Day 1 – Dublin
Back in 2011, we lived 45 minutes outside of JFK international airport in NYC. Therefore, our amazing trip to Ireland started with an easy nonstop red-eye flight on Aer Lingus into Dublin. Once we landed, we made our way to our hotel in the Temple Bar district, dropped off our luggage, and grabbed breakfast at Queen of Tarts. Mark this place down on your “must eat at” list. The Queen of Tarts was amazing, serving everything from fresh fruit and granola to smoked Irish salmon with scrambled eggs. Ten days and endless taste tests later, the husband still ranked Queen of Tarts’ brown bread as the best in all of Ireland. Not an easy feat.
Sightseeing around Dublin
After breakfast we took a small (self-guided) tour of Dublin. The tour took us to Christ Church Cathedral (below right), Dublin Castle (below left) and the Chester Beatty Library (below middle).
And of course no trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (below).
I decided to spend the afternoon catching up on sleep but the husband roamed the city. He checked out farmers markets and obtained Cuban cigars. (This is clearly a lesson in stop wanting what you cannot have. We never really enjoyed Cuban cigars but always made it a point to buy and smoke a couple every time we traveled outside of the U.S. Just because we could.)
An evening at a two star Michelin restaurant
We finished off the night with dinner at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, a two-Michelin star restaurant. How funny that just seven years ago I was afraid to take pictures of food for fear of getting scolded. But back then, taking pictures of your plate of food was not something a lot of high-end restaurants embraced. I was however, able to sneak a picture of their tome of a wine menu. Needless to say, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud was well worth the price and was a delicious meal.
Day 2 – Dublin
Our first full day in Ireland started off with a stroll through Temple Bar in search of breakfast. We found the perfect place at Hanley’s Cornish Pasties. Now, my grandmother and great-grandmother made a living by cooking pasties for decades. Even when it became a lot more difficult due to her arthritis, my grandmother used to spend a full day cooking her delicious pasties for dinner each time we came to visit. This means that I am truly the world’s worst granddaughter when I say that this little fast food joint produced the best pasties I have ever tasted. I am so sorry Grandma!
Touring Dublin on the Hop-on/Hop-off Bus
After breakfast we got tickets for the hop-on/hop-off bus and rode around on the top deck for awhile, snapping pictures and laughing at the tour guide’s jokes. We finally decided to get off at the Guinness Brewery, a building shaped like the world’s largest pint glass. The picture on the top left shows the original lease signed in 1759 by Guinness for 9,000 years. Talk about rent control! The building, although separate from the actual brewery, was a walking exhibition that took us through the stages of Guinness from barley to glass.
View from the top of the Guinness Brewery, named the Gravity Bar (below left). Note: this is where you are given free pints of Guinness after the tour. Verifying that Guinness distributes both to Hawaii and Connecticut (below bottom right)… phew!
After the Guinness Brewery we stopped to tour the Kilmainham Gaol. This was the jail where political prisoners (and others) were incarcerated, tortured and killed from 1796 to 1924. The tour gave a lot of good historical background. That being said, my biggest takeaway was the gaol was used in the filming of The Tudors.
Our last stop on the hop-on/hop-off bus tour was the Old Jameson Whiskey Distillery. While apparently no longer a distillery, we were given a nice tour of how Jameson Whiskey is prepared. We also learned how Irish whiskey differs from Scottish and American whiskeys (distilled three times). Then we ended up in the tasting room for either whiskey on the rocks or with some juice / sodas.
Dublin final stops: The Ha’Penny Bridge and the Statue of Molly Malone
I wanted to stop at two more places in Dublin before calling it a night. First I made us travel to the north bank of the River Liffey just so we could walk across Ha’Penny Bridge. Next I made us track down the statue of Molly Malone, a.k.a. the Tart with the Cart. The thing to do is to apparently take a picture groping poor Molly. Bryan was not feeling it (haha – I’ll be here all night folks) but I yelled at him to “grope the tart” so I could get my perfect touristy pic.
Click here for a summary of the entire 11-day Ireland vacation, in our tiny little skoda.