We awoke at 4:45 am to catch our flight from Edinburgh to Dublin. Security was quick and easy. My 9 year old, who was starting to get used to airport security, made me laugh as he went through the security checkpoint with his hands straight up in the air. When I spotted the small plane, which held only about 80 – 100 people, I must admit I became slightly nervous.
Edinburgh to Dublin
As our flight took off, it was raining, adding to my nerves, but it ended up being a very smooth and thankfully, short, one hour flight. Any nerves subsided as we prepared to land in Dublin. My nerves were replaced with the excitement of exploring a brand new country. A sudden break in the clouds allowed us to spot a small island, the city of Dublin, and green pastures just outside the city landscape, as we began our descent.
Getting to Dublin City Center
We chose to take the Airlink Express bus to the city center. The boys decided to sit front and center on the top level of the double decker bus. That experience was both fun and slightly terrifying, as the driver maneuvered the tight corners and streets of the city.
The architecture seemed new and modern on the North side of the river. But as we crossed into the older districts, the buildings struck me as being quite similar to Scotland.
My youngest begged to eat at McDonalds, as he had made it his mission to try a McDonald’s in every country. There were kiosks in which we could order our food. But we went to the counter, and were surprised by the extremely thick accents of the employees. It was much harder for us to understand the Irish than the Scottish. The feeling must have been mutual, because simply placing our order brought much confusion to their faces as well.
Grafton Street was foot traffic only, and we strolled along the crowded street with many other tourists. Occasionally we stopped to listen to street musicians and window shop along the way to our apartment. The vibe of the city was very different from Edinburgh, a little rougher around the edges, with a laid back feel.
St. Stephen’s Green
Our apartment was adjacent to St. Stephen’s Green, a public park in the city center. The location ended up being really great for a few days in Dublin. We had some time to pass before checking in, so we found a bench in the park, and watched the boys let out some energy.
Autumn was evident with its thick trees of green and yellow leaves, ponds teeming with geese and pigeons, colorful flowers, and interesting statues. We didn’t come across the playground until we were leaving the area. However, the boys and I would spend many hours at the playground over the following days.
We spent the next day catching up on laundry and searching for a few groceries. A note about laundry in Europe, most homes have washing machines. However, dryers are not so common. Every place we stayed had a drying rack for us to use. So, we quickly learned to adjust our schedules and make sure that we did laundry at least 24 – 48 hours before moving on to the next location, in order to give our clothes a chance to dry.
The neighborhood we stayed in was quite touristy, so finding a good sized grocery store was quite a challenge. The ones I found were small and extremely expensive. For example, it was $10.95 Euro for a box of cereal.
However, there were no shortage of Irish pubs! I’d say there were as many pubs in Dublin as there are churches in Rome! Most of the pub food was mediocre at best. For example, here was a fully loaded baked potato and a plate of nachos with some sort of red sauce:
I greatly enjoyed sitting at the playground in St. Stephen’s Green over the next couple days. Watching my kids play and observing the local families was interesting. Families would stop by the park often, wearing their plaid school uniforms, on their way home from school. The best part was listening to the Irish accents, calling out phrases such as “One of ya push me, will yas?”
The boys and I spent our last day in Dublin at a very cool place called Dublinia. I had intended to catch a cab to Dublinia, which was quite a walk from our apartment. I waited and waited for the boys to ask how far it was to the museum. Apparently they had been adjusting to all the walking we were doing in Europe, and were so busy chatting and playing, that they never once asked how far or complained. So we walked the entire way!
Dublinia was a great experience, bringing to life the history of Ireland beginning in the Viking Days, into Medieval Times, and up to present day. There were dress up areas, interactive games, and other interesting exhibits that kept us entertained.
After exploring the Museum, we climbed St. Michael’s Tower, to catch some views of the city.
For dinner we found a great restaurant, Gotham Cafe, which I highly recommend. The kids tried the rice chicken curry, and I had a “warm winter salad” which had quinoa, sweet potatoes, spinach, and mushrooms in a tahini sauce. Yum!
We were very glad that we had the opportunity to stay in Dublin. It was fun to visit a city we had heard of our entire lives, and could now commit to our memories.
Dublin was great. But my favorite part of Ireland was our day trip outside of Dublin to Blarney Castle and Rock of Cashel, which you can read about next time…