When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart – James Joyce.
Let’s just say that I did not think I would be posting a travel journal that included Guinness, a famous jail and lots of wholesome food any time soon; I thought that the next one after Wales would have been filled with Spanish sunshine, tapas and lots of sangria. However, que será será and here we are.
The week before last on Sunday night, I set my alarm for 8am after the phenomenal charity fashion show. We were to be picked up at 9am for our trip to Barcelona. Instead, Mum woke me up at 6.30am saying that our flights had been cancelled…
Despite the lack of sleep, I shot out of bed, got the laptop on and tried to find out what was going on. The French were on air strike so all easyJet planes had been cancelled for that day. There were no other available flights until the Saturday we were due to return. Whilst waiting for the phone lines to open at 8am – this needs to change for when something like this occurs – I searched lastminute.com and trivago.com for some extremely last minute inspiration.
That’s when the idea of Dublin hit me. Later that day, after a few stressful hours we had booked a last minute flight for that evening with Aer Lingus and found a hotel just a bus ride from the city centre.
19.00 – We boarded the Aer Lingus plane that had super comfy seats and a huge range of gifts and treats that I just love to look at when on a flight. The plane was up and down within 30 minutes – so quick!
21.00 – After a whizzing taxi ride and a lot of tourist information, we arrived at The Ballsbridge Hotel: the place is stunning. I want to do a full review of the hotel in a separate post because I could go into so much detail about the rooms, service, location and everything in between.
22.00 – We hadn’t eaten properly since brunch time, apart from a sandwich at Liverpool John Lennon, so it was time to find food – we found Base, a pizza place which made the pizzas through the use of a big fire. So needed and so delicious.
10.00 – We got the local bus to the city centre and found Flanigan’s. It served a small breakfast for just five euros each which was delicious – I have to say that I cannot fault any of the food we had during our trip. I could probably do an entire blog post about the tasty meals.
11.00 – As in all big cities, there are their amazing high streets and shops. These were situated along O’Connell Street and Mary Street. A trip to Debenhams, Pandora, and Penney’s occurred! As you may have seen in the last post, I enjoyed my time in the latter. We also went to Carroll’s which is a huge chain that solely sells Irish memorabilia and souvenirs; there is a lot of green and white in there.
14.00 – Temple Bar was our next port of call for some cheeky drinks. I even had the Irish classic: half a pint of Guinness. The Temple Bar itself (Irish pub, not area) was how I’d imagined an Irish pub to be: full of flags, full of bottled spirits, full of atmosphere.
16.00 – Later in the afternoon, we wandered to Trinity College as that is a must-do when visiting Dublin. With students like Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, it is a literature students dream to stand in the campus where they stood all those years ago. The architecture is simply amazing and it was great to see all of the students wandering around, and the lecturers cycling.
18.00 – Back towards Temple Bar for our first “proper” meal out in Dublin. The Old Mill had a great deal on which ended at 6pm: two courses for 18.95 euros each. We got there in the nick of time. Again, I couldn’t fault the food: cheesy garlic bread and an 8oz beef burger with yummy home-made chips.
10.00 – At this time, we were already on the train on our way to small fishing village Howth. We found it was a quaint village with colourful buildings, lots of fishmongers (naturally), home-made jams and the like.
We had our breakfast at Crabby Joe’s which had a wonderful waitress. She was more than welcoming with a bright smile and couldn’t do nothing more to make sure we had a welcoming visit. I had the French toast with bacon, icing sugar and maple syrup. Dad had the full Irish whilst Mum and Auntie Di had Eggs Benedict. All put a huge smile on our faces and filled our bellies.
We wandered around the pier as the fishermen brought their catches of the day to the shore. There were crates upon crates on fish – even one with no eyeball.
It was a beautiful day which certainly helped. The waters were clear blue and there was a lovely breeze. We walked to the lighthouse and wrote our names amongst the other travellers names, dates and messages. There were also a few quirky shops, one of which I bought some jewellery which you can see on the Dublin Haul.
We also travelled all the way to Bray after leaving Howth which was a bit of a let down after the lovely morning we had. There wasn’t much there in comparison, other than a small town and a few beautiful seaside homes.
17.00 – For our evening meal, it was back to the city centre to O’Neill’s. It has existed for over 300 years making it one of the oldest licensed premises in Dublin. There, we each had a lamb carvery which was just divine and so filling. That’s the thing with carvery’s: you don’t think you’re eating that much until you’re half way through your plate. We ended the night in the hotel bar: The Dubliner, where we had a couple of drinks and a good old reminisce.
9.00 – It was a bright an early start as it was Mum’s birthday! Dad and I booked our breakfast in the hotel the night before as a surprise. It was complimentary with an added sparkle of a glass of prosecco to celebrate! It was lovely to be able to relax and let Mum open her presents in the comfort of hotel grounds other than her room.
11.00 – We hopped onto the CityScape tour bus (the yellow one!) to head to Kilmanham Gaol. Getting a tour bus around a city might seem like such a touristy thing to do but honestly it is so much fun and it gives you a quick insight into all the top places, monuments and sights around a city.
13.00 – As it was the run up to Easter weekend and the 1916 uprising, the queue for the jail was exceptionally long. There was a point when I thought we might give up, but we persevered and got a slot. I’m so grateful we did because despite the three hour wait until our actual tour, it was so worth it. The history of the Gaol is really interesting and I 100% recommend this as a place to visit. Even if you don’t go and do anything else, go to Kilmanham Gaol. We saw prison cells from the 19th century, heard about the amount of overcrowding, imagined women and children lying right where we stood, sat in the chapel where a monumental marriage took place just two hours before the husband was executed, stood on the gravel where rebels were shot, and so much more. I would love to visit again just to hear the history.
20.00 – We ate our tea in The Dubliner because it had been a long day. We did get a little more dressed up though as it was my mum’s birthday. We had wine and three courses! The starter was delicious: a cheese and Spanish ham board to share with grapes, apple slices and dips. I had chicken fajitas as my main which was absolutely gorgeous! And of course I finished with a chocolate brownie. We sang happy birthday to mum before saying goodnight.
11.30 – It was back on the CityScape bus. This time it was manned by Harry the Hat who was by far my favourite bus tour compère. He sang, he made jokes, he had a ball which made us enjoy it all the more. Our first stop was St. Patrick’s Church which was followed by Christchurch Cathedral. We saw the outside and beautiful surroundings.
14.00 – It was back to the city centre for window shopping. We did go into a pub but much to my dad’s dismay, they weren’t serving alcohol. No pub in Dublin was permitted to. Can you imagine that happening on a Bank Holiday in England?!
17.00 – We had our final evening meal at Flanigan’s where we had fish and chips (being Good Friday) and I had a chocolate brownie once more. I’m surprised I hadn’t blown up like a balloon from all the food I’d been eating!
12.00 – After a morning of packing and checking out, we decided to stay local to the hotel. Mum and Dad had found a pub on their walk the previous day so we got our breakfast order in just in time. It was amazing. Again! The food is seriously fabulous in Dublin.
1.30 – We returned to the hotel to relax before leaving for the airport. It has a huge foyer full of comfy chairs and couches dotted about the place.
3.00 – It was time to say Good Bye. Well, See You Later – I’ll certainly be returning!
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT
I wish that we had more chance to visit some of the other iconic places such as the Guinness Store House, Dublin Castle and even Dublin City Library & Archive.
I had a wonderful time in Dublin, and even though I looked forward to Barcelona, I wouldn’t change the holiday I did have.
Have you been to Dublin? Where would you recommend visiting?
Love, Faye x