In a single week we somehow managed to dangle over Blarney Castle ramparts, dance a few jigs, sip the Liffey, explore rugged island coast, taste our way around the country, caught fresh Atlantic sea air that cleared out our London dust and sampled the infamous Irish craic.
Our first stop was the infamous Dublin. Only 50 minutes flight from London, I’ve tried several times over the years to make this short hop, but struggled. Usually due to a lack of time, impetus and one memorable occasion missing the flight due to my travel mate not wanting to pay the low-cost airline carriers baggage charges. In hindsight we should have made much more effort, because we thoroughly enjoyed our 3 days there.
Our week of explorations held more than a touch of leprechaun luck, and we had weather more associated with Greece; blazing sunshine, a soft breeze and cotton soft clouds. This is so very unusual, but with such a compact centre even in the drizzling rain I still think Dublin would show her historical charm.
Originally a Viking settlement, the city is a colourful mismatch of architectural styles and an extremely colourful history. We started our trip (as we do most) with a walking tour to get a feel of the city, understand a little of it’s history and orientate ourselves. We usually pick the ‘free’ tours, preferring to choose the tips at the end of the walk. Our guide was a sweetie, an arts student saving up to go travelling who helped us with loads of advice – including the pubs in Temple Bar that has prices that increase in the evening as punters get drunker. Just be warned…
He told us of the history of the city, the succession of invaders before Ireland became self-ruling. The highlight for me was the statue of Justice in the Dublin Castle, erected by the British authorities at the time. She’s the embodiment of how the Irish saw English rule; she faces into the square turning her back to the Irish people, she doesn’t wear a blindfold (Justice is meant to be blind to discrimination) her scales aren’t balanced (though that’s partially a design fault) and she smiles as her sword points provocatively outstretched.
We toured the usual highlights (though sadly the beguiling Molly Malone statue is away for refurbishment) and followed in the Queen’s footsteps of her recent state visit. We crossed the ha’penny bridge, saw the indescribably beautiful book of Kells neslted in Trinity College, admired the Tara broach in the National Museum and enjoyed St Patrick’s Cathedral.
It’s a perfect long weekend, or even just weekend hop and we knew even before we caught the next leg of our journey that we’ll be back. The city has a great vibrancy, everyone we met was super friendly (rather refreshing in contrast to some of London’s inhabitants) and much to Mr Kiwi’s delight we discovered a fab little local pub near our hotel thanks to a touch of Googling.
Oh, did we mention the astonishing view from our hotel? On drawing back the curtains, Mr Kiwi exclaimed this was the best view we’d ever had, and all from the comfort from a luxurious bed. It was of course the Guinness Factory. Boys, I don’t know.
We tripped our way around the compact centre mostly on foot, discovering a wealth of traditional proper pubs, and the odd bank-turned-wine-bar. We also found out that gluten free isn’t just a random *bread not included* meal selection, but catered for in most restaurants. I was in heaven. All that walking needed some delicious cake to balance it out, it’s only fair.
And you know something else we discovered? Guinness in Ireland does taste much nicer.