Despite zero demand I have decided to make a comeback to blogging following a weekend get away me and my girlfriend Belinda took to Dublin. I would love to start by listing my top 5 pubs in Dublin but a city with so many great places to drink it would be impossible to whittle it down to just 5. If David Cameron was to take a trip there, given he’s quit his job he should have some free time, he would almost certainly end up losing a child in one of them.
We flew in to Dublin from Gatwick on Friday afternoon, there was a bus strike that day but we were able to get on a coach that took us to a bridge on the River Liffey in the centre of Dublin.
The coach into the city centre had free WiFi on it and we had taken some screen shots of the route we needed to take to find our Airbnb. Actually following these maps wasn’t quite as easy as expected and while I would never admit to being lost we were definitely off the beaten track when walking past a ginnel in an uncelebrated part of the city we stumbled across a fascinating wall of Irish sport. It was a wonderful collage to Irish sporting history with everyone from Barry McGuigan to Sonia O’Sullivan celebrated along it.
Eventually we worked out where we were and found our way to the Airbnb flat we were renting for the weekend where we were met by our warm and welcoming hosts Eileen and Chris who showed us around and pointed out some places/things to do in Dublin before taking their leave. The flat was ideally situated seemingly walking distance from many major attractions like the Guinness factory & Temple bar.
That first evening me and Belinda decided to go to one of Eileen’s advised pubs along South William Street for a quite one to sample the atmosphere. It was many hours later before we got back to the flat as we went from pub to pub and the night seemed to disappear. We were having such a good time that we were struggling to keep track of time even more than American swimmer Ryan Lochte does when giving statements to Rio police (Although given my body I’m even less likely to get a sponsorship contract with Speedo’s).
In one pub we went to, O’Donoghue’s, Belinda went to the bar and while waiting to be served she overheard some young American girls asking the barman if they did any good snacks. The barman apparently replied by just turning to the girls and saying Guinness, an idea I very much hope catches on although when I fancy an afternoon snack next time I’m in work I fear a pint of the Black Stuff by my desk may well be frowned upon!
The next day was fairly hectic one for us. With only a weekend to spend in the Irish capital we were eager to pack as much into it as possible and headed off for a tour around the Guinness factory in late morning.
I’d been really looking forward to the tour before we got to Dublin but when we got there I thought it was good but not spectacular. There isn’t a tour guide so you just wander around slightly unaware of what your seeing which has more of an emphasis in the early part of it on how Guinness is made and less on the history of the place (Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease on the factory when he started). The tour does get better as it goes along though with a taster section and lesson on how to properly pour/drink a Guinness. It all culminates in a skyline bar at the top of the factory where you get a complimentary Pint and the chance to enjoy some spectacular 360 degree views of the city and the Wicklow Mountains beyond it.
I have worked in bars before and was slightly jealous of how easy it must be for those working in this one given that everyone gets the same drink. They were handing out Guinness at a faster rate than Olympic/ Paralympic officials have been handing out Gold medals to British athletes over the last month (Although my Guinness consumption does receive considerably less Lottery funding!).
From the Guinness factory we got on a 20 minute bus journey to the impressive and imposing Croke Park Stadium. A lot of modern mega stadiums are built out of town with what can at times feel like a cold disconnect from the fans however Croke Park is a refreshing throwback, like headphone leads would be in an Apple store, in the way it is situated right in the heart of a housing estate and so close to the city centre.
We had booked onto a tour of the Stadium which was brilliant and I would fully advise for any fans of sport or Irish history as the excellent guide took us around and explained both the history and the modern relevance of the 3rd largest stadium in Europe.
The tour ends with a trip to the brilliant museum inside the stadium which features amongst other things the shorts Muhammad Ali wore when he fought at Croke Park.
After the tour we got the bus back to the flat before quickly getting changed and heading out for some food and drinking in the Temple Bar area.
We had a great night, every bar seemed to have live music on and the whole area seems to be fuelled by a an infectious sense of raucous bonhomie as we drank and danced the night away.
With our last day in the city we wandered around firstly Dublin castle and then Trinity College which counts Oscar Wilde amongst its alumni (If he was to write a comeback blog there would be a lot more demand).
We both loved our time in Dublin and definitely hope to go again one day in the future. There seems to be free Wifi everywhere in Dublin so even once your there it is easy to research and look up things to do with your trip if you have some spare time. From Trinity College we strolled along the River Liffey before getting the bus back to the airport where we had already checked in online for our flight and had no baggage to check in, to that extent we had nothing to declare but our genius itself.