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The Fair City
Dublin in General
Member Name: Picasso
Dublin in General
Date: 29/01/06, updated on 04/01/10 (475 review reads)
Advantages: People and places
We had booked in at the Jury Inn hotel in the Christchurch area of the city. After checking in, we decided to walk to the centre in search of lunch. En route we came upon a café/bistro by the name of Gruel. The food was home made and mostly organic. The welcoming smells enticed us in. We both chose a vegetable and chickpea soup to warm us through. When it arrived it was served in a large bowl, resembling that of a baking bowl and a large wedge of hot granary bread. It was delicious and at a cost of around £8.00 for the two, it was well worth it.
Being well wrapped up and feeling well insulated, we headed for the open top tour bus. If you have read any of my other city reviews, then you will know that I think this is the best way to explore a city especially when visiting for the first time. The Dublin Bus Company did not disappoint. The driver cum guide was a real comedian. He was so witty that he had all his passengers in fits of hysterical laughter. Descriptions of Molly Mallone as the "tart with the cart" and others too rude to mention were frequent. In between the commentary we were serenaded to "Molly Mallone" including verses we had never heard of! We hopped on and off the buses at various places of interest and although the banter was similar with other drivers, they all had their unique way of delivery. The bus takes in all the famous attractions including St Stephen's Green, the Irish Parliament, Grafton and O'Connell Streets and the Bank of Ireland. Further afield you can disembark at Pheonix Park or the Guinness Brewery.
We had boarded our bus at 2pm and our £9.00 tickets covered us for 24 hours. In our 3 day visit we managed to see most of what was on our "must see" list including: -
Queen Elizabeth I founded the university in 1592 on the site of an Augustinian monastery. Originally only Protestant students were allowed in and it was not until the 1970's that Catholics were allowed to study there. Famous students to attend the university include playwrights Samuel Beckett and Oliver Goldsmith. For us, the major attraction were the Old Library, which is 210 feet long and houses some 200.000 books and The Book of Kells, which is described as "the most richly decorated of Ireland's Illuminated manuscripts" This is believed to be the works of monks from Iona, who fled to Kells in AD806 after a Viking raid.
For 7 centuries the castle was ruled by the English, ever since the Anglo-Norman built the fortress here in the thirteenth century. After a fire in 1684, nothing much remains of the original structure. We found the most interesting areas here were the Throne Room which contains a throne presented by William of Orange after his victory at the Battle of Boyne and secondly the Figure of Justice. Carrying scales, this statue caused much cynicism among the people of Dublin, who felt that she was turning her back on the city.
James Joyce Cultural Centre
The main reason for visiting this centre was because my husband had just finished reading Ulysses. It had taken him months. The main display was a set of biographies of around 50 characters from the book who were based on real Dubliners. There were also earlt drafts of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners.
The Guinness Brewery
We had to visit this place in order to put right my last visit. The storehouse consists of six floors built around a huge glass pint atrium so the first impression is liking walking into the glass pint itself. The storehouse/brewery is divided into sections. In the Ingredients Room, you can touch and smell ingredients through interactive displays. The Brewing Room is noisy and smelly. I never did like the smell of hops. The History of Guinness includes memorabilia, past bottles, beer mats and advertisements while listening to the story of how Guinness first began it's life. The climax of the tour takes place on the rooftop Gravity Bar where visitors are given a nice cool pint of the black stuff. An added bonus is that the bar has 360 degree views across the city.
OTHER MUST SEES
This for me was the hub of the city. A popular and stylish shopping district, which runs from Trinity College to St Stephen's shopping centre. At the north end of the street is the statue of Molly Mallone selling her cockles and mussels and a great stop for a photo shoot. This is a buzzing pedestrianized
Area, characterised by numerous buskers and street artists. Here you will find Brown Thomas, one of Dublin's most elegant department stores selling designer clothes and expensive perfumes. It is also home to the famous Bewleys Oriental Café, a popular meeting place for Dubliners and tourists. As well as the many varieties of teas and coffees to test your taste buds, there are numerous home made cakes which you just can't pass up on. Shop til you drop on this street or rest those tired legs in one of the many pubs, cages or restaurants, which can be found on the many streets which, cut across Grafton Street. At the time we were there, the Christmas lights and the tree had been switched on making our visit even more special.
Now a prosperous area Temple Bar is an exciting place, with bars, restaurants, shops and galleries. At night this place comes to life. After enjoying a meal we would visit several of the pubs and enjoy a drink with the friendly locals. By the end of the night we felt that we had know these people all our lives. I have to admit that it was even more enjoyable to have a drink in a smoke free environment, the new smoking laws having come into force January of that year.
Lorraine Recommends - The Viking Splash
This is a unique city tour by land and water. You begin your adventure on a reconditioned World War II amphibious vehicle (a duck) besides St Patrick's Cathedral. Costumed and witty tour captains show you the famous sights of the city. Some of this we covered on the bus but this was looking at Dublin from a different angle. The captains tell you how the Vikings left their mark on the city and teach you the "Viking Roar" This is a real stress busting exercise, two relatively level headed adults donning wigs and roaring at fellow tourists? Nobody back home would believe us. For the grand finale you splash into the historic Grand Canal Harbour to continue your tour by water. It really is the fun way to see Dublin. Tickets costs 14 Euros per adult and half for children
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
There are no shortages of eateries in Dublin. Places like Gruel are cheap and wholesome. La Med in Temple Bar was also reasonably priced and served excellent food. We dined at Freres Jaques in the Christchurch area, which was more expensive but served excellent fish courses. All the bars and pubs serve traditional Irish food. A glass of Guinness and a bowl of Molly's mussels won't set you back much either.
Accommodation wise, Dublin has it all from exclusive luxury to a modest b&b. All the usual chain hotels, i.e. Jurys Doyle, Hilton and Marriot can be found. The choice is enormous.
We thoroughly enjoyed our three day stay in Dublin. Most attractions can be reached on foot and there are hundreds to see. We ate excellent food and at reasonable prices. As well as the culture we loved the buzz of Temple Bar and there is something about drinking Guinness in a Dublin pub. It does taste better. What put this city apart from others we have visited was the sheer friendliness of the Irish people. They were exceptionally welcoming and we laughed with them a lot. This has given us a taste to explore Ireland more. After our visit we vowed that we would see more of the country. We have now booked a week's holiday on the outskirts of Cork later this year. Watch out for the review!