Happy St. Patricks day! Today marks the religious and cultural celebration of the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Now a days it’s largely associated with green beer, shamrocks and leprechauns. I’m not sure about most of you, but when I think about St. Paddy’s day my mind goes straight to Dublin, Ireland. What is more Irish than that? So naturally I thought today would be the perfect day for a wee post on my Dublin shenanigans.
Dublin was at the top of my list when I started brainstorming for my Backpacking trip in 2013. Partly because I’m a little bit Irish but mostly because of my undying love of Guinness. Thankfully my travel companion felt the same way about that sweet sweet stout, so Guinness…. I mean Dublin… was officially the first stop on our trip.
I flew into London and meet up with Jenna (some of you may know her). After bombing around London for a week we were ready to depart on the first leg of our trip. We decided on travelling via the train and ferry, or the sail/rail as it’s affectionately known. Although this is definitely not the fastest way to get to Ireland, it is scenic, relaxing and fairly inexpensive (we paid just under $65.00 CAD each). From the famous Kings Cross station we hopped on a train headed to Holyhead, Wales. The brilliant thing about train travel in the UK/Europe is that it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy a cider or wine whilst en route to your destination. So when we hopped on board we had a nice little supply of Bulmers, Rekorderligs, sandwiches and salt and vinegar walkers to snack on. Note – train travel with cider in hand is infinitely more fun than train travel without cider. Upon arriving in Holyhead we were ushered onto the ferry. We choose seats in the lounge at the front of the ship, located conveniently close to the bar. As the ship sailed to Dublin we sipped on Guinness, read, napped and lounged. Before we knew it we were docking in Dublin! From the ferry we hopped on a city bus which only cost us a few dollars and headed into the heart of the city. We got off a few stops too early and had to lug our packs quite a few blocks to find our hostel which was located in Temple Bar, conveniently atop a bar. Are you sensing a theme for this lag of our trip?
The first order of business was to fill our bellies with Guinness and some traditional fare in the form of ‘bangers and mash’ and Guinness stew. The Temple Bar area has no shortage of food and drink options albeit it is on the touristy side, but delicious nonetheless. Once we were happily satiated we spent the remainder of the evening meandering through the streets of Dublin. Popping in and out of pubs, drinking pints and dancing to live music which seemed to be the norm at every place we went to (it was also apparently the norm to play the SAME songs in a loop at every pub). I swear if I hear “Wagon Wheel” one more time…..
Second order of business was to scope out the city. One of my favourite ways to get the feel of a new city is by hitting the pavement. SANDEMANs New Europe offers FREE walking tours in 18 major cities across Europe, the Middle East and the United States. These tours are done by guides who volunteer to show tourists the major sights and provide tons of history and useful information about the city. The guides who do the tours work off of tips which means they bring their “A” game every time . They are genuinely passionate about what they do, and if they keep you entertained and well informed please show them your gratitude in the form of a tip. Our Dublin tour took about three hours and brought us to Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, The National Library, Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green, and many other interesting and historical spots. We had a great guide who really gave us a locals perspective on the city. We had so much fun that we decided to buy tickets to the SANDEMANs pub crawl. The pub crawl tickets set us back around 10 euros each and included our guide, admission to 4 different bars and 1 club, a free drink when we arrived and drink specials at each stop along the crawl. Overall a pretty good value and a really great way to meet new people.
After a night of drinking I only had one thing on my mind. So our last order of business was the Guinness Storehouse, and in my humble opinion, Dublin’s crown jewel. The Storehouse is a seven story building that features a glass atrium in the shape of a pint glass. There in the atrium is where the tour begins. You get to see the 9000 year lease that Arthur Guinness signed and onwards to learn about the four ingredients that make up the delicious nectar and what the brewing process entails. You are taken through several floors and through several interactive exhibits. On the fourth floor you get to learn the art of pouring the perfect pint. Upon completion of that task you are rewarded with a certificate emblazoned with your name. Another reward for mastering the perfect pour? You get to drink the fruits of your labour. No other pint of Guinness has ever tasted so good. You are then invited to take your pint up to the Gravity Bar which is located on the very top floor. Here you can take in the sweeping 360 degree views of the city, pint in hand. A must do and the absolute highlight of my time in Dublin.
Here’s wishing everyone a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day!!
Tonight I will be raising my glass to Dublin in my favourite Irish pub right here in Edmonton, O’Brynes. Where will you be celebrating?