To say that our final day in Dublin and Ireland was full and jam-packed, is an understatement! We fit in as many sights, treats and even quiet moments as much as we possibly could — and it was soo worth it! Are you cozy? I suggest you settle into a cozy little spot while we venture back in time to all the sights, sounds, tastes and wonderful beauty of Dublin!!
But let me backtrack to the night before, because our meal was the best we had in Ireland and dare I say one of the best dishes I’ve had on my life’s journey of traveling. Despite our long day driving through the countryside, being in awe of the majestic Cliffs of Mother, finding stillness in Burren National Park and embracing the charming liveliness of Galway — we still managed to get back to Dublin in perfect time for dinner! Being the planner and lover of food that I am, I did a pretty decent amount of research and touched based with a foodie friend living in Dublin to get the scoop on the best places to eat. The list was long for sure, and although Sophie’s was starred, it wasn’t necessarily at the top of my list to savor. Ohhh but am I glad we did!!
Turns out Sophie’s was in walking distance of our AirBnb, nestled in The Dean Dublin. The second we stepped into the ultra-cool lobby, we knew we were in for something really special! Sophie’s is rooftop terrace restaurant, with panoramic views of modern Dublin and glimpses of all the new construction going up. Every table was seated, an immediate sign that the food was good, and thankfully we were two simple lassies who didn’t mind a stool at a countertop table, especially one directly looking onto the darkening sunset skies.
After dinner we stepped onto the outdoor terrace, passing fun photo op walls and rattan swings. The night had quickly become brisk and the heaters were an extra source of warmth to my, err, several glasses of whisky. It was certainly the perfect cap on a perfect day!
The morning of our last full day started out with breakfast at Alma. You already know how much we love this lovely spot, the perfect fuel for a morning of walking and exploring! We were on a mission to knock out several must see spots from my list.
We started westbound, making our way to the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Whether you are a religious person or not, this is certainly a must see spot when you’re in Dublin, even if it’s simply to admire the rich architecture and lovely surrounding park as we had done. I don’t often spend too much time inside churches, unless their works of art or have some uniqueness to them, plus our time was precious and we decided to not wait in line and pay, when we had intended to do that for another location coming up soon. But an iconic building still standing from the 1100’s, well it is quite an awe to see and experience in person!!
We lingered, basking in the quiet grandeur and warm morning sun that was shining on us. Through the lovely St. Patrick’s Park we leisurely walked, watching the families taking in the beautiful morning, the tourists lounging — surrounded by the colorful flowers and historical Dublin treasures.
Onward we went, embracing the local life — bustling and bursting with Irish city beauty! We walked along the busy streets surrounding the very prominent, and faded orange Victorian building, once the busiest enclosed city market and oldest in Europe, now known as George’s Street Arcade. It is filled with unique vendors, boutique shops and stalls ranging from the trendy to the vintage, and plenty of funky! It’s located in the heart of Dublin’s city centre, in the bustling cultural quarter and a short walk from famous sights like Trinity College and the Temple Bar area.
Popping into old buildings turned lovely little flower shops, yes, exactly the kind you’d picture in Europe. Endless authentic pubs and doors too beautiful and too many to capture but forever kept as memories. We even found ourselves enamored by the storefront of Søstrene Grene, a darling Nordic shop that was filled with so many lovely pieces and the perfect little retreat from the overcast skies. I really wish we had this store nearby, we just loved it so!
Once we neared the famed and stunning Trinity College it’s as if the weather wanted to play games, and quickly came down the rain. We managed to walk around a bit in the drizzle, blending in with the fellow travelers and locals going about their work and summer school days. Trinity college is quite simply, one of the most beautiful college campuses. A symbol of the perfect blending of rich historical European architecture and education. Even with scaffolding in sight maintaining the campus’ buildings, it was still an amazing sight!
We grabbed our tickets for quite possibly THE most famous sight in Dublin, The Library at Trinity College Dublin, particularly The Long Room. WHAT. AN. UNEXPLAINABLE. BEAUTY! There’s a reason The Long Room and Trinity College’s Library is one of the most famous in the world. It is spectacular!
The moment you step inside, you are greeted with grand arch shelves filled to the brim with books dating back centuries! Centuries! The system organized as our first scholars had done, ladders affixed tall onto the walls, the gilded details on books’ spines still glistening in the dim sunlight — it was pure magic!!! For a history loving gal, one who would love to teleport and travel back in time, this was pretty much as close as I could get to that feeling!
I wanted to stay in this room forever, and I could; exploring each book, the detailing in the architecture and immersing myself in its history. Treasures upon treasures, upon treasures nestled on these shelves, especially one of the most famous Celtic pieces, The Book of Kells. We absolutely loved this spot, and even more so because, for a brief moment it felt like we were two wizards exploring the magical secret library nooks of Hogwarts. And I must give credit to my cousin Cathia for capturing some of these amazing library photographs from her phone!!
Oh what a lovely memory and spot we will forever cherish…
With our stomachs grumbling, it was our cue to finally have ourselves some authentic Irish Fish and Chips! We went for the most authentic pub we could find and what a gem! Aged brick and wood walls, treasures hung on every corner, our corner table and booth surrounded by wrought iron contraptions we can only imagine what were used for, and even the slender staircases winding down to bathrooms pretty much in tact of yesteryears — yes this was the real thing!!
I don’t usually go for fried food, but one must always try the local food, plus I do enjoy myself some fresh cod. And this one was lovely; thick and juicy, lightly fried and even more refreshing with a sprinkling of vinegar. A great pairing to my personal staple, a Whisky Ginger!! I wish I could remember this pub’s name, but when in Dublin, the beauty is in finding hidden treasures and eating a much authentic fish and chips interpretations as you can!
Coffee was next on the list, so we popped in the famed Butlers Chocolates where we warmed up with some intensely rich espressos and picked up a few Whisky infused sweets to bring back home. My only souvenir request was to buy a true Irish Whisky to enjoy whenever nostalgia for Ireland came beckoning, and how fortuitous that James J. Fox Cigar and Whisky Shop was right next door.
Their attention and care to their customers is impeccable! No wonder they’ve been around for over 135 years, they took all my interests into consideration, offering several tastings before deciding on a bottle of the Double Barrel Glendalough. Next time I’m in Ireland, you absolutely know that I’ll be taking a full on Whisky tasting tour throughout the country!
We grabbed tickets for the Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours, which also happened to be sold at the visitor shop next door, and made a mad-mad dash back to our AirBnb, doing our unfortunate best to stay dry during the freak downpour. We rested and dried off a bit before exploring once more…
With our time sadly dwindling, and the weather simply not it’s best to explore on foot, these Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours are a great thing to take advantage wherever you are in the world!! Even in countries and cities you may already know. You can choose to get off at specific location you were intending to visit without having to pay the extra cab/public transportation fare or choose to cozy yourself in a seat and enjoy the entire informative ride without the worry of getting off, as we did. On any other day, we would’ve been elated sitting on the roofless deck — on this rainy afternoon not so much, but there was nooo way that was going to dampen our moods!
We hopped in near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and happily rode along, hearing tidbits of history and quirky facts about Dublin and Ireland. We passed the famed Guinness Storehouses, which is probably THE most sought-out tour. Then on we went, passing local neighborhoods and making our way into a small, small, corner of the very lovely Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed city public park in all of Europe!
I’m so glad we managed to stop here, a place I certainly wanted to see but with our short trip, knew it wouldn’t have been possible. Seriously, take advantage of these accessible and inexpensive city tour offerings!! Catching glimpses of the endless pristine green grass fields, the Phoenix Monument, the Wellington Memorial, the Magazine Fort and Ashton Castle. And yet there are still endless Victorian Gardens and lovely natural delights to explore whenever I’m back again!
But the loveliest part, something you simply couldn’t make up or plan for, as we left the grounds of Phoenix Park and began our way back into the heart of Dublin ….. we were greeted with a RAINBOW!! The moment couldn’t have been more perfect! I’m all about signs, and this one was very special.
Our intended “get off” stop was on the other side of River Liffey, across the way from the Temple Bar district just to get a small glimpse of that part of Dublin, grabbing a quick photograph of O’Connell Monument.
But the real reason was to walk over Dublin’s cherished Ha’penny Bridge! It’s not a bridge of grand architecture, just a simple way for anyone to walk to and fro within Dublin, but it’s elements like these that are cherished treasures to a city and important to its history that I value and respect the most! That look on my face isn’t one of annoyance, it’s in fact of pure delightfulness!!!
If you find yourself in Dublin, and don’t make it to the heart of Temple Bar, especially in the hours the sun begins to set — then did you even go to Dublin?!? Yes, The Temple Bar is one of the most famous pubs in Dublin and everyone will tell you to go there, but in truth be prepared for crowds upon crowds, and I’ve been told it’s on the overpriced list. In fact the entire area, regardless of the day and time, is crowded with locals and travelers alike. If you really want The Temple Bar experience, definitely go early and be prepared to stay awhile, and be amongst many people. We decided that wasn’t for us, but enjoyed the ambiance from outdoors and still enjoyed the live music lingering inside!
We casually walked along the other quaint and vibrant alleys of Temple Bar; people watching, taking in the liveliness within some of Dublin’s favorite and cherished old pubs, even catching window art with beautiful words, which to this day still linger with me. It is quite simply one of the most beautiful heartfelt descriptions of city, words that so eloquently and perfectly describe the heartwarming essence of Dublin…..
Dream me a city where I can be myself.
Where brewery hops drift on the morning breeze,
and a tin whistle swells your soul.
Where the rain sparks the cobbles,
laughter surrounds and a nation’s woes are solved from a barstool.
Where tales grow taller,
and old friends become new.
Where conversations start as day ends.
Dream me a city,
and I’ll show you Dublin.
And you will feel home.
We had a lovely slow dinner at The Norseman, with the unique noises and beautiful live music of Temple Bar streets filling the air. The night needed to end on a leisure note as well, and although we intended to check out Vintage Cocktail Club, a speakeasy cocktail bar which from the outside is only a door labeled VCC and you have to ring the bell to be greeted in the most unique way — we felt it was an experience best enjoyed for the next time we were back in Dublin. Determined that my cousin was, she found me my vintage speakeasy inspired cocktail bar and what a delightful treat it was!!
We settled into the cozy bar stools at Mulligan & Haines, surrounded by a unique aesthetic of modern Victorianism, cozy nooks perfect to gather with friends, details too lovely and perfectly antique — just like the endless framed paintings gracing their walls. And let me tell you what a hunt I went on searching online yesterday for the name of this place, we couldn’t figure it out as hard as tried, ohhh but I was determined, and I did!
Turns out Mulligan & Haines draws inspiration from “Ulysses” by James Joyce — a perfect blend of the past and present! We chatted with the bartender, a bit of local Dublin and Irish banter, a perfect cap to an even more perfect stay in Dublin. This trip may have not been a part of my long-intended Ireland/Scotland road trip, but you know what….I wouldn’t have had the experience any other way!
Looking back at all these photographs and memories, makes me want to go back to visit all my favorite spots again, and get to know this beautiful Emerald Isle even more!! This is one trip I cherish dearly, one I can close my eyes and teleport right back into…..