I knew I would love Ireland before I even got there. I have always wanted to go and given that flights from London are so cheap I couldn’t resist adding Ireland to my list of travels! Even though I had to wake up at 4am to make my flight, the early start was totally worth it. It was rainy and foggy when I landed in Dublin on Thursday morning but I still had a smile on my face because I was in Ireland… and it’s supposed to rain in Ireland! As soon as I got off the plane, I hopped on the Airlink bus which dropped me right in front of my hostel (Jacobs Inn – http://www.isaacs.ie/jacobs-inn-dublin/home.aspx). I highly recommend this hostel to anyone traveling to Dublin. It’s basically like a hotel but at really low prices. After checking in and dropping off my bag, I headed into Dublin to explore the city and get a feel for where everything is. Dublin is an extremely easy city to get around and you can basically get everywhere on foot which is amazing! I explored Grafton St (the famous shopping street) and then came across Dublin Castle where I signed up for a tour before checking out Christ Church Cathedral. The tour of Dublin Castle was definitely worth the mere 3.50 euro that it cost! The tour guide was extremely enthusiastic and informative which always makes a big difference. Unfortunately, my 4am wake up kicked in during the early evening so I had to call it an early night so I would be ready to explore more on Friday.
I woke up on Friday to a beautiful sunny day and decided to take the train out to Howth – a quaint little fishing village just outside of Dublin. I was very happy with my decision to do this because the village was so pretty and the cliff walk around the peninsula offered spectacular views! I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour walk around the cliffs and rewarded myself with some fresh and traditional fish and chips upon my return to the village. I definitely recommend making the trip out to Howth for anyone visiting Dublin. It’s a very quick and easy way to see the “real” Ireland. I returned to Dublin late in the afternoon and headed back into the center of town to do a little shopping and see Trinity College. I called it another early night in preparation for another early morning on Saturday for a trip to Northern Ireland and the Giants Causeway.
Jon flew in late Friday night and so I met him at his hotel at 6am on Saturday so we could head out on our day trip together. We took the Extreme Ireland Daytour to Northern Ireland and it was worth every single penny… Another big recommendation for anyone traveling to Dublin (http://www.extremeireland.ie/tours/daytours_intro.aspx). Our tour guide, Mike, was a hilarious and fun guy who was full of great stories and interesting facts – including the fact that people come to Ireland for Guiness and good Craic… and apparently craic means fun! We also got tremendously lucky with the weather… Not a cloud in the sky… So unlike Ireland, yet so perfect! Our tour bus took us north through Belfast and along a spectacular coastal road with amazing views! We stopped at Carrick-a-Rede to cross over the famous rope bridge onto this tiny little island off of the coast. The rope bridge was slightly scary but very fun! And I can’t emphasize enough how amazing the weather and views were. The sky was so clear that we could even see parts of Scotland from the road. After the rope bridge, we stopped at a local pub for a traditional steak and Guinness pie before heading to the Giants Causeway – an amazing natural phenomena! We walked down to the Causeway and had a chance to play and take pictures on the rocks! After our stop at the Causeway, we got back on the bus and headed back down to Belfast to spend some time there as well. We got back to Dublin…exhausted… around 9pm that night! However, we forced ourselves to rally and grabbed some dinner and pints (irish cider and beamish) at a pub in Temple Bar.
On Sunday, we woke up in time to enjoy a traditional irish breakfast…. boxty included (http://www.boxtyhouse.ie/)! We needed a good breakfast for our full day ahead of the Guiness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery! The Guiness Storehouse was a great self guided tour which helped us to learn about how the famed beverage is made…And we were rewarded with a free pint at the Gravity Bar which offers great views of Dublin. Next, we headed to Jameson to learn about how the irish whiskey is made. The distillery offered a great tour and we got to sample the whiskey as well. Jon volunteered to be an official whiskey taster and got to compare the samples to both Jack Daniels and Scotch Whiskey… Very different! Feeling good from all of the sampling, we headed to Grafton St to pick up a late lunch and had a picnic in St Stephens Green. After a relaxing late afternoon, we had dinner at Bewley’s Oriental Cafe (http://bewleys.com/bewleys-grafton-street-cafe)… And finished it off with some irish ice cream (http://www.murphysicecream.ie/Murphys_Ice_Cream_Home_Page.html)! I tried brown bread ice cream with raspberry sorbet which was interestingly delicious!
Jon had to catch a flight early Monday morning again and I had the day to finish exploring Dublin. I had a delicious iced coffee from Butler’s Chocolate Cafe (http://www.butlerschocolates.com/pages/Butlers-Chocolate-Cafe/Butlers-Chocolate-Cafe.htm) in St Stephens Green and wandered down through Merrion Square and saw Oscar Wilde’s old residence. I did a little shopping and more exploring before learning about Dublin’s Viking and Medieval history at the Dublinia. After an amazing 5 days in Ireland, it was time to return to England to start planning more travels!