A couple of months back, I had to travel to Dublin. Since I had never been to Ireland before, I wanted to explore the city as much as possible, but I also knew that I won’t get a whole lot of time for sightseeing as I was basically going there for work. So, I decided to make the most of it and utilize the one weekend I had to experience everything that the city had to offer, and I found out that express sightseeing is actually not a bad idea for travellers on a strict timeline and that Dublin is a city that will leave an impact, no matter how short your stay.
Indulging in Irish Breakfast
The plane landed in the wee hours of the morning on a Sunday, it was a fairly long but comfortable flight. I stepped out to chill winds and a light drizzle; I was told that is what the weather is like on most days. It was around 7 am but I couldn’t tell by looking at the sky, it felt more like 4 am as there was hardly any light around that time.
The Crown Plaza, where I was staying, was just 30 minutes from the airport. After checking in, I freshened up and ordered an Irish breakfast to start the day. The spread was absolutely delicious; I tried an assortment of pastries, pancakes, sausages and the typical black pudding. Although black pudding is a famous Irish dish, I have to admit that it needs some getting used to. With my body refuelled, I set out to explore the city.
My first stop was the Dublin Castle. I had seen pictures of the castle before but seeing it up-close was a different experience. It is truly breathtaking. It spoke of luxury and delicate artistry, evident in the chandeliers, decor and the paintings. I absolutely loved the dining room because the set-up looked like it was probably kept the same way back in the day. Just behind the castle is a beautifully maintained coach house and next to it is a tea shop, which is a great place for earnest tea drinkers. I ordered a cup of English breakfast tea and a blueberry scone to recharge for the next part of my itinerary.
The next stop was the well-known Trinity College. It felt surreal to be in the campus, surrounded by huge buildings that bespoke of knowledge. The main highlight was to visit the Old Library building to see the Book of Kells. It was a real delight to find out how the book was written and the scripture used by the monks as they recreated the Bible.
A Sip of Guinness
By the time I was done looking around, the weather outside had become more windy and it started to pour heavily but I knew that I couldn’t let it deter me from the last destination which was the Guinness storehouse. I was glad that I made it to the storehouse because it was worth a visit. The different floors demonstrate how Guinness is made, you will get to know about the barley used, the water they use, the different advertisements over the years and finally you even get to pour your own glass of Guinness. It is really an experience in itself. The beer was smooth and tasty; however one pint felt like a meal and you cannot expect to eat much afterwards if you are not used to drinking Guinness. I did notice that locals don’t seem to suffer from the same problem as they were easily downing 5-6 glasses in one sitting. If you have some time on your hands then I would suggest hanging out with a glass of beer on the top floor which features a mesmerising sky view of the entire city.
After the Guinness, I decided to head back to the hotel. I was starting to feel tired from my activity-filled day and I also needed to turn in early to start work the next day. The week flew past fairly quick. I would work throughout the day and in the evenings, I would head to the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre to do some shopping. I picked up a lot of items for myself as well as souvenirs for friends and family back home. There are a lot of shops where you can pick up gifts; my favourite stops were Boots, TKMaxx, Mr Price and Penneys because they are not overly priced and they offer a good variety.
The Irish Pub Experience
My last night in Dublin was a Friday and although I wanted to call it an early night, my colleague insisted that we needed to go to an Irish pub. She told me that it is a must-do for every traveller. I didn’t want to miss out on the experience but since I had a morning flight the next day, we decided to go for just one drink. We went to this place called John Kehoe and there were people packed in every corner on the street. When I asked my colleague about why they were outdoors and not indoors even though it was quite chilly, she told me that it is quite common for people to drink out in the streets. It was so crowded and yet everyone was perfectly happy standing around with a drink in hand and chatting. It was quite fun as it was a different experience than what I am used to. After one beer and nibbling on some munchies, I came back to the hotel to get some rest before heading to the airport next morning.
At the airport, I stocked my bags to the brim with Irish chocolates and toffees to take back home. As I waited to board my flight, I kept thinking about the fabulous time I had. I loved everything about the people and the place. While on my flight back home, I knew that I would be coming back, someday.
By Wreeta Borah
This piece was first published in Eclectic Northeast April 2018 issue