I remember going to Dublin many years ago, but I can’t remember a single thing about what I did there. I do remember that I enjoyed it very much, so I was happy to join a couple of friends for a 5-night trip.
Flights were a mere £40 return from London Gatwick by Ryanair. We took a taxi from the airport which came to around €40 to Jury’s Inn hotel on Parnell street. This was a really wonderful hotel with excellent and friendly staff. Our room wasn’t huge, but still very comfortable and the occasional biscuits near reception were often appreciated. Breakfast was very adequate, with wonderful cooked options as well as cereals, bread and pain au chocolat.
We took it easy in the afternoon. We had a little wander around and were thrilled to discover we were right next to China Town! Our hotel receptionist had recommended a Korean restaurant called Kimchi and we were very impressed. I had the beef bulgogi, which I’d happily eat again any day.
After breakfast, we walked to the Celtic whiskey shop on Dawson street which was recommended by our friendly taxi driver who’d dropped us off at the hotel the day before. By this point, it was clear that Irish people are significantly friendlier than Londoners, and the shop staff were no exception. We were given some free whiskey samples, including Teeling and Tullamore Dew. One of my friends even got a hug from Dave, he was happy to oblige!
We had lunch at a French restaurant called Chez Max near Dublin Castle. This is a nice restaurant with French staff. I did enjoy my moules frites, despite the slight feeling of paranoia that maybe they weren’t fresh or cooked properly. This is no fault of the restaurant – it just happens to be a slight phobia of mine that I decided to face that day.
After lunch, we joined a free walking tour with Sandemans. I’ve been on a few of the Sandeman tours in Europe and would highly recommend them. There were about 15 tourists or so and Lisa was a great tour guide. We walked at a very leisurely pace around Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library, Christ Church Cathedral and through the Temple Bar area. She gave a lot of handy tips, like don’t drink (too much) in the Temple Bar area as it may cost you an arm and a leg.
Having walked past it the day before, we returned to the Chester Beatty Library as it sounded so amazing. It’s free to enter, and a real treasure trove of history, especially the religions section. It was also very factual and unbiased.
We had lunch at the Queen of Tarts. I wasn’t too impressed with my over priced (but tasty) sausage roll. The blueberry scone was ok. I think this place is better as an afternoon cake stop than lunch.
We made a quick stop at Christ Church Cathedral where we paid €6 to see the crypts and the famous mummified cat and rat.
Sadly, the Old Jameson Distillery was closed at the time of my visit, so we visited the Whiskey Museum for the VIP tour that cost €17 with a discount from the Sandeman tour. It was a short experience and felt over priced. I felt a little conned, especially after the free and friendly service at the Celtic Whiskey Shop. The VIP option included a 4th shot and a cute shot glass to take home. I wouldn’t recommend this tour, unless you like over-priced touristy attractions.
Dinner was at Wok Inn, a small unpretentious ‘restaurant’ with minimal seating and food served in cartons. It’s almost a take away. I thought it would be cheap and crap, but it was a surprisingly tasty green chicken curry that I thoroughly enjoyed. A classic case of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. This is definitely good for a quick dinner.
We joined the €12 Sandemans Pub crawl in the evening, which started at 7.30pm at the Workman’s club. It included a free half pint of cider, Heineken or Guinness at the first bar, as well as offers at each of the bars on the crawl. There was a nice and friendly crowd throughout the evening. We enjoyed many drinks at a few of the bars and left early to enjoy a drink back at our hotel bar.
A little rough around the edges after drinks. Change of plan – the visit to the Guinness Storehouse took place in the afternoon instead of the morning!
After a lie-in, we had lunch at Madigans O’Connell Street. I really enjoyed the bacon, cabbage and mash dish, very filling. The staff were so friendly and we enjoyed some ‘craic’ (banter) with our meal.
We walked to the Guinness Storehouse, which took about 30 minutes (later realised that the tram might have been easier). It’s quite a substantial ‘museum’ – there’s no tour as such, but a lot to see and walk around. The tasting session was really cool, and included a mini serving of Guinness. This was really appreciated as I did want to have some Guinness but wasn’t sure I could stomach even a half pint of it. The tasting was enough for me. Entry actually includes a free drink, such as a pint of Guinness, at the Gravity bar with amazing 360 views. There weren’t many seats available so we ended up sitting downstairs at the regular bar instead, with our glasses of Fanta.
One of my friends carried out some extensive research to ascertain the best restaurant in China Town. Dinner at Lee’s Charming Noodles was fantastic. Great pork and cabbage dumplings – a tasty and generous portion. Very tasty braised beef noodles, but I struggled with the chilli! I was very sad to leave most of the dish behind, it was simply too much food after a big hefty lunch. I’d love to go back to this place.
The jail had been highly recommended to us by many people. We booked our tickets online in advance – this is advisable given there was no availability for a couple of days. This was a really good tour, very informative and interesting. Seeing the jail cells and hearing the stories made everything feel very ‘real’.
There are quite a few museums to visit in Dublin, including the Museum of Modern Art which is just around the corner from the jail. I ended up going to the Archaeology Museum which has an interesting array of relics that includes arrow heads and mummies! I didn’t expect to see any mummies. The cafe at the museum was convenient for lunch. I had the beef and Guinness pie with noodle and potato salad, which was tasty but expensive for what it was.
Instead of enjoying more culture in the other nearby museums, I decided to go shopping on Henry street. There were loads of High Street shops and I was surprised to see that most of the prices were higher than in England, even taking into account the recent drop in value of the pound. I still loved looking around and bought myself a handbag. What a great holiday souvenir.
In the evening, we had dinner at O’Neills on Suffolk street. This was also recommended to us by many people and it was very busy. The food was delicious and the prices were great. Despite the good value, the place was packed and uncomfortably hot. It was really hard to find a table, and getting food involved wading past tables to the carvery, which is separate to the bar (so two trips required). I had a delicious lamb shank but missed the whole restaurant ambience aspect because it was too busy and hot. We made a quick getaway after eating. I wonder if dinner here on a Monday or Tuesday would have been a more enjoyable experience…
Friday morning was pretty relaxed. We wanted to go back to Lee’s Charming Noodles for lunch, but as it hadn’t opened yet, we took a chance with lunch at Kanoodle. In principle, the food here wasn’t bad. But after being spoilt with so much great food in Dublin, I found that the Tom Yum noodle soup wasn’t my favourite meal of the week.
With a heavy heart, I took the number 16 bus to the airport for only €3.30! Very reasonable and only 40 minutes away – it made me even sadder to leave Dublin. I was charmed by the friendliness and variety of things to do and places to eat. A very interesting and friendly city.
I had a truly awesome time in Dublin and I look forward to going back. Soon.