I finally finished unpacking and getting reorganized after coming home from my trip to Dublin. So it’s time for an update on the stuff I did in Dublin. I will have to divide it up into a few posts, as sticking it all into one post would just make one very long post and I don’t want to bore you all. Plus this way I’ll be able to post some more pictures as well. Let’s get started with days 1, 2, 3 which featured visits to Trinity College and the Book of Kells as well as the jail: Kilmainham Gaol.
This was the day of our arrival in Dublin. The bus to and from the airport cost only 10 euros for a return trip and there was a stop not too far from our hotel: Maldron Hotel Parnell Square. We of course walked in the wrong direction at first, but after a short while we found our hotel which was clean, nice and modern. The location was superb as it was a stone’s throw away from O’Connell Street & Henry Street and only a 10 minute walk from Temple Bar.
After getting organized we ventured out of the hotel to grab a bite to eat and investigate the area around our hotel. We found a Tesco around the corner, some pubs and shops! Hurrah! We had dinner at Eddie’s Rocket Diner and walked all the way to Grafton Street, where we did some shopping at HMV. We quickly found that you can clearly tell Ireland has been hit hard by the economic recession. The city is scattered with boarded up and closed businesses as well as houses, even in very busy areas. There isn’t a corner you turn without seeing at least one boarded up house.
The first full day in Dublin! We decided to go to Trinity College where you can view the Old Library and the Book of Kells. We had lunch at the hotel room with some croissants bought at Tesco the night before and took our time getting ready. After that we set for Trinity College which was only a short walk away. We decided to go on a tour of the college as it was about the start and only cost one euro more than just seeing the Book of Kells. The tour was done by students and was fun and entertaining. The Old Library is impressive. The Book of Kells is pretty impressive as well, but seeing it wasn’t my first time seeing an old manuscript I didn’t find it that fascinating.
After Trinity College we went for coffee and a walk around town. We walked via Merrion Square to St. Stephen’s Green, a very pretty little park just south of Grafton Street. We did some shopping at the Stephen’s Green mall and went for a beer or two at a pub not far from the mall. We browsed through the South St. George’s Street Arcade which was housed in an impressive looking Victorian building and had dinner at an Italian restaurant in Temple Bar.
Day 3 marked the busiest of our sightseeing days. We leisurely took our time on this trip: slept in late, and only doing one touristy thing per day. Except for day 3. We first walked from our hotel to Kilmainham Gaol (that’s Gaelic for jail) which took about an hour. We passed some pretty sights on the way there, walked around the actual Guiness brewery and had to walk through the old military hospital to get to the jail.
Once there we had to wait about an hour before our tour of the jail started, which left plenty of time for lunch and a bathroom stop. The tour took little over an hour and was very interesting. I have to confess that before this trip I didn’t know much about Irish history and I’m still no expert, but this trip especially added to my awareness of the struggle the Irish people had to go through to become independent from England. The jail had housed and was the scene of the executions of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and played an important part during the Great Famine of the 1840s & 1850s.
After visiting the jail we left for the Guinness Storehouse, which was, as we feared, such a popular tourist attraction that it was a) very busy and b) too expensive to be worthwhile. We therefore decided to skip Guinness and go to the Old Jameson & Sons Irish Whiskey Distillery instead. It was about as expensive as the Guinness Storehouse, but it at least included a free drink and for me also a whiskey tasting!
At the start of the tour 8 volunteers were chosen to partake in a true whiskey tasting comparing Scotch, Irish and American whisk(e)y. So we did the tour (which was very interesting, mind you) and afterwards everyone got a drink and me and 7 other people did the whiskey tasting. I liked the Scotch whisky best, because I liked the smokey flavor. It was only a Johnny Walker Black Label, but it is the best selling Scotch whisky so I won’t complain.
The Irish one (Jameson of course) was very mild and smooth, which is pretty much its most characteristic feature, as it is distilled three times (instead of two for Scotch and American whiskey) and the malts are toasted using smokeless fuel. You can clearly taste some vanilla and honey in the drink as well. The American whiskey was Jack Daniels and that was the sweetest. When you swirl your whiskey around in your glass, the residue should run down the sides, leaving streaks. You then say: she’s got nice legs. Well JD also has legs, but very very chubby ones. I found it way too sweet. After the tasting we were all presented with a nice certificate to pin on our walls, which certifies me now as an official Irish whiskey taster! Hurrah!