With all the stress and difficulties, I decided a long weekend in Dublin with Miss B would be a great way to unwind. Thanks to Ryanair two return flights were less than £100 flying at half-sensible times. We took off late Thursday evening. Thanks to the magic of Uber, we got to the hotel within an hour of landing in Dublin.
The hotel is in Dublin’s redeveloped Docklands area. It’s all new apartments, offices, wine bars and hotels. We stayed at The Spencer Hotel on the north bank of the Liffey river. On the 6th floor with a bed the size of a small island! We crashed out asleep.
The view from the hotel window!
It was a sunny Friday and after a leisurely lie in, we headed off to the centre of Dublin walking along the bank of the Liffey. It’s only a twenty-minute stroll to O’Connell street, the sun was shining and it was a balmy 18c. Winner. A quick bucket of coffee and a cake from Starbucks and we carried on to the Irish bus shop. During our research of Dublin, we both agreed that using a tourist hop on and off bus was probably a good way to see the city.
This was Miss B’s first time in Dublin and I was last here for a friends 21st birthday back in 1998! We got two-day tickets for the green bus which had live commentary! The driver gave commentary whilst driving. Interesting.
Thanks to roadworks for the tram extension, initial progress was slow! From our seats on the top deck, it looked like organised chaos! Buses, taxis, car, trucks and cyclists all over the place! The bus finally got to Trinity College, which looked fantastic. The bus carried on, around the edge of Temple Bar, the main area full of bars, Dublin Castle then to our stop, St James’s Gate, the home of Guinness!
The driver warned us there would be a queue to get in, he wasn’t wrong! It only took about 5 minutes to get into the area where you pay. This had a bigger queue, a line about 10 deep. Miss B decided to see if we could get tickets online. The queue wasn’t moving very fast, so we when for it. The online tickets had a 10% discount, two minutes later we had the code just as we were at the ticket collection machine. Miss B jumped out of the queue and put the details in then out popped two tickets. Winner! So we jumped the queue and arrived at the Guinness storehouse. The first area you come to is a giant Guinness retail shop.
Anything that could have a Guinness logo on was for sale. We decided to give that a miss and start following the tour. You go at your own pace learning how Guinness is made, all very interesting. The storehouses as seven different levels each level has something different. When we got to level 3, we had the opportunity to do a taste trial. In the room, we had to smell each of the ingredients then collect a miniature pint of the black stuff. We were then given a short talk from a tasting expert. He spoke about how you should breathe, smell and taste. I was a little sceptical but following his instructions could smell the different ingredients! We carried on with the tour. There is a whole floor dedicated to Guinness’s advertising. It was quite cool seeing all the advertising through the years. There was a large cinema room showing some of the TV adverts. Unfortunately, they didn’t show my favourite, the snail race from 2000. If you haven’t seen it, here it is! The Guinness Snail Race! They did have my next favourite advert playing, the ‘Sapeurs’.
A wonderful advert that hasn’t got anything to do with what is actually being advertised! After about an hour, we made it to the top and the gravity bar and our ‘free’ pint of the black stuff. It does taste better in Ireland!
We continued on our bus tour seeing other sights of Dublin. About thirty minutes after boarding, Miss B declares she absolutely needs the bathroom and we have to get off. So we did, somewhere near Phoenix Park. Unfortunately, there was a lack of public toilets, so Miss B dashed into a pub, which turned out to be the Nancy Hands, of the oldest in Dublin! Two shops down was a Subway, so we grabbed a quick, er, sub and waited for the next tour bus. Luckily they are every 10 minutes so we didn’t have long to wait. We continued the journey back to O’Connell Street, where we wandered around and made our way back to the hotel. I wanted to go down to the Temple Bar area and see what Friday night in Dublin is about. Unfortunately, Miss B was far too tired for that! So we found a Thai restaurant a ten-minute walk from the hotel. Being the hardcore, high living people we are, we were back in the hotel and asleep by 23.30. Rock’n’roll!
During our bus tour we said there were two places we wanted to go to. Dublin Castle and the Old Jameson Distillery. So we walked to O’Connell Street to pick up the tour bus. We expected to be busy, especially on a Saturday, however, it was crazy busy! One of the causes was the local Harry Krishna’s doing some kind of drive-by with a large float. Apart from causing traffic mayhem, I’m not sure what they were doing!
Krishna’s causing chaos.
We got on the tour bus and headed for Dublin Castle. We were warned that the natives would be protesting about having to pay for water. I was quite bemused that the Irish were protesting about having to pay for water. In the UK, my water bill is about £700 per year. Our very informative tour bus driver told us that the reason for the protest is that many years ago, the Irish government decided that the cost of supplying water would come through general taxation, as part of income tax. Now the politicians decided they need to raise more money and came up with this genius idea. So that made sense. The protest organisers were expecting anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people to join the protest. This meant the local police would be closing many roads to accommodate the protest. It took about 45 minutes to do the 3 miles or so to get to Dublin Castle. So we jumped off and had a wonder around.
Dublin Castle. It’s not really a castle, more of a Victorian Army parade ground. It was half interesting, but not much to see. After about 45 minutes, we decided to get some lunch and head to the Old Jameson Distillery.
Dublin Castle – the only castle looking section.
We grabbed another Subway lunch and chowed down back on the bus. The drive started giving us live updates on the protest. He told us not to worry as the Irish aren’t like the French and very unlikely to start rioting or burning down the place. Reassuring. As we got near Phoenix Park the protesters started gathering:
Then as we turned into another road, we were greeted with this:
Our driver wasn’t amused as they were blocking our way. Thankfully, there were only a few hundred and the past quite quickly. We were getting close to the Old Jameson’s Distillery and there weren’t any more protester to get in they way!
This was my favourite tour. We had a chap called Niall giving the tour and telling us about how Jameson’s is made and why it’s the best whiskey. He was a brilliant story teller and kept the whole group intrigued! Then we got to the best bit, whiskey tasting! To prove, Jameson’s is the smoothest whiskey, we tried the best-selling American and Scottish Whiskey’s with the Jameson’s. I’m not a fan of Jack Daniels, but it was rough. The Scottish whiskey, Jonnie Walker black label, was OK if a little peaty in favour. Indeed the Jameson’s was the smoothest and best tasting! At the end of the tour, we were offered a nice glass of Jamesons or Jamesons with ginger and lime. We took the Jameson with ginger and lime, let just say we will getting a bottle and drinking this at home!
After a hard day sampling Whiskey, we headed back to the hotel to refresh. We decided to go out for dinner in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. After spending an hour wandering around and decided most of the restaurants were to ‘touristy’, we utilised Google maps for a nice restaurant. We found a couple, but, unfortunately, didn’t have any room. After a further thirty minutes, we found a nice little Italian who found us a table. The food was great, but the service wasn’t. The staff took an age to take orders or deliver drinks.
Sunday, we had a long lie in!! Two days of walking around Dublin and we decided to have a chilled out day. We spent a couple of hours walking around the city centre. Miss B found an MAC shop. Oh dear. It’s her favourite makeup shop. Thankfully, she didn’t spend too long in there. As we only travelled with hand luggage, it meant Miss B could buy half the shop! She did get some more war paint. Being a bloke, I’ve no idea what it was! We spend a few hours on Sunday afternoon in the hotel pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. It was wonderful just chilling out!
In the evening, we went to Farm Restaurant. It was absolutely brilliant! The food and service are amazing! If you ever go to Dublin, it’s highly recommended! The fish pie was one of the best I’ve had while Miss B had the fillet steak with a Jameson pepper sauce. Both were amazing. The dessert menu was out of this world. There were at least four items I would had!
Monday, it was time to head home. We decided to get the 747 bus to the airport as it stops outside the hotel. When we got on, the driver waved us on and we didn’t have to pay! Bonus.
*I started writing this blog at Dublin Airport as our flight was delayed for 30 minutes. However, my iPhone ran out of charge about a quarter of the way through on the plane, so I finished this at home!
Thank you Dublin, for the wonderful hospitality and Miss B for being a wonderful travelling companion!
Tune of the day – Gypsymen – Babarabatiri (Tee’s Latin Mix) – from the Guinness Snail Advert!