It was an accident, really. A wonderful accident. We hadn’t planned on spending any time at all in Ireland as we had planned just to travel around Italy on this particular journey. However, when we found out we were going to have an overnight layover in Dublin, Ireland on our way home, it seemed like it was meant to be. We inquired with the airline if it would be possible to extend the layover by a few days and to our delight, they said it was possible.
After making arrangements for a hotel room in the city center, we arrived at the airport in Rome and boarded an Aer Lingus plane, which was green and had a large image of a shamrock on the tail (I guess Aer Lingus is an American Airlines partner airline, so that’s how we ended up flying with them).
The other occupants on board were mostly a tour group of elderly Irish travelers who had spent the week in Rome visiting museums and historical sites. They were a friendly bunch and were genuinely excited to hear that a couple of American kids from California would be spending some time touring around their city. The relatively quick flight from Rome to Dublin went by even faster as the other occupants of our plane took turns telling us all about great places in Dublin that we simply must see, and things we had to eat.
I love the Irish people. I’ve never met a friendlier group of people. Every single Irish person I met on that trip was simply a delight. They were helpful and fun to talk to and I enjoyed being with them immensely.
Upon arriving in the city, we found a cab to take us to our hotel and spent a little time settling in. I was delighted to find that our hotel had a variety of plugs in the room designed for international travelers to plug in all their devices and they had a U.S. plug! Woo hoo! Time to charge up all the devices!
We spent our first evening just strolling around Dublin and enjoying the scenery and orienting ourselves to our surroundings. We had an amazing pub dinner that included more calories than I care to think about, and got a great night’s rest.
The second day in Dublin was spent on more exploring. We ate more meals containing large quantities of calories at various pubs around town and spent the afternoon exploring the beautiful Trinity College and their impressive collection of medieval art and manuscripts, including the Book of Kells, at the Old Library. Trinity College was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 in an effort to educate the Irish. They were the first college in the isles to admit women as well, in 1903.
After exploring Trinity College, we visited the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was built between 1220 and 1260 and is one of the few remaining buildings left from Medieval Dublin. It’s the largest cathedral in all of Ireland and serves as the national cathedral for the Church of Ireland.
We spent the rest of the day strolling down Grafton Street, Dublin’s premier shopping street, and wandering in and out of shops , my favorite being a cheese shop where we sampled and purchased some amazingly delicious cheeses.
The next day was spent exploring the Guinness Storehouse. It was pretty cool. You go on a tour through the exhibit that tells you all about how Guinness is made, and then when you reach then end you find yourself in a bar that has an INCREDIBLE view of the city where they hand you a free pint of Guinness.
Later that afternoon we had an amazing time sitting in a pub listening to some live traditional Irish music, eating and drinking, and of course keeping ourselves out of the rain. (NOTE: This was BEFORE I found out I have celiac disease. Sooo…I guess I’m glad I had the experience before I discovered that distressing fact? No beer for me these days, sadly.)
Our last day in Dublin before we left involved an unexpectedly fun excursion to the Bloom Festival. We saw a sign for it and decided why not go and check it out? The Bloom Festival is Ireland’s largest gardening festival. Normally home and garden stuff isn’t our cup of tea, but it’s extremely popular in that part of the world and we ended up having an amazing time seeing strange plants and talking to a ton of locals. We even met up with the Irish Beekeper’s Association and sampled a lot of different kinds of honey. All in all it was actually quite fun.
That night, we went back to our hotel room and turned on the television. We were scrolling through the channels when we saw what we thought was soccer. We both enjoy soccer, so we stopped to watch for a bit. The man on TV was running and kicking the ball, when all of a sudden he picked it up and started running while holding it. Then he punched a guy in the face. Then he kicked the ball over the goal in what sort of looked like a field goal in American football. The crowd cheered. We were so confused.
The next morning, we caught a cab to the airport and our driver asked us how we enjoyed Dublin. We said it was great fun but we were confused about one thing. We told him about what we had watched the night before on the TV.
“Oh, you saw Gaelic Football! It’s the greatest game in the world! I’m a semi-pro player!” he replied, and then proceeded to tell us all about the rules of the game and his favorite teams. You learn something new every day.
I was sad to be leaving Ireland as we pulled up to the airport. The people were friendly and there was so much more I still wanted to explore, but I knew one thing…someday I would be back again.
Have you been to Dublin, or Ireland in general? Would love to hear about your experiences and travel tips!