Archive | September, 2016

48 Hours In Dublin

10 Sep

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It is indeed almost unthinkable, though to the jet set crowd, it wouldn’t be a notion that would evoke the batting of an eye. Yes, hopping across the Atlantic for a whirlwind 48 hrs, then wheel around and head back. Sounds fairly nuts. But it’s what I’ve just accomplished as I journey back to the States over the waters I crossed just a few mornings ago.

Touching down at Dublin Airport (DUB) at around 6:30AM local time on the direct redeye  out of JFK, AA 209, I breeze through customs; I suppose one of the mercies of arriving at such an early hour. Next, my task is to chart my way into town. This is relatively simple and straightforward. You have three main options though I’d recommend skipping the taxi line as that can be somewhat of a pricy affair. Opt instead for the aircoach coach service into town (€7 one way) or the seemingly ubiquitous AirLink bus which boasts a frequency of every 10 mins and deposits you right in the center (€6 one way, €10 return).

Temple Bar Hotel right at the core of the very lively Temple Bar area is my choice for accommodation. Note that Temple Bar can be very manic with all the frenzy surrounding the myriad pubs & clubs in this part of town being the nightlife epicenter. Still, one does not get more central than this and since I’m here for a brief stint, I’m up for rolling with it. Check in is relatively smooth and efficient though I’m having to stow my luggage for another hour or so before a room becomes available and the kind staff check me in early.

After a quick nap and waiting out the rain a little (which had been incessant through the morning and early afternoon hours), I venture out. First stop: Trinity College which is a mere stone’s throw away. Established in the late 16th century under the Tudor crown, it is the oldest university in Ireland and indeed one of the oldest in Western Europe. One of its notable and perhaps most broadly recognized alumni is Oscar Wilde. Explore the campus on your own or join one of the scheduled guided tours which are available through the day. I spend a considerable amount of time at Trinity and nightfall is approaching. I head back to my hotel to freshen up before venturing out for the evening.

Next stop: Dinner. Location: Dylan McGrath’s Fade St Social Gastro Pub. As a solo diner, I’m able to grab a spot at the bar which rims the open kitchen. I’d recommend, however, securing a reservation beforehand especially for parties of 2 or more. The ambiance here is decidedly lively and the fare scrumptious. McGrath largely sticks to an Irish base in his plates but certainly builds from there, offering an inspired variety of tapas-style small plates from locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant also boasts an extensive cocktail list and wine menu.

The evening’s beginning to heat up as I navigate may way to The George on George’s street, a short walk away. The George prides itself on being one of Dublin’s longest running establishments for Gay nightlife though to be fair, I witness more of a mixed set of patrons at the venue which tends to be par for the course anyway these days. The music thumps with pop tunes as we all passionately gyrate and sing along (or at least attempt to). This evening, Saturday night, is also supposed to have us witness Dublin’s finest take to the stage and karaoke the night away. Alas, or maybe perhaps blessedly so, the equipment is broken. The drag personas on stage alternatively kickoff an impromptu dance-off selecting random members from the audience to join them onstage; it’s a ton of fun. I cap off the evening at another spot across the river, Panti Bar. It’s just as lively with an equally enthusiastic crowd and good tunes.

Day 2: I’m having a little bit of a late start having staggered into my hotel room in the wee hours. Still, I’ve got my points of interest mapped out for the day and thus venture out just as the revelers are starting to spill out onto the streets of Temple Bar, pints in hand (and it’s only lunch time). I pick may way to my next stop, Dublin Castle, the seat of British rule for hundreds of years. It is possible to explore on your own but I opt to join a guided tour (€8) which was well worth it. Don’t miss the impressive state apartments with the elegantly outfitted Drawing Room and the Chapel Royal.


Drawing Room, Dublin Castle. Photos shown: to the left, the last Lord Lieutenant (aka Viceroy) of Ireland, The Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent and, on the right, Michael Collins, leader of the newly formed Provincial Government (1921).

Next up, I take a leisure stroll through the surrounding neighborhood. The sun’s out and the citizens and tourists alike are out and about. I perch on a stool on the terrace of a neighborhood café for light refreshments as I missed breakfast, then continue on to my next destination, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Entering the grounds through the rear you come upon St Patrick’s Park as the cathedral itself looms in impressive might before you. The park, or at least the grounds, hold a significant level of importance as it is believed that St. Patrick himself baptized the first Irish Christians in a well on this site with water from the River Poddle which still flows underground today. Spend time here and check out the cathedral which is an architectural splendor. Keeping with the cathedral theme, I then make my over to Christ Church, another one of Dublin’s oldest cathedrals a mere short walk away. It’s another impressive work of architecture and is ornately outfitted.


Christ Church Cathedral

Night falls and my stomach’s beginning to rumble. It’s time for some nourishment. But first, a quick pit stop back at the hotel to freshen up, then it’s back out on the town. For dinner, the spot is Catch-22 on South Anne St. The main feature on the menu is fish with a variety of other tasty accompaniments. To start I opted for the Fish Cakes w/ spicy mayo while I settled on the Fish Pie for my main course. I found both to be quite palatable if just a tad under seasoned. The quality was quite good however and I thought fairly priced.

My last night in Dublin saw me capping off things at The Front Lounge on Parliament St. It’s a fun spot that’s part restaurant part bar/lounge. It was a good  way to signoff, enjoying the late evening serenity of its atmosphere as tomorrow I bid adieu to this most lovely of cities.

Handy stylish backpack. Great for compact travel.

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