Ireland Planning Essentials

Dublin, Ireland-the planning essentials

For a slightly different post I thought I would list the specifics (i.e. where I ate and slept and what I did) so hopefully it can serve as a recommendation of sorts for anyone planning. While I’ve done posts before on my trip to Ireland, I’ve never mentioned EVERYTHING so without further ado-Dublin (click here for some of my trip tips)!

Sleep: Grand Canal Hotel (Located in a suburb of Dublin called Ballsbridge, it’s about a 20 minute walk from the city center. There were plenty of buses one could take but I much prefer to walk when possible. It’s a decent budget hotel although I’d probably want to stay closer to the city center next time. However, I can’t complain for the price I paid thanks to an air/hotel package on Expedia.)

Ate: (I don’t remember everywhere I ate but the restaurants I tried are definitely spots I would highly recommend to others.)
-Epicurean Food Hall (One word-terrific! It’s located on the city’s North Side and has a wide array of food choices. Think American food court meets European class.)
-Brazen Head (Recognized as Ireland’s oldest pub as it dates back to 1198 if you can believe it. In addition to its rather impressive history, the food was also delicious.)
-Botticelli (While Ireland may not be the first place you think of for authentic Italian fare, Botticelli, which is located in the city’s famed Temple Bar area, is certainly the exception to the rule. I first read about it in one of my guidebooks and even though we didn’t have a reservation per the guidebook’s recommendation, we went so early…well for European dining standards that is…we didn’t have a problem securing a table. I just remember the pizzas were enormous for such a low price.)
-Queen of Tarts (If you want that ‘ol Irish pot of tea and a scone, go to the Queen of Tarts. While a bit much too small for the space it occupies, it was still a delightful experience.)

Did:
-Dublin Castle (No it’s no Buckingham Palace or even Prague Castle but from a historical standpoint, it was fascinating to visit and tour. It did play a pivotal role in the 1916 Easter Rising of the Irish against the British forces.)
-Guinness (You’re in Ireland, capital of the Guinness Empire, it’s kinda understood that you go. Plus, it really is neat and interactive visit.)
-Jameson Whiskey Distillery (Some people find this to pale in comparison with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, yet just keep in mind they’re two different entities. The Jameson experience is a bit more old fashioned (slightly more boring) but you can’t go wrong with the complimentary whiskey tasting at the end of the tour. I would recommend visiting Jameson first and then Guinness to not be disappointed.)
-Trinity College’s Book of Kells (Don’t visit when jet lagged is my first piece of advice. Being extremely tired paired with maddening mobs just does not make for a memorable experience. If you can I would recommend going first thing in the morning to beat the onslaught of tour groups.)
-St. Michan’s Church (I discovered this church thanks to the Travel Channel’s host Samantha Brown and learned that it is home to a couple of mummified remains. It’s a small “operation” but worthy of a visit.)
-St. Patrick’s Cathedral (There is certainly no shortage of churches in Dublin but St. Patrick’s and Christ Church are its two most famous ones and rightfully so.)
-Merrion Square (A lovely place for a stroll or respite. It is also home to a reclining statue of Oscar Wilde who lived adjacent to the green.)
-1916 Rebellion Walking Tour (This was perhaps the favorite thing I did.The tour takes you to all of the sites in Dublin associated with the rebellion. Lorcan, one of the three guides, led our particular group and he was fantastic, most notably for his extreme passion for his nation’s history. Outside of the potato famine of the 1840s, little of Irish history is taught in American schools so it was exceptionally informative. )

Walk! Dublin is a great city to simply stroll and explore. I had an English teacher in high school who was a staunch Irishman (at least in his genealogical self) and once a week would  regale the bored class with how he stuck his hands into  bullet holes at the General Post Office that remained from the 1916 rebellion. While you don’t need to do the same (unless you want to) Dublin is truly a city where one must ardently try to avoid crossing paths with the past.

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