12 November, 2014

Two days in Dublin

Last week I was invited to visit Dublin by the Tourism Ireland. I spent a lot of time in Ireland when I was younger as both my Grandparents and my Mum are partial to a bit o' country music. As a child I was dragged around countless gigs and dances. Oh, who am I kidding, of course I loved it! I loved the dancing and singing and have a handful of lovely memories seeing all my family members dancing their socks off to some cover of Daniel o'Donnell. My old sister met him once. She went on stage and gave him a rose. It was the first time she had been kissed on the cheek by a man who wasn't a family member. I remember being really jealous.

Anyway due to the fact my family was fond of country music we spent a lot of time in Ireland growing up in particularly around Galway, Cork and Limerick. I don't ever remember going to Dublin except for a university trip and if truth be told all I remember about that was a lot of dancing, a lot of drinking and having to run for our flight whilst extremely hungover.

So with that in mind I jumped at the chance to visit Dublin again - hoping I would see a bit more of the history and culture of Dublin second time around!

We flew with Ryanair and arrived at Dublin around 11.30am and headed straight to dump our bags at the hotel. We stayed at The Morgan in a contemporary queen room and it was swank-y! The whole hotel was swanky actually - it felt very special indeed.

The hotel was right in the middle of Temple Bar - an area of Dublin renowned for it's pubs, clubs and bars. We started off by having a wander along the River Liffey, followed by jumping on the hop on, hop off bus tour. I blooming love a bus tour - I try and go on one in every city I visit. Yes, it's a big tourist-y thing to do but frankly - it's fun! The Dublin tour guides were ace, they got the balance of good (and bad) jokes with historical info just right. We stayed on the bus and passed the Hugh Lane gallery, the Dublin Writers museum, trinity college, National Gallery of Ireland, Natural History Museum, Christ Church Cathedral, St Patricks Cathedral and more. All the while making a mental note of where we wanted to go back and visit.

Shortly after this the next stop coming up was the Guinness factory. With a thirst for an alcoholic beverage (it was past midday so that's ok!) we alighted our seats at the top of the bus and made our way into the factory. The whole place was amazing - the architecture mixed industrial and modern and we were in awe walking around learning about how Guinness is made. We eventually made it up to the viewing gallery on the 7th floor, cashed in our free pints and admired the view.

I'm not normally a Guinness fan but I have to admit I did enjoy my pint - I was later informed by a very friendly chap that the reason it tasted different is because of the water. Guinness in Ireland tastes different to Guinness around the world apparently! We lost track of time in the factory and before we knew it is was 4pm! We decided to wander back the way we'd come and get a cup of tea and something sweet along the way. That was, however, until we walked past Dublinia. Dublinia is a Viking and Medieval experience and I couldn't help but go in.

En-route back to the centre of town we then stumbled on a cafe come shop called Queenies. Now I am a sucker for a vintage shop so I was sold when I saw it was also a cafe. I was probably also enticed because my nickname for one of my best friends is Queenie! I wish I had wrote down the address as the place was awesome. Think jewelled jackets, sequin dresses and show tunes with a cute little tea shop out the back!

After a mooch around we carried on and got drawn into Manning's Bakery where Harry indulged himself in one of their giant chocolate eclairs. After a walk through Dublin and a few beverage based pit stops we arrived back at the hotel to freshen up.

I was determined to see some live music so we hauled up in a pub called The Temple Bar Pub close by and enjoyed a few drinks whilst watching the band play. The atmosphere was so good and it turns out this pub holds the world record for the longest guitar playing at 114.5 hours. Wowza!

Hungry and in the mood for a feast after all our walking we found a place called Crackbird that was essentially gourmet KFC. We shared a bucket with two sides and I couldn't even get through my half. It was so so good! With full bellies, we hopped in between a few more bars before eventually admitting defeat and headed back to our hotel room to crash out.

I love being in hotel rooms - isn't it the best?! I love everything about it! The comfy beds, the robes, the free tea, the products..! When we woke it was pouring outside so we decided to savour the hotel room for a bit longer and order breakfast in bed. We both had a continental and it was HUGE.

With yet more full bellies we decided to venture out to wander around Trinity College. The grounds at Trinity College are beautiful and we hoped to see the Book of Kells while we were there. The weather, however, had other ideas.

The heavens opened shortly after I took the photo above and at this point we made a run to the nearest bus stop to go on the bus tour. We ended up waiting for the bus right near the National Gallery of Ireland so we poked our wet heads in for a bit of culture.

I was blown away by the paintings and artwork they had in show here. I saw my first ever Picasso and was in awe of the Lines of Vision exhibition. By the time we had finished it was looking a bit brighter and we spotted on our map that we were pretty close to the Natural History Museum. Being a sucker for a bit of taxidermy we made our way over. Now I'm not kidding when I say I was bowled over by the taxidermy on display. It was insane! I could have spent hours in there! It was like being at a zoo which had all the animals you'd ever want to see! Except of course they were either reconstructions or taxidermy :/

It was around 2pm at this point and still full from breakfast and with the rain now coming down at ull pelt we jumped on a bus and made our way around the tour. The tour took us all the way up to Phoenix Park which was massive and had it not been pouring down with torrential rain I would have loved to explore it. By the time we got back to the river we were hankering for a drink so we stopped at Bison for a cheeky afternoon cocktail. We then continued to walk around Temple Bar to soak up a bit of atmosphere before stumbling on Queen of Tarts. Naturally we went in immediately on the quest for cake. I opted for a giant bit of carrot cake and Harry went for a tower of Lemon Meringue Pie. The place was rammed but it was so sweet and the cakes and tea were just the ticket.

After this we decided to walk down Grafton Street for a bit of retail therapy.  There were loads of amazing street performers including a ridiculously good beat boxer who had a massive crowd. After an hour or so of wandering we had one more quick drink in a pub before heading back to the airport to get our flight home. There was so much more we both wanted to go and visit and we've both agreed we want to go back to see some more of the sights. Everyone was impeccably friendly and navigating around was so easy and in no way daunting.

Dublin has a 3 day festival of arts, culture and live entertainment that starts on the 30th December through to 1st January. It's set to the be the biggest NY celebration Dublin's ever seen with live music, comedy, street processions and street food. Judging by how much fun a regular Friday night in Dublin was I can imagine this will be next level fun! Be prepared for a very sore head the next day!

Find out more on the New Years Festival Website.

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