In between all the touristing around Lisbon (stop 3), my sister and I went for a weekend away in Dublin!
Dublin was a bit of a weird one for me. I didn’t think it was a particularly beautiful city, but I did love the environment and the atmosphere. I mean, they have live music in pretty much every other pub (which I thought was extraordinary)! You go in for food and/or pints and you get a free concert as well! And most times, a pretty good one too! Love it!
Our hotel was just off O’Conell Street, which is a great location as it is in walking distance to the city centre and Dublin’s main attractions. But then again we’re walkers, we like to walk, so when I say ‘walking distance’ you might want to double check distances before booking anything.
Usually it’s the non-touristy bits that I find beautiful in a city (with a few exceptions of course), but I really loved Fleet street and Temple bar. Loved the way it looks – almost like a Harry Potter wizard village of sorts – loved the little shops, the pubs, the music coming out from the pubs, and loved the little cafes where you can just sit and watch people walking up and down the street.
Other highlights for us were: Trinity College – how insane is that library?? – and St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely park not far from Trinity College. Oh and the Dublin Castle and Dubh Linn garden were also pretty cute. We also visited quite a few churches, as much as we could, but it gets expensive as you have to pay to get in most, so at some point we just decided: enough churches. We focused our euros on food instead.
OK, I am not sure how many people go to Dublin and are like ‘OMG Irish food is amazing’, but this was literally my sister and I. Sure enough, it’s not really a compliment (sorry Ireland) as we’re both little piggies who are constantly hungry and just want food (very lucky piggies, ‘cause we both have a lion’s appetite and a gazelle’s metabolism – more so her than me – but still, lucky). We tried an Irish Stew at Murrays Pub on O’Conell Street and it was heaven! We loved it so much that we went back (the same day) and had a beef pie, which is pretty much the same with the pastry on top, and it was amazing. We also went mental over pub chips. Not french fries, chips. See, this also happens to me in London, where everything potatoey is just delicious – chips, mash, jacket potatoes… It must be something to do with the weather, the fact that it rains a lot, maybe? I dunno, all I know is those rain drops must be filled with pixie dust, ‘cause baby those chips (& mash, jacket, etc) are magic. Anyway, what I mean to say is: we ate a lot of chips. A LOT.
One of the things Dublin is quite famous for is Guinness, right? Unfortunately we didn’t get to visit the Guinness Storehouse as we were too late to buy entries and it gets quite expensive when you leave it to last minute. (So if you’re going to Dublin and want to visit it don’t leave it to last minute is what I am sayin’). We did go for a walk around the area and stumbled upon an amazing pub (of course we did), Arthur’s Pub, that served something called ‘Death by Chocolate’ for pudding, which of course, we ordered (at 10.30 am), and OMG it is delicious! Must get this if you ever happen to be nearby. I am not much of a beer connoisseur, but Chocolate I do know and this was divine!
Right so, moving on from food, Dublin itself is pretty small and you can probably see the city centre, and the main touristic attractions in one/two days max. What’s great about Dublin is exploring the surroundings, because there are magnificent landscapes all around Ireland, and some only a short drive away from Dublin. Unfortunately we didn’t prepare and did not rent a car, so we had to rely on public transport.
We only had one day left so we chose to visit Malahide Castle and its gardens, as well as Malahide town. It is beautiful there and you can take the public bus to get there (cheap, quick and comfortable).
As soon as you drive just a bit outside of Dublin you start seeing more and more green, and as you get to one of the entrances to Malahide Castle, the colour is simply mesmerizing. I mean, we visited the castle on a grey day and still the green was so beautiful you just stand in awe of it. The castle is also pretty cool, the only downside for us is that you can only visit in group tours, which my sister and I aren’t big fans off. It was still pretty cool. You can also visit the very beautiful gardens, and there’s one of those greenhouses filled with beautiful flowers and butterflies. (Not sure how I feel about butterflies flying so close to me, but that’s something for another time).
We were planning on visiting the castle and then walk to town and find some place to have lunch, but as it turns out, once we finished the tour and were kind of hungry (of course we were). Not ‘lunch’ hungry, more like ‘I could eat something’ hungry. Close to the castle there’s one of those cafe/restaurant for refreshments and small meals for the visitors, which let’s face it, are usually pretty bad. However, this one was delicious. We ordered scones (‘small snack’, see what I mean? Piggies) and hot chocolate, which I must say, was one of the best I ever had, and just sat there watching the garden (and the rain), chatting and eating our heavenly tasting scone. No pictures I’m afraid (we ate it all before thinking about that).
Once the rain stopped we walked to town, and found a local pub (Gibney’s of Malahide – I mean, you gotta love it already, right?) and sat down for lunch (yup, we did). They had a lunch special, I think it was 5€ for a soup and a sandwich. Given that we had the scones before, we figured this would do. We had the vegetable cream soup (it was amazing! Never underestimate a good soup!) and I can’t recall which sandwich but it was really really good.
The pub is really cool too; some bits of it could totally be that pub in Lord of the Rings where Frodo and the Hobbits meet Strider for the first time. Other bits have too much football to resemble any medieval sort of anything, fictional or not. We obviously sat in the first bit. We are of the right height – and appetite – after all (haha).
The town is small, but really cute. You can easily visit the castle, gardens and the town, all in the same day and still get back to Dublin in time for supper. Or maybe just stay at Gibney’s of Malahide.
Wow for a half stop (3 ½ remember) it turned out I had a lot to say about Dublin!
Now, should you visit?
Yes but if I could go back and do one thing better I’d include a few more days and would rent a car to do a little tour further out of Dublin. Yup.
However, a weekend break in Dublin can also be super fun, particularly if you like drinking beer, going to the pub and listening to live music, and you know, pub food.
(Gosh, I am dreaming of chips now. Chips are not a thing in Southeast Asia where I ‘m writing this post from. Where is my pixie dust potato?!?)