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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Past travels: Dublin

Recently, I've noticed a lot of my friends posting photos up of trips to Dublin on Facebook. It seems they've all been paying a visit to the Emerald Isles over the past few weeks, and I'm more than a little jealous!

I've been to Dublin a couple of times, and loved every minute of it. It's a beautiful city, and a welcoming one at that. I've never been somewhere that immediately felt so much like home (I'm an O'Brien so that might be something to do it!). The people are a huge part of this, always eager to talk and make a new friend, sharing their local knowledge of where to go and what to do. Ireland is genuinely one of the most welcoming countries I have visited.

I've done the tourist thing. I've visited Temple Bar, shopped on Grafton Street, been to the Guinness Storehouse (amazing, recommend it, want to live there with my face underneath a beer tap in the Gravity Bar). But I was also lucky that I was staying with bona fide Dubliners, and got to see more of the 'local' side to the city as well.

One of my favourite places on my first visit was the Cobblestone pub. Found on King Street, it's an authentic Irish pub, with sessions 7 days a week. The atmosphere is fantastic, the beer is good and the music is wonderful. Don't be fooled by it's exterior appearance, inside is a warm and relaxing bar. It's a far superior experience to the tourist trap of Temple Bar and offers a true taste of traditional Irish pubs.

Another brilliant pub to visit would be O'Donoghues. One of Dublin's oldest pubs, and renowned for it's music, O'Donoghues oozes character. Again, with 7 sessions a week, and a bar lined with partially poured pints of Guinness ready for the next customer, it's a must on any trip through the city. 

There is more to Dublin than just pubs and Guinness (although they are pretty good reasons to visit in my opinion). St Stephen's Green is the park found in the city centre, a tranquil green space amongst the bustle of the city. It feels more like rural Ireland than a city park. Found at the end of Grafton Street, it offers some respite after a busy day's shopping. It is beautiful, with sculptures, water features, memorials and a lake bursting with wildlife. Have a stroll around, or take a seat on one of the many seats and take in the views, definitely visit.
Of course, when in a city, I shop. It would be rude not to. A must on my hitlist is Avoca on Suffolk Street. Named after the town in County Wicklow where it first began, Avoca Handweavers is a mini department store with a difference. Unlike to standard, regimented look of larger stores, Avoca is a treasure trove of hidden gems, bowls and baskets overflowing with jewellery, scarves, trinkets and toiletries. A vintage feel resides in the store, everything perfectly pretty. A cafe can be found upstairs, and, since my last visit, a deli and food hall introduced in the basement. It's seriously dangerous to look at their website but I'm going to share it with you anyway! Check out http://www.avoca.com/.

Shopping takes it out of me, meaning it is a necessity to seek out sustenance. If you find yourself on Grafton Street and you're feeling a bit peckish, pop into Bewleys. Currently closed for refurbishment, if you are heading to the area in a couple of months, you'll be able to catch it in its newly decked-out glory. Previously (and I hope it is retained), a small theatre was found on the top floor, offering lunchtime shows, and provided an evening venue for cabaret, jazz and comedy. On the middle floor a more formal restaurant, and the ground floor a coffee shop, Bewleys has character, and a great full Irish breakfast.

If you are feeling cultural, try to visit Trinity College. Channelling the same sense of peacefulness as St Stephen's Green, Trinity is beautiful. Parliament Square is framed by the Public Theatre, Regent House and the Chapel. It's worth the visit just to look at the buildings, but Trinity also offers Ireland's biggest research library, comprising of several buildings. The Old Library, the original building, is an imposing, fantastic creature, home to the famous Book of Kells and the Trinity College Harp. Packed with history, Trinity is too beautiful an opportunity to pass up on.
If you find yourself fancying a trip away, whether it be a day trip, or a long weekend, Dublin is definitely worth the journey. I'd love to travel around Ireland more to discover other places to fall in love with. I don't know if I've convinced you to pay it a visit, but I might just take a look at some flights for myself...

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