I would go again in a heartbeat. See why.
Dublin was fantastic. There were a lot to see, a lot to eat, the beers were wonderful, easy to travel around, the people were all fun and friendly, and most of all, we were very lucky with the weather. Unlike previous trips, I managed to really sit down and do some travel research, and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t that difficult because there’s much to do and see, but this time I tried to organize them into areas and divide them to specific days. I normally just come up with a list and that’s that. I listed the Google maps I used for the trip below, so if anyone’s planning to head to Dublin, feel free to share and use.
I first checked the Dublin website, instagram, blogs and news outlets for interesting places and sights to see, wrote them all down, then visited the respective websites to check opening hours, addresses and any special events coming up, pinned them all down on a Google Map and saved. After I pinned them all in, I divided them into groups and try to figure out how much time should be allocated and added them on a specific day of our trip. We were in Dublin for four days, which was more than enough, and we managed to see most of the major sites necessary. I find this type of planning was helpful especially because we had the little one, and I knew we had to stop for a break and even go back to the airbnb for a nap etc.
When I was doing research on Dublin on Korean blogs and websites, I found a lot of the people paid visit to places that appeared on popular movies such as “Once.” It was a huge hit worldwide, not only in Korea, and I wasn’t lucky enough to watch it during the hype (or is that better?) and watched it after, and to be honest, wasn’t taken away by it. (I thought it was a bit…boring. The music was amazing, but I needed more of a storyline.) I’m not into searching for places that were in movies for some reason, it just never happened to be in my itinerary ever and I didn’t really know what to think of it. So I skipped those. (But if you are a movie lover and want to check some interesting sites based on films, check here.)
Starting breakfast right. I wasn’t sure about the differences between a Scottish breakfast and Irish breakfast, but they did seem very similar at first glance. The difference may be some key ingredients like the Scottish black pudding. I found the Stage Door Cafe through instagram and we chose it because the reviews were good and was quite close to our airbnb. The breakfast was yummy, especially the toast, but the cafe is rather small so get there early. There are numerous places that serve breakfast (from fastfood places, cafes, bars and of course, straight up restaurants) so no worries on finding the “best” as I do believe they are all quite similar in terms of what they serve.
It’s not hard to see why there were so many famous writers in Dublin, such as William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and James Joyce: the history, the entertainment, the art, the architecture! But then every European city has its own list of important writers, so the fact that the capital of Ireland has a very long list isn’t so surprising.
The Winding Stair is one of the oldest surviving independent bookshops in the city and thankfully for us, very close to where we were staying. They have both new and secondhand books, plus they have super cute children’s books. There’s also a restaurant, but we didn’t check it out. The menu looked promising though.
We’ve started a new tradition where we buy a book about the city we travel to. For A, that is. And thankfully, we found Nicola Colton‘s book. She’s an illustrator and not only was the book all about the places we visited but it also featured a little girl in a red coat, just like A. Perfect.
For a quick lunch or some sweets, Queen of Tarts. It’s wasn’t really a must-go for me, but the name stuck with me and when I saw it, I was like, yup, we’re going in there. Yummy cakes, pastries and coffee but most of all, the staff are so friendly and nice. With a baby and a stroller, it really does make a difference when staff help you out or at least try to be civil and nice about the situation. There were a lot of business men and women coming by so I’m guessing their simple lunch menus are also yummy.
After a few trips around famous beer and whisky cities, we now tend to search for good bars, cafes and distilleries. But then now with a stroller and a very curious baby, we tend to be a bit pickier when deciding such places. Dublin is famous for its beers and colorful bars, but we just couldn’t make it into a lot of them because 1) they were pretty small 2) VERY loud 3) smoky and….smelly. So we stopped by The Oak, which is a lounge, bar and restaurant all in one. Loved the atmosphere, especially the very old frames and prints. We loved it so much we went twice.
Cider. Love cider. I think we almost even prefer Irish beer over German beer. Gasp. I feel like they’re crisper, if that makes any sense. A bit more of a tangy, crisp and sharper taste. So basically we were pretty much in our own little heaven.
There are two famous distilleries in Dublin: one is Guinness and the other is the Old Jameson Distillery. We had a choice, we didnt think we would be able to do both, so we went for the Guinness which I’m planning to write on a separate post. We stopped by the Old Jameson and it was actually really nice. Unlike many other factory tours or distilleries, you could actually enjoy a lot without having to pay a ticket. (The Guinness one you have to buy the ticket to actually enjoy the entire Guinness experience. The shop is up front so you can enjoy it without a ticket, but you really do need one to actually go in.)
The wings represent the Angel’s Share, which you can read about here.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t shop so much anymore when I travel. Actually, I don’t really shop at all these days. I’m trying to go for a more minimalistic approach in life, including clothes, shoes and overall “stuff” in the house. I’m not there yet (and I don’t think I’ll be able to actually accomplish a “capsule wardrobe” myself) but I’m trying to use more that I have, buy less things and overall be aware of what is actually in the house. I’m trying to convert G to this lifestyle but whenever I try to donate or get rid of some things, he gets all emotional and so they all go back where they came from. Well, one at a time, I guess.
So coming back to Dublin, there were a couple of shopping centers that caught my eye, not only because of the shopping itself but because of the style, history and architecture. One was the Powerscourt Center, which was used as a townhouse for parties held by Lord Richard Wingfield 3rd Viscount Powerscourt.
The structure is beautiful, airy with a lot of nice cafes, shops and boutiques. It doesn’t really feel like an actual “shopping center,” there’s not so much people, not too much shops and cafes so it feels more like an indoor park.
The second one was the Stephens Green Shopping Center, which actually really does feel like an actual shopping mall. It’s packed with shops, including the basics like TK Maxx and Boots. There’s not much history about the actual architecture which is a bit of a pity, but it’s quite impressive.
There was also Ilac Shopping center but this was really just a shopping mall, so no photos.
The last one was Fallon & Byrne, which is a food hall, market, restaurant and wine cellar all on one. A was getting a bit peckish so we went in, walked around, checked prices (because we’re nosy) and came out. Lovely little store, and it wasn’t really expensive, compared to other places like M&S. They also have a cafe, but with high chairs, so pass.
So when I was searching for #dublin on instagram, there were so many doughnut photos. Even the official @visitdublin instagram page had a photo of this place, The Rolling Doughnut. So we searched for it and tried it. Not terrible, but not life changing. I think if you’re not a fan of doughnuts, you can skip it and if you are a fan of doughnuts, you may even be slightly disappointed. Try at your own risk. They are awfully pretty and photogenic, though, which is what matters, right? *rolling eyes* When it comes to street food, I really think it’s tough to beat Asia.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the James Joyce Center is a bit sad. G is a fan of his work, especially Ulysses, so we paid a visit, also we had a bit of a weird block of time left before dinner. It took about 15 minutes to see the entire building, which is four floors, I think and with no elevator. If you are a big fan, maybe go, but even for G, this was a bit of a dud. BUT, they do have lectures, events and readings here and there, so this may be a bit more interesting. I still really think they could do a bit better with it, though.
My blogpost on the Guinness Storehouse and Trinity College is coming up! The one thing we didn’t get to do was Sunday roast, which G was very looking forward to. Next time. Any more recommendations? I’m pretty sure we’ll head back to Ireland sometime, so I would love to hear more.
- Temple Bar area
- Ilac Shopping center
- James Joyce Center
- Trinity College (coming up!)
- Grafton Street
- Powerscourt Center
- George’s Street Arcade
- Fallon & Byrne
- Dublin Castle
- Howth (coming up!)
- Old James Distillery
- Guinness Storehouse (coming up!)
- St. Patrick Cathedral
- Stephen Green Shopping Center
Restaurants and Cafes
- The Winding Stair Bookshop and Cafe
- Woollen Mills
- Queen of Tarts
- Pitt Bros (if you don’t know what to get, order the meat combo. The drinks are strangely very expensive but they offer free ice cream!)
- The Rolling Doughnut
- Stage Door Cafe
- The Oak
All photos by rachelsanghee. August, 2017.