24 years I lived in England and not once in that time did I make it to the Emerald Isle - surprising you might think, but in all honesty when you live in London you're not really in a rush to spend your precious days away from work in a place that's renowned for being even more drizzly than rainy old England. So I'll admit that Ireland has never been on my travel bucket list - hot and sunny destinations full of culture and good food in Europe were too easily accessible when we were in the UK and since we moved to the Caribbean....well it's a long way to go for a dose of drizzle...
Until now. A friend's wedding suddenly put Ireland on our destination list for this year and I'm so glad it did. We were insanely lucky with the weather, but that aside, there is so much more to Ireland than I ever imagined or gave it credit for. Starting with it's capital, Dublin.
We arrived in the early evening checking into the Morgan Hotel in Temple Bar, somewhat apprehensive about it's location as many locals had warned us to stay away from the noisy and touristy area, but it turned out to be a winner. Walking distance to everything we needed, a lively bar, friendly staff, funky interiors and comfortable rooms. Sure there's hen and stag parties everywhere but unless you're looking to be tucked up in bed by 9pm (in which case you probably shouldn't stay in Dublin too long) Temple Bar is a lot of fun for a weekend. The cobbled streets around the hotel lead down to the river, perfect for a quick stretch of the legs after a long journey.
A quick crossing will take you to the cities main Post Office which I couldn't find in the guide book but was seriously impressive!
As with any popular city, good restaurant recommendations are key to avoid the tourist traps and with a group of more than 2 or 3 people you need reservations - luckily we had both and chose Fade St Social for our first night - an awesome tapas place with incredible food, good cocktails and a bar upstairs when it comes to vacating your table, I'd definitely go again. It's also next door to two other bars if you don't like the one you're in and want to stay out after dinner - we ended up in the No Name bar drinking rounds of espresso martini's much to the delight of the bar staff (we were jet-lagged ok?!) before stumbling onto a fabulous old pub with traditional live music and finishing the night back at the Morgan Hotel bar which had by now turned into a veritable club. We were off to a flying start.
The next "morning" we emerged into daylight to be met with sunshine! Unexpected but totally welcome as we strolled around the corner to Trinity College.
With the old stonework shining in the sun's rays, we ambled around the courtyard, surveyed the grandeur of the buildings and played with the Sphere within a Sphere installation in front of the library.
Top tip, book your tickets to the Long Hall and the Old Library (home to the book of Kells) and save yourself money and 20 minutes of queuing on weekends. Unarmed with this intel we didn't have the luxury of time to line up and ended up missing out - but I guess you always have to save something for another trip!
Continuing our whistle stop walking tour of the city we headed into St Stephen's Green through Fusilier's Arch inscribed with the names of those who fought and died in the Second Boer war.
Wiggling our way through the manicured gardens to St Patrick's Cathedral.
There are two cathedrals in Dublin - Christchurch being the elder but St Patrick's the taller :) Both are worth a visit. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Guinness Storehouse, but that's worthy of it's own post, leaving only enough time for a few more pubs and a Kings of Leon concert! The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Dublin (dating back to 1198) and has live music every Sunday - we snuck our way into the jam packed bar where a band was belting out classics like the Wild Rover (No, Nay, Never) to the delight of both young and old patrons alike.
And then it was back to Temple Bar to seek out some other live music and behave like tourists. Because, well, that's what we were.