I visited Ireland for the first time in Late August and instantly formed a crush on the city of Dublin. Here are some of the places I discovered that you might want to check out if you ever find yourself in the capitol of the Emerald Isle.
- I stayed at Grafton Guest House in Central Dublin. It's a nice little bed and breakfast. Reasonable rates. No services to speak of, so if you must have champagne on ice through room service, look elsewhere. Breakkie is included at a nearby bistro, and the location cannot be beat.
- Had a dinner all by myself (I love places you can eat alone and not feel like a tool) at Cornucopia, heralded as one of Dublin's best vegetarian eateries. Delish veggie dishes with local and seasonal ingredients. Texas-sized portions, for better or for worse.
- Ice cream afterwards right across the street from Cornucopia at Murphy's. A small combo cup of Honey Caramel and Chocolate hit the spot.
- Amazing vintage clothing at Wild Child Originals, which incidentally has one of the best graphic identities I've seen for a boutique. So much so that I photographed their paper shopping bag, which is a first for me.
- Avoca, my new favorite store. As cute and inventive as Oilily, but not as precious or expensive. Wonderful children's and babies' clothes and toys; discovered a new fave label, No Added Sugar. Can't share details of what I bought, lest I ruin surprises for certain nosey Stewart children. Apparently they have stores all over Ireland and also one store in the US in Annapolis. Random. Sorry Marylanders....
- Another lovely story for children and babies: Pearl. Great selection of clothes, bags, and again, the No Added Sugar line.
- Guinness Storehouse tour at the factory; surprisingly interesting and well designed, if a bit too self-congratulatory. Samples included!
- Book of Kells at Trinity College: I really enjoyed the audio guided tour, although they actually sell you a throw away plastic player which I found a bit ridiculous in this age of green living. I ended up making someone's day by handing it to them as they waited in line to buy one for 5 euros. Also, this tour is not for small kids; it would bore them to tears.
- Dublin Office of Tourism Podcast Walking Tours: these were a revelation to me, since I was traveling alone in a new city and have no sense of direction. Much easier to have someone whispering in my ear to "turn at the large stone cathedral" than pulling out my map for the 50th time.
- Day trip to Howth: this small, lovely port village is only a 20 minute train ride outside the city. It's the home of some amazing seafood and one of the loveliest playgrounds I've seen in a while. Would be a great place to take little ones.
Also, some things I noticed when I was in Ireland:
- People are into wearing really big headphones on the streets. Perhaps they, too, have realized that as far as comfort is concerned, ear buds are a scourge on humanity.
- No decaf in the whole damned city. Since I was managing jetlag, I had to skip coffee altogether.
- Taxi drivers are honest, friendly, and a great source of info about the city.
- I hear there is great food, but I didn't have great luck in restaurants. I imagine getting better recommendations from locals is the key.
- Not surprisingly, you can hear great music everywhere. The street musicians are generally speaking really talented. Grafton Street shopping district is a sure bet for finding talented buskers.
That's all for this chapter in my travels, but I'll close by saying, "Slan agus beannact leat." That's Gaelic for, "Goodbye and blessings with you!"