Well, it feels very good to say that this is my second post for this week. I've been in a huge slump with being unemployed and bored with myself and therefore having no motivation (funny how that works), but things have started falling into place in the last few days so I'm back to feeling motivated to write posts.
Dublin was the second location we visited in Ireland, and our last stop in an English-speaking country. I think it's safe to say we both grew quite attached to Ireland, and we both gazed sadly out the windows of the airport bus when we had to leave.
Read on, my friends!
Get out of the cities and see the countryside. When I think of Ireland, my mind is filled with rolling green hills and mountains and perhaps a rocky coastline or two.
We took a day tour with Wild Wicklow Tours, which involved being taken out of Dublin city and into the Wicklow Mountains. This particular area includes many locations from big budget films (Braveheart, PS. I Love You, etc) as well as the ancient monastic site, Glendalough.
Take a very short bus ride and visit Kilmainham Gaol, one of the most important places in the history of Ireland due to its housing of many well-known people from the Rebellions. The visit through the prison is by guided tour only, but there is a museum there too which is well worth the exploration.
The guides are extremely informative and give a great insight into such a huge part of Irish history.
Take a step back from British Colonial and Irish Civil War history and explore Dublin's Viking history. Dublin is completely soaked in the stuff, dating back to the 9th century. History buffs may like to research this and find places they're interested in, but for those who want all their information in the one convenient place (as we did), check out the Dublinia Museum. It may look like more of a kid's museum, but we found it completely fascinating.
Necessarily eat all your meals in the Temple Bar area. This area tends to be more aimed at tourists than anything and can also have inflated prices to match.
Forget that Dublin is in the Republic of Ireland and is not in the UK. We didn't have any issues personally because we're not idiots. According to our tour guide on the Wild Wicklow Tour, things aren't as tense as they once were, but it's not a mistake that's likely to make you many friends.
Stress too much about visiting the Leprechaun Museum. While it is fun and the tour guides are very entertaining, it's not much more than a bit of folklore and I find it hard to justify the 12 euro entry fee (8 euro for children).
Grafton Street is one of your best bets for shopping in Dublin. It is a (mostly) pedestrianised street full of buskers, flower-covered lamp posts and high street stores such as River Island, Topshop, American Apparel, Sisley, Ted Baker and loads more.
Over on the north side of the River Liffey, you'll find Jervis and Henry Streets, which are equally as good as Grafton Street on the south side. Jervis Street also houses the Jervis Street Shopping Centre, where you'll find Topshop, Forever 21, Miss Selfridge, etc etc.
You'll also find a store called Penney's in Dublin, which is the same as the label Primark in the UK. Again, these stores stock current trends (and a lot of them) at super low prices.
There are also smaller, quirkier shops around the Temple Bar area and connecting streets if you go for a little wander, which is really half the fun when shopping!