One of my birthday gifts from the Brit was a weekend trip to Dublin, a city I’d wanted to visit for the past year. The presentation of the gift came complete with a fake Irish accent and a leprechaun hat worn quite well by the Brit. I was so excited and it gave us something to look forward to in mid-October!
Two weeks ago, we had our little getaway and the Brit’s mum and dad tagged along. The Brit took on the role of our trusty tour guide as he’s the only one who had ever visited the city. After a bit of a freak out on my part thinking we were going to miss our flight, we were on our way from Manchester to Dublin via Aer Lingus.
Friday night was really about soaking up the night life and we ventured the short 5-minute walk from our hotel, Jurys Inn Christchurch, to Temple Bar. (I highly recommend Jurys Inn hotels, which are spread across the UK and Ireland. They are typically reasonable in price, in central locations, and clean. They aren’t anything ultra-fancy, but if you are the type, like us, who spends most of your time outside of the room, then I’d suggest checking them out. A favorite Jurys Inn of ours is the one in Islington in London…perfect location right by the Angel Tube station with easy access to Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations, as well.) Those of you who know anything of Dublin know that Temple Bar area is the place to be for pints and music into the wee hours of the morning. We decided to go to the actual Temple Bar in Temple Bar. (Confused yet?!) At first glance, Temple Bar looked to be the size of our living room, but it is actually large with multiple rooms and even a courtyard area. It was rammed with people and I’m not sure how many people were crammed in there, but it sure was an experience.
We managed to weasel through the crowds and find a table. There was a band on playing a great mix of music. Although we weren’t in the room where the band actually was, there were TVs showing the performance and the amps were cranked up loud enough for the music to be enjoyed throughout the bar. Several pints later and the four of us were feeling happy, so we wandered back out into the night in search of a midnight snack. Pretty sure the Brit’s dad is still thinking about that €4 slice of pizza from the little Lebanese cafe!
Saturday, we did a quick walk around Christchurch, which was directly across the road from our hotel, and then we were off to sample some of Ireland’s finest whiskey at the Old Jameson Distillery.
The distillery is the original one where the Jameson tradition began, but is no longer a working distillery. The tour was really informative and interesting. (Did you know the process of making whiskey starts off much like the process of brewing beer?) The tour finished off with a sample of Jameson’s whiskey. You could have it straight up, with ginger ale, with cranberry juice, or with Coke. I went for the whiskey and cranberry with a lime wedge. Hello, delicious! For someone who doesn’t claim to enjoy whiskey, this could be a drink I see myself ordering. I suggest trying it…right now. 🙂
After we finished up at Jameson, we walked to the other side of the River Liffey to check out the Guinness Storehouse. The four of us had pre-purchased our tickets online (hooray for me qualifying for the student rate!) and picked them up once we arrived. By doing this, we were able to skip the long queue of people who still had to purchase tickets and get started right away. I think I can say we were all a bit surprised when we found out it wasn’t actually a tour with a guide, but rather more of a self-guided deal through what I would call a Guinness ‘museum.’
The Storehouse is massive, so working your way through it could potentially take all day. We took a few hours with a late lunch thrown in at Gilroy’s Restaurant, which is the bistro in the Storehouse. They also have other options, which are good for a quick bite or if you want some traditional pub grub. All of us enjoyed our food and my salad, a spin off of the Caesar salad, was delicious. I ate some of the Brit’s chips (aka fries) and they were equally good. Our final stop in the Storehouse was to the Gravity Bar on the top floor for our free pint of ‘the black stuff.’ The Gravity Bar offers 360-degree views of Dublin and seemed the perfect place to enjoy our pints. I was actually looking forward to trying Guinness in Dublin because I’d been told that it tastes different than what we would get in the U.S. or in England. I sort of brushed that off, but I have to agree that it did taste different and a bit lighter from the Guinness I’ve tried before. It’s still not a beer I would order on a regular basis, but I did enjoy it.
After finishing our pints and taking in the views of Dublin, we walked back to the Jurys Inn for a bit of a rest before venturing out for a drink and dinner. A friend of the Brit’s worked in Dublin previously, so he had suggested some restaurants to us. He also suggested we go for a drink at the Shelbourne Hotel, right on St Stephen’s Green. Good choice by us! I had a glass of pink champagne (it was my birthday celebration, who cares if it happened to be two months late?!) and we all enjoyed our drinks before venturing out to find a place to eat. The Shelbourne Hotel bar was the perfect place for a pre-dinner drink. I could definitely see it as the place in Dublin “to see and to be seen.” Anyone could fit in there — from business men in suit coats to women dressed in their finest little black dresses to tourists and shoppers in nicer jeans and tops. I wouldn’t recommend flat-out casual though as you might feel a bit underdressed.
Once we were all feeling sufficiently hungry, we ventured back outside to find a place to eat. We really had no idea where we were going, but knew some of the restaurants recommended to us were along this street. Luckily, before long, we came upon Harry’s Cafe, which was on the list. After a quick check of the menu, we thought this would be a good place and it was a wonderful decision. Harry’s is extremely small…maybe enough room for 30-35 people and is quite charming on the interior. The food was delicious as well. The Brit and I chose to order from the meal for 2 menu, which was basically two courses per person and a bottle of wine to share for €60, which is a pretty great deal at a nice restaurant in expensive Dublin. The four of us took our time enjoying dinner and our conversation. I think we were in there for 3 hours to enjoy each other’s company and laughing and gushing about whose dessert was the best. (I won with the white chocolate cheesecake — yesss!) Big thank you to the Brit’s mum and dad for treating us to that lovely dinner! 🙂 One cab ride later and we were back at the Jurys Inn for a night cap at the hotel bar. Truly a great way to end an even better day!
Sunday, our plane back to Manchester was leaving just after 2 PM, so we only had time for a quick walk around the city to see Dublin Castle (not as impressive as we were expecting and maybe we were expecting a bit more grand like Buckingham Palace, but we still enjoyed seeing it) and St Patrick’s Cathedral (which is grand and lovely and what I think of when I conjure up a mental image of a Catholic cathedral in Europe). Both of which were within a ten-minute walk of our hotel, so we were back in plenty of time to check out of the hotel and catch a taxi back to the airport.
All in all, we had a wonderful little weekend break enjoying Dublin!