A few weeks ago, my uncle and some family friends did a golf trip in Ireland. Considering the flight to Dublin from Paris is only an hour, I figured I’d pop over there for the weekend before they headed home.
Because Ryan Air prices were hugely fluctuating, I ended up booking my flight like 3 days in advance. (I do not recommend this. Ryan Air is a great option if you are FLEXIBLE on dates. Otherwise it is not such a good deal – and there are a ton of hidden expenses and fees.) I flew in Thursday night super late and got a hostel for the night so I could meet my uncle on Friday. Plot twist! I got up early to call my uncle to figure out how to meet up… The phone numbers I had either went to voice mail or only rang once. Considering the Air BnB was 20 min outside of the city center, I left a voicemail and went off to tour the city!
I went on a Free Walking Tour that Friday morning/afternoon to the south side of the city. Ever since I went on my first Free Walking Tour through Sandemans as a student in 2013, this is my favorite way to get introduced to a new city! I’ve done this is in Amsterdam (twice now), Munich, and Dublin so far. The tour guides are always fantastic and extremely knowledgeable. I enjoyed the Dublin tour so much, I actually created a TripAdvisor account just to write a review! This worked out especially well for me because I had zero game plan outside of trying to meet my Uncle, which was proving to be more difficult than I originally thought.
On the walking tour, I ended up befriending several other travelers. At the end of the tour, our fabulous (and very Irish) guide Richie recommended a great place for a sit down lunch down the road from St. Patrick’s – The Hairy Lemon. Walking in, we ran into another group from our walking tour so we all sat together for lunch! It was rather entertaining. Lots of different nationalities and lots to talk about!
The group that joined us said they had done the beer and whiskey tour through Sandemans and highly recommended it. My side of the table decided we’d all do the beer and whiskey tour that night. We had a good amount of time before it started, so we went to St. Stephen’s Green to frolick around. 🙂 I swear we only had one beer at lunch, but walking around this park I laughed more than I have in weeks! We were all being so goofy and little miscommunications seemed so funny.
The beer and whiskey tour isn’t free, but I think it was worth the price! It’s very much a social tour rather than a structured tour. You visit a local craft brewery, whiskey distillery, and then finish in a pub where I guarantee the tour group is the ONLY sign of tourists in a three block radius. On this beer tour, I learned that IPA is a very North American thing. I really like IPAs, but I was very amused to watch the Germans trying an IPA (here an Irish Pale Ale instead of India haha) for the first time. They were so disgusted! Each insisted it was the worst thing they’d ever tasted. To be fair, I also hated them the first time I tried one. ANYWHO, we ended the tour in a quaint local bar with a side room where locals come in randomly and play music together!
I am very happy to announce that I learned that I actually really enjoy Guinness Beer! I think this will make my family proud. 🙂
The following morning, I spent the first part of the day exploring Dublin by foot. By accident, I came across the congress/senate building which was open that weekend for Open House Dublin. I got to tour the building for free! Near the end they showed us a flag they had from the US as a thank you to the Irish Brigade in the Civil War. The flag said Bristoe’s Station at the bottom, which is a battlefield right beside my dad’s neighborhood! I was shocked!
In the later part of the day I took a mini tour to the Malahide Castle and the nearby port town of Howthe. I’m really glad I did this – it was great to ride along the coast! Our guide was an adorable elderly local, born and raised in a neighborhood close to Howthe. He gave lots of fun info and stories in between visits to the castle and port.
The castle was well worth the visit. You get to go inside and hear all about its history, plus a few ghost stories! The grounds themselves are quite a sight to see as well. There is a great walled garden with flowers from all over!
The visit to Howth was brief but gorgeous. The sun was near setting, so the light over the water was fantastic! I spent most of my time at the end of the port, just watching the sailboats come in.
Last but not least, I finally did see my uncle just as my airplane was boarding the next morning! So I got to see some friendly faces and get some warm American hugs (no one hugs in France haha). On top of that, the man checking passports had the same last name as me! So I left Dublin with a huge smile, and plans to return ASAP.