IRELAND: Spring (February) Break

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Standing on a cliff in Howth, Ireland. I swear, I could live in this spot forever.

Ireland, otherwise known as The Emerald Isle, may not be your first thought when it comes to Spring Break. BUT, when I was thinking about a vacation, I was thinking about what could get me the most fun for my money. I know it was almost a month ago, but in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, there is no better time to share my trip.

Since we spent almost a week there, I will be separating it all into a few different posts. This post intends to give a quick overview of Dublin, where you should go, what you should do, and most importantly, what you should eat! (I would say most of the money we spent, went to eating at least 4 meals a day….) AND to those of you who find Irish cuisine gross, not tasty enough, or too boring… I suggest you begin planning a trip to the Isle. They might just change your mind.

As a college student, or as someone who is aware of their bank account, it doesn’t sound too appealing dropping a huge wad of cash on a vacation that you didn’t plan. So, as a person who generally likes to know what I am getting into, I began looking for the spring break of a lifetime…

For a few months, I spent my time on every vacation site out there and began the search for a week-long, foreign vaca! Now, no offense to any beach lovers out there, because there is often times this girl wants nothing more than a day on a beach with a drink in her hand, but this trip was not one of those moments. My boyfriend and I, after long talks discussing our budget and places we had always wanted to go, decided to search for trips to Ireland or Denmark, and whatever one we found first was the golden ticket!

After hours and hours of searching for the trip, we went for it and purchased the trip. 6 days and 5 nights in the place of my ancestors. (side note: I am actually more Italian than Irish, but the red hair seals the deal) We found an amazing deal (including hotel & airfare) for $700, YES

We found an amazing deal (including hotel & airfare) for $700 a piece, YES THAT MEANS   AMERICAN DOLLARS, and began planning our itinerary.

NOTE: if you are wondering how we scored that amazing deal for almost a week in europe, don’t lose hope, it isn’t a one in a million deal. You can find these deals on a great hotels and airfares EVERYDAY and it is easy! All it takes is a little time and strategy. If you are interested in how to score one of these cheap trips, (who wouldn’t be?) keep a look out for my next post that will be all about how to find the right deal for you and your budget!

Ok, now back to my trip.

Fast forward to the day we left, we flew out of Newark, and took Air Canada which connected our flights in Toronto. From there, we started our overnight trip to IRELAND!!

But not without some type of delay of course… I mean it is February, but waking up in Newfoundland and Labrador was a surprise. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do any exploring but due to a storm we were delayed a bit and had to make a pit stop. All that really meant for us was just a few extra hours of sleep before jumping into our week of traveling.

We arrived in Ireland and caught our bus into the city. The air was thick and humid but not warm. Cool and wet, is a good way to describe the weather. Always have something to keep you dry while walking around but don’t expect a monsoon everyday. Most of the time it is just misting and maybe a little cloudy….

Traveling tip: If you are ever traveling to Dublin or the surrounding areas, make sure you get a transportation pass, called the “Leap Pass”, so you can take any type of transportation to get where you need to go. It is between 40 & 50 euros for unlimited traveling for 7 days and their public transportation is the cleanest I have ever been on. You can purchase a pass right at the airport and there are several places in the city to ask questions once you are there, just in case.

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My feet, happy to be on the cobblestone streets

Our bus dropped us right off at our hotel, which happened to be located right next to two bus stops. We stayed at the Parliament Hotel, which was a great hotel with a pub attached and an amazing staff that are very helpful with any questions you may have. We were on Lord Edward Street, which is where you want to be in Dublin. You are located right in the middle of the city and only a short walk from everything you could possible want to see in the city. It is located in the Temple Bar district but is right across the street from Dublin castle and a 5 minute walk to the beautiful, Christ Church Cathedral.

 

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Our hotel, which was perfect! (more on that in the post)

We settled into our room, changed into new clothes, and headed our for our first meal. We stopped at a restaurant a block down from our hotel called, The Ivy. One of the coolest restaurants in Dublin, hands down. We ordered Smithwicks (which tastes even better on draft in Ireland) and I ordered the Dublin Coddle Stew. Which has a much more satisfying taste than look. Fear not Americans, its much better than most stews you have had at any restaurant in the homeland.

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Dublin Coddle: A stew made basically from leftovers but tasting much better than how it looks and sounds. Consists of pork sausages, onions, bacon pieces, and of course, POTATOES.

After filling up on hearty Irish bread and stew, we ran around the city seeing as much as we could before the sun went down. We visited Dublin Castle, strolled through Grafton Street, went down to the Ha’Penny Bridge, admired the River Liffey. The best thing about Dublin is that the central part of the city is packed with most of the famous tourist spots and small side streets to find your new favorite pub or cute cafe, to be the cure-all of your tea and scone needs.

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We reserved exploring the Temple Bar for after dark, meaning the actual bar and its surrounding areas. The Temple Bar district is named after the world-famous pub, which can be found one street up from the river. But the district consists of several amazing restaurants and pubs, where we spent several meals, literally, stuffing our faces. Below I will list some of the bars and restaurants I highly suggest.

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Places to Eat & Drink:

  • The Temple Bar (obviously!)
  • The Shack Restaurant – AMAZING dinner
  • Mexico to Rome – Great place for early dinner or lunch
  • Elephant and Castle – Literally, eat anything here. All delicious.
  • The Auld Dubliner – If you are looking for authentic Irish dinner…. (Recommend the Stout Pie)
  • Pablo Picante – Ok, so not Irish food but they claim to be the best burritos in Dublin. I will second that.
  • The Ivy – As previously mentioned, a great spot for any meal. Recommend: Dublin Coddle.
  • Queen of Tarts – If I could eat anyplace every day in my life, it would be this Cafe. We ate here a total of 4 times and I would have gone more if possible. They have two locations in Dublin and both are so charming. I can’t say enough about this cafe. Not only is it the cutest cafe, but everything from the scones to the eggs and even the tea, is to die for.
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 One of many breakfasts at Queen of Tarts

 

We also took a tour of the Guinness Storehouse! Even though our tour was at 10:30 in the morning, it was well worth it. When you buy a ticket, which I suggest doing online beforehand, it includes a self-paced tour of the seven floor storehouse, a test in pouring the perfect beer (that you can drink after!!) which leads to a certificate that says you know how, ya know, just in case you are ever challenged to a pour-off. I suggest then taking the option to ride the elevator to the top floor where you can enjoy your fresh pint of Irish greatness with 360 views of Dublin.

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A beer at the top.

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For the remainder of our time there we took our time exploring all different parts of the city. Trinity College and Grafton Street are places you can not miss and try to take a tour of the Trinity College Library if possible, you will feel like you are in a real life Hogwarts.

Dublin is not a city that is hard to walk around and get from one part of the city from another. Sure, some days we were walking 10 plus miles a day but that is in no way absolutely necessary. The city is also very easy to navigate, but if you can’t find your way, just ask. People arent lying when they say Irish people are some of the nicest people out there. Time moves a little bit slower there. Things open later and bars close earlier. Not to mention, it is one of the safest places either of us have ever been.

 

As for taking day trips, we weren’t sure where we wanted to go when we got there but decided after asking around, that we should hop on a train to Howth, about a 40 minute train ride north. We were so happy we listened to those who recommended it to us because it is the most beautiful place I have been. Imagine a movie set of a small Irish coastal town, with the most beautiful and brightly colored cottages. Now, add 420 foot cliffs that make up half of the perimeter of town and the bluest water you have ever seen. Howth is all that and then some. This is the reason why I will be writing a separate post on a day trip to Howth; how to get there, what to do there and what to eat.

Overall, I would highly recommend people of all ages to try to get to Ireland if they can. It is truly a beautiful place, full of beautiful people, food and even better views.

Dont forget to keep an eye out for my upcoming posts on how to score a great deal on your trip, what to pack, and your day trip to Howth!

Xo,

Alicia

 

 

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