Dublin is a beautiful city with heaps to see and do: whether you enjoy getting drunk on one of the atmospheric Irish pubs, spending money on good shopping and dining or getting spiritual in the beautiful churches and cathedrals, there is something for everyone. Although everything is close by and could be seen in just one day, you need at least a few days to really get a feel of the city.
First of all, you cannot miss the Temple Bar area. This is the most happening place in the city with the happiest people and the best beers; this is the heart of Dublin. The heart of Ireland. Whenever I think of Ireland, I think of Guinness and pubs – and Temple Bar is the best place to experience the pub scene that Ireland is so famous for. Bethann and I spent our first night there, and also went back to explore it during the day. The whole place oozes with atmosphere and is a wonderful place to simply go for a stroll and enjoy an afternoon beer.
But Dublin is so much more than just the Temple Bar area.
The first thing that I saw, when I arrived in Dublin was the Spire of Dublin – a 121,2 metres tall stainless steel pin-like monument, lit up like a light saber! I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the new Star Wars film. It was epic! I love Star Wars, so I was immediately in love with Dublin as well! I knew from the very beginning that Dublin is a cool city.
The day after our day trip to Belfast, Bethann and I met up early and went exploring all around Dublin!
We started in the Southside, to the south of the River Liffey, at the beautiful and mysterious St. Patrick’s Cathedral; a 12th century cathedral that is Ireland’s biggest. Unfortunately, the cathedral was closed, so we moved onto the next cathedral – Christ Church Cathedral – in the hopes of finding it open!
Christ Church Cathedral was founded by the Vikings in 1030 and built in Gothic/Romanesque style. It’s located in the heart of the medieval quarter in Dublin. We didn’t have much luck trying to open the door though, so we decided to give up on getting spiritual inside the church and moved on to our next sight.
We had quite a hard time finding the Dublin Castle. We were standing on the right street, looking in the right direction, but we just couldn’t see a castle. Then Bethann realized that the building that was right in front of us, amongst normal-looking buildings from the 18th century, was in fact the castle. The Bedford Tower of 1761 was the only thing that gave it away. It really didn’t look like a castle; in fact it looked quite insignificant to us, so we quickly moved on to a much more interesting building – the Trinity College.
The Trinity College is one of seven ancient universities of Ireland and Great Britain and the oldest university in Ireland. It’s famous for the Book of Kells, a beautifully illustrated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, written and decorated in circa 800. The exhibition with the book was closed when we were there (we were having a bit of bad luck that day), so we didn’t get to see it, but the university in itself is stunning and definitely worth a visit.
We sat down to eat in the College Park, but ended up giving most of our food to the pigeons. Feeding birds is one of my favourite things to do whenever I travel, – and I realize that I sound old now, but I also enjoy crosswords to make it worse – but feeding birds is peaceful and I like to share (unless they want my Coke Zero, because that is mine and just mine). I love watching animals have fun and get fat, and I’m sure that these pigeons got more food than ever before. They were super friendly as well and didn’t mind getting the bread from my shoes and knees. So. Much. Fun!
When the pigeons were finally satisfied, we continued our sightseeing and headed across a beautiful bridge over the River Liffey to the Northside. We walked from O’ Connell Bridge along the river, passing several other bridges, churches and even a Guinness factory, all the way to Phoenix Park! A good 3 km. walk, where we did nothing but talk, walk and have fun, it was a good time!
Phoenix Park was something that we both really wanted to see, despite the long walk to it – and eventually back to the city center – as it’s the largest capital city park in Europe! And boy, was it big! It’s actually the size of 700 football fields and twice the size of Central Park in New York!
Naturally, we couldn’t see all of it, as it’s simply too large to walk (especially when we’d just walked all the way from the city center), but we did see some pretty cool stuff!
At the southeast end of the park, there is a 62 metres tall obelisk called the Wellington Testimonial, built to commemorate the many victories of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. It’s also the largest obelisk in Europe and it was really fun to climb it, capture the obligatory photographs of each other and thanks to the rain the day before, get some more artsy shots of the reflections in the puddles.
The next day, Bethann had to leave to go back to Wales, where she’s working on a farm, and it was really sad to say goodbye and see her go. I’ve only known her for 5 months, but she’s already one of my best friends and despite her living on the other side of the Earth (Australia), I know that we’ll see each other again. So it was more like a “see you later” rather than a “goodbye”.
Later that day, I decided to go hiking in Howth, but that was so awesome that it deserves its own post – so stay tuned for that!
On the day that I had to leave Ireland, I had a few hours to kill before going to the airport, so I decided to explore the area near my hostel on the Northside. Close by is a street called Denmark Street, and being a proud Dane, I just had to go there.
There are quite a few churches in the area, but my favourite one – and possibly also my favourite in all of Dublin – is the Black Church, or St. Mary’s Chapel of Ease, a mysterious looking church founded in 1830. It’s such a beautiful and secretive church and I really wish I could’ve explored it much more, but when I opened the doors, I was shocked to see that the beautiful interior had been turned into offices. That really takes away so much of the charm of the interior, although the exterior is still authentic and true to the history of the church.
My last stop before catching the bus to the airport was the Kings Inn Park. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the name of it and figured it would be worth a visit – and it was. Kings Inn Park is a small and peaceful place, a nice little oasis in the city, seemingly unknown to both tourists and Dubliners. It was a nice place to end my little Ireland adventure before heading back to Denmark once again.
Even in the worst weather and on the gloomiest days of January, Dublin is a beautiful place to visit. If you’re into pubs, history and getting spiritual, I would recommend you spend a few days in the city and get to know it yourself! I know that I’m not finished with Dublin or Ireland, but the question is when I’ll come back. Someday I will, for sure.