Ireland scenes: Dublin, AKA Rowdy Town
Dublin is completely awesome.
Dublin is crazy.
Those are the lingering thoughts I have from my visit to the Republic of Ireland's biggest city last month. Dublin was the last stop on our trip to Ireland and frankly, I was keeping my expectations low. For one, the city is virtually devoid of the heavy hitter sightseeing spots that London and Edinburgh, two earlier stops on our trip, have.
But ultimately that's a good thing. After 2 weeks on the road it was fun to just figure it out as we went. Camping out at hotel on the River Laffey was a nice experience. Not far from the famed Temple Bar district, but not too close either.
The best sightseeing stops are in no particular order:
- St. Patrick's Cathedral: Large and iconic Irish cathedral. Hours are tricky to figure out, though.
- Christ Church Cathedral: Way better than St. Patrick's actually, the museum in the tomb below features costumes from The Tudors that had scenes filmed there along with a mummified cat and rat who got caught in an organ pipe more than 100 years ago while the rat was attempting to flee).
- St. Stephen's Green: It's a large Victorian era park that is among the prettiest in Europe. It's a hub of activity for nearby Trinity College students.
- Kilmainham Gaol: A large prison on the outskirts of town where a range of prisoners were kept when it opened in the 1700's. Later it housed political prisoners arrested during Ireland's many uprisings against Britain. This is perhaps the most stirring site in Dublin to visit and is hallowed ground for many in Ireland.
Dublinia: Fun and creative museum dedicated to Dublin's ancient history, which includes vikings.
- Dublin bus tour: We did a hop on hop off tour of the city which was handy if you want to knock out a bunch of sites in day, or take a more leisurely pace and learn more about the city's history which is rich.
Random stuff: Dublin has the feel of a college town in parts, and that's because it is. At Trinity College you might see Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) coming and going from his classes, or, a human interaction experiment where random people sit and stare at each other for five minutes.
We skipped the Guinness Store House on the advice of a cab driver who picked us up from our hotel on our last day there. If you're a Guinness fan it's probably a lot of fun. I'm not, and when we found out much of the tour centers around watching a video of the beer making process, without actually seeing it with your own eyes, I was less interested. But for your 20 euros you do get to enter and you get a ride to the Gravity Bar at the top of the storehouse along with a free pint.
Or, as our taxi driver said: "You can go to any pub in Ireland order a pint, ask the bartender how it's made and save 15 euros."
Dublin is also full of stores, pubs and restaurants both on pedestrian friendly Grafton Street and in the Temple Bar district which is a lot of fun, if not slightly crazy. The restaurants are interesting and have creative menus. During our time in the Irish hinterlands I was struck by how surprisingly good the food was and Dublin has a lot to offer from a foodie perspective.
And when you're trip is over, and it's time to fly home and back to your real life, you can do it pretty easily out of Dublin's airport. It's one of a handful of places where you can go through US customs before you actually arrive in the United States. This is a positive for a number of reasons, especially if you have a tight connection on the other side of the Atlantic.