But not on St. Patrick’s Day
I absolutely love Dublin, when I first moved to Rome I actually landed in Dublin and spent a week there alone before I headed over to Italy and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Think about it, if you were moving to Europe wouldn’t you want to ease your way into it by landing somewhere kind of familiar but still new and exciting and filled with the good stuff, Guinness. It was a no brainer to head to Dublin first and I am so glad I did but I am also equally happy I did not go while I was a study abroad for St. Patrick’s day. Now believe me, I love St. Patrick’s day as much as the next non Irish alcoholic but Dublin is not the place to celebrate it. Everyone who studies abroad in the springtime thinks about going, it’s tempting to be able to spend such a fun holiday actually in Ireland but honestly it is so EXPENSIVE its not even worth it. Hotels and hostels are booked out months in advance, costs to go to pubs sky rocket and you will be surrounded by tourists, not actual Irish people. But besides St. Patrick’s Day I definitely think a stop in Dublin is necessary and here are my reasons…
Lets be honest, this is why people keep coming back to Dublin (and numerous other reasons), Guinness just tastes better in Dublin. If you go to the Guinness factory (Reason 3) they will tell you its because of the water they make it with and that may be true, but maybe its just because the Irish know how to pour it right and a pint of Guinness in Ireland is usually surrounded by good times and good conversation. Whatever the reason it is definitely worth it to grab a pint even if you are just transferring planes in Dublin. If you want to hear anyone wax poetically about Guinness just find an Anthony Bourdain episode when he is in Dublin, he does a much better job than I do.
2. Trinity college
Trinity College is Ireland’s first and obviously oldest university and it is also part of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland. It is absolutely a beautiful place to stroll around and see all of the wonderful architecture, the college is still an active university today and with just a few public entrances you can really get a feel of the community of the college as well. Trinity College is also known for housing the Book of Kells, which is an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels dating back to 800C.E., it is one of the most famous and finest manuscripts of its time and it is definitely worth a stop in Trinity College’s Old Library to see it!
3. Jameson and Guinness factory
So we all know that Guinness is a big factor of what draws people to Dublin but it is also the fact that the original factory is located here along with the original Jameson Factory. Now today you can go and visit both of these factories. They have different tours which all include a tasting as well. Now the Guinness Storehouse is the section of the factory you can visit as it is still a functioning factory and it is a massive imposing building of glass, it is actually very modern with several floors which start with the production of Guinness, including a whole floor dedicated to the water, and continues on through the advertising of Guinness throughout the years and finally ended up at the Gravity Bar with amazing views of the skyline of Dublin. Now at the factory they let you have one glass of Guinness free with your admission and you can choose to either pour your own pint or enjoy a lovely Guinness at the Gravity Bar, in my opinion its better to get it at the Gravity Bar because it will be properly poured and you can enjoy it in such an amazing setting but of course do what you want….
Now the Jameson Factory is a whole other ball game, it is no longer a functioning factory and it is set up a little different than the Guinness Factory, for starters there is a lovely bar where you can sit and grab a glass of Jameson while you wait for your tour (not free). Once the tour begins you are lead through several different rooms by a guide and are shown how the process of making Jameson occurred back in the good old days, accompanied by animatronic figures going about their day (Note, this is not Disneyland so do not expect any lifelike Johnny Depp animatronics). Once you go through the rooms you are then led into a tasting room where you get your Jameson with a choice of chaser, however if you are smart and like whiskey that is volunteer to do the tasting that they have while you drink your Jameson. If you do the tasting you get to also enjoy about four other spirits as well. Now these factories are completely different from each other but are both enjoyable as long as you’re not too hungover from the night before!
I feel like for Dublin all I am talking about is drinking but what the hell, the fourth reason I love Dublin is for the Pubs. Now all over the world you can find Irish pubs but they all pale in comparison to actually sitting in a pub in Ireland. The drinks are good, the people are welcoming and the atmosphere is what you expect from an Irish pub, loud and good natured. There are pubs all over Dublin and the most famous area for pubs is Temple Bar, it pretty much is just all pubs, which is great however often times they are full of tourists or people having Bachelor or Bachelorette parties. There are pubs all over Dublin so don’t limit yourselves to just this area, of course go check it out but then go out and explore as well. While I was wandering around Dublin I got lost and discovered this old pub that probably has not changed in fifty years and it was amazing, so you never know what you might stumble on. The only downside to the pubs is that they all close at 12am, but then everyone goes out afterwards to the fry shops to fill up on some good old greasy drunk munchies.
Hurling is originally an ancient Gaelic sport which has been around for over 3000 years and it is also one of the fastest games played today, in terms of speed of play. While in Dublin definitely sit down and watch a match at a pub or even better try to go to a game. If you are planning to go you can just buy your tickets at www.ticketmaster.ie. It is super easy to get tickets and the game is easy follow as well. I definitely recommend watching a game regardless though, there is nothing like cheering for the Dublin team with a ton of local fans!
So there are my reasons for visiting Dublin and Dublin should just be a starting point for you to see the rest of Ireland so take advantage of the fact that Aer Lingus often times has great cheap flights to Ireland and go explore. It is an absolutely beautiful country and it should definitely make it onto your travel list!