Let me just start out by saying how much I love Ireland. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and the people are just fantastic. Everyone haS so much pride for their history, and Ireland sure does have a rich one. For a nation with such a difficult and bloodied past, there are still so friendly, cheerful, and kind. Their adversities have only made them more united, and it has been such a pleasure getting to know Ireland. And Dublin, oh my goodness, what a city.
On our first afternoon, Julie and I dropped off our stuff in the Airbnb flat, which is basically perfect. It’s in Temple Bar (one of Dublin’s most popular areas), but it’s quiet, large, and updated! And affordable! The first words out of my mouth when we walked in was, “This is the apartment that people want on House Hunters International but can’t afford.” Leaving the flat, we joined a walking tour of the city that our Airbnb host recommended, and it was the greatest introduction to this incredible city.
Our guide was young and energetic but so informative about the history of Dublin’s landmarks and day-to-day life. We went around the historic neighborhoods, Dublin Castle, and Trinity College, learning about Ireland’s relationship with the rest of the world (specifically England) and how their government functions (it’s especially neat having been there during the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising). We then continued exploring the city the next day with a more in-depth tour of Trinity College, including the revered Book of Kells and the library’s stunning Long Room. It brought back many fond memories of our day at Oxford University last year!
Julie and I then made our way to the Guinness Factory, which was sooooo much fun! Both of us are pretty avid beer drinkers (Julie is the real expert — I’m just one because I lived with her!), so we opted to do a more extensive tasting than the self-guided tour. It was worth every extra penny because we basically had a private bartender tell us the history of Guinness and the science of beer-making, all while serving us delicious drinks! We even “graduated” from Guinness Academy — having poured our own — so it was a marvelous experience.
After checking out the Jameson Distillery (update, we still don’t like whiskey straight), Julie and I embarked on a live music tour of Dublin. Meeting in Temple Bar that evening, our group was led by two musicians who played a variety of instruments (fiddle, guitar, drum, whistle, etc.), and they took us to several off-the-beaten-path pubs that locals populate. While drinking a pint and hearing about the history of Irish music, we stomped our feet and sang along to authentic Irish tunes, laughing and making friends along the way. It was probably my favorite thing that we did on the trip because it was just like a snapshot of Ireland: an all-encompassing moment that was tangible and jovial and unforgettable.