- Attractive location, lots of parks, green spaces and a water attraction
- The central historical area can be enjoyed on foot
- Activities include historic sights, outdoor entertainment and museum
- Transportation is fun and convenient
- Lots of coffee shops, pubs and culturally interesting food
Before I begin with Dublin reflections and explorations, I’d like to encourage you to please comment not only about anything you like related to what you read here, but also – what are your favorite cities? Where would you like to visit again or for the first time? I’d really like to know!
Dublin is a fascinating city, but because I have only been there once (on a coach tour) I don’t know it well. In fact, the short time I spent there was exciting and a little overwhelming. (Dublin is the largest city in the Republic of Ireland with over 500,000 people in the central area and over 1,800,000 in the greater Dublin area according to a 2011 census. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin That makes it slightly larger than Edinburgh.) I would love to visit there again and I see this blog post as an opportunity to revisit what I saw and to plan where I would like to go if I ever I return.
What I recall to begin with is the convenient airport. As airports go, (and I have been in so many of them that I’m writing a separate series about them next when I finish this Top Ten Cities series!) Dublin is a favorable one. Yelp gives it good reviews as does the site ‘Sleeping in Airports’. http://www.yelp.com/biz/dublin-airport-dublin-6 http://www.sleepinginairports.net/europe/dublin.htm
After our short flight from Edinburgh, my mother and I met our tour guide there and were quickly taken to our cozy hotel. After settling into out hotel we toured the city in the coach which partly explains why I was overwhelmed. They always try to pack so much information into these tours that it sets your head spinning. (I wouldn’t recommend this! Neither your head spinning or coach tours.) What stood out from where I sat was that the doors of the older homes were very colorful and I’d love to photograph them. Google them yourself, as I just did to get these images, and you’ll see that they’re famous. Colorful and fun-loving as the Irish themselves have a reputation of being.
I do highly recommend one of the places they took us to on the bus tour, Dublin’s 700-year-old Castle.
It is still used for matters of state and so a portion of it can only be seen with a tour although sometimes that part is closed.
Richly furnished and highly colorful as you can see, it is one of the most enjoyable castles I ever did! You can explore and read much more with this link: http://www.dublincastle.ie/HistoryEducation/History/IntroductionABriefHistoryofDublinCastle/
[And now for a complete aside: Blarney Castle.
You may have heard of it and how you’re supposed to kiss the stone for luck – which involves lying on your back over an edge and is a complete absurdity that you’re welcome to do if you’re of a mind! As for me, well, I took a picture of it and that was enough! (I mean seriously, the germs from thousands of lips must be on that thing! And I don’t believe in luck anyway. Shhh! I hope the leprechauns didn’t hear that. 😉
But what I’d never heard before, and am glad I found out, is that there is the most delightful (perhaps even magical) garden down below the castle.
After you climb up the stone stairs and wander around the well-worth-the-effort-ruin, view the views, lay on your back and kiss the crazy crag (if you must), then climb down again and go get lost in that garden even if its raining! (It wasn’t when I was there, but I would have gone anyway.)
Being in that garden was one of best experiences of the trip. If ever there was a place to encounter the leprechauns it would be there, don’t cha know?
(My mother, who loved gardens, was sadly seduced by the tour guides sell of spending the time in the kitschy tourist shops, which is another reason I do not recommend coach tours. Nevertheless, she enjoyed herself.)
So here we are a post about Dublin and I’ve gone to Blarney Castle! Rather ‘Irish’ of me! (You know the quirky humor, like, when asked how to get somewhere in Ireland an Irishman might say, “To begin with, if I wanted to go there I wouldn’t start from here.”)
But, let’s get back to Dublin Castle now directly because my background is Scottish, not Irish! (Well, Scots-Irish-English-German-Cherokee-(?), if you really want to know!)
Another thing I’d like to mention that I found interesting about my Dublin Castle visit. was that in front there is a statue of ‘Lady Justice’. Very impressive with her sword and scales. But the strange things which were pointed out to us on the tour include the facts that she is looking the wrong direction – away from the city, has an odd smile on her face, and is not blind-folded indicating that she is not blind to discrimination! Given Ireland’s stormy history of oppression by the English monarchy and other complicated political messes I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising. http://comeheretome.com/2010/01/10/and-justice-for-all/
Another highlight that I recall from my brief visit to Dublin was going to Trinity College and seeing, with my own two eyes in the amazing library there…
The Book of Kells.
As a book and history lover, illustrated manuscripts have always fascinated me. The Book of Kells is the crème de le crème of delightfully illustrated ancient manuscripts. If you would like to read more about it, here you are: https://www.tcd.ie/Library/manuscripts/book-of-kells.php
If I ever have the opportunity to return to Dublin there a number of things I’d like to do such as exploring the city on foot. It is apparent from what I’ve read that this is possible as the city is quite compact. It looks like just the sort of city that would make for a fun adventure to set off in and see where my feet take me. http://www.youramazingplaces.com/explore-ireland-top-15-places-to-visit-in-dublin/
As for my ‘criteria’, it seems that there are water attractions and lots of green areas in the city center. There are many park-like ‘squares’ and ‘greens’ some with statues and no doubt lots of quirky history. http://www.visitdublin.com/dublin-nature-spots/
There is also a canal to walk along, as well as the river Liffey. It is possible to explore the city following either, or both of these – at different times of course. http://goireland.about.com/od/dublintours/qt/liffey_walk.htm This link has many great suggestions which I would like to try out! For example, The National Museum of Ireland is along this walk as well the castle and “O’Connell Street…a street of superlatives…reputed to be Europe’s widest urban street…home to the “Spire“, the world’s tallest piece of sculpture.” Whatever you do, take an umbrella.
I’d also like to visit the Writer’s Museum, take a tour and see some lunchtime theater. I’d like to learn more about “Swift and Sheridan, Shaw and Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett who are among those presented through their books, letters, portraits and personal items.” http://www.dublintourist.com/details/dublin-writers-museum.shtml You can take a virtual tour here: http://www.virtualvisittours.com/dublin-writers-museum/
Of course Dublin is well known for its pubs and the Guinness! If you’re into dry stout tasting then another place to visit is: https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/gravity-bar Looks like it might be fun for the view even if you don’t drink that dark stuff which they say is supposed to be “Good For You”!
If you prefer tea or coffee there are countless cafes, tea and coffee shops. I’d go for the tea shops first and here are some that sound like lots of fun: http://lovindublin.com/best-of/the-top-10-places-to-enjoy-a-good-cup-of-tea-in-dublin
But if it’s the coffee that you’re after then these cafes look great too: http://www.subscribedublin.com/listing/dublin-top-10-coffee-shops/ And it seems possible to avoid Starbucks for a change!
Of course these places will serve you lots of sweets as well as possibly some savories. No doubt you will find lots of corn beef and cabbage, Irish stew along with potatoes or fish and chips in pubs if you like. But Dublin is an international city with all sorts of food so you may have what you like if you don’t mind paying the price. http://www.travelmuse.com/articles/dublin/best-dublin-restaurants
Coming near the end of this post, a visit to Dublin wouldn’t be complete without hearing some authentic, traditional (trad) Irish music. (Listening to this is what makes me want to get on a plane back to Dublin now!) This place is recommended: http://www.gogartys.ie/music/
And here’s some information about it all and more trad to almost end with: http://www.ireland.com/en-us/events/music-and-theatre/traditional-music-and-dance/articles/trad-music/
Finally, I must recommend a visit to Christ Church Cathedral where recently my cousin, Travis Rogers, a well-know choir director at Napa High School led a large group of students in making beautiful music. https://www.facebook.com/roxanne.rogers.52