Have a trip planned to Spain? Aer Lingus has some of the best air fares from the United States to Europe! If you plan your flights just right, you can turn an extended layover into a short visit to Dublin. This gives you just enough time to get a flavor for Ireland -- and guarantee you will want to return again for a longer stay.
I am one of those people who hates to talk on the phone -- I prefer doing everything via internet. I like to see all the options in front of me and then select the best one for me. I use Google Flights to compare prices and flight times among different airlines. I find a great price via both Aer Lingus and United. But most U.S. airlines now treat passengers as if we are a bother, and they are doing us a favor just to let us fly with them. I blame most of this on The Patriot Act, and immigration fear-mongering. So if I have a choice, I avoid domestic carriers. But to book with Aer Lingus I must call the airline. I am so glad that I did.
The friendly Aer Lingus representative found an even better deal than I did! Instead of the $1416 per passenger price posted for United she booked the flights separately on Aer Lingus for nearly half of that! We got 2 tickets for $1406. It certainly pays to talk to the airlines!
Booking a Hotel Room
There is nothing better than getting suggestions from a local. Catalonian Eva Bertran, of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards recommended a great hotel in Barcelona using booking.com I asked our wine journalist friend Matthew Nugent (@Winechat) for suggestions in Dublin for a clean, reasonably priced hotel close to public transportation and walking distance from a few pubs. Of the three or four he suggested, two had availability for the days we needed. We chose Jury's Inn Dublin Parnell Street. It is a few blocks north of the River Liffey on Parnell Street and Moore Plaza -- just west of Upper O'Connell Street and across from the Kingfisher Restaurant and Townhouse. The staff is courteous, the rooms neat and clean, and they even let us check in at 6:00 a.m. when we arrived! The beds are indeed soft, as advertised. Take bus 747 Airlink Express from Dublin Airport to the Cathal Brugha Street stop. It's 7 euros one way and 12 euros round trip. Buy a ticket via machine before you stand at the stop to wait for the bus. Book Jury's Inn Parnell directly for the best rates.
Getting Around Dublin
Dublin is a very walk-able city. But if you're there for only a short time, you will probably want to use public transport to get between sites and attractions. The best value is the 3-day DoDublin pass which gives you unlimited Dublin bus travel for 72 hours. It includes a Hop on Hop off Tour which takes you to many of Dublin's top attractions including Trinity College and the Book of Kells, the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Zoo, Kilmainham Gaol, Epic The Irish Emigration Museum, The Irish Rock and Roll Museum Experience, the Jeanie Johnston, Teeling Whiskey Distillery and Marsh’s Library beside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Also included is a free walking tour with Dublin Historian Pat Liddy (worth 10 euros) and free entry into the Little Museum of Dublin (Worth 10 euros) as well as a walking map, and discounts at some of the attractions on the route.
Our friend Matthew served as our tour guide for part of our visit and helped us set up a Dublin Media Pass from The International Publicity Department Fáilte Ireland. Here are a few highlights from our two days in Dublin:
If you stay at Jury's Inn Parnell Street just walk across the street to The Kingfisher for a breakfast, and order The Full Irish -- two Pork sausages, a rasher (thin like country ham but called Bacon) an Egg as you like, grilled mushrooms, baked beans, Kelly’s Black & White pudding, rosemary diced potatoes and toast. I love the White Pudding, which is pork meat and fat, suet, bread and oatmeal formed into a half-dollar sized thick sausage patty. The Black pudding is basically the same with blood in the sausage as well. It's an acquired taste. This was Joe's picture of his breakfast. All that is just €8.50 and should keep you full until afternoon tea, or a stop in the pub. All breakfast dishes are served with filter coffee or pot of tea.
I ordered hot chocolate with mine, and it comes as a happy good morning smile. Dublin's Kingfisher is also a Bed and Breakfast with rooms where you can add a 4-course evening meal. We may try that the next time we visit. According to their recorded history, The Kingfisher, established in 1976, stands at the exact spot where 60 years before, Patrick Pearse, an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalist, political activist and 'The Easter Rising' Commander in Chief of the Irish Volunteers was captured April 29, 1916. Pearse's capture and surrender to British forces outside where The Kingfisher Restaurant now stands was the turning point of the failed 1916 rebellion: one of the most significant events in Irish history. Although he called for an unconditional surrender from a letter he wrote from Arbour Hill Prison on April 30th, he was executed on May 3, at the age of 36.
The Kingfisher also has apartments for family, or longer stays. The Kingfisher is located at 166-168 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland. For more information please visit their website at kingfisherdublin.com
The Guinness Storehouse
A pint of Guinness really does taste better at the Storehouse, especially when you're in the 7th Floor "Gravity Bar" overlooking the city. The Guinness Storehouse tourist attraction is located in the St. James Gate Brewery. You're not touring the actual brewery itself, but something set up specifically for tourism. There is history, tasting, you can put yourself in one of their past advertising campaigns and of course, buy some Storehouse only souvenirs in the shop. I liked the tour, but some may think it a bit gimmicky, especially for the €17.50 to €25 (Adult) price. I think it's something one must do while in Dublin. It was included in my free media pass, so I could appreciate it all the more. The view is great, and it's a fun way to spend an hour or so. Tours are timed, so plan ahead if you want to do it. For more information about the Guinness Storehouse visit their website www.guinness-storehouse.com Booking in advance will give you a better price.
From the Guinness Storehouse you can also take a horse-drawn carriage tour or directly to a number of attractions. Prices are posted outside the storehouse and vary per destination.
The Teeling Distillery
After our visit to Guinness, Matthew walked with us to "The Spirit of Dublin" Teeling Distillery. The first operational Distillery to open in Dublin in over 125 years, Teeling Distillery is in the historic Liberties, located in Newmarket Square about 5 minutes' walk from Saint Patrick's Cathedral, or stop 12A on Dublin's Hop On Hop Off" Bus. You can take a fully guided tour with one of the Teeling Whiskey Ambassadors, and unlike the Guinness Storehouse tour, you're actually walking through the operational facility, and are able to see, smell and hear the operations.
The tour ends with a tasting of small batch and handcrafted cocktail, and you can augment the experience with the Teeling Trinity Tasting or the Teeling Single Malt Tasting. Tours run every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. minutes. They also have a Cafe, a bar and a gift shop. I really enjoyed this tour. After our gratis tour with Teeling Trinity Tasting we sat down at the bar and paid to taste the Single Malts and a Cocktail. I had an Irish Coffee, which after Joe tasted realized what all the fuss was about. The secret is the not-so-simple syrup they use. After we looked in the gift shop and couldn't find it, our Bang Bang Bar tender was kind enough to write down the recipe.
1 Litre Stout
1 kg Muscovado Sugar
100 g Cloves
100 g Juniper Berries
4 Cinnamon Sticks
3 Stars of Anise
1 Orange Peel
1 Thumb of Ginger
Pinch of Salt
Put everything in a pot and heat on low for 15 minutes (Don't Boil!)
After our visit to Teeling Distillery we decide to walk back to our hotel, so that we can take in some more sites. The sky is a beautiful blue, there is a bit of a chill in the air and we want to some pictures. As we head toward the River Liffey we pass by Saint Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral. We stop to notice "Jesus the Homeless," a full-size bronze piece by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, that depicts Jesus as a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench. The statue is a "visual translation" of Matthew 25:40, "And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'
By the time we get to the Ha'penny Bridge, we're ready to take a nap as soon as we get back to the hotel. We've been awake for around 36 hours since we left Houston. We end the day with a pint and some fish and chips in the hotel bar, and turn in early to get a good night's sleep for our second day in Dublin.
To be continued...