AJ Travels :: Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is known for a few things: its lush, scenic countryside, Guinness and whiskey, and its friendly people, all of which I got to know dearly over the few days we spent on the Emerald Isle. 

Our first day in Dublin, we hit the ground running. After a relatively short red-eye flight (compared to Japan - only about 6 hours!), we dropped our luggage off at the Tipperary House, a darling hostel that felt more like a B&B than a grown-up dorm. I'd highly recommend the accommodations for budget travelers - we had a private room for four nights for less than $300. It's close to Heuston Station and a LUAS stop, and most everything is less than a 3 km walk away.

On the agenda for the first day: exploring the city and getting the groundwork of our neighborhood, a jet lag induced nap, then our first pint of Guinness (EVER!) at an adorable neighborhood pub, Nancy Hands. Their Garlic Cheese Chips are among some of the best things I had the whole trip.

Day two was all about Guinness. We spent over two hours exploring the seven story Guinness Storehouse, a museum within the brewery. Over 1.2 million barrels of Guinness are brewed each year, making them the largest stout producer in the world. While tickets are a bit pricey (especially if you aren't a beer lover), there's plenty to see on this tour. We actually got to pour our own pint of Guinness - which takes two minutes from start to first drink - and learned all about the glass and proper pour. We became expert tasters in a private tasting room, explored the history of their advertising, and topped the day off in a spectacular bar at the top of the Storehouse, which provides a 360° view of Dublin.

While New Year's Eve wasn't an all-out crazy event like we celebrate in the States, we still rang in Day three and 2017 with a bang. NYE we had an amazing dinner at The Bank, a restaurant built in...you guessed it, an old bank. The inside is absolutely gorgeous, super cozy and romantic. The Goats Cheese Mousse was by far my favorite thing we ate there. After that, it was pretty standard, toasting with prosecco at a trendy pub, hanging out in a cozy wine bar and danced in the streets with some Irish women, the Macarena at a completely nuts latin club that I'm still not sure how we found.

New Year's Day was fairly low-key, thanks in part to many places being closed to celebrate the holiday. We did a tour and tasting at Teeling Distillery, which I highly recommend to whiskey fans. No trip to Ireland is complete without dropping into Temple Bar, especially for first timers. I'm SO glad we didn't let reviews scare us off - many people said it was too touristy. Tourists or not, it was a blast. 

Our last full day in Ireland was a big one. We decided to hop on a bus for a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. I wish we'd had a few more days to explore the countryside; Ireland's landscape is some of the most beautiful I've seen since my trip to New Zealand. While we toyed around with renting a car and doing Galway and the Cliffs on our own, I'm kind of glad we did the bus instead. The roads are scary narrow and curvy. We traveled with the Dublin Tour Company, which made several stops along the way. The guides were informative and entertaining, and we had plenty of time to see a LOT in a day.

Honestly, this was one of my favorite parts of Ireland. When we make a repeat trip some day, I plan to spend a lot more time on the west side of the country. Also a very useful fact: Western Ireland would be a great place to wait out a zombie apocalypse. There are rocks everywhere to trip them, hardly any people, and you'd see them coming for miles. If stuff goes down, that's where you'll find me.

I loved Ireland. The people are some of the kindest, funniest people I've encountered on my travels. They're friendly and warm, and so excited to share their beautiful country and heritage with you. I honestly could get quite used to spending my evenings in cozy pubs, making new friends everywhere I went. Seriously, every place we went we made some friends; one couple invited us to summer in the midlands with them.  

Each of these stories above was made with Steller, a fantastic little storytelling app. Click through and explore each of my days in more detail, and tomorrow I'll be posting all about the second half of our trip: London!