Sorry for the long delay in getting a new post up! We have been keeping busy and moving so it’s been hard to find some time to write and go through photos. Here’s what we were up to our first few days in Ireland!
Our flight from SFO to Dublin was on-time and uneventful, other than waiting at the gate for a bit while a passenger decided to get off the plane and then waiting while TSA came and swept her seat. Our plane flew over San Francisco and it was a clear day so we got a really beautiful view of our old home while we were gaining altitude; a great way to say goodbye to the Bay Area!
We left San Francisco Monday evening, got into Dublin around noon on Tuesday, and then had no trouble getting to our Airbnb apartment. Having smartphones with Google Maps makes getting around a new city so easy!
Our apartment for the next three nights was in Temple Bar, a very lively and pretty touristy neighborhood with lots of restaurants and pubs, but also very centrally located and within easy walking distance to a lot of the major sight-seeing spots and historical points of interest. Once we grabbed a bite to eat (and a beer), we got our apartment keys, dropped our bags off, and headed out to explore for a little while.
We were pretty tired that afternoon and I think still in a bit of shock and feeling overwhelmed, so I didn’t take many pictures of our first day. We wandered around the Castle of Dublin, around the campus of Trinity College, through St Stephen’s Green, and along the River Liffey.
After dinner and a pint in a pub near our apartment, we made it until around 9:30pm until we crashed from exhaustion and jet lag.
Not too exciting or too much to report from the first day in Dublin, we were mostly just getting our bearings and a feel for the city, and getting into the rhythm of traveling. It’s definitely a shock to the system to quit your job, pack up your whole life, say goodbye to your family and friends, and then hop on a plane and wake up in a completely different country! But I think we are handling it pretty well.
For our second day in Dublin, we tried to make a bit more of a plan so that there was less aimless wandering. To do: Check out a museum, wander around a park, drink Guinness, meet a friend for dinner.
I wanted to check out the Charles Beatty Library which houses one of the greatest collections of ancient printed works and medieval illuminated manuscripts in the world, as well as a large collection of religious and spiritual documents from all over the globe. We had heard from some folks that the Book of Kells at Trinity College wasn’t worth seeing because they only show one page at a time. The Charles Beatty collection did not disappoint and we saw tons of incredible things! It was a great place to start our exploring as it was a super close walk from our Airbnb and it’s a national library which made it free to enter. Unfortunately, no photos allowed of the works in the library, so please enjoy this view of the Dublin Garden from the terrace at the top of the library.
After a yummy schwarma lunch, we took the bus to Phoenix Park, one of the largest designed parks in Europe. We just strolled and wandered around the park, had a cup of tea, and generally enjoyed being outside in some lovely weather. We certainly lucked out with the weather—there wasn’t a cloud in the sky while we were in Dublin and it was actually rather hot in the sun! I hear it’s like this all the time in Ireland… 😉
We had booked tickets to do the Guinness storehouse tour in the afternoon so we meandered back across the river and followed the large signs to Guinness’ former brewery at St. James’s Gate. Turns out it’s less of a tour and more of a self-guided museum / advertising experience. There are arrows that lead you through several floors of the storehouse, guiding you through the brewing process, the history of Guinness advertising, how to taste Guinness, how to properly pour a pint of Guinness, and finally the Gravity Bar at the top.
We did learn a bit of trivia: Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the building in 1759! So even though they don’t do any brewing there anymore, you’ve got plenty of time to go visit.
The highlight of the “tour” is definitely the Gravity Bar at the top of the storehouse, which has an almost 360-degree view of Dublin. It was a perfectly clear day so we got to see all of Dublin! I imagine the view is not as spectacular on a normal, grey Dublin day.
One of the reasons we decided to start our trip in Ireland is that we know people to visit here, so we caught up with my friend Moabi from college for dinner. We haven’t seen him since he moved to Dublin a few years ago, so it was a real treat to hang out and gossip about old times.
Moabi suggested that we check out Howth (rhymes with “both”), an outer suburb of Dublin just a 30-minute train ride northeast from the city, so we decided to head out there the next day. This was our first real chance to see some of the rugged Irish coastline, and it was really beautiful. We had another lovely sunny day so we went on a hike around the Howth peninsula, and wandered around the local sights.
Dublin is a surprisingly international city, which I didn’t expect. There were certainly a lot of tourists, but also it seems like there are a lot of imigrants from all over the world and a lot of different ethnic cuisines. Walking around town and hearing people’s conversations I had a hard time distinguishing between other languages and just heavy Irish accents that I’m not used to yet.
I don’t think we saw more than a very small fraction of what Dublin has to offer, but we are also trying not to cram everything in everywhere we go because it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not absorb as much. We have one more night in Dublin at the end of our Ireland trip so perhaps we will get another chance to experience more of the city.
Next time: we pick up our rental car and Martin has to drive stick on the left side!