Friday, January 3, 2014

Travel: Two Days in Ireland

Two days to see an entire country is a stretch. It's hard to experience a single city in forty-eight hours, but hear me out. If you're planning a European holiday or a British vacay, consider tacking on a quick Ireland trip! That's what I ended up doing last minute, and I loved it more than I'd ever expected. If you have the time and resources to do a longer trip, by all means, do it.

Because Ireland is awesome, and different from most places you'll visit.

You're probably going to stay in Dublin (as you should), and take buses to other parts of Ireland you want to visit. This is what we did, and we experienced both coasts as well as the capital, in two days.

DAY ONE

Scenes from my first day in Dublin.

5 AM: We left Paris before dawn, landed in Dublin around 9AM, and took a bus into the center of town. It dropped us off right in front of the Millennium Spire on O'Connell street. We stayed in a lovely, purple hostel on Bachelor's Walk, facing the River Liffey.

10 AM: After getting settled in, my travel companion and I armed ourselves with a map from the hostel front desk and set out to discover Dublin. We basically walked in a large oval, around the river, visiting the major attractions. Before lunch, we hit up Trinity College, Dublin Castle, and several historic churches.

12 PM: Nando's for lunch near the College. Deliciousness ensued.

1 PM: We set out again, exploring St. Patrick's Cathedral and City Hall. We strolled through several greens and did some shopping, just generally seeing the city for a few hours.

3 PM: The obligatory Guinness Storehouse Tour was great. Not because of the beer or anything, but the Guinness brewery is the tallest building in Dublin. At the end of the tour, you get your pint and enjoy it in an entirely glass bar, overlooking the entire city. The view itself is worth the money you pay for the tour, and hey, it includes beer. Do some touristy shopping in the gift shop.

The view from the SkyBar of the Guinness Storehouse.

5 PM: A bit buzzed, we wandered down to the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin dating back to the 1100's. It was gorgeous, with flowers and stonework. I had another beer and was able to relax.

6 PM: We returned to the hostel to sit down our purchases and rest our feet (I had a monster blister). We shopped at the Primark on O'Connell street. It's a haven for cheap clothes.

7 PM: Getting hungry again, we decided to walk down famous Grafton Street in search of dinner. I love this walk - so many shops, restaurants, guys giving samples of their food, street performers, it's gorgeous. We reached the end at St. Stephen's Green and grabbed dinner in a nearby cafe.

9 PM: The sun set as we walked back down Grafton street, and it was beautiful.

10 PM: Since we'd been up since five o'clock, we crashed hard in our hostel beds, early.

DAY TWO

Our excursion to western Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher

7 AM: Met some friends for breakfast on O'Connell street, and dragged our hashbrowns and coffee into the Paddy Wagon as it departed Dublin.

The Paddy Wagon green bus was taking us to the west coast of Ireland, to see the famed Cliffs of Moher. Our driver was stereotypically Irish, and sang the entire three hours there. We stopped at a few place on the way, and he gave us a lot of information about the towns we were passing. I learned how green Ireland is. The countryside was gorgeous.

11 AM: We visited picturesque Galway Bay. John the driver sang Galway Girl, a lot. Took pictures by nature things. More green.

12 PM: We stopped for lunch in Doolin, and I had a huge plate of meat, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, more potatoes, and a pint of Guinness. It was hearty and delicious.

1 PM: The Cliffs of Moher were just as impressive as I thought they would be. I was speechless (and out of breath from the hike) when we arrived. He gave us about two hours to take pictures, get food, and experience the cliffs. I pretended I was Harry Potter.

Galway Girl.
 
3 PM: We pulled away from the west coast, and headed back to the east coast.

5 PM: About halfway through the trip, we stopped at Bunratty Castle. I ate more food.

7 PM: Back on O'Connell street in Dublin! We retired to our hostel to get ready for a night out.

This begins the narrative of our night hitting the pubs of Dublin. I'm quite fuzzy on times thanks to Bulmer's, but you can't experience Ireland without a night of dancing and drinking. The nightlife there was amazing and totally worth the hangover.

We chose Temple Bar as our destination for the evening, a bustling district full of pubs. After walking there drinking cans of cider (we're classy), we stopped for fish 'n chips and were served by a hilarious waiter covered in shamrock tattoos with a sailor's mouth. The fish 'n chips were delicious.

Since it was still early, we wandered a bit, listening to street performers as the sun begin to set. We wandered into the first pub, attached to the Ha'penny Inn, because we heard raucous music. We weren't disappointed. Onstage, there were two fiddlers, one guitarist, and a vocalist, entertaining the crowd with Irish and American music alike. Everyone was clapping, stomping and clinking glasses. It was the perfect place to start because it got us excited for the rest of the night.

We wandered out into Temple Bar, where the streets were full. We headed to the legendary Temple Bar, and it was so packed we could barely move. Some nice, older Italian gentlemen bought us Jameson, and we stayed and clapped to the music there until we became too sweaty.

At this point, I start forgetting bar names. My apologies. Rest assured that anywhere you meander in Temple Bar, you'll be greeted with good alcohol and good times.

It's getting late, and after midnight we find a place with a live musician, but a small crowd. We end up befriending the musician, and requesting songs all night long. We stayed there, dancing and chatting with him and the rest of the patrons, for at least an hour. We're actually still in touch with David Burke, the singer/songwriter we encountered, and he's actually sort of famous in Ireland! Check him out.

At around 1AM, we decided to pop into Temple Bar one last time before calling it a night. We had an early flight to London and didn't want to be puking on the plane. One last Bulmer's and a dance, and we decided to leave. Two lovely Irish men walked us back to our hostel. The people in Dublin were wonderful - hilarious, sarcastic, but helpful and kind. That's part of the reason I became so enamored with Ireland.

This place is great - it's beautiful, the food is delicious, the culture is vibrant, and it's just plain fun. Ireland is richly historic but with modern shopping and nightlife. I highly recommend a visit to this green country, even if you only have two days.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips for exploring Ireland?



2 comments :

  1. Glad you enjoyed your trip , makes me want to explore the country more even though I've in Ireland for most of my life but haven't really seen much of it ,thank you for this inspiring post x
    jenniferakandu.blogspot.ie

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    1. Thank you for the post! It's such a gorgeous place.

      Meredith

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