Dublin is a perfect destination at the beginning of December: the cold, the Christmas jumpers and the pub and shop windows with the kitchest decorations will definitely prepare you for the end-of -year festivities.
Feeling cliché in Temple Bar
I had heard about crazy people drinking and live music in Temple Bar; I was not disappointed! After a quick meal at Elephant & Castle (to recommend: very good and served extremely quickly!), we slalomed between young people that already had a drink or two to go to the famous Oliver St. John Gogartys bar on the angle of Fleet street: Guinness, ciders and Christmas jumpers galore!
I was happy to go there – it was really cool and lively with everyone singing with the guitarist alternating between traditional Irish music and popular covers. However, I need to warn you: it is very crowded and it’s difficult to find a place where you are not in the way of other fellow tourists!
Dublin in one day
Our hotel was situated next to the Connolly station. The North Star hotel had a very good price (40€/night in a family bed room). Plus points? Good breakfast, nicely decorated, a nice sauna & gym Bad points? Very close to the train station – take some earplugs!
On Saturday morning, we walked down from our hotel to Trinity College (B). On the way, we admired the impressive Custom House, the Pearse street Garda Station, the Irish Times building and the Bank of Ireland.
The day we visited the College was also an info day for future students. It seems like a very nice place to study with a nice big park in the middle of the city. Go to the old library to discover the Book of Kells.
We walked down Grafton street (C), a pedestrian shopping street where all the big brands are represented and then down St Stephen’s Green North (the Christmas market was talking place there when we went – very nice but the alleys were way too narrow) to enter the beautiful and romantic St Stephen’s Green (D).
More shopping? Visit St Stephen’s shopping centre in the beautiful art deco building at the exit of the park.
Time to walk to the St Patrick’s Cathedral (E). Nothing amazing to see on the way. Actually we felt that in Dublin, as soon as we walked one of two streets away of the busy areas, the city became extremely quiet and rather empty.
Next on our list, the medieval area with the Christ Church Cathedral (F) and the Dublin Castle (G). Unfortunately, you need to pay to enter them. The cathedral is very nice from the outside unlike the Castle that is very austere (it may me think about the castle in Oslo). However, you may walk in the garden in front of the Castle for free.
By this point, we started to be very hungry and ended up for a late lunch in The Brazen Head (H), the oldest pub in Ireland dating back to 1198. It was very nice, very traditional (especially with Christmas decoration) and food was very good (got some tasty and bangers and mash).
We crossed over to the North side and walked along the quays from Four Courts (I) and turned on Jervis street to end up other very busy shopping street s: Mary Street and Henry Street. We stopped at Penneys (known as Primark everywhere else!) to look for some Christmas jumpers but 15€ seemed a bit too much for a jumper you wear once a year!
We arrived on O’Connell Street but to this day, we still haven’t understood what happened in the mind of the people that thought that erecting The Spire was a good idea!
A bit more Dublin
After a nice sauna at our hotel, we went to eat an enooooormous burger from Irish beef at Bobo’s and then head back to Temple Bar via the pedestrian Millenium bridge for another night of singing at The Old Storehouse. This pub, although very busy too, was in our opinion much better and less touristy then the one we visited the night before.
On Sunday morning, we took the tram (Red Line) to the Heuston Station (have a look at the big Guinness factory!) and walked to the Phoenix Park, a 707 hectares park in the centre of Dublin. You will find some nice lakes, larges patches of grass, picnic areas but also the Dublin Zoo, the Wellington monument, the residence of the President of Ireland and the one United States Ambassador, a Papal Cross and if you are luck some deers!
Already time to go back. What’s on my list for next time in Dublin? The Natural History Museum, the National Museum, the Huguenot Cemetery and see more of the Phoenix Park.