I liked Dublin, but at the same time it didn't seem like there was all that much to do. In many regards, it just felt like another big city. Plus, it had a hard act to follow after the beginning of our trip and all of the beautiful sites we saw. I point this out because personally, I think two days was sufficient there (don't get me wrong, I'm glad we went). You could spend three days there tops, although I would recommend longer if your plan was to be stationed there but do day trips to other portions of Ireland. Going to just Dublin and saying you've experienced Ireland would not be a true statement in my book. But then again, that's what we did for Amsterdam/Netherlands, Paris/France and Barcelona/Spain. So, to each his/her own.
Our first goal for our last day was to get a traditional Irish breakfast, so we set out with the mission. We walked from our hotel to St. Stephen Green for a scenic stroll. It's a big grass-, tree-, pond-filled park in the middle of the city, much like a Central Park.
Avalon House, which made sense for the cheaper prices. It was pretty empty when we entered (an adorable coffee shop type set-up) but jam packed by the time we left.
A traditional Irish breakfast consists of: sausage, bacon (which is more like ham), "pudding" (which is oatmeal mixed with sausage and formed into patties), eggs, beans, tomatoes, and toast. Since I'm a slightly picky eater, I tweaked my meal just a bit.
The food was good. If you're looking for a quick, easy, cheap, and good meal, I'd recommend visiting this hostel. Their sandwiches and quiche looked equally appetizing.
From breakfast we walked to Dublin Castle for a tour. It was established in 1204ad and formerly had a stone wall and moat around it. Those citizens willing to pay taxes could live inside the stone wall and receive protection. These are the original walls and secret moat stairwell.
Inside the castle itself, we were shown a few rooms, which were impressive in their decor. However, overall, we weren't too impressed with the castle itself, of the paid admission fee of $6eu. It is part of the Office of Public Works buildings, so it has free admission on the first Wednesday of the month. It may be worthwhile to visit then, but otherwise, I wouldn't recommend spending the time (~1hr) or money here.
We exited the castle to the south, which took us to a field. This field was originally a black pool, which is where Dublin got it's name.
We basked in the warm sun for a while before heading into the Chester Beatty Library (which is on the west side of the field). It had a Chinese art exhibit set up, but this wasn't really my cup of tea. However, other members of our group found it quite interesting (and it's nice that it's free).
Once finished here, we made an impromtu decision to try to catch a 1:00pm tour at Jameson Distillery. As we entered the facility the group was just being ushered into a viewing room for the start of the presentation. We could have saved 10% by buying our tickets online (they had wifi), but because we were rushed/late, we paid the $13eu/person at the counter and joined the group.
Visiting Jameson was nothing like Guinness. Much smaller (and shorter) tour with a guide the whole time. We watched a video on the history of the company and then were guided through different stations to learn the distillation process.
During the tour, they asked for volunteers. Be sure to raise your hand! Those selected got to do a whiskey taste test at the end of the tour. Ben was on of the chosen few (except he later chickened out for whatever reason).
Following the tour, we were given our option of Jameson straight or with a mixer. I tried ginger ale and Jameson, which was okay...but I found out I really like Jame-O and cranberry juice! It's a great combo.
After we'd had enough Jameson, we walked over to Grafton Street, which is the shopping Mecca of Dublin. It's a pedestrian street lined with all of the stores you'd want to go in (H&M, Louis Vuitton, American Apparel) and then stores you probably haven't heard of, but would want to go in, like Brown Thomas Department Store.
For whatever reason, I neglected to take any pictures, probably because I was a.) too excited to go to Louie or b.), starving. We stopped in for a quick bite at GBK, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which is a burger chain throughout Dublin. After that, I headed to LV, which is attached to Brown Thomas. I ended up NOT being a purse though, because I'd the one I'd wanted (Totally GM, a tote with zipper and outside pockets) wasn't unavailable in the print I wanted (dark checked damier ebene). Rather than spend an obscene amount of money on a purse on a whim (I only like to spend obscene amounts of money on a purse when it's premeditated); I passed.
In fact, the only thing I bought on Grafton Street was from Marks and Spencers (department store) grocery section, and that was some gummy Collin the caterpillars candy for my sister, who'd grown to love them while living in England.
After the let down of Grafton Street, we strolled up to Trinity College where the Book of Kells (contains four Gospels of the New Testament dating to 800) is kept. We decided not to pay to see it, but grazed through campus.
Following our brief visit, we went to George's Dock, north of the river, to check out an Oktoberfest. We didn't stay long, as it felt too weird being in a different country celebrating a fest for a third country. But we did get to see a different side of Dublin (very modern) which was nice.
We walked along the river before deciding to head to Temple Bar area for dinner. We ended up at Trinity Bar where I had yet another Beef and Guinness Pie. We also convinced Ben to get Bangers and Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes), which he really enjoyed (if only he'd tried it sooner, he would have had another option than his daily fish and chips).
After dinner, we bounced around a few bars until decided to go to Bull and Castle's upstairs beer hall, where we proceeded to have fabulous dessert and beer before ending our time in Dublin.
And what better way to finish a trip to Ireland, than with shots of Jameson?
The next morning we checked out, returned out rental car and hopped on an 8 hour flight back to Chicago!