As the second part to my Euro Trip blog on Copenhagen, I’m finally tackling our trip to Ireland. We had the best time ever and I’m now crazy about Irish people…they are just so freaking awesome.
But first, some realizations…
- People say “it’s so green!” and it really is. More green than you can even imagine or describe.
- Happy cows do not come from California. They come from Ireland. I was even a little envious of them roaming around beautiful lush hills, stopping where they please. When I compare this to the crowded, stinky cow ranch you see off the 5 in California, there’s just no comparison.
- Umbrellas are completely pointless. We bought two at a drug store and within literally two minutes of stepping back outside, Matt’s broke from the wind. I spent more time trying to reign my umbrella in than using it to avoid getting wet.
- The weather is a bit bipolar. We expected rain the entire time, but what we got was random spouts of pouring rain, a sprinkle, and then nothing at all.
- I’ve never heard Nirvana and Madonna more in my life…but I’m not complaining.
- Sparkling water bottles are sold in more places than regular water bottles. We had two instances of thirstily grabbing the only kind of water bottle in the drug store, only to find it fizzing and sickenly sweet. For those of us who absolutely hate sparkling water, this is not the most pleasant thing to discover when you’re parched.
- “The fish and chips are as good here as they are in America” – Old Guy on DART. Note taken.
- Cab drivers only take cash, but practically everywhere else accepts card. We learned this the hard way on our way to the airport at 2:30 AM, even though we specifically requested a cab driver who took card.
- I was hangry a lot. And yes, I mean hungry not hungry. Who knew finding food would be such an issue? Oddly enough, restaurants weren’t open when we needed them to be and snacks were hard to come by. I didn’t realize how much I take for granted the late night bar food and huge grocery stores we’re so accustomed to in America. On the flip side, all the bars we went to in Dublin stopped serving food before 9 pm (What?!?! Don’t they know they’re missing out on beaucoup bucks from drunkies wanting drunchies?) and grocery stores aren’t really existent. I found bananas one time the entire trip.
Now for our four day itinerary:
Day 1 – Cliffs of Moher Tour
While we don’t generally like tours, we came to the conclusion that trying to get all the way to Cliffs of Moher on the opposite side of Ireland and see a couple other places along the way might be fairly difficult and stressful seeing as though you kind of have to be comfortable driving stick on the left side of the road. So we gave in and booked with Paddywagon Tours for the Cliffs of Moher Day Tour from Dublin. Great decision by the way…minus one minor scare.
After stopping for a quick breakfast at a market about 20 minutes outside of Dublin, we came up to a toll booth and our bus driver John says that we’re approaching a check point and everyone needs to get their passports out. The only problem was, we had left our passports in the safe at the hotel as we had every other day of our trip.
Commence extreme panic and heart dropping into stomach.
Everyone on the bus starts fiddling with their backpacks and this is about the time that Matt starts getting visibly angry. He hulks over to the driver and firmly explains that we weren’t told we’d need our passports for the trip. John continues with “Are you serious?! Ah, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Until John finally says “we’re still in Ireland, why would you need your passports?” Irish sarcasm at it’s finest.
Of course, Matt and John became BFFs from that moment on. We think.
Mini Cliffs of Moher
There was only one option for lunch, so the line was a little absurd considering the fact that there were probably three other bus tours there are the same time. This was our first encounter with traditional Irish meals, which basically includes a heap of mashed potatoes, a hunk of meat and some type of vegetable, all smothered in gravy.
Cliffs of Moher
Annnnnd the grand finale…the Cliffs of Moher! We were scheduled to spend an hour and a half here but when we arrived, it was hard to see even twenty feet in front of us. My advice? Wait until closer to your trip to book this tour. That way, you can avoid the days that just show a dark cloud on your weather app.
HQ Restaurant and Wine Bar
When we got back to our hotel around 8:30 pm, we were extremely hungry of course (but thank god for that enormous heavy lunch back in Dingle). We quickly realized that our hotel, The Clayton, wasn’t near any open restaurants/cafes/stores but luckily found a swanky wine bar that happened to still be serving dinner to mostly corporate types. Crisis averted.
Cheersing to a successful day, we decided to be lame and go all American with burgers, beers and fries. We also asked for mustard which is apparently extremely odd. Now, I’m not sure if this is because I was delirious from lack of sleep and overly hungry, but I’ve never had a better burger. But, I still think it’s because Ireland has super happy cows, so clearly their meat would also be superior.
Day 2 – Dublin Walking Tour
Matt routed a nice little walking tour of Dublin for our second day.
This street/area is quite controversial. All travel sites say “Yes! Go there” and all cab drivers and locals say “No! Avoid at all costs”. We had to check it out regardless of all the negative comments and I have to say that I thought it was great.
We went during the day when it wasn’t very crowded, shopped around, and grabbed a pint from The Temple Bar. They played live Irish music which we were told is not actually a normal thing in every day life for the Irish folk, much to Matt’s dismay. Either way, it was a good time. Night time is a different story as it gets really crowded and a little rowdy, so we didn’t stick around.
St. Patricks Cathedral
Dublin Castle Gardens
For dinner, we headed over to Ballsbridge, near the rugby stadium. We stumbled on Farmer Browns, a cute little hipster joint. Again, I had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, but this time it was chicken, so maybe their chickens are happier too? AND our waitress happened to have stayed in San Diego during her J1 a few years back, so we had a fun chat.
Leinster vs. Ulster
Neither of us had ever been to a rugby match, which made this all the more exciting. We soon found out that Leinster is actually pronounced “Lahn-ster” and the go-to chant is “Leinster! Leinster! Leinster!”
In typical Matt fashion, he tried to start his usual “Let’s go BLANK” chant which works best with a team having two syllables, so Leinster was perfect. Not sure how this is possible, but it did not catch on. At all.
We finished out the night with two guys we met at the end of the game, who took us to a bar downtown. Like I said, Irish people are so awesome and friendly.
Day 3 – Howth
When researching things to do in Ireland, I didn’t see much about Howth, but from what I did see, I thought it would be right up our alley. For 12 euro, we took the DART 30 minutes north and got off at the Howth junction which turned out to be the wrong stop, but we ended up finding our way to the right place after getting back on the train.
A quaint fisherman’s village, Howth was our favorite part of our European getaway. It’s no wonder their website is called HowthIsMagic.com.
We strolled over to the cliffs where we could see Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island. While we were hiking around the cliffs, the sun magically came out and no one else was around, making it a pretty romantic little adventure.
St. Mary’s Abbey
Fallon and Byrne
For dinner, we got fancy and tried Fallon and Byrne which was delicious. I also took advantage of the cute little shopping mart downstairs and grabbed some Irish-made chocolate to bring back for the fam.
To be honest, we were pretty spent after the past 7 days and planned on having an early night in, but our cab driver guilted us into going back out, which I am especially grateful for, since it turned out to be a blast.
This place is awesome. They played hits from 3+ years ago all night and we made friends with a group of people who think it’s really hilarious we might have Donald Trump as our next president. They even started a Donald Trump chant that grew throughout the bar.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t like Guinness, but I was also told that it tastes completely different in Ireland. So completely right – it’s smooth like butter and probably just as filling, but it definitely tastes better in its authentic location. I also learned that it’s one of the lightest beers, at only 125 calories, which is surprising.
As far as the tour itself, it’s self-guided which we liked and the roof-top bar overlooking Dublin is especially cool. All around a must do whilst in Dublin.
St. Stephen’s Green
We got here about 5 minutes too late, but I’m putting it on the itinerary anyway because there’s a tea room inside that sounds pretty awesome.
Olesya’s Wine Bar
This was the perfect last stop on our trip before we spent the remaining hours hulled up in our hotel relaxing and trying to stay awake until our 5:30 AM flight.
I’d love to go back to Ireland eventually since there are so many other places to explore. So, until next time, Ireland!