Getting to Dublin (Day 1)

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Ireland / Personal / Travel
Flying over Ireland

After months and months of waiting, the day had finally arrived. We were off to the airport with the hope our flight would leave on time from St. Louis at 12:20pm. Unfortunately, it did not. I don’t even remember what time the flight wound up departing the St. Louis airport, but it was late enough to have foiled our plans to eat dinner during our layover in Newark. We were hoping if we ate at the airport, we could sleep though dinner service on our flight to Dublin and catch a “good night’s sleep” before arriving at 6:55am.

But the delays! While we were impatiently waiting in St. Louis, we struck up conversation with another passenger on the same flight. He and his daughter were headed to Milan and realized they would be completely missing their connection 😦 We groaned about airports, delays and the hassles of flying (we know, #firstworldproblems) while waiting to hopefully hear good news from one of the representatives. No such luck… but it did help the time pass and he had some great advice about how to get from Point A to Point B at the Newark airport. He even gave us a £10 note he’d had in his wallet since the last time he traveled. Said he couldn’t use it where he was going. My husband, Ryan, excitedly thanked him for funding what would be his first authentic Guinness later that day. So… I suppose if we were going to be stuck at the airport, at least we were in good, generous company!

We wound up landing in Newark with maybe ten minutes to spare before our next flight and jog/walked to our gate. Thankfully, we made it! Sleep wound up being a little bit difficult… We were just so pumped up on adrenaline from almost missing our flight and needed to eat so I don’t know that either of us actually passed out for more than a few minutes here and there. But hey, the high of being on my first international trip helped me power through and well, I just don’t think Ryan even likes to sleep so he was completely fine.

After landing in Dublin bright and early, we took an Aircoach bus from the airport to our hotel (we purchased a Dublin Pass for our time in the city and the Aircoach transfer was included). We decided to stay at the Morrison Hotel during our three nights in Dublin — I found a great deal and couldn’t pass it up. With a location right on The River Liffey, across from the Temple Bar area, it was just far enough away from the commotion we wouldn’t be kept up all night, but still close enough we could take a short walk and be right in the middle of it all.

The Morrison Hotel was recently renovated taking on this very modern, minimalistic style. Reviews of the decor on TripAdvisor are mixed, but it didn’t bother us. We knew what we were getting into and liked the idea of the hotel being newly redone. While some of the design elements felt a little forced (like they were trying too hard to be cool), it was nothing to keep us from staying in the future. Lucky for us, the staff at the front desk was able to check us in first thing despite not selecting early arrival and we were able to go straight up to our room to drop our bags. And, since The Morrison is a Hilton Doubletree Hotel, we were sent along with two warm and absolutely delicious cookies! (This may or may not have influenced my decision to book haha)

We had a full day of sight-seeing planned, so after dropping our bags we headed off towards the Temple Bar area figuring we could find breakfast somewhere. A quick walk led us to the first place we saw a sign offering breakfast, Buskers where we sat outside and enjoyed our first morning in Dublin… complete with sunshine! (See the blue sky reflecting in the signage?!)

Tea at Buskers

We don’t know if it were because we were running on fumes at that point or because we were just happy to be on vacation, but the food was wonderful! Ryan enjoyed his first “Full Irish” and I enjoyed some sort of sausage-y sandwich.

Breakfast at Buskers in Dublin

With full and happy stomachs we set off towards the nearest Hop On, Hop Off bus station and rode til we got to Kilmainham Gaol.

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

The gaol (another way of saying jail) is one of the largest unoccupied gaols in Europe, covering quite a bit of some of Ireland’s most interesting events during its journey of becoming a modern nation. We enjoyed a great guided tour of the gaol and highly recommend checking it out.

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

From there we stayed on the HOHO bus driving through St. Stephen’s Green, by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and several other popular areas/attractions.

Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park

St. Patrick's Cathedral

We really enjoyed taking the HOHO bus all around the city. The live commentary was great and as tourists, we learned quite a bit we may not have had we just roamed around on our own… including but not limited to some of the hilarious nicknames of Dublin’s many statues and landmarks such as the Anna Livia monument dubbed “The Floozie in the Jacuzzi”… a Molly Malone statue called “The Tart with the Cart” and I think our driver’s personal favorite, “The Stiletto in the Ghetto” aka the Spire.

Ryan in front of The River Liffey

At some point towards the end of the circuit, we hopped off the bus and took some time just walking around the city. I honestly can’t remember if we had lunch that day but we eventually  found ourselves at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.

Trinity College Old LibraryThe Old Library was beautiful, holding the smell of thousands upon thousands of old books. It was unlike any library we’d ever been in.  After thoroughly exploring and getting a little turned around on campus, we hopped back on the HOHO bus and rode to the Guinness Storehouse.

Ryan in front of Guinness Storehouse

Ryan was really excited.

Guinness Storehouse

Still excited 🙂

What a beautifully designed little place! Each circular level is situated to form a pint glass. Such a thoughtful and fun element of the building.

Guinness StorehouseGuinness Storehouse

Coming from Saint Louis, beer is near and dear to our hearts. There are plenty of brewery tours to take where we come from so it was fun to see what Guinness had to offer in that respect. The tour was much different from the Anheuser Busch tour in STL as it is self-guided. We read some criticism about that in a few TripAdvisor reviews, but it was great for us, because we were able to really take our time moving through each level.

Historic Guinness Advertising

I particularly liked seeing some of the historic advertising and learning how to properly pour a pint of Guinness!


Guinness Gravity Bar

View from Guinness Gravity Bar

By the time we finished our free pint at the Gravity bar, it was about 5:00pm and we missed the opportunity to head over to the Old Jameson Distillery. Darn. But, we moved at a pace that felt right and thoroughly enjoyed all that we did see so we’ll just have to add that to the list should we make it back to Dublin one day (and I hope we do!)

Our night ended with an absolutely wonderful dinner at The Exchequer for their set menu deal that runs Sunday-Wednesday from 5-10pm—two courses for €22.95 or three for €26.95. We started with the Irish farmhouse cheese and meat board which counted as a started for both of us. It was incredibly good! There was some sort of chutney that was just fantastic. Seriously, look at this spread:

The Exchequer Dublin

While I didn’t take photos of the rest of our meal, I can assure you it was wonderful.  I’d go into more detail but they change out their menu seasonally (I think?) and neither of our mains are currently listed. None the less, I highly recommend a stop!

With that, our first day drew to a close and we headed back to our hotel for some much needed R&R after a long day of travel and sightseeing. We powered through the jet lag, had a blast and were better for it 🙂

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