic grey facade of the castle. If you have time to do it, I recommend a brief stroll, but I wouldn’t say that it was necessary to visit.
One of the best things about being in Europe though is that their humor is so effortless. We were in the main dining/entertaining room of the castle and I saw a little piece of paper on a chair. It was obvious that the chair served as the throne or choice of seat for a very powerful person since it was so nice and regal…and…cushioned. But the best part was that there was a little piece of paper that read:
"I am old and delicate. Please do not sit on me."
This sign personified the chair with such grace that I couldn’t handle myself. I burst out laughing and could not stop for a solid five minutes.
The best part of Saturday, however, was the Guiness Storehouse. Yes, it is about 22 Euro to get in. However, it is so so worth it! I’m not much of a dark beer person, but I am absolutely in love with Guiness. The experience was so immersive and captivating. They really brought the process of making beer to life and made the 22 Euro worth it because we even got a flight of three types of beer with our ticket! On the seventh floor, there’s a 360 degree floor-to-ceiling window bar called the Gravity Bar that was way too crowded for me, but it was still really awesome to see the entire city from that high up.
We ended off our day with delicious Thai food at a beautiful restaurant but 22 Euro Pad Thai doesn’t quite hit the spot like 7 USD Pad Thai back home does. Despite that, I’m hit again with the realization that though it may not be completely the same, Europe has done a wonderful job reminding me that I can find a bit of home anywhere that I go.
Sunday was absolutely my favorite day of the whole trip. From Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher are a 5 hour, multi-transfer bus ride. It would have been hell and back to try to get to the Cliffs by ourselves. We looked into different ways that we would be able to get to the Cliffs of Moher and settled on booking a day trip with Get Your Guide. This was the best decision that we made the entire trip.
For about 40 pounds, we got full transportation to multiple attractions around Ireland and even had some time to stop in Galway and have a drink! We had lovely tour guides, Lisa and Lisha, as well!
When we got to spend the Cliffs of Moher, we had about two hours or so to explore. The pictures online do not do the sheer size of the cliffs justice. When you enter the parking lot, you don’t see the drop off point at all. However, there’s a moment when you just reach the top of a hill that you look over and there they are in all of their glory. The craziest thing is that there isn’t much of a barrier. In America, there would be warning signs, security guards and three layers of gates. In Ireland, the only thing stopping you from tumbling off the edge of the cliff is your capability to balance on your own two feet. The drop off point is about 702 feet on average, which is insane! Thankfully, the wind and rain did not start until we were on the last leg of our stroll along the cliffs. If you can allocate a full day of your Ireland trip to go to the Cliffs of Moher, I can vouch that the easiest way will be through doing the day tour with Get Your Guide!
You see, I have a very big thing for goats. However, there is an animal slowly creeping its way past my stubborn barriers. The Highland Coo. In Glasgow, there are lots of coos (not cows, coos!) roaming around Pollock Park, which is a short distance from where I live. However, I haven’t been able to allocate time to visit the park yet so this was my first time up-close-and-personal with the creature! See video for some tongue action.
While on our way to Galway, we drove along the Irish coast and (surprise, surprise) I, again, felt an overwhelming wave of gratitude for the opportunities that I’ve been given. I hadn’t felt such a strong sense of longing for home until we saw the cliffs along the coast like I would see while I drive along PCH at home. Oh how I miss my car, and the drives, and the sunsets that painted the sky like it was freshly spun cotton candy. Oh how I yearn to be home but long to continue on this crazy adventure. What a predicament!
Slowly but surely, we made our way to our last stop of the day, Galway. Becs and I were those Americans that weren’t able to stop singing Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl. Similar to Dublin, the city center seemed to be built for tourists, with excessively “Irish” decorations and more tourists than locals. After walking around the town for a bit, we ducked into An Púcán, where my life was changed forever. Two words. Whiskey. Sour. Four Ingredients. Lemon Juice. Egg White. Simple Syrup. Damn Good Whiskey. If there’s one thing you get from my blog, it is this! Don’t knock it before you try it!
All in all, yes! Go to Ireland. There’s something for everyone. I feel like this trip was a great medium between all my different interests: drinking, exploring and road trips. I should probably be concerned that I’m thinking about those three things while I’m supposed to be a diligent student in uni but hey, that’s life! On my next trip to Ireland, I’m going to dedicate a day to what I have dubbed: Cathedral Crawl, where I just visit any and every cathedral in Ireland! If you find that fun as well, you may be as crazy as me and you should get your noggin’ checked out! Until next time…