As a lover of maximising my time in a destination we opted to fly from London to Dublin late Friday night to be ready to begin our week long Irish trip on Saturday morning. That plan worked perfectly apart from the fact our hotel (as gorgeous as it was) basically became a night club on a Friday and Saturday night.
We woke a little tired but ready to get going. Of course, first up was some food as exploring on an empty stomach is never a good idea. TripAdvisors number one place for breakfast was a small place called The Beanhive which was a short walk from our hotel through St Stephen’s Green. When we arrived it was packed, luckily for us just across the road was a place called Tang.
It was a very instagram friendly place with wooden benches outside and an open kitchen inside. We opted for two different versions of avocado on toast. One with toast and one with a sweet potato rosti. They were both excellent and we were a very disappointed the next day when we returned to find it shut!
After we had fuelled up our first stop was the Little Museum of Dublin. A small museum located in a townhouse of the edge of the park. There were a few exhibitions to independently walk round to get a feel for some Irish history.
We then joined one of their tours starting on the middle floor and consisted of a great talk about Irish history and Dublin specifically. We then moved into a room that was floor to ceiling covered in Irish memorabilia through the ages. The tour was great and provided a great insight into some of things we were going to see in the following days.
Highlight was definitely seeing gold plated monster munch. For no real reason either!
Our next stop for the day is one of the most well known tourist attractions in Dublin, Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Top tip for you, if you haven’t booked a ticket online there are online kiosks in the Nassau Street underpass entrance that allow you to purchase your tickets there and then. We were REALLY glad we did this as the queue for non-online tickets was hours long. We just wandered up to the ‘online entrance’ at the correct time and walked straight in. Winner.
You are first taken through an exhibit on Trinity College, the Book of Kells and other books of the same period. It was interesting but nothing super exciting. Slightly too much reading and there was no flow to the order to walk in. Plus, when you add in loads of tourists it didn’t do much for me.
You then walk through into a small room that holds the Book of Kells. It’s a pretty small book in all honesty and is kept beneath glass (for obvious reasons) which means it gets very crowded and you do have to stick your elbows out for a good view. Each day they turn the page of the book so it all ages at the same speed.
Now, my biggest criticism of the whole experience was that I didn’t really find out what the Book of Kells is and why it was important. There just seemed to be no real information on it. People didn’t linger for very long and it certainly falls into our definition of ‘checkbox tourism’. You come in, you ‘see’ what you came to see and then you move on.
Once we had finished with the underwhelming book you continue upstairs into the long library, made famous by Harry Potter. Again, it is packed but if you make your way to the far end (past the stairs for the exit) you’ll find a lot more space and manage to get some people-less pictures.
I love libraries, all the books and their history and the words they contain fascinate me. Of course I’m always on the lookout for the travel section and hope one day to have a proper library room of my own.
I can see why the long library was used in films and why people flock to see it, it is beautiful but it is a little ruined by people being un-observant of who is around them and just generally getting in the way. Maybe a little selfish of me but hey ho!
Would I go again? Probably not. Would I recommend someone else to go? Probably not. There are far better things you can do in Dublin that doesn’t involve being squashed by hundreds of tourists.
Now, a bucket list item for me was tasting my first Guinness on Irish soil. Now it had got to past 12pm it was time for this to happen. We thought that we would learn a bit more about the history of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse before drinking the black liquid.
The Guinness Storehouse is HUGE. Built in a spiral you make your way up the level learning about the brewing process as you go. If you have never been to a brewery or learnt about how beer is made then you will find this fascinating. You also get to learn about the marketing history of Guinness and all the campaigns that have made it so famous.
You get a free pint as part of the entrance price and we opted to have ours at the Gravity Bar but you can pick from any of the cafe bars in the building. The Gravity Bar is by far the most popular as it’s situated at the top of the building with a 360 degree view over Dublin.
The views were great but the Guinness was better. Here started my love affair with the black gold of a Guinness. Totally worth the wait.
By now our feet were tired, we were hungry and thirsty for more beer. The Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub, is located a short 10 minute walk from the Storehouse and makes for a nice break. It has a series of inside rooms and an outside courtyard. It does get pretty busy with tourists but it is nice enough. We had a snack and a couple of drinks before heading home for a rest before venturing to Temple Bar.
The Temple Bar region of Dublin is probably its most famous. Quaint streets filled with shops and pubs it does have a great atmosphere. You will find more tourists than locals here but it doesn’t matter. Stop at any of the pubs and you will most likely find Guinness and live music.
We hopped between a few bars (spending a small fortune, drinking in Dublin is not cheap) ending up at a place called Quays. We found a small corner to sit in whilst listening to an Irish singer who ended on a medley of Disney songs.
A perfect end to our first day in Ireland.