[I spent about a month in Dublin this past spring, and wrote most of this post then. I figured it’s high time I got around to publishing it.]
What I enjoyed most about this stay in Dublin were the little bits of daily life: the grocery stores, the pubs, the friendliness of the people. Spending hours wandering around a giant bookstore full of English books. Cheddar cheese. But naturally I fit in couple touristy adventures, too. We hit several of Dublin’s big sights on our first trip to Ireland, but there was still plenty left to see this time around.
Kilmainham Gaol – This no-longer-in-use jail is slightly outside of town, but worth a trip if you’re interested in learning more about Ireland’s political history. The tour was informative and interesting.
Old Jameson Distillery – The €13.50 entrance fee feels like kind of a rip-off, especially since real distilleries tend to charge much less if anything at all. But if you’re up for a Disneyfied version of a whiskey tour, it’s definitely a good time. Be ready to volunteer enthusiastically when they ask for tasters near the beginning of the tour – everyone gets a shot of Jameson, but only a chosen few get to do the taste-test comparing American, Irish, and Scottish whisk(e)ys.
National Gallery – this art museum has a fabulous collection of old masters, impressionists, and Irish paintings. And free entrance! But the best part was the security guard who out of the blue just wanted to let me know that I was “very welcome” in Ireland. When was the last time a German said something similar to you, I ask?
Gogarty’s – in the center of Temple Bar, Gogarty’s offers live Irish music every night of the week in the cozy upstairs bar. Touristy, yes, but the craic is still excellent. Drinking Irish ales by the pint is part of the full cultural experience, which you will surely want to have. Actually there are tons of pubs that offer free live music all over Dublin, so don’t feel like you have to stop at just this one.
Hugh Lane Gallery – a fabulous little art collection plus an excellent exhibit (including his reconstructed studio) on Francis Bacon, everyone’s favorite crazy fuck artist.
The Mermaid Cafe became my favorite restaurant in Dublin after a meal of creative, elegant food in their relaxed atmosphere (great service, too). The seats near the windows make for excellent people-watching.
We also had a nice meal at The Church, a former church which has been beautifully converted into a bar and restaurant. The prix fixe menu felt like a good value in a city as expensive as Dublin.
In more casual dining, I quite liked Juice, a vegetarian restaurant with a good selection of creative international vegetarian and vegan fare. The lunch special was a good deal.
I completely fell in love with Dublin and its people. I’d go back in a minute.