Inside Cities: A day in Dublin
It had been 9 years since my first visit to the Irish capital, when my partner and I took the ferry from North Wales to arrive at Dublin Port one cold autum evening in November. First time around I had been flying over from Denmark, but to arrive to Ireland by ferry gave it new dimension – and it was a good way to combine two often overlooked countries in this corner of Europe.
We had only planned one whole day to explore the city, so we set out early from our downtown hostel the following morning to make the most of our time, and we started out with a stroll down one of the capital’s main arteries, O’Connel Street. It’s here you find two iconic Dublin-monuments from each end of the design-scale.
The modern Spire of Dublin from the beginning of this millennium is commonly known as just The Spire, and alternatively as the more poetic “The Monument of Light”. This, the world’s tallest public art piece, is a 120 meter tall stainless steel spire towering over the busy O’Connel Street and the nearby O’Connel Monument, which is featuring the man (Daniel O’Connel) who the street was named after.
Even the bridge he’s looking towards is named after him, on which we cross the Liffey – with a view down the river to Dublin’s more famous river-crossing, the iconic Ha’penny Bridge from 1816. A cast iron masterpiece that adorns many guidebooks dedicated this city – and a nice sight when illuminated by night.
While doing a bit of monumental sightseeing, we naturally had to pay Molly a visit too, and she’s currently found on the corner of Suffolk Street and St Andrew’s Street – not far from the Irish Houses of Parliament. A large sculpture of the fictional character Molly Malone, who is known from the song by the same name, that I have personally been singing along to many times at Irish pubs.
This is kind of Dublin’s “Little Mermaid’, that tourists flock to see when visiting Copenhagen, but Molly is a bit easier to reach – although I almost prefer the view she has, to the beautiful O’Neill’s pub across the street.
Molly used to stand with her cart of seafood on the famous Grafton Street nearby, which is one of Dublin’s most popular shopping-streets, and during our visit it was already dressed up for the Christmas season. It’s a nice stroll where you might also comy by some skilled street performances.
It lead us down to the popular park St Stephen’s Green, where people were out to enjoy a bit of autumn-sun despite the cold. As did we, and when it got too cold we crossed the street to the shopping centre named after the park.
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is housed in an elegant glass-roofed building and is certainly worth the visit for the architecture alone. If you’re big on shopping when travelling, you’ll have more than 100 shops to check out among the many colourful details, as well as restaurants and cafés with views to the park – and we decided to take a lunch break here, before venturing back out in the cold.
We found our way back to the banks of the Liffey in the hunt for a cup of coffee, and here we stumbled upon the uniquely named Dwarf Jar coffee, on the edge of the famous Temple Bar area. It turned out to be a cosy and jazz-focused music café, with a slightly Parisian feel and a lovely large window facing the river. And most importantly they served a good cup of coffee with a smile. Definitely a candidate for being my regular café if I ever moved here.
Think of Dublin and you’ll most likely think of Irish pubs and… Guinness. The legendary dark stout with the white foam is definitely one of the biggest icons or Dublin and Ireland, and an attraction for many visitors in itself, not to mention the real visitor attraction that is the Guinness Storehouse – set in a building from 1902 which used to be a part of St. James’s Gate Brewery.
I visited this attraction during my first Dublin-trip back in 2008, but I thought it was worth another go – and it’s a must if you’re a true Guinness-lover yourself. But even if you’re not it’s really interesting to learn about the history of the brewery, the ingredients of Guinness and the detailed brewing process.
The most entertaining parts of the tour might be the creative display of advertisements and the “pour your own pint”-activity – as well as the pint you have included in the ticket. A drink you can enjoy in the Gravity Bar on top of the building, overlooking the skyline of Dublin. Admitted the entrance fee isn’t cheap, but this attraction is worth a few hours of entertainment – and especially a good idea if the weather isn’t amazing.
With white foam on the upper lip, we headed back downtown for a healthy dinner, as a counterpart to the tasty beer – so we dropped in at the salad bar Chopped, on the corner of Fleet Street and Westmoreland Street. A cool concept where, as the name indicates, your selection of salads, vedge and toppings is freshly chopped in front of you, drizzled with a sauce or dressing, and served in a bowl, in a wrap or in a sandwich. The hardest part is to choose your own favourite combination.
The sun had long set on the capital as we headed back out on the cobbled street’s of the famous Temple Bar Quarter for a classic Dublin finale – a pint of Guinness and a bit of live music. Yes, Temple Bar IS a tourist magnet, there are a few too many souvenir shops for my taste and you probably won’t find many locals around here. But the flower-clad pubs make for some highly atmospheric photos and one pint has never hurt anyone.
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