- Dublin, Ireland
- 26,769 miles flown + 1,463 miles driven
- 53°20’N 6°15′W
- Temp: 52 deg
- 9 books read, 11 massages + 2 hot stone + 1 thermal baths in the books
- Day 49-53
After traveling the narrow roads of southern and western Ireland, I traded my rental car in for four days of walking the cobblestone streets of Dublin and resting on a few bar stools (mostly the latter.) I’ll be honest, I’m tired. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve unpacked and repacked my suitcase, but a four day stretch of catching my breath was quite welcomed by yours truly.
I stayed at The Clarence, a hotel owned by Bono and right in the heart of the lively Temple Bar. Everything I wanted to see was in walking distance, including more Guinness draft pulls than you can count. There were really three things that dominated my time in Dublin: 1) good coffee and brown bread, 2) good beer, 3) good seafood. Everything in between was merely a stop between one of these three priorities.
Good Coffee + Brown Bread
First stop, Queen of Tarts bakery. With tiered plates piled high with meringues, muffins, scones, cakes, tarts, and pretty much any insulin-inducing treat you could want, it was hard not to order one of everything. Just look at that lemon meringue tart! I’d be making multiple stops here this week.
But those who know me know I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so what really won my heart (and stomach) was the nutty, dense Irish brown bread slathered in Irish butter. I could subsist on that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact I have two slices in my bag right now as I fly to Iceland, because why would you not squirrel away bread and butter when you’re lugging around three bags and are over your weight-limit with the airline. Priorities, people. Pretty much anywhere you go will serve up brown bread for breakfast, or with your soup, or with your smoked salmon, or with…
But the place I was told to beeline to for the best brown bread was Bewley’s, an old classic cafe adorned with grand stained glass windows, plush banquets and marble-top tables. I beat the rush, scored a table, and proceeded to do three hours of people watching over the course of two lattes, a pot of brewed coffee, an order of toasted brown bread, and poached eggs with avocado on more toast. I was highly caffeinated and breaded, but highly content with watching as the line of people started to grow out the door.
Good Beer + Good Seafood
These two things go together just as well as bread and butter, so will be impossible for me to separate them. It would also be impossible as someone who appreciates good beer, and appreciates a creamy Guinness, to go to Ireland and not visit the Guinness Storehouse. This place is like the Disneyworld of beer, with neon light shows, talking fish, illuminated escalators, and hands-on exhibits like the Guinness Academy where one learns how to pour their own proper pint and earns a printed diploma. I passed with flying colors. It’s highly touristy, but also highly fun if you’re a fan of the stuff.
Every good stout deserves a plate of fresh oysters. I discovered a seafood restaurant near the hotel that had oyster happy hour from 5-6 each day…I went three times. For the record, Irish oysters are delicious.
And since that wasn’t enough fresh seafood, I ventured 30 minutes out on the train to Howth for lunch. To say Howth is the Mecca of dock to dish seafood is an understatement. The narrow peninsula is lined with seafood cafes and fish markets on the left side, and fishing boats and refrigerated delivery trucks on the right. The daily catch is literally flung off the boat and into the kitchen for the day’s menu. It’s also home to the world’s largest seagulls who have clearly had their fair share of daily loading spoils. At one point I thought I was caught in the filming of The Birds as hundreds of feisty feathered friends? circled overhead and attacked a nearby seafood truck. Was slightly worried they were going to attack me as one guy wandered up eyeing my lunch, but I think he could sense I was ready to protect it with knife and fork if I had to.
Yes, it really did taste as good as it looks. Yes, I think it was quite possibly the best fish and chips I had ever head. The cod was insanely creamy and firm, and the batter was crispy as it should be. The local IPA served as the ideal complement to the meal and a little liquid courage if I got in hand to feather combat. If you find yourself in Dublin, I cannot recommend highly enough that you make the 30 minute journey out for lunch. You. Will. Thank. Me.
Good In Between
As I made my way from one cafe or pub to the next, I did manage to swing by Dublin Castle…
St. Patrick’s Cathedral…
Pay a visit to Trinity College and the Book of Kells…
And spend a fair amount of time strolling the riverfront and Temple Bar streets.
But mostly I just ate and drank and rested my weary feet before I head to the last stop on this epic journey, Iceland. So many emotions as I head to country #12, but my energy levels are back up, my boots are strapped on, and I’m ready to go from vibrant green to blank white horizons.