If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you might have spotted that last weekend I went off to Dublin for a four-day adventure! I’ve had to split the trip into two parts – so read on for part one of my Dublin diary!
After hopping off the flight and getting the Aircoach into central Dublin, we met Conor’s aunt who was being lovely and letting us stay at her (amazingly located) flat. It came with the added bonus of her flatmate’s gorgeous and soft and lovely fluffball dog, Rafa. I think I fell in (puppy) love a bit.
In the evening, we headed to a small French restaurant called L’Gueuleton, where I tried Oysters for the first time. I’m not sure if I’d say I LIKED them per se, but it wasn’t a horrible experience and at least now I can feign being a seasoned Oyster gobbler if I’m ever in fancy company. Unlikely I’m sure, but the scout in me likes to be prepared for these things. For the main course I opted for the lamb steak which was BEAUTIFUL. Fall-apart-in-your-mouth, rich and tasty goodness.
By the time we’d had dinner and popped upstairs to the bar above the restaurant for some drinks – known as ‘The Bar With No Name’ – it was actually pretty late, and we ended up heading back to the flat for a tipsy, full-bellied and satisfied sleep before the next day’s adventures began.
The Guinness Storehouse
Usually when I travel, I like to mix up what I do. Although I do love experiencing off-the-beaten track activities and the culture of the places I visit – I also like to pop my head into the odd tourist attraction. In fact, travel bores who get snobbish about visiting anywhere *mainstream* in favour of walking about aimlessly just to say they’ve “really experienced the place!!” are probably missing out on some really fun and interesting things.
One of the more tourist-centric places we visited in Dublin was…yep, The Guinness Storehouse. Well, how can you not?
It was really interesting to learn more about the brewing process, and there were loads of fun bits and pieces on the way up, including an exhibition on their marketing campaigns over the years. At the very top of our adventure (don’t worry fellow lazy folks, there are lifts and escalators to every floor), we dropped into the Gravity Bar. I’d heard it was high up with a good view of Dublin (and I do love a good view), but I didn’t expect it to be as impressive as it actually is.
As well as the view itself, we also got our mitts on our included-with-the-tour pints of Guinness. I’m not actually a big fan of the black stuff, if I’m honest, but when in Ireland…right?! The bar itself was pretty rammed (unsurprisingly) but we manage to squeeze into the photo point and get some Guinness-in-hand snaps with the city sprawled out behind – and beneath – us.
Outside the Storehouse, we noticed a line of horse-drawn carriages just waiting for me to hop aboard like the obvious princess I am inside. Trotting along the Dublin streets in our bouncy cart, I felt a mixture of stupidly happy, stupidly embarrassed at how touristy we looked and also slightly TERRIFIED FOR MY LIFE. I’d say it was about 50-20-30. After about a more-than-five-but-less-than-ten minute journey, our noble steed and cheery human escort dropped us off at Temple Bar – which I actually thought was just the one bar and didn’t realise was a whole area with lots of bars. SILLY ME.
It’s definitely worth having a look around the area as there are some lovely buildings, artsy bits and markets. However, the ‘Irishness’ of it all felt a little forced and cheesy, and while I’d probably be loving it and fully getting my party on if I was on a mate’s hen or stag do, I was more interested in packing in as much authentic Dublin-time as possible. Although I did ALMOST get my picture taken with a leprechaun…
Literary Pub Crawl
This was a recommendation from our friends, who actually bought Conor the tickets to both the pub crawl and the Storehouse tour for his birthday (and, therefore, me as well – I definitely did well out of his pressies this year). I love books and reading, although my knowledge of Irish literature is patchy at best. The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is a walking tour of some of the city’s most famous pubs – with actors who introduce famous Irish writers and perform pieces from some of their works. It gets pretty popular, so booking in advance is definitely advisable.
In the Duke, where the tours start off, our guides Derek and Sarah, started off with a song and then a humorous interpretation from Waiting For Godot. Even though there are ten potential pubs you could head to on different nights, I don’t want to give too much away as you need to experience it to fully appreciate how great it is. However, some (vague and hopefully intriguing) highlights included hearing about the escapades of Oscar Wilde in the heart of Trinity College and the confused faces of punters when the bell was rung for us in The Old Stand!
The crawl was an awesome mix of booze and learning stuff – all presented in a really fun and engaging way. I absolutely loved every stop-off – both the ones for the drinks and for the literature! Walking tours can sometimes seem like an idea that could be a bit stuffy and too ‘educational’ for a holiday – but combining it with the pub crawl and the performances meant there was never a boring moment. I’d totally have been happy for it to go on even longer.
Throughout the tour, our hosts had been giving us questions to form a QUIZ at the end. Even though I usually kinda suck at them I LOVE QUIZZES. More importantly, I love winning. Despite not knowing many of the answers, it was a ‘shout them out’ kinda deal and I managed to get enough right to find myself in a head-to-head for second place, representing London town, with a lady who’d come all the way from San Francisco. She threw the right answer out slightly quicker than me so made off with a miniature bottle of whiskey. Although, obviously, I’d let her win as she’d made a bit more effort getting to Dublin than me and probably needed a drink before her epic flight home…
After the pub crawl officially ended and we’d stayed for another drink in the final bar, Davy Byrne’s, we decided to continue the pub crawl for ourselves (except with considerably less literary referencing). We popped into McDaids for a pint, then wandered back to nearer the area we were staying in to check out some places on Camden Street. Taken in by drinks deals that actually weren’t valid on a Saturday night anyway, we fell into a horrible noisy bar on a corner – I can’t remember its name, but the beer was flat, the punters were annoying and we made a very swift run across the road to the much more welcoming Against The Grain, where we had some craft beer and I managed to pot TWO BALLS IN ONE SHOT at pool. I felt incredible.
The final stopoff of the night was filling our drunken bellies at Eddie Rocket’s Diner. But, that gets its own post at a later date. Mainly as it was really photogenic. And tasty, too, obviously.
Check out what we got up to on Days 3 & 4 of our Dublin trip, coming very soon!
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