Welcome back! Sorry for the long time away, with the holidays and such I took some time away getting settled with holidays away from home. But now I am back with my most recent adventure: Ireland!
Oh, the Emerald Isle–my favorite place. Now before I continue you must know that I have always had this love for Ireland, dreams of visiting this stunning place one day. I personally own a numerous amount of pictures and books about Ireland. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to see this island. Recently, I got that opportunity! For five days I got to experience Dublin and the Cliffs of Moher. I honestly did not want to go back home, Ireland just felt like where I belong.
Traveling to Dublin: I booked with Ryanair (for less than 30 euros round trip) to go from Brussels to Dublin. At- Brussels, airport the check in, security and passport check process were probably the quickest I have ever been through. Only an hour and twenty minute flight, and it was over before I knew it. If you do ever fly Ryanair be aware nothing is free– drinks, snacks, them printing off your boarding pass. Nothing. After arriving, I took a bus to the center of the city (it cost me 7 euros). By that point it was about 11:30 in the morning– and, hey a girl has got to eat right? Also, quick note: Ireland is an hour behind the Netherlands, 5 hours ahead of the US.
Okay, so it was lunch time and I was really craving a burger (surprise, surprise). The first place I came across was this place called ‘Eddie Rockets’- it is very similar to ‘Johnny Rockets’ from the States- a diner of sorts. My burger had grilled pineapple and bacon on it with the accompaniment of Parmesan cheese fries. Delicious. While I was there, I tried to plan out at one thing I wanted to see on that day. The decision was the Irish Whiskey Museum! So, I walked over to the Irish Whisky Museum and paid 19 euros for the premium tour (which gets a extra taste of whiskey and a shot glass to take home). The tour guide, Michael, was a funny add on to the history of whiskey. “Uisce Beathea”, which means “water of life”, was the beginning of our tour. The Irish wholeheartedly believe that if you are sick and your sickness can not be cured with a glass of whiskey, then it can not be cured. There are certain whiskeys that are true to the Irish– for example, pot still whiskey. Pot still whiskey is whiskey made from malted and un-malted barley in a copper pot still. The tour of the Whiskey Museum was defiantly worth it. While there I met a great woman from Colorado, Lindsay. She told me that she was going to the Chester Beatty Library next and we went there together. I did not know what to expect going there, but on we went.
The Chester Beatty Library, I did not know what to expect– but hey, it is an adventure. To start, it was free of charge and it was worth so much more than that. This man, Chester Beatty, was a collector of many things- from masterpieces to manuscripts to artwork- he has everything. One of my personal favorites being some pieces of the Bible on papyrus in Greek which most dated back to the 3rd century. This was a surprising and educating find. A traveler can learn so much through this library. Thank you, Lindsay!
After the library, we walked through Dublin Castle and ended up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Simply beautiful! It was only 6,50 euros to get in and you can explore the entire cathedral. My personal favorite was the flags display- “Soldiers do not die, they simply fade away”. Fast fact: Jonathan Swift, better known as the author of “Gulliver’s Travels”, was a dean at this cathedral from 1713 to 1745.
After all of this walking around, I went to check into my home for the next few days- Abigail’s Hostel. I booked an eight bed bunk female room, an en-suite, for three nights. A traveler can easily access south Dublin or north Dublin thanks to it’s location to the Ha’penny bridge. You definitely have the opportunity to meet so many people this way- within your room and in the common area. In my room was five people from the Netherlands, a girl from Korea, and a girl from Canada. Now to figure out dinner…
I wandered around for a bit and came across this place I had passed earlier in the day: ‘The Church’. It is a bar and restaurant that was built within an old church. I had the “Wild Atlantic Prawns” (the appetizer version) basically a salad with prawns (similar to shrimp) on top.
After which I had a raspberry cheesecake, which was fantastic. During all the eating, I had a beer or a few to drink: a Leffe blonde, a Five Lamp ‘Ale Mary’, and a Roundstone triple hop. Personally I like the Roundstone better– it isn’t as sweet as the Ale Mary and is goes down a lot smother. At the end of dinner and drinks, I walked back to my hostel and went to bed.
Alright, here we go for day two! To start my day I could have eaten the free breakfast that the hostel offered but I opted to go out instead. I ended up at a restaurant called Trinity (which is also a hotel, in which the restaurant is located) and had eggs on toast which only cost about 5,50 euros with an orange juice. The food was okay but I prefer my eggs scrambled really hard. I hung around a little while and watched people playing darts on the television. I was joining a tour group around 10:30 a.m. so about 15 minutes prior I headed over to Central Bank to meet up with the ‘free tour’ tour group (solely based on tips), and off we went!
For about 90 minutes we walked through most of Dublin. We went by Dublin castle and learned about the Lady Justice and the Statue of Fortitude that stand on top of part of the castle. Then on to Dubh Linn Garden for some gorgeous views and education about this woman was was confident and brave, Veronica Guerin. She basically took down an entire drug gang by getting close to the drug lord, Viper. After a month of being with him and finding out all of the names of the gang members and using her journalism skills, she brought them all down. Of course, once the members found out about this they assassinated her in the middle of the motorway. Because of her bravery the CAB (Criminal Assets Bureau) was formed which led to all of the gang members being arrested for tax evasion. After all this learning, the entire tour group took a beak at the Old Storehouse for drinks.
After a beer or a coffee for most, we were off to continue our walking tour. We went over to the temple bar area and our tour guide warned us that it is a rip off for tourists at night (so fare warning). Our tour guide then took us over to the two main bridges (the Ha’Penny or half penny and the O’Connell bridge)after which we ended up at Trinity College for our last stop. Trinity
College is where the ‘Book of Kells’ is located. The ‘Book of Kells’ is the four gospels of Christ from the 9th century. The manuscripts of this book were/are in pristine condition and worth experiencing. Also within this library is ‘The Book of Dimma’- an 8th century pocket gospel- and a Chi Rho page from the Book of Kells (http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth212/book_of_kells.html).
Exploring onto the National Museum of Ireland- Archaeology Museum (all of the national museums are free). For all of you history buffs out there, this is a must see. They have everything dating back from the Bronze Age (2500-1900 B.C.) to their most recent exhibit of Roger Casement-“Voice of the Voiceless”. My personal favorite was the viking era gallery. They had a replica of what the ships and villages would have looked like during that time. Also, showcasing some of the weaponry used during battle. There is something there for everyone to learn about.
A very educating day must be finished off with a great meal. I ventured over to the Jervis Shopping Centre and ended up at Kay’s Kitchen for dinner. I had a chicken pesto club, which was very filling. After the shopping and food I was in need of some relaxation. Back to the hostel I went!
Today’s adventure is taking a bus from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher! I took Paddywagon bus tours out there. It only cost me 40 euros (which included the ticket to get into the cliffs) to get there and stop by a few different places on the way. At 8 am we were off! Our tour guide, Val, was amazing!
The first stop we made was at a rest stop for about 15 minutes to use the bathroom and grab a coffee. Then– hyped up on caffeine– Val was so informative and amusing!
On to the first thing to see: Dunguaire Castle! Pictures do not do this castle justice. If you have the opportunity to be here, take a minute while you are there and enjoy the castle and the views of Kinvara (a small fishing village). This village hosts many festivals; two many ones being the ‘Hooker’ festival–this is not what you think, it is a gathering of the boats–and the cuckoo festival. Hopefully one day I can witness one of these festivals.
We passed Blackhead Lighthouse (this lighthouse divides Galway Bay from the Atlantic Ocean) on the way to the ‘Baby cliffs of Moher’ and lunch. The ‘Baby cliffs of Moher’ are perfect as an introduction to what the real cliffs are going to be like. There are no railings to keep you from falling (so be aware of your surroundings) and it was a little windy. After about 30 minutes at the baby cliffs we moved on to lunch.
We stopped at Fitzpatrick’s Bar to eat and drink–it is the only thing open this time of year. Something fascinating about this place is that it is the only place in the World that sells a beer called Dooliner beer (it is an IPA, they have a lager and an ale). This beer is really hoppy and the ale does taste like it has an artificial sweetener in it–if you have a reaction to this just be warned.
Onto the main attraction: the Cliffs of Moher! We had an hour and a half here to explore and embrace this majestic place. It is said the Cornelius O’Brien was the first person to every bring others to the cliffs because he was ahead his time and had an idea that the cliffs would bring tourism into the County Clare. The maximum height of the cliffs is 217 meters or 702 feet. It is incredibly windy up by the cliffs– it is even hard to walk– and it is pretty wet year around. Take a minute here and don’t look at your phone or try to get the best picture, just enjoy where you are and how stunning it is. As we were leaving, it began raining– so perfect timing.
Heading back to Dublin we took a different route: instead of going straight across the island to get back we went around the south end of Ireland. On the way back we sang Irish songs and National Anthems and enjoyed the bond of everyone on the bus, including Val! He was a great tour guide. One of my favorite songs was “Whiskey in the Jar”. Arriving back in the city around 8 at night and I was starving.
One place that Val suggested was ‘Pablo Picante’ for dinner. It is a burrito bar that was fantastic! Just a heads up do not eat in Temple Bar area, there are so many better places that the locals go. Ask a local where they eat and go there because I promise that it will be better and cheaper than most of the touristy places.
Day 4 (My last day):
Starting my morning off right: Guinness Storehouse Tour– let me say that if you choose to do this, the earlier you go in the day the less crowded it will be. I bought my tickets online (certain times will be cheaper online than buying them there) and I got there around 9:30 in the morning. I was there for close to two hours learning about the way Guinness is brewed, advertised, poured and even tastes. Fast fact: Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on 31 December 1759– I guess you could say that he had high hopes for his beer.
At the top of the storehouse you get a free pint of Guinness and a magnificent view of Dublin. In a room called the ‘Gravity Bar’ there is a 360 degree view of the city. Drinking a pint and looking out into was worth the 14 euros I spent for the tour. A Guinness tastes purer in Ireland–I do not know how else to explain it– the water comes from the mountains in Northern Ireland.
I had decided last minute to go to Kilmainham Gaol prison. Now because I did not buy tickets in advanced they were sold out for the tour of the actual prison but I did get to walk through the museum for free. Throughout the museum you can see the prisoners who were kept here and what it means to the Irish people. It was open from 1796 to 1924 and was a constant symbol as the Irish struggled for their independence from the British. It is worth checking out.
Now for the 40 minute walk back to city center–I personally like walking through new cities. By the time I got back, it was well after lunch time and I had remembered that the walking tour guide had mentioned a place by the name of ‘Queen of Tarts’. So, I decided to check it out. After only waiting about ten minutes to get a table, I ordered their berry french toast–boy was that tasty. I also got an apple crumble to snack on later– don’t judge. After all of this I went to check into my new hotel for the evening: the Central Hotel.
Now the Central Hotel is right near the Temple Bar area and is literally in the middle of town. I had decided to stay here to give a perspective to those people who would prefer not to stay in a hostel. This hotel was nice and fits perfect for people who want somewhere to relax by themselves after a long day of adventures. All of the receptionists I interacted with were incredibly friendly. I recommend this place for anybody who is traveling with others.
After some relaxing and a little bit of shopping at St. Stephen’s Centre (which is huge). My last adventure of this wonderful trip was to a speakeasy bar: The Blind Pig. Now I am not going to ruin the experience of this creative place. You have to make a reservation to get the directions and once you are there, enjoy the atmosphere. The cocktails are fantastic! I had a Miracle on 34th street (their take on an Old Fashion) and I had an Aviation. Just be aware that these drinks are delicious and heavy-handed. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Love it. –You know that a place is good when the bartender recognizes an group of Irish older gentlemen.
Well that’s it. On day 5 I headed home. I will return to the Emerald Isle soon.
If you have any questions of anywhere I went or having any comments please feel free to leave it in the comments below.
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