Hello Again from Dublin!
As I alluded in my last post, my mother and I went on a tour of Northern Ireland on Saturday. We booked it through Viator.com which has a lot of really great tours that aren’t super expensive. Our tour was 13 hours, took us all over the country, and we had two awesome tour guides. It ended up being around $60. The bus was nice and new, we weren’t rushed, and it had wifi!
We started the tour in front of Starbucks at 7am on Saturday. Our bus pulled right up. JP, our tour guide, checked us right in and we found our spots. After everyone was settled in we were on our way to the next stop to pick up a few more people. We stopped at a very nice petrol station about an hour away and got some breakfast then kept on heading towards Belfast. We had the option to take either a black cab tour of the city of Belfast to get a more in-depth background on the prior political unrest or take a tour of the recently updated Titanic Museum. We decided that we could google the political stuff and instead went into the museum. It is right next to Titanic Studios where some of Game of Thrones is filmed.
The Titanic Museum was awesome. Our bus was the first one there so the tour wasn’t very crowded when we got there. It is self guided and could take you three hours if you really took your time. We had two hours so we had to stop dawdling towards the end. Sarah might have teared up a time or two during the process. Also, Celine plays on repeat during on section. Not complaining.
After the museum we hopped back on the bus to make our way towards Giant’s Causeway. JP gave us some more insight on the landscape, famous people who were from the small towns we drove through, and other interesting political facts. Richard, our bus driver/second tour guide, also pipped in with some interesting facts. They enjoyed playing Irish musicians such as U2, Enya, and Hozier. There were also some traditional music played, but clearly I am not going to remember those names.
Giant’s Causeway was amazing. We hiked around for a long time and I am very glad we went the way we did. It was a bit of a hike and fortunately the route we took was mostly downhill. Sorry to those people who didn’t realize what we knew from the beginning. The pictures I’ve posted do not do it justice. We also had the PERFECT day for this tour (which I think we will pay for in rain the next few days).
After hiking for like an hour and half, we ate lunch at this quaint, little restaurant right by the cliffside. I was the one getting Fish and Chips this time (with mushy peas!) and mom (Sarah) got Guinness Strew with puff pastry and mashed potatoes. Suuuuuper good.
After we got back on the bus, JP informed us that in 10 minutes we would get to hike again! Giant’s Causeway is very close to another historical site, the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge. This is literally nothing more than a glorified rope bridge. The line took FOREVER. However, the views were pretty amazing and the bus didn’t leave us like I thought they would so it all worked out. Literally stood in like for probably 2 hours to cross this tiny bridge and come back.
That was the end of the sight-seeing so Richard and JP drove us back to Dublin with a list of restaurants and pubs to visit for the rest of our stay. The actual tour was on Wild Rover, we just booked it through Viator.com. I would highly recommend it since driving in Dublin seems to not be a task for the weak. I always enjoy being chauffeured around so I quite enjoyed it.
We came back soooo tired from our tour, but still hungry. We stopped at this burger place off Grafton Street that was quite good. I think it was called Gourmet Burger Co? I am pretty sure it is a chain at least around Dublin. It’s fairly similar to Hopdoddy in the US. My burger tastes like the Steakburger that I get there. Instead of Parmesan Truffle fries they have Rosemary fries, which are very tasty. Mom got a Sweet Potato burger that she also enjoyed. The onion rings were the best part according to her.
Today we slept in really late (like 10:30 which is unheard of for either of us). We got ready and then walked in the rain for what felt like forever. You can google if you like from the Conrad Dublin to the Guinness Storehouse to see just how far we walked. Let’s also remember that we got lost part of the way and it is raining. I was not a happy camper. Suddenly all of the cabs in Dublin only take cash. What is up with that? THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY PEOPLE! One of the drivers gave the excuse that he didn’t want his wife to know how much he made. Cheeky…
We eventually made it to the Guinness Storehouse along with every other tourist in the greater Dublin area. It is apparently Ireland’s #1 Tourist Attraction. I am a boss and had gotten us tickets beforehand so all I had to do was pick them up from Information and we got to skip all of the lines (and pay a lower price!). It is a self guided tour through a huge building with like 9 floors. They don’t count the ground floor as floor 1 the way we do in America. That is floor 0 (zero). We slowly made our way through all of the floors and decided to stop at a little cafe about halfway through the actual tour. THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD. It may have been the fact that it was probably 2pm at this point, we hadn’t eaten that day, we had walked super far in the rain, and I was starving. It wasn’t expensive the way cafes usually are when they know you’re trapped which was also a nice gesture.
After we got some good food we went into the room where you can learn how to pour the perfect pint. I’ll let you in on a little secret… I hate beer. Mom likes it ok, but we both don’t like Guinness. Sorry to all of you beer connoisseurs out there, I’ve just never developed a taste for it. I wish I liked it. I feel like parties and social gatherings would be easier. On the other hand, I LOVE wine and I will drink whatever you have, even if I don’t like it. That is how much I love wine. Unfortunately, it seems to be too rainy in Ireland for wine, so beer it is. Pouring Guinness is great fun. We learned that there are 6 Steps to Pour a Perfect Pint. Did you know that? We all also got a little certificate with our names on it to show that we went through the “rigorous” training required.
After you pour your pint, you get to take it with you all over the floor and up to the bars on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors. On the 7th Floor is the Gravity Lounge which is a 360 degree view of Dublin. It was pretty cool, but also SUPER crowded so mom and I ditched our beers on a table and peaced out to the gift shop. I bought some souvenirs to take home (and maybe a present for some lucky people ;))
After another treacherous walk back through the rain we were able to exchange some dollars for euros at a tourist shop and I discovered my favorite soap shop, Lush! We have them back in America where I frequent them for their organic hair, skin, and body products. The UK versions have some updated items and since the dollar is so strong against the euro right now, the products are actually cheaper here than in the states! Of course I had to stock up :D. We were then running a little late for Riverdance so I promised the shop girl I would be back.
We made our way over to the Gaiety Theater for Riverdance 20! This is the 20th Anniversary of Riverdance and it is only going on until August 30th so I was really happy we caught it in time. The show was awesome. Unfortunately, they did not allow me to take any pictures so I only have pictures of the sign. I am sure if you youtube clips there will be some toe-tapping fun that you can find.
We were very cold and tired after the performance so my mom and I just headed back to the hotel to eat at the restaurant there. I hadn’t tried it yet and I am happy to report that the food was very good. I had orzo pasta and mom had sea bass. We both had butternut squash soup and she had the waiter convince me to get dessert. All of it was amazing.
I realize this post is one week late, but I was having some issues uploading pictures to the blog. I’ll try to post more often this week.