In Dublin’s fair City,
Where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Temple Bar.
Dublin has been on my ‘to visit’ list for as long as I can remember and I finally got the chance to go and visit towards the end of last year. I had hoped to visit a friend of mine at the end of 2013, but I had to bail pretty last minute… so when the opportunity came around again the second time I knew that I absolutely had to go.
After a couple of messages back and forth I set about booking my trip. I went straight to my go to flight searching site, Skyscanner and picked up a return flight with Ryanair for two weeks later. My flight was a pretty fair price of £58.98 return considering how close it was to the departure date, but you could definitely get it a lot cheaper if you can be flexible with your dates.
I flew from Stansted like I normally try to as it’s the closest and easiest airport to get to from my house. Everything was pretty standard and boring getting there and going through checkout. I normally try to avoid getting pulled into the wonderful world of duty free, but this time I realised that I had left the majority of my makeup at home, so began the grand old challenge of finding the right shade of foundation, and the perfect mascara – hey a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!
I was pretty ready to nap on my flight until I was sat next to two ridiculously tall Erasmus students who had managed to escape the shackles of university life for a couple of days in order to indulge in some touristic fun in Dublin. They kept me entertained for the entirety of the flight with tales of Erasmus and debauchery and their hopes of finding that and more waiting for them in Dublin… I hope they found it too.
As the flight landed I experienced those happy, tingly, nervous and excited emotions that all pull together when you haven’t seen someone for a long time. Ridiculously tall French guy was a gent and insisted on taking my carry on through the airport terminal for me… and then there she was… my friend. Argh! After the longest cuddle and good luck wishes to my ridiculously tall friends we headed to the car to begin my Dublin adventures.
The first night:
Have you ever got to a place and found your face on the fridge alongside the faces of all the other people that live in the house and thought to yourself “yep, this is exactly where I need to be right now?” – Well I have, and it was pretty awesome.
During my first evening in Dublin we went to the “All Ireland Poetry Slam” Dublin’s finals. Somehow I ended up being one of the judges even though I’ve never been to one before. It was pretty awesome and the room felt like it was vomiting talent everywhere.
After the winner was chosen we headed to meet a friend of mine who just happened to be in Dublin the same weekend as I was. We had first met in Amsterdam, followed by meeting again on a trip to Barcelona so it was pretty cool meeting in a third Country and City.
Here’s Pabs after his heavy day of Rugby and drinking.
After we separated from Pablo we went to a couple more bars followed by a tiddly walk around the streets of sweet Dublin and the best fish and chips in the world… (sorry Cornwall!)
Things to do during the day:
The Hugh Lane Gallery.
It’s small and intimate and takes you away from the bustling streets of Dublin for just long enough to enjoy some peace and quiet while you look at the art that Dublin has to offer. It’s free to get in but they accept donations if you like what you see.
One of my favourite things that I did in Dublin was visit Kilmainham jail. My friend and I opted for the visit not really knowing what we were letting ourselves in for. I had googled things to do in Dublin, seen this place recommended and thought “yeah. why not?” We paid about 5 euros entrance, but it was well worth it. A passionate, funny and clear tour guide took us through parts of History I had never heard about for. He made you laugh, pulled at your heart strings and had each and every single person in the group hanging off of his every word.
As a tourist visiting Kilmainham with a local it was interesting for me to see how the inhabitants of the jail have had such a huge impact on the Dublin that we know and see today. It was the heroics and the bravery of the people who sadly met their end just outside of the walls that have shaped Dublin to be so independent and strong. The tour includes a tragic love story, the loss of someone younger than I am and the harrowing final words written to the loved ones of those about to die.
The eerie corridor that led to the cells of those who were to face capital punishment.
Visit Trinity College
Because it’s absolutely beautiful.
Peruse, peruse, peruse!
One of the nicest things about visiting my friend in Dublin was not having a rushed agenda. There was no need to rush off to do this thing and that thing, there was no itinerary to tick off in a militant like fashion. It was just wandering and sitting in cosy cafes.
The thing about Dublin is that it’s so vibrant and brimming with activity that it just doesn’t have the time for you to be stressing about where to go. It wants you to throw caution to the wind and know that you are going to do something, and whatever it is that you do – you will have a great time doing it.
Go to cafe’s, walk and go for lunch with one of your best friend’s and her Mum in one of the nicest restaurants you’ve ever been in while you are off your face on pain medication. Dublin just wants you to do, and not stress about doing.
Things to do during the night:
Lovely Lisa and I before my last night out with her in Dublin…
Go to Anseo on Camden Street.
Where the venue may be small, the atmosphere is huge. It’s got great music… good enough for a friend of mine to sit there Shazaming the shit out of the playlist and it’s also super friendly. The highlight for me was simultaneously stroking a dog and a man’s beard, but don’t try this at home kids… it’s not for everyone. If you take a look on google+ then you will see that people agree with me and the bar is loved for it’s small, quirky atmosphere that throws people together downstairs with an intimate gig setup upstairs.
Fun little fact: Anseo is an Irish word which translates to here in English.
Go to Whelan’s
Don’t let it’s shabby exterior fool you because it was another place with a great atmosphere where you can get up and have a judgement free drunken sway. In true Lizzie fashion I got chatting to the bouncer for the majority of the night to be offered a job. In my “I could just stay here forever” mindset, it was very tempting to accept… but I opted for a cuddle instead.
Pop to O’neills for a football match
Why not? Following on from the football you could even be treated with an Irish man singing and playing guitar. Not to be lame, but this made my night. Once you’ve been promised by “PS, I love you” that Irish men in pubs will sing to you, you can’t go to Ireland without finding one that will… even if it’s an accidental find.
Dublin, I’m sorry for what I’m about to do…
Go to The Hacienda and never leave
This is without a doubt,my favourite pub that I’ve ever been to. There’s nothing quite like a place that you are dubious about at first, for it to turn into the best surprise ever.
The Hacienda is absolutely perfect. It’s bizarre and like nothing I’ve ever been to before. You manage to get to the road that it’s on which is off the beaten track, and you wonder where the hell you are. Looking closed from the outside, and somewhat like a brothel – you power through and press the buzzer anyway. Eventually a lovely Irish man comes out to greet you at the door, gives you the once over and decides whether he will allow you in or not. At this point you can’t help but wonder what the hell you are letting yourself in for, but then… as you get to the end of the walkway and through the doors it opens up into a vibrant, buzzing pub with all different rooms. You’ve got rooms of pool tables, rooms of people sitting around having a chat and the bar area which is mostly full of elderly Irish woman who just don’t have time for you.
To me, the Hacienda was Dublin’s best kept secret, and I can only apologise for writing about it here. The whole time I was there, I was asked by every person how the hell I found it as soon as they heard my accent. Luckily for me, I was with locals who knew the place… and also luckily for me the bar accepted me and welcomed me in. I even managed to get a couple of cuddles and a free drink from the man who owned it.
If you go here then show some respect, it almost feels like you are in someones home. Have fun, and enjoy the weirdest, most wonderful bar in the world.
Think about going to Bucks nightclub on Leeson Street…
Upstairs is a little like being in someones living room having a drunken, New Years-esque karaoke session which is wonderful, and downstairs opens up into a bigger, fuller club-like atmosphere.
You might even manage to get into the “VIP” area for a little boogie while you wonder what the hell is happening.
Go for a drunken meal at Tandoori bite in Portobello!
So this was probably the strangest thing for me. You know when you are drunk and hungry and normally fall into a kebab shop and eat regretfully greasy food before falling asleep on the night bus? Well this couldn’t have been a further experience away from that for me.
My friend Philip is a bit of a food snob so insisted on us eating properly. Where I thought he would take us to a slightly classier kebab shop, we actually walked into a curry restaurant. It was about 4 in the morning and there we were with our meal and a bottle of wine surrounded by people from all walks of life.
There were drunk people, couples, families – including granny and grandpa.
What does Dublin know that I don’t that people go for a curry at 4am?!
Some words that could come in handy:
Craic: “It was great craic, yeah” = It was a good time
“What’s the craic?” = what’s going on?
Shift: “Did you get the shift last night?” = Did you get a kiss last night?
Score: “Did you score last night?” = Did you have sex last night?
Me arse = I don’t believe you
Acting the maggot: “He was acting the maggot” = He was being an absolute moron
Savage: “It was savage” = It was great
Final words of advice:
- Stay with locals if you can – Whether that is someone that you already know or by using a service such as couch surfing. If it wasn’t for the people that I was staying with, Dublin wouldn’t have been Dublin for me. Staying with the Irish was the most welcome I have ever been made to feel. They are random, funny, will take you to all the best places and cook you all the food.
- Give an Irish accent your best attempt when talking to people from there. They bloody love how bad you are at it, but how happy you are trying.
- Avoid temple bar. Dublin is expensive anyway, let alone when you are having to pay Tourist prices. The locals are all busy having fun elsewhere, go and find them and join in.
- Take it easy and genuinely enjoy the moment.
One final view of Dublin…