Our first trip to Dublin did not start off well. We did not have mobile service, so no Google maps which made navigation difficult. Due to this, we paid a fair amount in taxi fare and spent a considerable amount of time being lost. It was cold and rainy and I’d have rather not been wandering around aimlessly.
On our first day, we missed our dinner reservations because we were not able to locate the restaurant and we tried to get drunk at a pub but they were out of the weissbier we wanted.
We did, however, make it to the Book of Kells exhibit at Trinity College. This exhibit was one of the most boring exhibits I’ve exhibited in my life. There were four sections in the exhibit:
- gift shop
- museum area with boards explaining stuff on exhibit
- two copies of the Book of Kells in a humidity controlled case
- the Long Room which is a long and narrow library filled with leather-bound books (this was cool)
We are new to this international travel thing but I believe the Book of Kells is going to go down in history as one of the worst tourist exhibits we experience.
Our second day in Dublin proved to be a success! We woke up, ate breakfast at a pub off Grafton Street (skipping the bloody marys, unfortunately), and walked to the hop-on-hop-off bus stop. We used the hop-on-hop-off bus tour less as a tour and more of a means of transportation around the city.
Our first tourist stop of the day was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is the tallest and largest church in Ireland. Admission was 5.50€ and was worth the price to get out of the cold and rainy weather. The church was not great nor terrible. It was just OK.
Our second tourist stop was the Guinness Storehouse. Peter and I and our closest 40 hop-on-hop-off bus tour friends alighted at the Guinness Storehouse stop. Reviews I had read led me to believe that the Guinness Storehouse tour was overrated. I disagree. I thought it was cool.
I felt the admission price was acceptable since it included a pint of Guinness. The tour consists of two parts:
- an exhibit on the production of Guinness
- a Guinness tasting and a free pint at Gravity Bar
Gravity Bar hovers over Dublin and offers 360-degree views of the city. Gravity Bar was very cool. More cool than the Coors “ice cave” tasting room in Golden, CO. I would have never left Gravity Bar if it served bloody marys and mojitos. We spent about an hour in Gravity Bar and then hopped back on the bus.
What did we learn at the Guinness Storehouse?
- “Guinness” is spelled with two n’s and two s’s.
- Arthur Guinness is the founder of the Guinness brewery.
- Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease for the brewery on December 31, 1759 at the cost of £45/year.
- Arthur Guinness and his wife had 21 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood. Some say that Arthur’s wife was hard of hearing because every night he’d ask, “Do you want to go to bed or what?” and she’d respond, “What?”
- I am not a huge fan of Guinness but it low in calories so there’s that.
We closed out our second day in Dublin at The Butcher Grill which serves up yummy food and wine.
Our third and final full day in Dublin started with a saunter to the Ha’Penny Bridge.
Officially known as the Liffey Bridge, it is a pedestrian bridge that spans the River Liffey. The bridge replaced dilapidated ferries that transported pedestrians from river bank to river bank. The bridge was built after the ferry operator was given an ultimatum: Fix the ferries or build a bridge. The operator, William Walsh, chose to build a bridge and was granted the right to extract a ha’penny (half pence) toll from everyone crossing it for the next 100 years.
Next we visited Kilmainham Gaol which is a prison turned museum. As far as Dublin tourist activities goes, this was my favorite. The prison was built as a reform prison and was unlike other prisons because the cells and corridors had windows (no glass though) to let the sunlight and fresh air in.
Fresh air sounds great in the summer but not in the winter. Each prisoner was given a blanket and candle for warmth and the candle was to last the prisoner two weeks. Men, women, and children were incarcerated in the prison with the youngest known prisoner being five years old.
Kilmainham Gaol is a bit of a trek from central Dublin but it’s worth a visit.
We closed out our third day with dinner at Paulie’s Pizza. This is the restaurant we attempted to dine at on our first night in Dublin but could not find it (we know now that our taxi dropped us of nowhere near the restaurant).
Prior to venturing out, I armed ourselves with map screen shots on my phone like it was 2002. I am learning every second of every day when we travel and slowly building an arsenal of tips and tricks. The pizza was definitely the best pizza we have had since leaving the States.
In summary, Dublin is a a great city and we will return but in a warmer month. We would like to also see other major cities in Ireland like Cork and Belfast and also the Irish countryside.
Dublin, you are a winner in my blog!
- Good restaurants.
- Better restaurant service than in the UK.
- Loads of German weissbier.
- Friendly people; possibly the most friendly on Earth.
- Relaxed atmosphere/culture.