Saturday, 25 April 2015

48 hours .......... Must Visit Places in Dublin

Up until this year, a city break to Dublin never really interested me. Upon reflection, this could have been due to many reasons: perhaps it was too near to England, I'm only familiar with St Patricks celebrations, I was unsure about the food there, the weather is exactly the same as in the UK, the list is, in fact, endless. I actually think I have become accustomed to visiting cities on the continent when booking my annual city chic breaks.  In previous years I have visited the Rome the City of Love, Berlin and Paris, the city of lights. So, I was unsure what to expect when I booked a mini break to Dublin and in all honesty I could not name one tourist site that the capital of Ireland had to offer.  However, all of this changed as soon as I saw some ridiculously cheap flights from Birmingham to Dublin, I promptly booked without knowing what me or my sister were actually going to do for two nights. Luckily, having typed in several phrases into Google search engine such as "Things To Do in Dublin", I quickly found there was an abundance of tourist sites, activities, hustle and bustle to visit. As a lover of food and cultural places, I thought I would share some of the places that I visited and what I recommend for you to do if you visit Dublin.

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse is a must visit! There are several floors (I think 8, but don't quote me on that) at the Storehouse. Discover the history behind this global iconic brand, the ingredients used to make Guinness, the process, the quality control, the advertising and so much more. There are in fact, so many things to learn and to see that this is a place that you have to visit to discover how amazing it is. Even though I dislike the taste of Guinness, I slowly enjoyed the taste after engaging the connoisseur experience which teaches you how to perfectly drink and taste Guinness. You also have the opportunity to pull your own pint and to take in panoramic views across the city. 

Temple Bar
Temple Bar is Dublin. Perhaps that is a bold statement, but I found the Temple Bar area to be the hub of Irish culture, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. If there is one place to visit whilst you are in Dublin, I think this is it. From the array of green flag colours popping everywhere to hearing traditional Irish music, the locals inviting you to the different comedy clubs; this is a vibrant, lively and friendly area of Dublin, where Dubliners and tourists flock to in the evening. On a Saturday morning/afternoon there is a also Book Market and renowned Temple Bar Food Market. Temple Bar Food Market offers an array of food such as oysters and wine for 14 Euros, Crepes with every filling imaginable, cheesecakes with interesting flavour combinations, Mexican street food and Mediterranean delights.

The Boxty House , a renowned restaurant in Temple Bar, has been established for 25 years. This restaurant has a strong emphasis on using ingredients cultivated in Ireland which I think is fantastic, there's nothing worse than visiting a restaurant that imports a large proportion of their food. The Boxty House prides itself on providing modern Irish cuisine and it's standout feature is a large proportion of the menu includes a variety of Boxty dishes, which in case you were unsure, is a traditional Irish potato pancake dish. There were several Boxty dishes on offer such as Lamb Boxty, Blue Cheese and Spinach Boxty and Corned Beef and Cabbage Boxty. Having firmly decided that I must try a Boxty, I ordered the two courses for 20 Euros menu. Starters was a delectable blue cheese and walnut salad followed by a Chicken and Smoked Bacon Boxty. The Boxty had an interesting yet pleasant taste, a savoury pancake which was cooked to perfection and served to compliment the fillings inside. For dessert, my sister and I carried on with ordering dishes with Irish ingredients and chose a Baileys Cheesecake, to share. As much as The Boxty House is known for it's Boxty, the highlight for me was the Baileys cheesecake, rich, boozy, creamy with a crunchy base, this is what I was made for! If you are after a traditional Irish restaurant, this is a must visit. 

Hop on and Hop Off Tour
I think Hop On and Hop Off Tours are compulsory when visiting cities and having completed a Hop on Hop off tour in Miami, Rome and Varaderro, this was also must do when I was Dublin. What better way of seeing the city, then sitting upstairs of an open top bus, having beautiful breeze and taking in fresh air at the same time. Priced between £20- £25, depending upon where you book, this tour included  3 day access on the public buses alongside buses to and from the airport to the city centre.  There are a couple of hop on off and hop off companies, I booked with Dublin Bus Tour and there were two loops, the original route and the docklands route. The original route stopped off at several well-known tourist places such as Guinness factory, Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Christchurch and Dublin Zoo. The docklands route, which I did not have time to view stops off at U2 Graffiti Wall and Oscar Wilde's Birth Place to name a few. This is fantastic value for money and a great way to view the city.

Stroll by the River Liffey
Take a leisurely stroll across the River Liffey, look at the yellow buses and people watch. There are many Irish souvenir shops nearby and it's a must to pick up an Ireland t-shirt, mug, Guinness crisps or scarf. Perhaps if you have enough time, you can book many of the river excursions where you can see the city whilst in a boat.

Thanks to Twitter, I discovered the legendary chicken restaurant in Ireland (no, not the one beginning with an N), Crackbird. With an impressive 27k followers on Twitter, mouthwatering photos of chicken and the occasional free Tweet seats being given away, I wondered whether I would be able to get a seat. Luckily we did. The restaurant is dark and not what I'm used to, I prefer light, airy and bright restaurants. My sister and I ordered Soy Garlic Full Chicken with Hot Baked Potato and Sweet Potato Noodles with Chili Oil and Peanuts. What I was not expecting was a whopping 8 huge sticky and vibrant pieces of chicken pieces, thigh and legs. The noodles were unusual in the sense that they were cold, but with the chilli and nuts, it was wonderful texture in my mouth and most importantly it worked. The jacket potato, topped with chives was huge, from the land of the giants. This restaurant is a must, fabulous budget friendly restaurant. 

Murphys Ice Cream
After a lovely meal out in the heart of Dublin, why not head to Murphys ice cream for real Irish ice-cream? I stumbled upon this place by chance and was spoilt for choice with the array of ice-creams on sale. I chose the most amazing rum and raisin ice-cream and a chocolate ice-cream which was in little adorable ice-cream cups. Granted this is not gelato that i've eaten in Italy, but this ice-cream which is homemade in Dingle was pretty impressive.

Shopping in Grafton Street
With high end shops such as Browns and Louis Vuitton, combined with how strong the pound is compared to the euros, this would be an ideal time to treat yourself in one of Dublin's luxurious shops.  Or, if you are like me and really can no justify spending a monthly salary on a coat, take a still  in Grafton Street, people watch or visit the  several boutiques where you can pick up an item that you know someone else in England has (if your from England, of course).

KC Peaches
With branches dotted throughout Dublin, there are some superb lunchtime treats to be ordered here. Specialising in Wholefoods, this cafe aims to cater fresh and affordable food to Dubliners. The menu changes every week so some of the food pictures shared may not be on the menu if you visit, but I can guarantee the food will be delicious.

Butlers Cafe
World renowned chocolatiers Butlers, I did not manage to pop in the store based in Grafton and Henry Street instead I sampled some of the chocolates at the Airport. Butlers chocolates are incredibly luxurious, rich and decadent. The hot chocolate topped with melting marshmallows was delicious, alongside some mini chocolate bars and the coffee with a hint of chocolate. The array of chocolates and flavour combinations are simply beautiful and even if you do not but any chocolates, it's worth a visit to have a look at chocolate in its most beautiful form. 

I stayed at Hilton Dublin 4 * hotel, which was a pleasant 15 minute stroll from the heart of the city centre. This hotel is easy to find and to access, staff polite and friendly. There was a restaurant area, which I did not dine. Rooms were comfortable, large with a double bedroom, dressing table, table, chairs, iron. The bathroom was pristine white with a range of lovely toiletries.

Places I wish I visited

Kilmainham Prison
I wish I had time to visit to Kilmainham Goal/prison. I heard so much about this prison upon my return to England and having looked online, there is a wealth of history that can be heard at this site.

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