Before I moved to Ireland I was debating between Dublin and Galway. I didn't know too much about either. I had heard Dublin was more of a city and Galway had more of that small town feel with lots of nature. Not to say that Dublin doesn't have nature but it seemed that a city was not what I was looking for. In the end, I picked Galway and I am pretty happy with my decision. A trip to Dublin only takes 2 hours by train so that is what I can do when I want to visit.
Speaking of visiting Dublin; my friend and I did just that. She is living in Scotland (Kate is her name as I know many of you know who I am talking about) and she and I met in Australia. It's pretty convenient having her close by because really it is only an hour flight roughly. You can't even drive to Toronto from my hometown in that length of time. So this blog is more of the adventures of Kate and me in Dublin.
It was her 30th birthday and everyone knows you need to celebrate 30 with a bang…or as close to a bang as possible. Dublin was a good enough halfway spot and Kate had never been to Dublin before and I had only flown in but hadn't explored at all. I had planned a few things for us to do and wanted to make her birthday the best I could.
We paid €25 each for the Guinness Storehouse "tour." There wasn't much of a tour. I mean it was a self-guided one and I'm sure you can pay extra for an actual tour but we didn't. I'm not really one to care about how the beer is made and such. Even when I go to wineries I don't care how you pick the grapes. Just give me the wine. There were some fun facts about Guinness and how it's made and the history behind the advertising, which I did find very interesting. Apparently, you can pour your own Guinness but somehow Kate and I missed that part of the tour. You do get a Guinness with the purchase of your ticket but was it worth it? Not really. Again, something fun to check out if you're in the area but not a HAVE TO thing to do in Dublin.
If you want to see parts of Dublin, the Paddywagon tours have lots of different tours to choose from. You can check out Cliffs of Moher, Giant's Causeway, 2-day trips to Belfast, go hunting for the Blarney Castle along with many other options. We chose to do the Kilkenny and Wicklow tour. I haven't done the other tours but if I could recommend doing one, this one was amazing. The main reason we wanted to do this was that we got to see where PS I Love You was filmed. And by we got to see where it was filmed I mean we drove over the bridge that Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler met on. I expected it to be a little more exciting but you get what you get. Although that part was kind of a letdown, seeing Glendalough was beyond expectations I didn't even know I had. You are surrounded by nature and feel so pure and happy. It was an amazing day that we had and surprisingly it was sunny as well. We actually had a videographer follow us around and film us for the day which was a hilarious experience and now our video is up on the Paddywagon website. If you would like a good laugh, go check it out.
The Little Pig
My friend Tashonna had recommended Kate and I do this. It's a speakeasy so you go online and give your information and the time you would like to go for dinner. You then get an email telling you your instructions and where to go once you get to your destination. You have a secret code to get into the building and when you get to the door a man opens a slit in the door and asks you for the code again. It is very secretive and pleasantly thrilling in a way. You kind of feel VIP like. The restaurant had plenty of food options and a huge drink selection. It was a very private restaurant that held a party of maybe 10 next to us and another couple. It was darker and intimate but a fun experience.
Do not, I repeat do not go to Temple Bar; the actual bar. There is a district called Temple Bar that has all the hostels and other bars and restaurants but Temple Bar itself was not what I imagine. I mean you can 100% go if you'd like but it just wasn't my cup of tea. It is filled with tourists (yes I know I am a tourist) but I wanted to be surrounded by the Irish and the locals. It was very busy, very loud, and they up the price on Guinness. However, it is fun to check out anyways because it is a popular spot. Most people go to say "I have been to Temple Bar." We walked in, used the toilet and left. There were lots of drunk people and live music so a fun atmosphere if that's what you're looking for.
We went to a couple of other bars; one called Thunder Road which was more of a restaurant but decent drink prices. Stumbled upon a place called The Palace Bar, which was a good local place. A nice older gentleman bought us a round of drinks and then chatted with us for about half an hour. Will that happen any time you go, probably not. However, I'm sure you can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. There were also some rooftop bars, I don't remember the name of it and not because I had 1 too many Guinness. I don't remember because I didn't pay attention. Honestly, if you go to Temple Bar district you will be sure to find any type of bar, restaurant or entertainment.
This is one of the two principal shopping streets in Dublin. Again, there are bars, restaurants, cute little shops, your American type shops like Victoria Secret and the Disney Store which I found random and lots of live music on the street. We spotted this girl who was 12 years old singing a Lady Gaga song and me oh my this kid pipes. You can find all different kinds of talent on the streets of Dublin. Fun fact, Galway does not have a LUSH, which is one of my favourite stores, but Dublin does. So to say I travelled all the way to Dublin for LUSH isn't a total lie; it just happened to be Kate's birthday too.
Getting to Dublin
When I flew into Dublin I took the bus to Galway, which took about 3 hours. It was very convenient because there were tons of buses that went to Galway from Dublin airport. However, if you are going to the city center I would recommend the train. It's about 40 euro return from Galway to Dublin but the views that you get through the countryside are beautiful. You really get to see parts of Ireland you may not see if you were on a bus or concentrating while driving. (You do need to concentrate when driving here because they drive on the opposite side of the road). The train is also faster and so simple to take. Once you're in Dublin, the bus prices can add up. €3.00 for one bus if you don't have a Leap Card and then if you need to transfer to another bus you pay another €3.00. I guess that's just the way it works. Also, watch out for the taxies. If you have more than one person in the car they charge you extra so just a heads up on that one. I don't know if that's standard everywhere but I guess I'm just used to Uber at this point. They do have Uber however it is not that popular.
All in all, Dublin was a lot of fun. It's a great place to go and visit and I'm sure I will be heading there very soon. Am I happy I picked Galway to live? YES! It was nice coming home and not being surrounded by a city but to each their own. I would recommend visiting Dublin. If you're a city person it will be right up your alley. It has more tourists than Galway but nonetheless, has lots of culture and activities for everyone.
So here's to new, fun adventures around Ireland. Who knows what the future holds.