Talk about hitting the ground running. I am now going on 32 hours straight without sleep, as I write this post. After we landed in Dublin we caught a taxi over to our hotel, which we Hotwired and got a great deal! We are about half a mile from city center and after a long day of travel our legs were screaming for some movement.
We didn’t linger long at the hotel because we wanted to get through some of the items on our list, knowing that we only had three days. For those of you who know me and my husband, we are not ones to vacation slowly. We literally hit the ground running and stop when we’ve marked everything off our list. While I realize this might not be a sustainable travel style for all it suites the two of us very well.
The first item on our list this afternoon was to pick up our Dublin City Passes, It’s kind of like a Disney Express Pass for the lines. They are well priced based on many of the amount of attractions we plan to see and they allow you to skip most of the lines.
We also signed up for the the Literary Pub Crawl tomorrow evening. My brother highly recommends the Music Pub Crawl but being the literary nut that I am I wanted to hear as many scintillating stories of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde that I could.
Once our tickets we secured we headed over to a recommendation from my brother for lunch – a Spanish tapas restaurant called Salamanca, which had wonderful food and Eric first sip of Guinness in Dublin.
I have to say walking through Dublin (especially Grafton Street) during a week day lunch hour is an interesting experience. There is so much hustle and bustle… it’s quite exciting. We also quickly realized that the city is pretty easy to navigate and by the end of the day felt comfortable zipping around the city (via foot of course).
Post our toothsome lunch we headed over to Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library. I didn’t know what to expect other than the one paragraph I read in my travel book about the Chester Beatty library but all I can say is… wow! Both the husband and I were blown away. It reminded us of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in some ways and it was very interesting to see Chester Beatty’s love for Asian culture (e.g., a collection of glass and jade snuff bottles) collaged with his love of books, manuscripts, and scrolls. The library exhibits did a wonderful job of walking you through the experience and history of books… perfectly titling the exhibit hall “The Art of Book”. In the second floor exhibit you will find an exquisite collection (17 in total, making it the largest collection in existence) of Chinese Jade books, which were created in hopes of withstanding the test of time.
Every item in the exhibition halls is perfectly curated to tell a story and all you to get to know Chester Beatty through his passions. Absolutely worth the visit and it’s free admission, but I highly recommend leaving a donation.
After wandering through the library we walked around the grounds and by the Dublin Castle for a bit.
Our first Irish pub stop ended up being at Kehoe’s for what Anthony Bourdain calls “a pint of the black stuff”. This was officially my first Guinness experience and yes I went the baby Guinness route by ordering a half pint for myself. I have to admit… it was creamy and delicious!
Kehoe’s was exactly what we were looking for in an Irish pub too. According to my travel book, this pub is one of the most “atmospheric” pubs in the city centre and I couldn’t agree more. You could feel the history the second you stepped inside and could tell right away that this was a favorite at the locals.
Our dinner (well really evening snack) was at Coppering Row right off of Grafton Street. This was a recommendation we read in United Hemisphere’s Three Perfect Days and once again, we were not disappointed. They had a unique gin spirit list with a variety of flavored tonic waters to pair it with. The husband went for a saffron gin with blood orange and sweet tonic water. Holy crazy was it refreshingly scrumptious. There dinner menu was equally fresh and delightful. We stuck with fresh seafood and trust me… if you are every in Ireland or Scotland never pass up the smoked mackerel. Absolutely amazing and nothing like what I’ve tasted back home in Seattle.
Our last stop of the day was the Vintage Cocktail Club, where one stumbles upon a discrete black metal door with the letters VCC on it. If you weren’t on the hunt for it, you would probably walk by without realizing the magic that occurred inside. There’s a buzzer in which a woman comes to open the door and greet you. From there she transports you to an upstairs lounge that travels you back in time. A mix of 1960s Mad Men Style lounge, meets depression-era speakeasy. For the husband and I, it reminded us of our favorite cocktail joint in Seattle called Needle and Thread.
The handcrafted cocktail menu is organized by eras with cocktails to match that particular time in history. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) we only stuck around for one drink before we figured it was time to drag our tired bodies back to the hotel. If I was a local Dubliner VCC would for sure be my go to spot.
Which now leaves me here… blogging to you all about our first day in Dublin. It was such a great start and we can’t wait for the next two days, but right now this traveling lady needs her beauty rest. Cheers everyone!