Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ireland 2018

Ireland was just as majestic as I dreamed it would be. With the stunning greenery and cobalt blue waters, it truly is a beautiful country.
We met and sat in my car one night at the Starbucks parking lot (like all of our trips begin) and sipped on lattes as we jotted down ideas and scribbled on maps.

"Ireland... Guys we're going to IRELAND." We excitedly couldn't grasp the idea that this was actually happening. 

We arrived in Dublin Airport on a very early flight and met our cousin coming in from Naples, Italy. 

(We flew with Aer Lingus, which we absolutely LOVED--- from the service to the meal and entertainment... 5-star rating right here!).

As soon as we arrived, we felt the warmth of the Irish people as an older lady kindly spoke to us about our trip and gave us suggestions. 

We took a taxi ride to arrive at our hotel: the Hotel St. George, conveniently located in the heart of Dublin city on Parnell Square. 

*Tip: The passenger seat is on the left side of the car in Ireland. Most of the times, the taxi fare will be shown on the dashboard with the tip already included. (No figuring out percentages, woo!!)

We stayed for a total of 5 full days, which isn't a long time... but we managed to do and see most of the monumental things you would want to in Ireland.  

We did some exploring on our own in the city of Dublin and found many charming streets and old legends and tales.

Here are the places we visited while in Dublin:

Bewley's: We had breakfast at this charming place right on Grafton street. White Chocolate scones, cappuccinos, poached eggs, and sausage. I will say it was a bit on the pricey side, but nonetheless delicious. 

Molly Malone Statue: There is a song written about this lovely lady that we often got stuck in our heads walking through the streets and having dinner at the different pubs.  

Grafton Street is the downtown central shopping area of Dublin. If you are looking to do some serious shopping with an expensive taste... look no further. Very cute, many tourists often visit this area. 

National Musuem of Ireland: If you love history and want to learn all about the kings of Ireland, the Vikings and their victory over many parts of Ireland, and the Celtic culture... you will love to take a visit at this museum. It's fascinating how many people who were found in the bogs (muddy water), were conserved over so many centuries. Their hair and nails were still intact! 

*Tip: All National Museums of Ireland are completely free to visit!

Quay's Irish Restaurant: On our first night, we headed out to the Temple Bar area and found this small but full of character restaurant. I tried the cottage pie (marinated ground beef with baked mashed potatoes on top) and it was sooo good!

The Shack Restaurant: Also right across Temple Bar, this quaint little restaurant was so cute. Fresh, homecooked meal... I had the Chicken St. Patrick and loved it. 

The Merchant's Arch: We were trying to find dinner one night and stumbled upon this little gem. They take you in the back and tucked away, up the spiral stairs for dinner. You can hear the live singer and band play sweet Irish tunes as you enjoy a view of the setting sun on the Millenium Bridge. 

There are TONS of souvenir shops on O'Connell Street. I would suggest buying them while you are there as opposed to on any tours you may go on, where time is limited. 

Trinity College had the most beautiful library and campus. Although you can't touch any of the books in the library... it's still worth a visit. 

*Tip: There will most likely be a wait on the line to purchase tickets to enter the library and see the Book of Kells. Make sure you are bundled up because the line forms outside.

We visited the outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral. We didn't go inside, but the gardens and architecture are quite a work of art.

We took a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin. It was absolutely great and well worth it. They picked us up at a meeting point and took about 4 hours to reach there. But they made plenty of stops and gave us the history of Ireland along the way and even played traditional music. 

The cliffs were absolutely breathtaking. You realize just how small you are when standing relatively close to the edge, and the cobalt blue water with the green hills are truly majestic. 

The tour bus stops along the way to see other points such as The Burren Way, and the cute town of Galway

*Tip: Be sure to be bundled up with hat, scarves, gloves, and RAINBOOTS! The path to the top is very muddy and rough, and the winds literally pushed me over while walking up to the top. 

Another day, we took another tour to Giant's Causeway which is located in Northern Ireland. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you'll love The Dark Hedges. We then stopped at a cute little family restaurant for lunch before heading to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. 

We hiked up a 20 minute walk to reach the bridge, and once we got there the wind picked up and began to hail. Usually, the bridge will close if that's the case, but we were lucky to be able to cross it.

It was super shaky and the wooden planks that pushed beneath my feet gave me an adrenaline rush! The first time over I was super concentrated on just crossing, and on the way back I was able to get some shots. 

*Tip: Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, therefore only accepts the Bristish Pound as currency. Make sure you either have the currency or bring a Visa or Mastercard. (Discover and American Express are NOT accepted in Europe.) 

Next stop is the Giant's Causeway. The scenic route was BEAUTIFUL! The salty ocean breeze and the wonder of the volnanic rock formation was truly marvellous. 

*Tip: It is a 20 minute or more hike to reach the Giant's Causeway scenery, be sure to bring comfortable water-proof shoes. 

The last stop was Dunluce Castle. It is built on top of the coastal cliffs right by the sea. 

Though in ruins I listened to the roaring waves below the castle and as I walked on the broken cobblestone floors, I imagined life during these difficult times this castle was built.  

Another day we visited the town of Portobello, Dublin. Filled with coffee shops and wall art. If you love artsy, this place is for you. 

I also discovered Whelan's Pub, which was where Gerry sang to Holly in P.S. I love you!

The Guiness Storehouse is the number one attraction in Ireland and so we had to go take a visit as well.

A pint of Guiness beer is included with your ticket purchase that you get to enjoy all the way up at The Gravity Bar, with a view of the city of Dublin. 

Though I don't like beer, it was a cool experience to see how it is made. 

You can't go to Ireland without watching and listening to a traditional Irish dancing and music show. 

We booked Celtic Nights at the Arlington Hotel, which was only a short walk from our hotel in Dublin. 

We got a three-course meal and the lively music and dancing was so fun!

I highly reccommend for a fun traditional Irish night out.