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Dublin: doing more for less

It’s well known that Dublin is a fantastic place to visit, but can be on the expensive side. We got a bit happy go lucky in the Ryanair pre-Christmas sales and decided that the best thing to do would be to go on the cheap tickets, and as usual, show you that it’s easy to go without spending the world out there.

We flew early Friday morning (got the £20 return tickets from and to Stansted), and treated ourselves to a really well priced breakfast at Jamie’s Diner in the airport. We decided to have a big breakfast as late as we could manage pre-flight so that we could get on and adventure for the rest of the day on arrival. Once we landed, because we were on a tight schedule actually got a cab from the airport to our Airbnb, but the bus is 7 Euros and goes straight to the town centre.

After checking in, we immediately went for a walk. The weather was beautiful, and as literary fans we wanted to check out the Oscar Wilde statue in one of the greens. From there we went straight to the National Museum of Ireland the Natural History one, which can also be called the Dead Zoo, and is totally free to get into. It was amazing, it was huge and hilarious, and it was cute to see so many kids fascinated by Ireland’s largest collection of taxidermy. Although at first we loved it, by the end of the wonder around the museum both of us felt a little funny about it all. Nonetheless it is remarkable and definitely worth a visit.

We had a wander around, passed some beautiful government buildings, and to get some gelato, and we just have to take a few seconds to talk about the gelato. Tim and I LOVE gelato. We love all ice cream. We seem to be doing a gelato world tour, no matter the month, season or weather. We stopped at Sun bear gelato, who make palm-oil free, reduced sugar, lots of vegan option ice cream, AND they donate some of their profits to WWF. It was amazing.

Anyway, we had a peek in the Whiskey shops, and went to the Little Museum of Dublin. If you can, we would strongly suggest booking tickets online, as entrance is by guided tour only, and they do sell out. We had an AMAZING tour from a gentleman called Andrew, who was knowledgeable, funny and really easy to talk to if we wanted to find out more. They had a wicked exhibition about George Bernard Shaw on, and a whole room, much to Tim’s full delight, solely based around U2.

Tim and I are fascinated by the weirdest thing, and one of which are the Freemasons. Freemasons House in Dublin is normally open to visitors who can get a tour around, but unfortunately, when we went in (we totally didn’t believe them) they said that they were shut until February for refurbishment works. So we wondered round the corner to see the Houses of Parliament and visit both the central library and the other National Museum of Ireland. Both were great to look at, and the buildings were sensational, but we didn’t have enough time to delve into the greatness of the museum. Both of these too, are free to enter, and the library normally has exhibitions on in the basement level too.

Again, for the Long Room and Book of Kells at Trinty College, we booked these online, it worked out as about €3 per person cheaper, and meant that we didn’t need to queue when we got there. Neither of us were overly interested in the Book of Kells exhibition, but the idea behind it was interesting, and it was good to see it, but the highlight of that afternoon was definitely the Long Room. A freezing, smelly HUGE room full to the brim of books. If you can, find a guard and ask them all of your questions – we found the amazing man that told us loads, from the fact that the harp at the end is what the Guinness logo is based on, and that all the books in the Long Room are organised by size, not anything else!

We had the full intention to have an evening on the town, but travelling and excitement got the better of us. We went to The Bank on College Green for our first pint of Guinness in the Emerald Isle and were overwhelmed by how pretty and huge it was, so much so that when we saw the food menu and how reasonably priced it was for Dublin we booked a table for the next day. We then walked up to Trocadero, where we tucked into their three course pre-theatre meal. If you want brilliant Irish food, and well priced, right in the centre of Temple Bar, we highly recommend the old school glamour of Trocadero and go for the pre-theatre menu so you can afford it! We mooched around Temple Bar for a while, and then went to an amazing  cocktail bar. Vintage Cocktail Club was amazing, like a speakeasy, with great decor and again book ahead if you can, once seated you get handed the most extensive cocktail menu I have ever seen. It is more like a story book detailing the history and development of cocktails, but they were amazing. Both Tim and I were sold on delicious 9 pound cocktails, but unfortunately as we were sat upstairs, even though in winter the roof is shut, people around us started smoking so we took leave and headed to get a good nights sleep before another busy day ahead.

Saturday morning we left without breakfast as we had a brunch tour at the Irish Whiskey Museum. It was a fabulous tour, really funny (thanks John) and with four amazing whiskeys to taste at the end. Brunch was also great, and they were in no rush to get rid of us after. The brilliant part of this was the whole, unbiased history of Whiskey in Ireland, not just Jamesons!

From there we had some time to kill and went to Christ Church Cathedral. We spent far longer than we thought there as it was fascinating and there was so much to see, but if you want one with mummies in the crypt rather than the dried up corpses of the cat and the rat, then head to St Michans instead.

We then walked up to have a look at Dublin Castle, but didn’t actually go inside. As we had had brunch, we didn’t stop for lunch either, but did, much to Jess’ delight, stop at Laduree instead for an expensive treat!

We seem to have lucked out with both the weather and the weekend we were there – it was the Dublin Bowie Festival! So we checked out a few of the galleries, fell in love with some works of art and then went via Flip – the most amazing vintage store ever, over the Ha’penny bridge, to the Grand Social flea market where they had more Bowie Festival things on sale. All for free!

We then hit the Guinness Storehouse, which, for the Dublin Pass price (free) or the normal price (about 17.50), it would have been great, but I would splash out on the Connoisseurs tour which we were luck to have with Keith, who seemed to both love his job, the beer and the facts! We found out about the history, the product, how its brewed, poured our own pints and had the most amazing experience tasting all of the Guinness that are on sale at the moment. It was incredible. The view from the top bar, where you get a free ticket with all tickets to spend on a Guinness up there, was amazing. Even at night!

We somehow, managed to stay there until last orders were called so stumbled to our dinner reservations at The Bank and slowly meandered home with full bellies and a 48 hours worth of learning new things in a new place under our belt.

Tim’s highlights: Guinness tour, Vintage Cocktail Club and the Long Room, and the fact that everyone is always smiling!

Jess highlights: Little Museum of Dublin, the Long Room and just how friendly everyone was!

What we did miss out was on visiting the Kilmainham Gaol, which was totally sold out before we got there, so definitely do book online, and we would have loved to have done the Glasnevin Cemetry Tour too.

Another way is to get a 2 day Dublin pass for €73, which gets you free airport transfers and then free entry to everything here except the Irish Whisky Museum, but we didn’t quite have enough time to do everything to make it worth it with the Bowie Festival, but check what’s included to see if you could save even more.

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