I'd manage to bag the bargain flight of a lifetime. £19 return flight to Dublin! It was an offer I couldn't refuse.
It was a grey wet Thursday morning, when I left Birmingham and was even wetter when I arrived at Dublin. Anyway I wasn't here to sunbathe, and I'm sure I can find a bar or 2 to take shelter...
It was an easy transfer from the airport to Dublin city on the Airlink 747 bus. 10 Euro return and it takes about 30 minutes. My hostel was a short 5 minute walk from the bus stop.
The Hostel was impossible to miss with lots of brightly coloured flags across the street. I'd found my base for the next 3 nights, Isaacs Hostel. I'm booked into a 16 bed mixed dorm for 15 Euros a night.
The room was okay, quite stuffy, and basic, with no lockers or individual lighting available.
I left the hostel and went out for an explore. I crossed the River Iffy, and went to the infamous Temple Bar area of Dublin. I'd read about it before and knew this area was a bit of a tourist trap, but I thought I'd try at least one Guinness in a pub down Temple Bar. I went into The Oliver St. John Gogarty.Try saying that name after a night on the Guinness! It was a decent bar/Hostel with good live music and was busy with tourists. The Guinness was excellent, but cost 7.50 Euros a pint! This was to be my last drink in Temple Bar!
I wanted to experience some more local type bars to sample the real Dublin. I found a pub called Long Hall down Great Georges street. I was the only person in the bar to start with, but as the next hour progressed it began to fill with locals on the way home from work. A good laid back pub, with traditional Victorian decor. The Guinness was excellent and cost 5 Euros a pint.
I went out for a bit of a wander to people watch and take in the atmosphere. It was quite common to see middle aged couples have drunken arguments in the street after a hard day at the bar!
I stopped off for a meal at the Mongolian BBQ in temple bar. It was great value meal during happy hour at 12.90 Euros. It consists of a buffet of raw ingredients, which you select and then pass to the chef to cook on the hot plate. You can return as often as you like, and add a variety of Asian spices to create your own invention.
I then strolled back towards the area around my Hostel, and found a bar called The Celt on Talbot Street. This place was the real deal, very busy and with a great atmosphere. I ordered a pint of Smithwicks with a Guiness Head (I observed a local order this earlier). Great mix and only 4.95 Euros. It seemed a proper authentic back street Irish bar. There was a great Live music playing, 2 brilliant musicians singing traditional Irish music. This was just the place I'd been looking for and I stayed here for the rest of the night. It wasn't a night to walk to far anyway as the rain had now become torrential.
I woke up around 7.30 am, with a slight hangover, but nothing that a few coffees couldn't shift. I had some toast and cereal at the hostel before heading out for a wander. I walked along the banks of the river Iffy past several metal sculptures. Some were memorials to the great famine in Ireland in the nineteenth century. It was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. Over a million people died, and the sculptures provided a harrowing reminder of this terrible period in history.
I was there just in time for the next delivery of Guinness, ready to replenish the cellars of the local bars.
I went back to my hostel for 10.15 as I was to join the free walking tour provided by the Hostel. We met up with our guide Keith, and walked back to the South side to have pre tour coffee and tea at the Mercantile on Dame street. Travellers from other hostels were also here and in the end there was about 30 of us, from lots of different countries.
The tour began in the grounds of Dublin castle, not the most impressive of buildings to look at, but the history around it was very interesting.
|We continued onto the haunted 40 steps!|
|Christ Church Cathedral|
|Smock Alley theatre|
I stopped to take some pictures of this great building down one of the side roads. I liked the architecture and grandness of the Victorian building, until a local woman approached me and said " actually this is a very sad building...its where people go to get divorced!.."
Halfway through the tour we stopped off for a drink at the Old Storehouse down Crown Alley. I settled for an Irish coffee as I wanted to ease myself in gently to further alcohol!
After our break the tour continued on to O'Connell Street - where the famous GPO building is based. The GPO was were Irish Republicans seized the building and proclaimed the Irish Republic after the 1916 Easter rising.
O'Connell street is also home The Spire. this is a largely unpopular landmark built rather late to commemorate the new milenium. It cost millions and is said to cost millions to maintain. It is however a useful homing device to guide you back safely after a night on the Black Stuff!!
We carried onto Trinity College, a beautiful University in the centre of Dublin. There was a graduation ceremony just about to take place.
We then went outside the parliament building to talk a bit of politics, and then finally finished the tour at another metal sculpture depicting the famine in St.Stephens Green.
The tour was probably the best Free tour (tips obviously appreciated) I have ever been on. Keith, our guide, was brilliant. Typically articulate and made the history of Ireland a very interesting tale. Told with plenty of Irish wit and Highly recommended.
|Edward Delaney's Famine memorial|
The tour had lasted over 3 hours and we had covered a fair distance. It was definitely time for lunch. I'd read about a Vegetarian place called Govindas on Aungier street, so decided to head that way.I had Govinda's special for 10.45 Euros. Delicious!
Stomach full I carried on my own walking tour down along the Iffy. I decided to head in the opposite direction making my way slowly towards the Guinness factory.
I arrived at the gates to the Guinness Storehouse factory and found the entrance. It was 18 Euros for a tour around the factory and included a complimentary pint of Guinness at the end. The tour was okay, showing you how the Guinness is made from the finest Barley and Hops etc but the best part was at the end where you first get to taste the Guinness the proper way, and then you go through to a bar area where you get shown how to pull a perfect pint by yourself. I have to say I was a natural and the Guinness was perfect!
|Haha March 17th - my birthday|
|Guinness factory academy!|
I called it a day after about an hour as I was shattered and in need of sleep.
I woke up and was out and about by 9.00am. The rain had returned but I still wanted to make the most of my last full day. I went out for a photo walk taking in the street life.
|farmers market, Temple Bar|
|Christ Church Cathedral|
I finished off my morning walk with a delicious muffin from the farmers market that had been set up in and around Temple Bar, followed by a full Irish breakfast at a quirky little cafe called Hippety's on Fownes Street Upper.
Over my breakfast i decided to catch the Dart train out of Dublin along the coast North to a town called Howth. I had to get back to Connolly train station to catch the train at 12.45pm. I arrived early at the station, so I had an obligatory Guinness to set me on my way before my train. It cost 6 Euros for a return ticket for the 30 minute journey, along the coast. It was a nice journey in the smart new train.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse on arrival and it was thoroughly miserable on the harbour. I spotted a seal out for a swim, so that kept me motivated to take some pictures of the harbour and the boats. I got soaked so took refuge in a pub on the sea front, and then more further into Howth at a pub called Abbey House. The Guinness was most welcome, and they were great laid back pubs to shelter in the warmth. Cheap Guinness too, at 4.50 Euros a pint.
After a few pints the weather had dramatically improved, and blue sky and sun made an appearance for the remainder of the day. The Seal was still swimming in the harbour and the catch of the day looked good on the harbour side......
I headed back to the station to catch the train back to Dublin, but I had just missed the train and it was another 30 minutes before the next train was due. There was a pub next to the station called The Bloody Stream. I thought I'd kill a bit of time there waiting for the next train.
This is where the night took a completely different track, as I got stuck into the Guinness and a few Jamesons at the bar watching Ireland V South Africa in the Rugby. I met a local couple in there and they invited me to join me in their night out. We took a taxi to Malahide, a town further away from Dublin along the coast. It turned out to be one of those bizzare random nights, that can occur whilst travelling! Totally unplanned, and great fun. Somehow I got a taxi back into Dublin in the early hours and remembered to set my alarm for my flight home that morning.
I made it up, and had a full Irish breakfast to get me going again. I ended up catching a taxi back to the airport, and made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. It had been a great short trip to Ireland and has certainly inspired me to see more of the Emerald Isle...