It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since going to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day. KLM was offering a great deal on flights from DC to Dublin, tickets were only around $300 roundtrip, so we jumped right on it.
Before going on our trip people tried to convince us that Irish people don’t celebrate St. Paddy’s Day like we do in the US. Lies. While it originally wasn’t a big drinking holiday, over the last few decades it’s grown and people from around the world gather there in their finest green, white, and orange to imbibe with the best of them. Also important to remember, it’s St. Paddy’s Day not St. Patty’s Day, I learned this years ago but many in the US haven’t caught on.
Visiting Ireland had been on my list for years ever since seeing a special on their famous castles, namely Ashford and Dromoland. Unfortunately, because our time was limited, we decided to focus on Dublin, with a day trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. I love how cheap flights are once you get to Europe. Our roundtrip flight on Ryanair from Dublin to Edinburgh was under 30 € and it was just over an hour each way.So our trip began with leaving Washington, DC on a Wednesday evening, with a short layover in Amsterdam, then arriving in Dublin late morning on Thursday. After doing some research, we decided we’d take to take the bus into the city. Tip: The Airlink departs like every 15-20 minutes and only costs 11 € for roundtrip tickets, don’t waste your money on a cab. Here’s the bus schedule.
After dropping off our bags at The Morrison, a Doubletree Hotel, and of course grabbing some of the 5,000 calorie cookies the Doubletree is known for, we hit the ground running. Let me first say, I highly recommend The Morrison because of its proximity to everything you want to see and do in Dublin, it’s less than a 10 minute walk to the Temple Bar area where you’ll find the famous, historic bar, the area’s namesake, and tons of pubs and restaurants. Plus, if you’re Hilton Gold or Platinum, you get free breakfast.
First stop was a free walking tour. There are a few options in Dublin but we chose the
one hosted by Sandemans. I’ve become quite a fan of free walking tours because let’s face it, who wants to pay an exorbitant amount for a tour especially when you don’t know if you’ll like your guide. Those who lead the free tours are usually very passionate about their city and are willing to work hard for their tips. Also, they are more willing to go off the beaten path especially if it’s a smaller group. I will say our tour guide may have gone into a little too much detail and by hour 3 our eyes began to glaze over, but maybe that was just the jet lag.
That evening we ended up meeting up with a few other people from our travel group who were in town for the St. Paddy’s Day festivities. The next morning, we got up bright
and early to find a spot along the parade route. Fortunately, the weather was pretty mild for March but half way through it began to rain so we decided to find a pub that could accommodate our group and watched the parade on the monitors. The Guinness and ciders were flowing and there were even ladies clog dancing on a small stage. By mid-afternoon everything had died down.
By the time we met our group for the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl that evening, people were back in the streets. While I’m not a beer drinker the tour was cool because we were able to skip the line at some of the popular bars and check out others that were away from the Temple Bar area. Tip: Grab a drink in that area just to say you did, but explore other parts of the city where it’s less crowded and you’ll get a better deal.
A Day in Scotland… The next day’s adventures took us to Edinburgh. Before leaving the States I bought a Rick Steves’ book on Edinburgh since I knew our time would be short. His book provided great tips on what to do and see in a day. Our flight landed around 7:30AM, well before anything opened so we started our day with a traditional Scottish breakfast and I tried black pudding for the first time. Wasn’t a fan but had to say I tried it.
After walking around for a bit, we headed to Edinburgh Castle. I highly recommend doing one of the group tours which is included with the cost of admission. The castle is immaculately preserved and you can see just about all of Edinburgh from there. After that we stopped for lunch at a quaint spot. Sure wish I remembered the name because the food was delicious and the customer service was the best of our entire trip.
After lunch we decided to browse some of the local menswear stores. My husband found a few sweaters that looked like something you’d find at J. Crew but for a fraction of the price but far better quality. I decided to check out a few shops that sold their signature tartan plaid. I had every intention of buying a scarf, but the nice cashmere ones were way more than I wanted to spend and the others were basically the quality of what you’ll find on the street in the States for $5-10, so I decided to pass.
While a day in Edinburgh is by no means long enough, it gave us a glimpse of the capital of Scotland. Next time, I definitely want to go out to the countryside to check out the castles and do a Loch Ness Monster tour, for the culture of course.
Back in Dublin, we spent our last full day exploring more of the city and doing a tour of the Jameson Distillery. I will say it was a toss-up between going there or to the Guinness Storehouse but us ladies wanted nothing to do with that dark, bitter beer so we decided on Jameson instead. Tip: If you go during St. Paddy’s make sure to purchase your timed tickets well in advance because it’s an extremely popular destination and it’s well worth the price to learn the history and enjoy a nice cocktail at the end.
Overall, we had a great time. The people were very laid back and friendly. There are tons of things to do there whether you want a chill getaway or if you’re looking to party. I will say I wasn’t too impressed with the food, it was very meh. The best meal we had hands down was at a pub called O’Neills that had a cafeteria-style setup with everything from ribs and burgers to Irish classics like Shepherd’s Pie, cabbage, corned beef, and stew. Had we known about it earlier I’m sure we would have had every single meal there.
While our trip to Dublin was short, we had a great time partying with our friends and several people we met through my travel we were from across the US. It’s definitely a fun time to go with a group. Just make sure to book your accommodations early as well as purchase tour and attraction tickets before you arrive. Sláinte