When Nic and I were planning this trip to Europe, we knew we wanted to go to Ireland. We had both visited Dublin separately before, but we both loved it, so we decided to make it our first stop. It was an eventful trip to the city, but amidst all the chaos, we were still able to have an awesome time.
We started by checking into our hostel, Abbey Court Hostel Apartments. We had an entire apartment to ourselves – our own living area, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom – and the location was perfect. After getting settled, we went out to find something to eat. We picked a place right next to where we were staying, The Arlington, sat on the patio, and each ordered the Irish braised beef with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It was excellent; the meat was tender and the flavor was rich, exactly what you would hope for in an Irish dish! There was some live music playing inside the bar area, so we made our way inside and enjoyed the duo on stage. We were even able to see some Irish dancing which made us both want to see a show sometime. It didn’t take long for exhaustion to settle in, so we made our way back to the hostel and tried to get some sleep.
The next morning, we woke up around 7:30am and went down to the main hostel entrance for some free breakfast. It wasn’t much – toast, cereal, fruit, milk, coffee – but it was still free food! We had a hop-on-hop-off tour, that came with our Dublin Pass, for the day. The bus took us all over the city, and the pass got us in everywhere without charge. By going to the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery, the pass paid for itself, so it was definitely worth it. We started by going to the Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. All of them were beautiful and we learned a lot about the history of each place. It was also interesting learning about the various filmings that he used those spaces, like “The Tudors”. Next, we made our stop at the Guinness Storehouse which was pretty much the same as the last time I had been to Dublin, except there was a tasting room, filled with all the smells from the ingredients in the beer and a dark room for us to have a small sip in. There were mini Guinness glasses drank out of. Adorable. We enjoyed a full glass on the top floor, a circular room surrounded with glass windows and amazing views of the city.We were pretty starved for lunch at this point, so we ate at a place called Nancy Hands which offered us a free glass of Guinness with our pass… all the perks! I enjoyed a burger topped with Waldorf salad and Nic has the Caesar salad wrap. Pretty standard bar food. Afterwards, we hopped back on the bus and headed toward the Jameson Distillery. Unlike Guinness, Jameson was completely different from the last time I was here. Our tour took us through three different rooms where we learned about the history, the process, and a tasting (we compared Jameson to two other types of whiskey). I was super impressed with how they had renovated everything; they only just reopened in March of this year! We got back on the bus, and rode it around for the rest of the tour, until it took us back to the place we boarded the first time. We walked back toward our hostel and grabbed a bite to eat at Bach 16. We shared the Italian chorizo pizza – it wasn’t very big, but it was enough to fill us for the evening. Exhausted after another big day, we made our way to bed.For our second full day in Ireland, we booked a tour that took us out to the West coast of Ireland, to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a long, 12.5 hour day, but it was beautiful. Our tour was with Elegant Irish Tours and before we got to our bus, we picked up some breakfast sandwiches at Soho, a coffee joint. They filled us up and then, along with six others, we boarded the bus and made our way across the island. It was nice being with a small tour group, and everyone was from the US. Our first stop was at King John’s Castle. There is a museum connected to the castle, where we read about its history. There are also some interactive things you can do which is fun. Our second stop was at the Burren Hills. We walked along the cliffs and took some pictures. It felt like a preview to the Cliffs of Moher. At this point we had seen quite a bit of Ireland’s countryside and it was truly beautiful. Mostly agriculture, but much prettier than Nebraska (sorry). Property lines are actually marked with stone walls like you see in the movies.We had lunch at a place called McGann’s in a town called Doolen. I had the Irish stew and Nic had the fish and chips. Both were so, so yummy, and very filling. Finally, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. They were fantastic and worth the wait. They aren’t actually the tallest in the country, there are some in Northern Ireland that are about 1,000 ft., while these are at about 700 ft. It was breathtaking and almost frightening. You definitely don’t want to look down!
It was a long drive back to the city, and to be honest, I slept for most of it. When we did make it back, Nic and I grabbed a couple of sandwiches at a local grocery store and ate them at the hostel. We knew our trip to Dublin wouldn’t be complete without having a Guinness in Temple Bar, so although we had to get up at 4am the next day, we made our way across the River Liffey. We went to a bar that was actually called The Temple Bar; it seems quite fitting. It was packed with people and had more great live music. Nic and I eventually found a spot to sit in the beer garden and relaxed for a bit before heading back to pack and get some sleep.
Ireland itself did not disappoint, and if Nic and I ever get a chance to go back, we would love to see more of the countryside. It is more beautiful than I imagined, exactly, if not better than the movies depict.
Nic’s take –
About Guinness – we haven’t eaten since breakfast so I ask Amanda if she wants to grab something before we go up to drink our Guineans. The sorority girl in her is all “No! Let’s drink beer on an empty stomach.”