Monday, August 12, 2013

Dublin, Ireland...

Home to one of the world's most influential rock bands, The beatles - Dublin was a city we were excited to visit.  As it was our first trip to Ireland, we decided to stay at a central point with easy access to all amenities such as the Hop on Hop off bus,  Aircoach to the airport, Temple bar, restaurants and local shopping area's.

Ha'penny Bridge over Liffey River.

Dublin, brimming with culture... also home of the celtic tribes was originally settled by the Vikings in the 8th century.  Being fans of Asterix and Obelix in our childhood days, the thought of being in 'Viking land' was exciting.  Brimming with culture, we began with a stroll down O'Connell street where we hopped on board the Hop on Hop Off Tour Bus.  What a fantastic experience!  The witty commentator on board was excellent and had a wonderful sense of humor.

Infamous Molly Malone statue.
The Spire and old post office was the first of the tourist attractions as it is based in O'Connell street.  
Thereafter, we visited the Guinness Storehouse, St Patrick's cathedral, St. Stephen's Green, Phoenix Park, Old Jameson Distillery, Kilmainham Gaol and Liffey River Cruise to name a few.

Bank of Ireland

Inside the Kilmainham Gaol

Dublin is an upcoming city with so much to offer tourists.  It's a city which makes a great family vacation as one could rent a camper and drive along the beautiful countryside.  It's economical and not too heavy on the pocket and the people overflow with hospitality.  Coming from Port Elizabeth, which is known as the 'Friendly City' of South Africa, it brought back memories of the hospitality back home.

We will not detail each attraction as that comes with embarking on the tour when visiting Dublin so instead, below is the highlights of some of the attractions which stood out for us.  However if you would like more information, feel free to drop us a message.

One of our favourites was the Guinness Storehouse tour, fantastic and well worth the entrance fee.  It's a self tour which means you are able to tour the brewery at your own pace and time.  Located in the heart of St. James Gate, The Guinness Storehouse boasts being Ireland's number one tourist attraction.  Besides being interesting and informative, you have the opportunity to learn how to pour the perfect pint. 

Pouring the perfect pint of Guinness

Certificate for pouring the perfect pint of Guinness with just the right level of foam

The restaurant at the storehouse was fantastic.  Serving warm Irish soul food to desserts, we opted for the moreish Irish Shephard's pie.  Made from 100% Irish lamb, topped with a buttery soft mash.  It was absolutely delicious and a must have when visiting the Guinness storehouse.  The portions of a single meal is well worth two portions so go with an appetite :)

Moreish Irish Lamb Shephard's Pie

Be prepared though that if you are limited on time, to set aside at least 2 to 3 hours for the tour if you wish to include lunch and shop within the tour.  The tour ends off with a view of the city from the Gravity bar where you are able to redeem your complimentary voucher for a pint of Guinness or a juice for teetotallers. 

As it was a beautiful Summer's day, we headed off to Phoenix Park which is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe.  With an amazing 11 km perimeter wall which encloses 707 hectares (1,750 acres), one can't help but wonder about intensity of the effort required to maintain this park.  Nevertheless, it was a wonderful park to take a stroll in.  With stunning well manicured landscapes, it is definitely one of the most beautiful parks we have seen in our travels.  

Of course we could not end off our visit without some shopping so we headed off to Grafton street with a pit stop at Bewley's for some refreshments.  Interestingly, In 2008 Grafton Street was named the fifth most expensive main shopping street in the world. 

Walking down the many narrow cobbled streets, Temple Bar has certainly preserved its medieval street pattern.  A very popular night life strip for tourists, the temple bar area boasts a number of nightclubs, bars and restaurants.  

Temple Bar Strip

Delicious Lamb Shank at the Old Porterhouse Restaurant

Dublin was a wonderful place and we look forward to returning to tour the countryside.

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