Day 1 – Dublin

After a full day of flying, we arrived in the Dublin airport at about 8:00 in the morning. We were tired, but decided to power through the day and not sleep until that night. After waiting for over an hour to get through customs, we emerged into the misting grey of Dublin town, ready to see the sights of the city. We caught a shuttle bus to the central bus station, which was very close to Isaacs Hostel, where we were staying. Check-in wasn’t until 2:00pm, so we rented some lockers to store our bags.  The receptionist also told us there were showers in the basement. Despite being the push-button kind of shower that only gives you about 30 seconds of water at a time, we were thankful for the shower.

As recommended by the hostel receptionist, we had a hearty Irish breakfast in the restaurant of O’Shea’s Hotel, a block from Isaacs. A bit more awake, we walked across the River Liffey toward Trinity College.

Trinity College

Not intending to visit The Book of Kells due to the horrendous lines we had read about, we decided to walk around the campus anyway. To our surprise, there was no line to see the Book (probably because it was raining). The exhibit has a few other historical Bibles and lots of information on the making of them, but it is still a very small exhibit. The Book of Kells itself is truly beautiful, and beautifully preserved, but you really don’t get to see much of it. As part of the entry fee, you also get to visit the Long Hall Library, which is really quite spectacular. Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures anywhere in the exhibit, as flash photography can damage the fragile vellum paper. I was glad to see the Book and the library, but it was only barely worth the 9 Euro entry fee.

Christ Church Cathedral

We then set out in the general direction of the Guinness Storehouse. We stopped in at the Christ Church Cathedral, where a number of scenes from The Tudors were filmed. The cathedral is absolutely gorgeous, and the crypt below it was very eerie. It was well worth the 4 Euro admittance.

On our way to the Storehouse, we walked around Dublin Castle. It’s a smaller castle, but still very cool looking. We decided not to take the tour of it, but walked around the garden grounds in front of it. We spent some time walking around the streets of Dublin, taking in the sights and enjoying the vibrant life of the city. Everything seemed very old and steeped in history in a way that we don’t much get in America.

Dublin Castle

We finally arrived at St. James Gate after a pretty decent walk. We payed the entry fee to tour the Guinness Brewery and Storehouse. The presentation of the self-guided tour is very good, and the building is shaped like a Guinness glass.

Alexis with her “free” pint.

About halfway through the tour of the seven story building Alexis and I began to feel the effects of sleepless flying, so we decided to head to the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness brewery for our “free” pint. The bar was packed, but provided some great views of the city. We downed our pints and headed downstairs for a bite of food. We both had a bowl of Guinness beef stew in Arthur’s restaurant, inside the brewery. With a bit more energy and a satisfying day in Dublin, we decided to walk back to our hostel. By the time we made it to the Temple Bar area, however, we were thoroughly exhausted, so we caught a taxi back to Isaacs.

The view of Dublin from The Gravity Bar

Though only about 6:30pm, we called it a day in order to get a good nights rest for the next day’s drive. The people on our floor had different plans, however, and partied from the time we got there well into the night. Despite the noise, we drifted off to sleep.

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Trip Planning

Just a few quick notes on services we used to plan our trip and book reservations.
(We are not affiliated with any of these services in any way.  They are just the services we used and thought might be useful to others.)

HostelWorld.com
We booked all of our hostels, B&Bs and hotels here except for one night.  Great service, and it is nice to have all of your reservation info in one place.  If you search for “hostelworld discount code” you can find coupons for small discounts on your reservations.

Irish Farm Holidays
We booked our stay at the wonderful Seafield Farmhouse here.  Easy enough to use.

CheapOAir
Booked our flights here.  Easy to use, and some of the best fares I found.  Their iPhone app is nice.

Easy Tour Ireland
We booked our Hertz car rental through this American company, and I have to say, they made it a really nice experience.  They somehow get lower rates than booking through Hertz in Ireland directly, and the rates include the best possible insurance package.  I was nervous about driving in Ireland, and a very nice gentleman from their Seattle office talked to me a bit to ease my nerves and gave me some travel advice.  He also recommended a pilot service in Dublin.  Nice people, nice service.  I’d use them again.

Corporate Transfers Taxi Service
This pilot service was recommended to me by Easy Tour Ireland.  It’s really just one guy, Fintan Murray.  He picked us up at our hostel, drove us to Hertz to pick up our car, and then let us follow him out of Dublin to the highway leading to our next destination.  Fintan is a really nice man, and this service did wonders for easing the tension of driving manual transmission on the left side of the road.  35 euros well spent.

Sygic GPS UK & Ireland for iPhone
We purchased this GPS app, as renting a GPS from Hertz was very expensive.  It got us around fine for the most part, but would sometimes get confused and just take us in circles, especially in the cities.  It was still a necessity.

Fodor’s Ireland Travelguide
It’s a lot of fun to read, and will help you plan your trip, but we found ourselves wishing that it had more detailed information on the areas we were in.

Packing List

I figured we would start by letting you all know what we packed.  As I am writing this after we returned from Ireland, I’ll also talk a bit about what worked and what didn’t.  The links below are to some of the gear that we used.
(We have no affiliation with any of the companies listed below.  These are the products we used and recommend to others.)

  •   Clothing: We packed a couple pair of synthetic hiking pants, and enough shirts, socks and underclothing to have fresh clothes every day for the week we were in Ireland.  Other than pants, our clothing was a mix of synthetic and cotton.  We wouldn’t say that synthetic materials are absolutely necessary, but the temperature in September can go from cold to warm in a matter of minutes, so having synthetics to wick moisture and dry quickly was quite nice.  We used Smartwool socks, and our feet thanked us for it.  I used a midweight fleece, and Alexis brought a wool-blend sweater.  These were sufficient for Irish mid-September.
  •  Shoes: We both used waterproof shoes.  Some people would say that you can get away with tennis shoes in Ireland.  If you’re going to do any amount of walking, bring waterproof shoes.  We both agreed that we would have been miserable without them.  I wore the Teva Riva eVent and Alexis wore the Salomon XA Comp 6 GTX.
  •  Rain Gear: Rain jackets were an absolute must.  We learned quickly to always have our rain jackets with us.  Don’t be fooled by a sunny day in Ireland!  The weather can change very, very rapidly.  We brought rain pants, but didn’t use them.  Our synthetic pants dried quickly enough.  If you plan on doing some hiking through the woods or backcountry, I’d say bring the rain pants, otherwise you can leave them at home.
  •  I brought some pocket laundry detergent and 6 ft. of paracord for doing laundry.  We didn’t use them.  If you’re there for more than a week, or plan on reusing clothing, I’d bring these for doing your laundry in the sink.
  • We packed everything into two Osprey Porter 46 Travel Packs, which in my opinion is one of the best travel bags you can purchase.  They are about a large of a carry-on as is allowed, and can easily fit everything for a week or more of travel.  The stowable shoulder and waist straps make it very versatile.

Below is our full packing list.  Modify it to suit your needs.
Clothing:

  1. Pants: 2 pair
  2. Shirts: 5-7
  3. Fleece or 2 sweaters
  4. Underwear: 5-7 pair
  5. Socks: 5-7 pair
  6. Sleeping clothes
  7. Waterproof shoes
  8. Sandals or shower shoes
  9. Rain jacket
  10. Rain pants
  11. Bras

Toiletries:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Conditioner
  3. Soap
  4. Face wash
  5. Face scrub
  6. Contact cases
  7. Spare contacts
  8. Contact solution
  9. Toothbrushes
  10. Toothpaste
  11. Deodorant
  12. Lotion
  13. Makeup
  14. Hair pomade
  15. Medicines
  16. Vitamins
  17. Face/body wipes
  18. Pocket tissues
  19. Toilet paper
  20. Razor
  21. Feminine products
  22. Hair ties
  23. 1 quart plastic bags

Laundry:

  1. Detergent
  2. Clothes line
  3. Sink plug

Travel Necessities:

  1. Bag for wet clothes
  2. Power adapter
  3. iPhone car charger
  4. Ear plugs
  5. Eye cover
  6. Travel pillows
  7. Travel sheets
  8. Phones
  9. Phone chargers
  10. Headphones
  11. Driver’s licenses
  12. Passports
  13. Airline tickets
  14. Camera
  15. Extra Camera Batteries
  16. SD Cards