November 16- Kilmainham Gaol & Dublin Zoo
Thursday morning we woke up to sunny, but quite chilly weather. We walked just down the block to Cinnamon Cafe for breakfast. I had hot chocolate and the breakfast bagel stuffed with bacon, sausage, and scrambled egg. Josh had a cappuccino and scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. One part of the cafe I really liked was that they had a whole selection of fresh jams to try out. The cafe was nothing super fancy, but it was good, simple food and there were tons of options available to choose from.
After breakfast, we had the whole day free to do absolutely anything. We had a few things left on our list of sight-seeing wants, so we purchased a 48 hour DoDublin hop-On-hop-off bus pass. Our first stop of the day was the Kilmainham Gaol. We found out on the bus ride over that the Gaol usually sells out pretty early, so if we hadn’t purchased tickets already there was a chance there wouldn’t be any tours left available. Thankfully, we arrived fairly early in the day and were able to snag tickets for a tour within the next half hour. If the Gaol is one of the top things on your list, I would recommend purchasing tickets online ahead of time just to be safe. The hour long tour was chock full of information. I was amazed at how many dates and stories about different rebellions (such as the Easter Rising) the tour guide was able to spout off from memory!
Seeing the small cells and feeling the chill of the air in the West Wing, I was super happy that I would never be a prisoner there.
My favorite part of the Gaol was the East or Victorian wing. It was the complete opposite of the West Wing- there was a huge skylight that let in the sun and every cell opened up into large airy room.
Our tour ended at the Stonebreaker’s Yard. This is one of the most famous yards at the Gaol and where several leaders of the Easter Rising were executed.
We waited for what seemed like forever to catch the next bus on the hop-on-hop-off tour, but finally it arrived and we were on our way to Dublin Zoo . I was super happy walking around the zoo, as it seemed almost every single animal was out and about, walking and moving around. We were super lucky to visit during November because they had just begun their Wild Lights exhibit which featured so many giant, beautiful, colorful lanterns shaped like the animals. We saw lions (we even got video of a male lion roaring!), leopards, orangutans, and penguins as we ventured through the Asian forests, orangutan forest, and the cove.
I thoroughly enjoyed the African savanna where several giraffes, rhinoceros, oryx, and zebra roamed free together.
Walking through the gorilla rainforest and the Kaziranga Forest trail, we unfortunately didn’t see any gorillas or elephants. I tried not to be disappointed because up until that point literally every other animal had been out and active.
Seriously, how amazing were these Chinese lanterns?! The elephant lantern stood about 52 feet high and the Chinese dragon was almost 100 feet long!
And there was a giant sloth!
We were getting really hungry after touring the gaol and the zoo, so we hopped back on the bus and made our way closer to the city centre. We couldn’t decide where to eat, so after a little research, Josh suggested Beshoff. It was the cutest little restaurant with cafe seating and black and white checkered floors. Unfortunately, the food was so disgusting. We both had the fresh cod and chips and were very disappointed. I was only a few bites into my fish when i bit into a bundle of bones. No thank you! And it was overly greasy, even for fried fish. The chips weren’t good either, they tasted like they had been fried earlier and reheated to serve. I would not ever recommend going there to eat.
To make up for our gross lunch, we popped over to Gelato Di Natura Dublin to drown our sorrows in something sweet. I had the Fabbri Choccomint which was a very creamy, yummy mint chocolate chip. Josh had the cookies flavor which tasted like Biscoff cookie butter. Yum!
For our last night, we stayed at SkyBackpackers Hostel. Our friend, Alex, recommended it to us from when he had stayed there a few months before while in Dublin. The hostel was really fun and hip with lots of bright colors and fun decorations. They had free luggage storage, a kitchen, laundry room, and lounge areas with couches, books, and a tv with a variety of DVDs to watch. The hostel was also really close walking distance to Temple Bar and all the shopping areas. I would definitely recommend staying there.
After getting our luggage settled into our room (we stayed in a 6-person mixed dorm to save money), we headed south across the River Liffey for dinner at The Bank on College Green. The Bank was such a gorgeous restaurant housed in a previous bank building. While waiting for our table, we ordered some drinks at the bar and took in our surroundings. There were large marble columns, chandeliers, and mirrored walls. The ceiling was beautiful, made up of stained glass and floral plasterwork. It was the perfect date night atmosphere with live piano music and the glow of candlelight with the lights down low. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough.
We thoroughly enjoyed the goats cheese and red pepper croquettes served with apple and celeriac remoulade and a horseradish crème fraiche for our starter.
For dinner, Josh had the fish of the day which was pan fried halibut with turnip purée, gratin potatoes, asparagus, baby carrots, and a lime and dill Hollandaise. I had the slow roasted pork belly served with an apple and cumin purée, champ mash, crackling, spiced white cabbage with chorizo and red wine jus. The pork belly was melt in your mouth and so good.
Dessert was just as delicious! I had a warm chocolate brownie with fresh berries and Tickety Moo vanilla ice cream and honeycomb. Josh had the orangecrème brûlée with a raspberry coulis and shortbread cookie.
We went back to our hostel after dinner for their free beer/cider night hosted in the lounge. We ended up playing a game called Quiplash with a few other guys staying there. It was a pretty fun game, but a little hard to play with strangers. It would definitely be a good game to play with friends though. Once we finished our drinks, Josh and I walked a few blocks up to Murray’s Bar and Grill for drinks and live music. We sat at the bar (it was packed) which worked out really well to see the stage. The music was really good and the whole place had a great pub feel.
Tip of the day: Don’t leave Dublin without eating at The Bank on College Green.