In June 2015 I spent two wonderful, beer-filled days in the green country of Ireland. The first day was spent exploring Dublin and some of the treats the city has to offer. If you’re not familiar with my travel style, I prefer to avoid guided tours and hit the city on foot to explore. Of course, I was armed with some good research and great hostel staff but half the fun was just seeing where the day took me. The adventures included the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Stephen’s Green, and one or two (or three) pubs.
I stayed in Jacob’s Inn Hostel in Talbot Place Dublin. It was my first (and only) experience with a shared, dorm-style hostel but it was a pretty great experience. While the bathrooms didn’t look like the luxurious photo gallery bathrooms, they were big and clean. The rooms were clean and cozy and the staff was incredibly nice and helpful. I felt at ease when we came back from a pub late at night and the staff made sure that everyone entering the dorms through a key-card door was actually a registered guest. It was across the River Liffey from most of the sights of the city, but I found Dublin to be a very easily walkable city.
Dublin was also the first place I’d tried a flat white, at an Irish franchise coffee and chocolate cafe called Butler’s. I was coming off an 8-hour trans-Atlantic flight but I remember it being a good latte (let’s be honest, isn’t that all a flat white is, basically?) and I got a little truffle of chocolate of my choice to sample. I remember that being delicious. I’m sure there are amazing local coffee spots in Dublin (please leave comments below!) but at that point in our morning trek around the city, I was in tunnel-vision for the nearest caffeine.
Instead of touring the Guinness Factory (never been a huge fan of Guinness or super touristy places) I visited Trinity College’s Old Library and the Book of Kells. Have you ever seen those photos online of a gorgeous old wooden room lined with books to the ceiling? That’s the Old Library. It made me feel like I was at Hogwarts (nerd alert). It was €10 for admission, which seemed steep to someone who frequents the free Smithsonian museums, but it was right up my alley as a bookworm. (Excuse the ex-beau in the photo; my solo pictures didn’t really capture the floor-to-ceiling walls of books.)
After exploring Trinity College campus, I walked through Stephen’s Green and made a detour for pints and an early dinner. I really like beer, but don’t know much about the different Irish versions, so I went for a red ale and wasn’t disappointed. To be honest, the food in Dublin (and Ireland in general) was underwhelming. That’s not to say it was bad; the meals were simple and fresh, but nothing to write home about.
I was skeptical about trying Guinness, since I don’t care for it in the States. However, when in Dublin, do as the Irish do. Later on that night I tried Guinness on tap and it was leaps and bounds better than the stuff they serve in the U.S. I’ve been told it’s because Guinness is much fresher in Ireland. As far as pubs go, here’s the places we hit throughout our Dublin drinking adventures (is pub-hopping a thing? I think I made it a thing):
- The Brazen Head for some classic live music. We left after a bit since it was extremely crowded
- Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Pub in Temple Bar area (a popular area for locals and young travelers)
- The Cobblestone which was a little off the beaten path in Dublin… despite it’s great reviews, the Monday evening we went was quiet and unremarkable, so we left after a pint.
After a day full of beer and walking in Dublin, I headed to the hostel for some much-needed sleep before the one bus tour I took all vacation – to see the Cliffs of Moher.