My one day in Dublin started the night before. I landed in Dublin at 8pm so by the time I made it to our hotel it was around 9pm. I was hungry, tired and gross from traveling all day. My friend Tracy had gotten to the hotel around 4pm and surveyed the area so she had an idea of where to go.
We ended up in, what she described, quite accurately, as a diner. It didn’t matter, it was food and beer and I was happy. We got back to our hotel room, four flights up, and passed out, knowing that the next day was going to be an adventure.
If you want to fit a full 24 hours in don’t plan your day like we did. We scheduled our Guinness Connoisseur tour for 2pm, which was in hindsight not the smartest thing to do. It completely shot the rest of our day because they give you so much Guinness that I was done, but let me back up.
We woke up at a reasonable hour and partook of the included Continental breakfast provided by the B&B we were staying in. My mistake, eating two pieces of white Irish bread. White bread in Ireland is completely different from white bread in America. White bread in the US is not substantial. White bread in Ireland is a brick that sits in your gut for hours. When I tell you that I really wasn’t hungry until 9pm that night, it was because I really was not hungry. It actually hurt my gut to eat this bread.
So with a full stomach we ventured out to Trinity College. It was a 15 minute walk from where we were staying. I wanted to see the Book of Kells. I’d heard so much about it and since working part-time, while in graduate school, at a book auction house I’ve been interested in illuminated manuscripts. You enter and leave the exhibition through the gift shop, where else right? We paid our €11 each to get in and proceeded through. I have to say although the Book of Kells was impressive, I was more impressed with an illuminated manuscript that many people walked right past in the front room. It was gorgeous and the pigments of the manuscript were so well-preserved, the blues popped and the golds shimmered. Typically the blue would fade, so seeing it as it may have originally been was the real treat.
The exhibition filters you out into the Old Library, which was very warm and inviting. The craftmanship in the carvings and the turned wood was inspiring. Each alcove hosted a bust of a literary or scientific figure who visited the Library. My favorite part was the spiral staircase off to the left of the entrance that led you to the second floor. We were there in the early morning so the crowds were minimal.
After that we hopped on a bus to the Kilmainham Gaol Museum. Both Tracy and I were interested to see this. We ended up getting there a little after our tour start time and were hustled through some back stairwells to catch up with our tour group. The jail itself was a bit eerie, perhaps it was the stories being told, but there was a definite feeling of unease in the place. For those of you who don’t know the jail is most famous for being the holding cells and site of execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916. The jail was originally opened in 1796 and has been a political prison, a co-ed prison, a military detention center and finally closed its operations in 1924.
In 1960 a committee was formed to Restore the jail and in 1966 open it as a museum for the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising. Since then it’s operated as a museum and has been featured in a few movies, as we were reminded many times on the tour. If you chose to go to the jail, which I recommend, book in advance. The tour times fill up fast and if you try to just show up you may not have any luck or you may have to wait a couple of hours to get on a tour.
So here’s where our story gets interesting. Tracy had purchased advanced tickets to the Guinness storehouse. We both wanted to go and have a pint or two, we were not prepare, well I wasn’t prepared for what the Connoisseurs tour entailed. Again we got there a little late, seems to be out MO, what are you going to do? Luckily the Irish are lovely and quite accommodating.
They whisked us up to the 5th floor, hurried us through and past people so we could be ushered into the tasting room. The tasting room being a very dark, completely wood-paneled, private bar room. All the room held was a large beautifully carved wrap around bar and some portraits on the walls. But what did we need? We were there to try Guinness and try Guinness we did…in almost every form it came in.
Each Guinness we tried was completely different from the other and each sampling, sampling mind you was a half pint of each, increased in alcohol content. So bear in mind, I’m a little girl, usually a pint, I’m good, two pints…I’m tipped close to drunk, three I’m done. So when I tell you in total we had 5 pints each at the Connoisseur tour, I’m not exaggerating…hence you see why the rest of our day in Dublin was shot. From 2pm to 5?…, I really couldn’t tell you how long we were at the Guinness storehouse for, we were drinking and chatting with whoever would chat with us.
After the tour we proceeded up to the Gravity bar, which provides you with a 360° view of Dublin. Being on the tour you receive another free Guinness at the bar, but I think we ended up having two or three extra free Guinness. I don’t know how I was standing…actually I think I remember ricocheting off of a display in the gift shop on our way out. (Get the Guinness snack mix, it’s really good! At least my drunk taste buds thought so.) I thought I had more photos of the Gravity bar but apparently I only took video and on the Connoisseur tour they ask that you do not take video, whoops. Needless to say the tour was extremely worth the €48 each.
From there we headed to Temple Bar for dinner. I can’t remember the name of the place we ate, I can only tell you it was not good and you should always listen to your Cabbie’s suggestion of where to eat.
So that wrapped up my first day/night in Dublin. Interesting place. Definitely didn’t give it enough time but I couldn’t have had a better friend to experience it with. Tracy was amazing and if it wasn’t for her I don’t think I would’ve made it up the four flights of stairs to our room, or had someone to convince me it was OK to get crappy cheese chips and pizza at 1am from a place I saw from our hotel window. Until next time.