Welcome to Dublin

3 Apr

So what is there to do in Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty? Maybe you could visit Molly Malone, as she wheels her wheel-barrow through streets broad and narrow.

Actually, she stays put at the bottom of Grafton Street. You can usually catch a guy dressed up as a leprechaun near her too. He must have escaped from the new Leprechaun Museum. Make sure you get a photo with him, or no one will believe you.

Dublin isn’t all about fantasy and myth though. It has deep history and great character. When you’re next to old Molly you’re also right next to University of Dublin, Trinity College. Trinity is Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university. It was founded in 1592 by the Queen of England at the time, making it 418 years old. It was originally established outside Dublin’s city walls which will show you how much the landscape has changed because now it is pretty much dead center.

Inside Trinity, you can get a walking tour of the campus (don’t worry, it’s not that big) and you can go see the Book of Kells and the The Long Room. If you’re a big Star Wars fan you might see some resemblence of the The Long Room to the Jedi Archives from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. If not, it’s still a pretty impressive room. The price to see the Book of Kells and the Longroom is €9 which in my opinion is pretty pricey for what you get. Try grab a Trinity student to bring you in*. They can bring two people in at a time for free.

Down the back end of the college is where all the science and engineering subjects are taught. So it is the perfect location for the Science Gallery. The Science Gallery is accessible by walking through the college or from the back Pearse Street entrance. It is self described as a place where art and science come together, and where ideas meet. It holds exhibitions on various subjects throughout the year and it is pretty interesting. The best part? It’s free. If you’re visiting Trinity, it is definitely worth stopping by to check the Science Gallery out. One thing to note is that they are always closed Mondays.

* You might get some bad reactions from students if you try this. Just remember that they are probably exam-stressed and sleep deprived (or maybe just hungover).

This post is the first of a series of posts about Dublin. Be sure to check back to find new ideas and suggestions on what to do around Dublin.

Avid planning…the right approach to our Asia travels?

22 Mar

We are off to South East Asia in less than 3 months now!! Just got a small matter of passing my finals to get out of the way first :D We’re very excited as it is our first trip out of Europe and the longest trip that we have gone on so far! I’m an avid planner…I always want to make sure that we stay in the best hostels, use the best companies, never miss anything! This worked out really well for us when we spent a month travelling around Europe last year..but I’m wondering whether it is the right approach to take to Asia. I wonder if perhaps things will be less predictable? Are trains going to come like clockwork? Is everything going to cost as much as I plan? Somehow I think that travel may not be as easy as in Europe!

However I have to admit that I still have a very planned route, an itinerary I’d like to stick to, a list of activities I want to do and a list of hostels I wish to stay in. I guess it’s hard to shake old habits, especially when they work so well for you in the past! Maybe this trip will change that though! Whatever happens I’m very excited to be visiting Asia so soon!!

Ciara :)

Favourite European city? Krakow?

13 Mar

A lot of people are surprised when I mention that my favourite city in Europe is Krakow. For many it is off the radar, pushed to the side in favour of the better known, easier accessible Western European cities.  As much as I love cities like Paris and Barcelona I found that Krakow offered something different. It has such a great charm, such a small town feel..it was the perfect place to launch our one month trip around Europe.

We spent five days there in total last June and I am already looking at going back. It has a beautiful main square typical of most European cities. The difference is that it is actually affordable to sit and eat an ice cream or relax with a cocktail in one of the square’s many cafes and enjoy the great people watching opportunities. Poland is not yet in the euro zone so it is very affordable. We lived like Kings on our tiny budget, enjoying traditional Polish meals, desert and wine for the equivalent of €10 between us. That kind of value is unbeatable and the cheap prices allowed us to really relax and enjoy the holiday more. We were able to avoid resorting to a staple diet of McDonald’s like we are forced to in some European cities for the sake of our budget! Krakow has a fascinating if tragic history which we explored through walking tours around the city. We packed a lot into our five days and I’ll be posting about how we spent our time there and about the best hostel ever (seriously!) in the next few weeks.

Ciara :)

Enjoying cheap, delicious ice cream on Krakow's main square!

Background to our first big trip!

11 Mar

Last year we embarked on a one month trip around Europe. The plan to do this came from a boring afternoon spent in an even more boring marketing lecture. As the lecturer droned on I opened up my laptop and was soon lost in ideas of what to do for summer! Knowing I’d want my first backpacking trip to be close to home I googled a map of Europe and was soon plotting my way around the countries- summer plans had been decided!!

Our plans changed frequently, originally we planned to hit all the big cities in Eastern Europe- Krakow, Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Vienna etc. Then on further thought we decided it would be best to get a real mix of places and this is how in one month we visited capital cities, tiny villages, lakes, mountains and beaches! It turned out to be the best month of our lives! I’m so glad we decided to go off the beaten track a bit and leave some of the larger cities for another time. (With ryanair they’re very accessible for short city breaks from Dublin anyway! Have actually been to a couple since then!! :D)

We’ll be posting about the places we visited during interrailing over the next couple of months!!

Ciara :)

Disappointing Dublin??

11 Mar

Pint of Guinness in the Guinness factory Dublin!

A pint of free Guinness at the end of the Guinness Brewery

It seems that an inevitable question after a trip away is ‘was there anywhere you didn’t really like?’. Unfortunately Dublin often ends up being an answer to this question. Perhaps you found nothing quite wrong with Dublin but at the same time found it didn’t quite have the beauty of Prague, the variety of London, the ‘must sees’ of Paris! Another common complaint is that Dublin didn’t  feel ‘Irish enough’.. As a native Dubliner I find this disheartening and have written this post to try to come to the source of this problem.

I have a feeling that this common chain of thought may possibly stem from the fact that many people have a preconceived notion of Ireland being a land of leprechauns and friendly drunks always up for a bit of ‘craic’! They arrive in Ireland expecting rolling green fields and tiny villages full of locals drinking Guinness by the gallon. Now there is no denying that these things can be found throughout the country (except maybe the leprechauns!!) but Dublin offers something different. As the capital of the country it is loud, busy- a lifetime away from the small cosy villages many came to Ireland expecting to see but it has many redeeming features in the form of great attractions, parks to relax in, quiet pubs to drink in, crazy nightlife- we do have a reputation as drinkers right!

My plan is to write a few posts on what Dublin has to offer, attempt to help you find the small town country feel within the big city if your time in Ireland is limited aswell as posts on Dublins famous nightlife! ;)

Ciara :)

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