We had exactly two trips pre-planned before we moved to Italy. One to Scotland with Jen’s family this coming June and the other; something way to good pass up… Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland! Jen suggested we participate in one of the largest parties in the world and I happily obliged. We booked a flight on a local carrier and headed to Dublin for a long weekend. I’m going to publish three separate posts dedicated to Dublin – too many stories and photos to fit all into one!
On our way to Dublin
We boarded our flight on Ryan Air from a small, regional airport. As it turns out Ryan Air (an Irish Airline) is simultaneously the coolest and the absolute worst airline on the planet. They offer low-cost airfare throughout Europe (great), but those flights are tricky to find and they nickel and dime you to death (not great). When you book your ticket, you have to navigate through 5 pages of extras that they try to trick you into buying (“would you like trip insurance for your goat?”). By the end, you’re too burned out to read their luggage policy and you might end up in a pickle like we did.
We arrived at the airport and were sent to a different counter because we hadn’t printed our boarding passes. €10 to print?? Err… OK, no biggie. That’s when I started to notice all the mini-luggage people were towing around (picture the novelty suitcase you would buy your 8 year-old). I glanced back at our behemoth US sized carry on bags and knew we were going to be in trouble. I didn’t even bother to try to cram it into the “your bag must fit in this cage” contraption and went to the desk to check them. AGENT: “Oh, you didn’t pre-check online? That will be €120”.
ME:“I’m sorry, I’m only on level one of Rosetta Stone – that sounds like you said one hundred and twenty euro’s for two carry-on bags?!!” AGENT: “Yes. That’s just for this leg of your flight” Gulp!
Jen and Julia boarding
With a €130 lighter jig in my step – we eagerly boarded the plane. The nickel and diming continued… “would you like water – €4” (I’m not exaggerating). But also… “would you like lottery scratch offs and smokeless cigarettes for the flight?” Haha… hmmm, kind of cool. But I’m with my wife and baby, lady – no dice!
“Uhhh… sir, there’s a hole in the bottom of your plane!”
We departed the best/worst flight of our life and arrived in the center of Dublin. We were instantly taken with the cleanliness, beauty and charm of the city. We were going to enjoy this trip!! The forecast had called for rain, but yet the sun was shining as bright as all the red hair atop everyone’s heads.
We checked into our beautiful hotel, adjacent to one of the most popular parts of town – Temple Bar. Temple Bar houses street after street of wonderful pubs and restaurants. Admittedly, it may have been a location that suited us better 3 years ago (the partying can get a bit rowdy)… but it was still spectacular. On the other side of our hotel, we were flanked by Trinity College, one of the world’s top ranking universities established in 1592. When Julia asks, I’ll be sure to tell her that’s why I selected the site.
Temple Bar – too early for the crowds
Temple Bar pubs
Jameson and Guinness run this town
Enjoying Temple Bar
Temple Bar at night
We searched for a good pub to eat lunch and found the perfect place. Inside The Stags Head, the atmosphere was great, the Guinness was tremendous and the fish and chips were the best I’d ever had. Well, they’ve had over 100 years to get it right – The Stags Head was established in 1895. Julia loved the crowd she gained while feigning drinking her mom’s Guinness. We let her get close enough to get an adorable Guinness mustache.
The Stags Head est. 1895
Our first Guinness in Dublin
“Mommy, you’re so silly!”
“What’s all the fuss about?”
“Oh, now I see… delicious!”
Our food was wonderful. Here are some pictures of what we enjoyed.
Cocktail sausages and chips
Beef and Guinness Pie
Slow cooked Irish beef with roast vegetables in Guinness broth served with rosemary potatoes
Beef and Guinness pie
Traditional Fish and Chips
Fresh Haddock in a light crisp beer batter served with home-cut chips and a tartare sauce
Traditional fish and chips
After lunch we walked for miles and miles, taking in the sites and the festivities that seemed to be at every turn (a carnival, band, show or jokesters like these guys were everywhere).
Everyone was getting in on the fun
We particularly enjoyed walking down Grafton Street, a pedestrian street full of incredible shopping. If there is anything that I know, it’s that a crowded street full of pedestrians brings out the street performers!
Grafton Street – Dublin’s pedestrian shopping district
A fire juggler
He saw my camera and stopped performing to pose
The Irish are taller than the Italian
A little taste of Venice in Dublin
We passed through Fusiliers’ Arch into Saint Stephen’s Green. Fusiliers’ Arch was completed in 1907 in honor of the enlisted men and officers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers that fought in the Second Boer War.
Fusiliers’ Arch at the northwest corner of St. Stephen’s Green
Saint Stephen’s Green is a picturesque park toward the southern end of the city. The perfectly manicured lawns matched the beautiful duck pond and stunning fountains with blissful harmony – a perfect backdrop for a curious 2 year old to run wild and wreak havoc! We chased Julia all the way into a playground we discovered and loved watching her have fun with her new Irish friends.
Saint Stephen’s Green Park
A little duck watching
A bridge spanning the duck pond
Julia by the fountains – she made her first wish
By the time the sun set we were thrilled to see another surprise. The “greening” of the city. During the St. Patrick’s Day festivities the entire city seems to participate in this tradition of green uplighting. All in all – we decided after a magical first day, we had the Luck of the Irish on our side (OK, I had to fit that in there somewhere)!
Custom House 1791
A Temple Bar pub
Temple Bar at night
Julia and Jen certainly loved getting in touch with their Irish roots and I was just happy to be a part of it all!