I apparently forgot how to post for a while there, but no matter! I’m back today with some hot hot content for all of you out there who like traveling, or living vicariously through other people’s travel stories, or planning your own imaginary or real vacations, or just appreciating some nicely organized Google Docs. Let’s talk Ireland!
Last fall, I took a very short trip to Dublin over Columbus Day weekend. I’d been to Dublin once before, many years ago, but the trip was a bit of a mess (I’ll never forget the hallucinatory quality of watching an Irish Elvis impersonator roam the decks of a ferry boat at 2am as I tried to nap on a bench while fully dressed and neurotically watching my luggage). Now, older and wiser, I wanted to give it another go.
My favorite part of traveling (aside from actually being in a new exciting place) is PLANNING. Oh boy do I love planning. And organizing. And mapping. Whenever I decide to go on a trip, I start a dedicated Google Doc. You can find the one I made for this trip linked at the bottom of this post.
We got in on a Saturday morning and took the bus straight from the airport to our hotel. We stayed here, and it was…fine? I’m not actually going to endorse it, mostly because there’s a nightclub downstairs that plays very loud music and hosts very loud people until all hours (I think one night they just had Camila Cabello’s “Havana” playing on repeat for like…two hours?? maybe that was a…dream/nightmare?). The location was great, though, so I do recommend that area of town. Especially because of Meet Me in the Morning, a delightful cafe right around the corner from the mediocre hotel, where we had breakfast both the day we got in and the morning before we left (all the photos below are from there, it is LOVELY).
After dropping our bags at the hotel and eating delicious breakfast, we wandered into town (which was not a long walk—Dublin is very, very walkable, we didn’t take any public transport or taxis or anything the whole time we were there, except for a train trip that I talk about below). As two giant nerds, one of whom is in library school, our first stop was Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the Old Library. Travel Hack??: I bought our tickets (€14 each) on my phone while standing outside the building, which helped us skip the giant queue for buying tickets in person. They’re timed entry, so you can either plan ahead and decide exactly when you’ll be there so you can buy them before you go, or you get there whenever you get there and cheat like we did!
The rest of our first day was split between the Natural History Museum, which is free and also amazing, and then the Jameson’s Distillery Tour, which is NOT free but which I actually recommend. Usually I would nope right out of a pricey branded tour, but this was really truly well done, and interactive as well, in that you get to drink plenty of whiskey as part of it. Honestly worth the money (€22 each, includes a cocktail and several generous samples).
Our second day we took an adventure out of Dublin to Howth, which is probably my strongest recommendation of the trip. Dublin is lovely, and there’s plenty to do there, but Howth is just a short, inexpensive train ride away, and it’s beautiful. We did a nice big slice of the cliff walk, had a delicious pub lunch, and visited the oddest little museum, Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio. My partner has a thing for vintage radios, so this was a special treat for him, but also I kind of loved it? It’s definitely weird, though.
On our last day, we went on a tour at the Little Museum of Dublin (€10 each), which is very quirky and charming (the guide was a delight). We had breakfast beforehand at the cafe in the basement of the museum, which was nice, too. (Overall, I think breakfasts were the most reliable meal we had; we didn’t find the most amazing food in Dublin this trip overall, unfortunately. There were a few places I really wanted to try, but I underestimated how busy everything would be, and we didn’t have reservations, so we mostly winged it, and everything was fine, just not AMAZING.) We spent the day mostly wandering around and then went to the evensong service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (neither of us are particularly religious, but I love the sacred choral tradition and attending services is a nice way to experience these incredible buildings as they were meant to be experienced—and yes, it’s also usually free). To be honest, one of my favorite moments was getting a pint in a little corner pub while killing time that afternoon. Sometimes the best touristing is not touristing at all.
On the whole, I highly recommend Dublin if you’re looking for a short, manageable trip; could we have spent another week or more exploring? OF COURSE. But as it was, I didn’t feel rushed or short-changed. For some people, these mini-vacations might seem like a nightmare, especially with the overseas travel element, but as a person with limited financial resources and limited vacation days to take, I find this a pretty effective way to see the world. I’m currently in the process of planning our next trip to England, and I’m very excited about it. Watch this space for an update on that in a few months (hopefully in a slightly more timely manner).
In the meantime, you can find a link to my planning Google Doc from the Dublin trip here, including a link to my custom Google Map (also embedded below), which contains layers for each day plus extra restaurants, attractions, and more that were just-in-case. We didn’t do everything on the map or in the list, but it gives you a sense of the planning process.
NB: If you’re paying attention in the doc, you’ll also notice that we flew on the now-defunct WOW Air. Apart from the fact that they no longer exist, I think this would have been my last trip in that particular manner anyway. I’m in my thirties now and the cost of a nonstop flight with a few minor amenities is worth every penny to me.
If you go to Dublin or have any fun trips coming up, I’d love to hear about that, and I also appreciate any tips on your favorite nerdy ways to plan for travel. I feel like there must be a more elegant way to do this all…or maybe I need to invent that app??