In Dublin’s fair city where the girls are so pretty…
If your parents told you that your holiday this year was going to be in Dublin, I bet you’d sigh and think it’s going to be as dismal as those rainy weekends in Wales you’re always dragged along to as a ‘cheaper’ option. That’s what I’d think too.
But, a proposal of a weekend in Dublin and the promise of galleons of Guinness with your mates sounds quite amazing, doesn’t it? Particularly, if like me, you’ve never travelled without your family before. I couldn’t contain my excitement in the 6-month interval between us booking and flying out (with a little panic when Ryanair cancelled one of our flights).
Why Dublin? My pals are bellringers, and had organised a peal (between 3-4 hours of non-stop church ringing of a learned method) at Christ Church Cathedral on the Saturday, so we decided to make a weekend trip out of it.
I have to say, I couldn’t quite grasp the vibe of the city by day; it didn’t appeal to me in the same way London and Edinburgh do, lacking somewhat in character perhaps. The only comparison I would make to London is the stupid amount of tourist souvenir shops – but Dublin’s are a chain company all selling the same crappy stuff!
By night however, Temple Bar is teeming with Irish, Americans, Europeans all singing merrily along to a live band. This was the atmosphere I soaked up, never wanting to leave (partly because I didn’t want to force my way through the crowd to the exit). Be warned however, the drinks are pricy. ‘The morning after’ I looked in my purse to find a considerable lack of money, and receipts listing two pints for €14. By the end of the weekend, I think we’d spent about €300 on food and drink in total.
If you’re someone who enjoys both slightly pretentious yet hearty food, I can highly recommend the Millstone restaurant where, my boyfriend and I made a reservation at to celebrate my 20th birthday belatedly. I believe other than the occasional curry house, this was the first meal out we’d had that wasn’t Spoons! The food was delicious and the atmosphere perfect: dim lights, low adult chatter, and a pleasant decorative interior. Most bistro’s in the centre do a ‘2 courses for €20’ deal. These are really good value for the quality of food, however choose wisely as salads tended to be quite disappointing in size in comparison to soup or fish starters! Some bistros quite cheekily add sides you didn’t ask for and then charge you, and ALL will include a 12% service charge which I feel is a little cheeky particularly. You end up feeling resentful rather than wanting to leave a generous tip.
If you can manage to peel yourself away from the bars for an hour or two, do book a tour for the Kilmainham Jail. The staff were highly professional throughout, and there’s an additional museum afterwards. The National Gallery, in my opinion, is also a must – especially if you’ve been to London’s equivalent. I found Dublin’s to host more of a variety of subject matter in the artworks which made it more interesting to walk around than skimming past the hundreds of biblical scenes which hang in London. I was disappointed however by the Castle. There seemed to be no structure if you chose to tour unguided. We didn’t realise at first that there were several buildings to look around, and without the provision of a map we only managed to locate two of them.
Quite honestly, my weekend in Dublin was the best experience I’ve had to date. I’m never going to forget how on top of the clouds I felt being in a different scene with some amazing people. We’ve created a whole host of fantastically drunken memories to add to our collection. So, don’t knock travelling a little closer to home. If you have great company, you’ll make anywhere enjoyable! I didn’t do the whole girls holiday in Maga thing when I left high school, and while I was envious of those who did at the time, I realise now that wouldn’t have been my thing. Next stop – Leeds!