Timeline: July 21-26, 2018
Second Country on Our Trip!
First Night in Dublin
We flew in from Scotland on a quick Ryanair flight and arrived late at night in Dublin. We took a bus (The Aircoach) from the airport to our Airbnb in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin, Ireland. We were concerned about arriving after 11pm to the Airbnb, but to our surprise our host was still up when we arrived. He was there having some beers with a friend, so we had some interesting late night conversations with them! I was hungry so we ventured out to a late night diner/burger place (very American). We did not go to any of the pubs the first night because we were very tired.
First Full Day in Dublin
We went to sleep pretty late the first night and thus slept in the next day. This wasn’t ideal for our first real day of exploring in Dublin, but at the same time my motto is that we need to make sure to rest up during our trip instead of rushing around too much. We still had plenty of time that day to walk and see a lot of the sights in Dublin. We just looked at a lot of things the first day but didn’t pay to go into any museums or on any tours, because we had some other tours planned later. Some of the sights included: Trinity College, the Science Gallery at Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Molly Malone statue, the Dublin Castle, Temple Bar area and the actual Temple Bar (where we did buy very overpriced beers!), and finishing the night at a local pub with Irish dancing and music, as well as a cafeteria style food service with traditional Irish food! We also took the opportunity that evening to do a little laundry at the Airbnb because a washing machine was available, although we didn’t really have a whole lot that “had” to be washed. Unfortunately there wasn’t a dryer so we had to hang to dry outside, and it rained in the night so our stuff really didn’t get that dry!
Day Trip to Cliffs of Moher
The next morning, we had to get up early to go on our bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. We had a fun bus ride with a cool tourguide and made many smaller stops along the way. We stopped at a couple small towns including Kinvara, where I got the recommended Bailey’s Hot Chocolate! We saw a couple small castles along the way, including a “leprechaun castle” where I tossed a coin into the water to make a wish! We stopped for lunch and had fish and chips as well as seafood chowder. We also stopped at what’s called “The Baby Cliffs” prior to the actual Cliffs of Moher. I’m very glad we got good pictures there, because unfortunately when we got to the Cliffs of Moher, it was completely fogged over and we couldn’t see a thing! The weather was dramatically different than it had been on the other side of the island in the city of Dublin. They were having a heat wave in the UK and Ireland, so the weather had been very nice and sunny and warm. However, at the cliffs it was chilly and foggy and wet! Jared was in rough shape in shorts and sandals! It was a bummer we didn’t really get to see the cliffs, but we still enjoyed the tour. On the way back, we made a couple more small-town stops and saw the Bunratty Castle. When we got back to Dublin, we went to a local pub called The Stag’s Head per our host’s recommendation, and stumbled upon a free, unplanned comedy show in the basement! I also tried a few local Irish ciders that were pretty good!
Moving to a Hostel
The next day we moved from the Airbnb in Ballsbridge to a hostel in the city center. We had never stayed in a hostel before, so this was a totally new experience for us! We thought people only stayed in hostels for the price, but for us it was actually more cost effective to stay at an Airbnb because we can pay for one room in an apartment/house on Airbnb usually for cheaper than the cost of paying for 2 beds in a hostel. However, our friends who have traveled a lot recommended we try out the hostel for the experience, and in general I think hostels are more centrally located in the cities, which this one definitely was. I didn’t really care for the vibe of the hostel, with its graffiti walls, smelly smoking area you had to pass through to get to pre-check-in luggage storage and the back stairs and common areas, and the foul odors coming from the kitchen and common eating area. But, I was pleased we chose an 8-bed room (as opposed to 12 or more) and had pretty good roommates the first night (not as much the second night), with a key-card entry door only for the 8 of us, and cages under our beds where we could place our luggage and lock it up for security. Additionally, the bathrooms weren’t too bad and there were several individual toilet/sink rooms with a lock and several individual shower/sink rooms with a lock if you didn’t want to go into the big locker-room style one. We did meet some nice people from other countries, but didn’t really make any lasting connections. I think because we travel as a pair, we tend not to always get to know others as well as if we were alone. Additionally, one big downside to our hostel experience was that this particular hostel didn’t have AC, because they likely never need it in Dublin. But due to the “heat wave” they were experiencing, it was pretty miserable, even with an open window. Between the heat and people coming in at various times of night and getting up at various times of morning, it was definitely not an optimal sleeping environment! I am glad that we tried it, but I doubt we’ll be doing it again.
Getting Out and About in Dublin
The day we checked into the hostel, we took a Dublin Free Walking Tour of the north side of town, which was interesting and educational on the Irish Revolution which started in 1916. We also stopped by the Dublin City Gallery where we saw a variety of art work in multiple forms of media, including some interesting artistic films. That night, we took advantage of the “Dublin Backpacker’s Pub Crawl” which was an awesome way to meet people from all the hostels around the city, not just our own. We met some new friends from London, New Jersey, California, and Switzerland! We had a blast checking out a variety of pubs, listening to live music, sipping Guinness and other beers/ciders, and going to our first “Silent Disco”! I love to dance, so it was definitely a good time for me!
Last Day in Dublin
On our last day, we did a bit more sightseeing around town, including a guided tour of the Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) and museum and walking to Pheonix Park. We also stopped by the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery, but we didn’t do the paid tours for those because we had already spent quite a bit of money and didn’t think either one were worth the cost.
The next morning, we had a very early flight out of Dublin to our next destination in Morocco. We didn’t get hardly any sleep that night at the hostel unfortunately. Overall, we had a good time in Ireland and trekked over 40 miles in about 4.5 days. However, I don’t think Dublin is on the list of places we’ll be returning any time soon, as it was not our favorite city. But, I would like to go back to Ireland someday to see some other parts of the country and try to get to the Cliffs of Moher on a prettier day.
P.S. at the airport we were able to take advantage of our free access to the airport lounge even though it was an early flight…and Jared took advantage of free alcohol and got himself a breakfast beer (a Guinness, because, when in Dublin…)
Next Stop: Morocco!
Insider Tips on Ireland:
- Ireland is NOT part of the UK! I didn’t know that before we started planning this trip, but they feel very strongly about it, so don’t get it wrong. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, is part of the UK and is more or less its own country, just as England, Scotland, and Wales are.
- They use the Euro in Ireland, not the Pound, since it’s not part of the UK.
- There are still several things that are similar to the UK, since it used to be part of the UK. They still drive on the left, and the outlets are the same as the UK (type G).
- In our opinion, Dublin was a pretty expensive and overpriced city. Of course many big cities are, but we felt this way much more so than in our prior stop of Edinburgh. They definitely take advantage of tourism at places like the Temple Bar, Guinness Storehouse, and Jameson Distillery. I think you can have just as good of a time going to the local pubs and not worrying about the tourist attractions. Next time, I’d much rather get outside of Dublin and experience a different part of Ireland.
- Sour cream and onion chips aren’t a thing there. You will see Cheese and Onion and Prawn flavored chips a lot (yes, prawn, like shrimp). Also ranch dressing/dip doesn’t seem to be a thing there. Just FYI for the snackers out there.
- Ireland has its own language! I definitely did not know there was an Irish language. It’s “Old Irish” or “Irish Gaelic” (not the same as Gaelic in Scotland). Many of the signs had subtext in another language, and it took me a while to learn what it was. But no worries, all of the signs are in English too. You might win some locals over if you learned a word or two in Old Irish.
- The word “Craic” (pronounced: “crack”) means having a good time, laughter, fun conversation. They use the phrase “craic and banter” a lot when referring to having a good time in the pubs. We were confused at first and thought they were just talking about drugs! (they might still be, who really knows…ha!)
- In Dublin, taxis are a more common mode of transportation than public transit as far as we could tell. We actually didn’t end up using any public transportation except the Aircoach bus to/from the airport. Otherwise we just walked everywhere! There were buses and the DART tram system, but we found it be a pretty walkable city.