Slainte! Welcome to Dublin, Ireland. Cassandra and I took a mid November trip to Ireland’s capitol city. Upon our arrival, we checked into the Westbury Hotel overlooking Grafton St. Dublin’s premier shopping area, Grafton St. was bustling with a mix of early Christmas shoppers, street performers, pub enthusiasts and wide-eyed tourists taking in the sights. Our room looked right across this car-free promenade and directly at the ornate façade of St. Ann’s Church. After check-in, our first stop was the infamous Temple Bar pub district along the River Liffey. The River Liffey flows through the heart of Dublin and exits into the Irish Sea. We took a few pictures of the famous Ha’penny bridge that spans the banks of the river before following the music to the pubs. Temple Bar is the liveliest neighborhood in all of Ireland. The most famous pub in Temple Bar is aptly named “The Temple Bar”. The iconic red building was packed to the brim that afternoon. We enjoyed pints of Galway Hooker IPA and oysters while enjoying the lively sounds of Irish music – it was just as we imagined it! The pub was particularly festive that day due to hundreds of Danish soccer fans in red jerseys who flew in to support their team. (Denmark beat Ireland 5-1, and the streets were a bit rowdy that evening.) We opted for a quieter dinner at the nearby Quays restaurant. We had a wonderful second floor window overlooking the excitement of the street below. Irish seafood is spectacular and the mussels and seafood stew were delightful.
The next day we headed out to the Guinness Storehouse. This is the birthplace of Guinness. In 1759 Arthur Guinness wisely locked his burgeoning business into a 9,000 year lease for only 45 Irish pounds per year. The 64-acre site was reopened for tourism in December of 2000. It has received more than four million visitors and is Ireland’s #1 tourist attraction. The tour explains the brewing process and carefully selected ingredients. Visitors get an opportunity to pour the perfect pint of “the black stuff” and enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the Gravity Bar. The restaurant offers a unique menu of Guinness infused cuisine and desserts. After a lively day at the Storehouse we returned to the Westbury.
After randomly passing actor Casey Affleck in the lobby, we decided to work off that Guinness with an afternoon stroll at the nearby St. Stephen’s Green. St. Stephen’s Green is a public park that provides an oasis of calm from the busy city streets. The park is home to flocks of ducks that live along the tranquil pond and nature trails. After an hour at this lush sanctuary, we made our way to nearby Trinity college and walked the grounds. Founded in 1592, this distinguished university is home to the Book of Kells.
After a few nights at the Westbury in historic Dublin, we moved east to the Docklands. The Docklands recently underwent a major economic revival and gentrification. Not too long ago it was a run-down shipping port with a seedy nightlife. Now it is home to the European headquarters of Google, Facebook and Apple. Since the Brexit, banks are leaving the UK and flocking to this modern Dublin waterfront. Contemporary buildings and bridges adorn the skyline. The lights of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre and H2O concert arena light up the skyline. Dublin is the youngest city in western Europe and the Docklands is the epi center. The influx of big tech companies along the river banks has brought in waves of talented millennials to the city. We had tickets to see Miss Saigon that evening at the Bord Gais Theatre. Our room at the Marker Hotel overlooked the Grand Canal and the Theatre. We enjoyed a supberb dinner at the Brasserie before the 100-metre walk to the show. The production was brilliant and provided a nice cultural variation from the Old Dublin pub scene. The Marker has an incredible rooftop terrace bar, posh accommodations and a serene heated lap pool with steam room. The food and service were top notch!
If you’re looking to make the trip, it’s a 7.5-hour flight from Baltimore to Dublin Airport (airport signs are in both Gaelic & English). It is also gaining popularity as a cruise ship destination. It averaged 8 degrees Celsius (48 F) during our late fall stay. The people were friendly and the streets are alive with youthful exuberance. We’ll miss you Dublin!