Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Weekend in Dublin

Temple Bar
This past weekend I went to Dublin to visit a couple friends.  A friend of mine from Eden Prairie, Colin, has a job as a leader of a study abroad program in Dublin until December this year, so I wanted to visit him while I could.  We organized it so that I and another friend from Sweden, Sofia, could visit the same weekend.  Colin should the both of us around Dublin, and we had a great time!  We covered a lot of ground, so I will go through my trip day by day.

Kilmainham Gaol
Wednesday-  On Wednesday night I had to leave for Malaga to spend a night there before my flight.  Although there is an airport in Almeria, the one in Malaga is much bigger and had much cheaper flights, but this means I had to take a bus to Malaga and spend one night in a hostel to get the deal that I wanted!  I was FREAKING out because Spain had a national strike on Wednesday, so I thought there might be no buses going to Malaga, which would have resulted in me missing my flight on Thursday.  Luckily, there was one bus (instead of the normal seven) going to Malaga that day, so I made sure that I was on it.  I got to Malaga pretty late, found my hostel and went straight to bed!  I was exhausted.
Old Jameson Distillery

Thursday- I woke up early and caught the metro to the airport.  I arrived in Dublin at 2:30 and took a bus into town.  Colin picked me up from the bus stop.  I was starving so the first thing we did was go out for a bite to eat in Temple Bar, which is an area of Dublin known for its concentrated group of pubs, shops and restaurants.  Then, we stayed in the area because the city was having a Christmas lighting celebration.  Colin said that they had been hanging lights all around the city for days, and they were going to all light up for the first time at 5pm that night!  After the lights turned on, Colin took me back to his apartment so I could drop off my stuff and then he took me out for a traditional Irish dinner! I got delicious fish and chips and my first taste of Irish beer.  After that we went to two pubs.  The first one had traditional Irish music, which really added to the atmosphere, and the second claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland, established in 1198!  That's crazy old.  We also met some friendly Irish residents that night, so the whole night felt pretty authentic to me.

River Liffey
Friday-  First we went to Kilmainham Gaol, an old and historic prison of Dublin.  The reason it's so well known is that it was primarily used to jail political leaders during Ireland's uprising against the British crown.  Also, at one desperate point during Ireland's history, people actually tried to get into the prison just so that they would receive food.  At the height of desperation, the building held 9,000 prisoners, which is 6,000 over it's capacity, many of which were children.  The history was incredible to hear and I learned a lot.  After that we headed into Temple Bar for lunch and got Mongolian noodles.  Then we wondered around the area little bit and we happened upon a candy store that actually sold Reeses! That's a rare find anywhere in Europe.  It came at a steep price though, 3.99 euros for a small bag of minis.  We also stopped by the grocery store because I wanted to see if I could find gravy and stuffing (two things that can not be found in Spain).  Luckily, I found some to bring back just in time for Thanksgiving this week!  Later we went to the Old Jameson Distillery where we got a tour and I became a certified whiskey taster!  For dinner we got Indian take out (Dublin is known for it's international cuisine) and later that night we picked up our other friend Sofia from the airport!
Christ Church Cathedral

Certified Guinness Pint Pourers
Saturday- We started the day at a cute little organic cafe just around the corner from Colin's.  Sofia and I split a "toastie" with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, arugula and pesto which was delicious.  Toasties are basically just toasted sandwiches but they are very popular in Ireland.  After breakfast we headed down O'Connel street (the heart of Dublin's downtown), past Parnell Square and ended up at the Garden of Remembrance.  This garden was made to honor all of the lives lost in the fight for Ireland's Independence.  It's strange for me to think that Ireland's independence is only about as old as the addition of Alaska and Hawaii to the US!  Next we visited Trinity College's campus, the Dublin Castle and the gardens of the castle.  By then, it was lunch time but we were still pretty full from breakfast so we decided to go to the "Queen of Tarts" for lunch.  I had tea with an apple crumble, both scrumptious.  After lunch we went to check out the two main churches of Dublin: Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patricks Cathedral.  While wondering around we happened across a very cool gypsy-esc market which had everything from a vegan cafe to hand-made jewelry sales!  Although we didn't stay for long, it's always fun to happen across little things like that.  As Colin said "You won't find that in the green book" (the green book was our Dublin tourism guide).  Finally, we ended up at the Guinness Storehouse which I must admit that I had been looking forward to the whole time!  It did not disappoint.  The storehouse is 7 floors and each one is different.  The first two floors teach you about the process of making Guinness, and what ingredients go into it.  The third floor is the history of Arthur Guinness and the tasting room.  The fourth floor was the history of Guinness advertisements.  The fifth floor had a beer IQ test and a pub where we learned to pour the "perfect pint."  Finally, the seventh floor is the sky lounge where you get to see a 360 view of Dublin.  For dinner that night we had traditional Irish stew and guinness bread.  Delicious!  After dinner we went to the smallest bar in Dublin, which was about the size of most people's kitchens.  Our last event of the night was a concert.  A band from Minnesota called "Trampled by Turtles" just happened to be in Dublin on Saturday so we went to see them live!  We even got to meet them after, and they were pretty excited to meet some fans from Minnesota being so far away from home.

Sunday- I woke up bright and early to catch my flight back to Malaga and then my bus back to Almeria.
Dublin Castle

Overall it was an incredible weekend.  After seeing Dublin, I want to go back to see what the rest of Ireland has to offer.  With each country I see in Europe, it just makes me more excited to continue to travel and see more!

No comments:

Post a Comment