Dublin: A City Rich in History & Friendly as Can Be
It's that time again. Originally I had a ticket to Cuba, trying to squeeze it in just before we're not allowed but with the damage from Hurricane Irma I had to reroute to someplace less tropical. Enter Ireland.
Day 1: Morning | Brunch at Queen of Tarts & Admire Christ Church Cathedral
After arriving at the Dublin airport, I caught the 747 bus into town for €7. It took about 40 minutes to reach my stop, Christ Church Cathedral, and another ten to walk to my hostel, Garden Lane Backpackers Hostel. It's a bit off the beaten path but that's usually what I prefer. Even though hostels are great in so many ways I can't handle teeny boppers and the best way to avoid them is to book a place just outside the main strip.
The overnight flight had me exhausted but it was hours before check-in. Luckily, I was able to shower and freshen up at the hostel. For breakfast, I walked over to Queen of Tarts and took a seat outside on the patio. The vegetarian plate of sunny-side-up eggs, home-cooked baked beans, roast tomatoes, mushrooms and chive potato cake was delicious and to drink, a dirty chai latte. It was so tasty, I ordered another to go.
After breakfast, I walked by Christ Church Cathedral taking a few photos of the exterior, then back to the hostel for a nap. It's always best to recharge your batteries. Vacations are meant to be relaxing, after all.
Day 1: Afternoon | Marvel at St. Patrick's Cathedral & Explore the Temple Bar Neighborhood
A few hours later, I stepped outside to visit St. Patrick's Cathedral. To enter, it cost a few euros but the free tours are only available on weekdays so I took a quick peak on my own.
Outside St. Patrick's Cathedral the streets were lined with trees and sidewalks covered with fallen leaves. It made for a gorgeous setting and all my exploring had worked up an appetite.
Day 1: Evening | Slurp Noodles at The Ramen Bar & Try Dingle Gin Ice Cream
Temple Bar is a popular area full of restaurants, bars and shops. I happened upon a noodle place called The Ramen Bar - Kokoro Bento. Traditional ramen noodles are made with wheat so I opted for rice noodles instead, making my meal gluten free (a new lifestyle choice on my part, see #glutenfree). My dish of spinach and dumplings (minus the dumplings) was smooth and light in flavor. They were kind enough to throw in extra veggies so the bowl was huge, leaving me with leftovers. Total cost of €15.5.
On the way out of Temple Bar, I picked up a scoop of ice cream at Murphy's. They had some interesting flavors; Dingle Gin made with whiskey was my choice. It was delicious but the single scoop was a bit overpriced at €4.50.
That night getting sleep at the hostel was pretty awful, especially after a long day. A huge group of travelers decided to have a guitar playing pow wow late into the night. To top it off, a huge guy on the top bunk shook the bed (and farted) every time he rolled over. It's definitely a risk staying in hostels.
Day 2: Morning | Browse Aran Sweater Market & Wander the National Botanic Gardens
As for breakfast, most hostels offer something to get your day started. It's typically toast and cereal, both of which I no longer eat (gluten free, remember). Leftovers for me.
Before leaving, I bundled up wearing my favorite Uniqlo leggings to keep warm and hit the streets. I picked up a dirty chai at Queen of Tarts once more and stopped in the Aran Sweater Market. They had beautiful sweaters and wool products of all kinds but I decided to hold off on any purchases and head to the botanical gardens.
A bit nervous to catch the bus from the main strip because it was packed full of people and cars, not to mention vehicles travel on the opposite side of the street, I hailed a taxi. The National Botanic Gardens were about 15 away and cost €10. Happily, there was no entry fee.
Even though the weather was quite chilly I enjoyed the gardens very much. The indoor spaces were best of all with the orchid house, palms and succulents as my favorite collections.
The grounds were massive and it took hours to wander through the gardens losing myself around every corner. The landscape was very well kept and so much was still in bloom during fall.
Day 2: Afternoon | Lunch at P.Mac's & Tour Kilmainham Gaol
On the way back toward Temple Bar, I caught the bus for €2.70. I settled on P.Mac's for lunch and was pleasantly surprised. P.Mac's is a gastro pub with relaxing music and tons of red lit candles. The tables are worn with community style seating and a welcoming feeling.
For lunch, I ordered a gluten free ginger beer and chili bowl with beef, chick peas, rice, beans, corn, guacamole and sour cream, plus, french fries with aioli dipping sauce. Everything was so yummy. Initially, I thought it would be super hard to find healthy gluten free meals in Ireland but it wasn't the case at all.
While eating lunch it rained fairly hard. It was the first time I’d experienced anything worse than a light mist. After the rain tapered, I jumped on the bus toward Kilmainham Gaol, a 20 minute ride from downtown. Kilmainham Gaol is a prison turned museum where many of Ireland's political prisoners were incarcerated, tortured and executed.
Tours run every 15 minutes in groups of 25 or so and sell out quickly. Purchase tickets for €8 online at least a day or two in advance to ensure you have a spot. Unfortunately, they keep a tight leash on you inside so you won't be able to wander. And your time inside is limited so have your camera ready.
The tour guide walked us around the prison describing each space and the climate at the time of it’s height. It was designed as the first individual-cell prison but was almost immediately overpopulated.
After the tour, I caught the local bus back into town and stopped off for a cup of tea and a bit of shopping. Later in the evening, I stopped in Cornucopia for dinner, a cafeteria style whole foods and vegan/vegetarian restaurant. Each dish was incredible. In the morning, I’d be checking out and moving on to my next stop in Ireland.
Garden Lane is a great place to stay just outside the main tourist area. It's quite private and the multiple floors feel more like an apartment building than a hostel. The top level offers a spacious kitchen, dining and lounge area but unfortunately, the lounge was next to my room and incredibly loud on one of the nights (not the norm but frustrating nonetheless).
The staff is very kind and helpful, even offering me gluten free options for breakfast. The individual style bathrooms are nice for privacy and they offer cages under each bed for security. Wifi had major issues while I was there and didn't function at all.