Slán go fóill, Ireland!

November 17- Our Last Day in Ireland

After almost two amazing weeks in Ireland, it was finally our last day…and I’ve got to be honest, there wasn’t anything over the top exciting or special about it. We were completely fine with that after the whirlwind of so many super amazing, magical moments. For breakfast, we walked a short distance from SkyBackpackers to The Bakehouse. It was a lovely little cafe with lots of fresh baked goods, coffee and hot chocolate. I ordered a hot chocolate and the bacon butty which was Irish back bacon served with two fried eggs and Bakehouse tomato relish on Bakehouse bloomer bread. The hot chocolate was super chocolatey and creamy and the bread was sooo fresh and soft. Delish!

Josh had a cappuccino (with the cutest snowflake design) and the salmon potato hash, a chunky wedge of potato hash with Wrights smoked salmon, spinach, poached eggs, and Bakehouse breakfast sauce. The Bakehouse sauce with the salmon and poached eggs was so yummy!

We still had a day left on our hop-on-hop-off bus pass, so we rode the bus over to St. Stephen’s Green. St. Stephen’s Green is a really pretty public park in the city. It was quite a chilly and cloudy day, so we didn’t enjoy the park as much as we would have had it been better weather. The park wasn’t far from Grafton Street, so we wandered over to peruse all the great shopping available. Grafton Street has everything you could ever think of- little shops and department stores full of clothes, shoes, food, home goods, toys, restaurants and cafes, everything! We spent quite a bit of time walking in and out of stores until lunch. We were definitely getting a little cold and ready for a break. I still had it in my mind that I wanted to eat at Stag’s Head since the beginning of our trip, so that’s where we headed.


We ordered the breaded Brie cheese for an appetizer. The golden brown breaded Irish Brie cheese was served with a house salad, red onion marmalade, and balsamic dressing. The red onion marmalade was so delicious, I could have eaten that alone. The gooey, creamy Brie with it took it to a whole other level of yum.



I was craving a big, hot bowl of soup and was not disappointed at all with the seafood chowder and brown bread. They used fresh, smoked seafood and it was made to order. So good!    


Josh had the fish and chips- fresh Atlantic cod in a light crispy O’Haras beer batter served with chunky chips and homemade tartar sauce.

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After warming up and filling our bellies, we headed back out for more window shopping on Grafton Street. Eventually we ran out of stores that we were interested in, so we came up with a great idea to go see Justice League at a movie theater on O’Connell Street. The theater we watched the movie in was so huge that there were restrooms inside. And assigned seating. I don’t know why I thought that was all so cool, but it was! We both enjoyed the movie and it helped us fill up some more time before heading to the airport.

For dinner, we decided to go back to Murray’s Bar and Grill. I’m really glad we did. We had to have our last meal in a pub and I just couldn’t leave Ireland without one last meal of fish and chips. The Irish cod was fried in a light beer batter and served with a homemade tartar sauce and crispy fries. Josh had the baby back ribs and chips…so random, I know! We really enjoyed our food and having our last meal in a pub filled with cold drinks and music and laughter and fun.

After dinner, we walked back to SkyBackpackers to pick up our luggage. We loaded up our car and drove to the rental car drop-off. We got to Dublin Airport around 9 or 10 pm, but our flight wasn’t until 6 am the next morning. We were really hoping we would be able to print off our boarding passes and get through security, but no counters were open to check us in, so we had to go upstairs to the food court to spend the night. I mean, who doesn’t want to sleep on the booths at McDonald’s? (We totally debated back and forth about staying at a hotel for our last night, but decided against it to save money and not have to worry about transportation to the airport at 4 am).


It was not glamorous by any means and we didn’t get much sleep, but it worked. If we had to do it over again, I think we would book a later morning flight so we could stay in a hotel instead of the airport food court. You live and learn, right?

The rest of our journey home was majorly uneventful- a short flight to Amsterdam, a 3.5 hour layover with naps and reading, an 8.5 hour flight to Chicago full of watching movies, a 5 hour train ride to Indianapolis with more sleeping and movies, and an hour car ride home. After all that time traveling, we were soooo happy to be home, words can’t even describe. And the best part was coming home to our cute pup!


Tip of the day: Don’t book such an early flight that you have to spend the night in the airport food court! But, please please please, take a trip to Ireland as soon as you possibly can!!!

when i die, dublin will be written on my heart

November 6- Dublin

Josh and I woke up around 8 am on Monday, got ready, and hit the streets for some donuts. Just a few blocks down from our hostel was a place called Offbeat Donuts. Desserts… donuts…you know there are just some things we never pass up, especially when on vacation. As it was slightly cheaper, we opted for our choice of three donuts- caramel apple, lemon meringue, and bueno bueno. The caramel apple was stuffed with apple pie filling and had a caramel glaze, the lemon meringue was filled with a perfectly tart/sweet lemon custard and topped with toasted meringue, while the bueno bueno was a yeast donut with a nutella glaze and half a Kinder Bueno candy bar on top. My favorite was hands down the lemon meringue because of the wonderful lemon filling and the toasted meringue topping.


After breakfast, we purchased tickets for the DoDublin hop-on-hop-off bus tour and hopped right on at the O’Connell Street stop. I wish I could remember what these buildings were that we saw at first, but unfortunately I don’t recall at all.   


Our first hop-off was at Dublin Castle. We walked through the courtyard to the main entrance to purchase tickets for a self-guided tour.

Originally we had planned to do a guided tour, but would have had to wait nearly another hour for the next one, so we opted for the self-guided instead. If we went back, I would definitely do the guided tour as we missed out on the Viking excavation, medieval section, and the Chapel Royal. The self-guided tour began up the grand staircase and into the state corridor which was gorgeous and elaborate with all its gold accents.


Off of the state corridor were several rooms that now house exhibitions for the castle, including swords, paintings, furniture, and some amazing plasterwork.


Next up was the state drawing room, the throne room (lots more gold accents in here), and the portrait gallery (also used as a dining room).  


The most impressive room to me was St. Patrick’s Hall. It was massive and very grandly decorated with gold accents, painted ceilings, and flags lining the wall. This hall was where the inauguration of the President of Ireland has been held since 1938.



After we completed the tour inside, we meandered around the gardens (designed as a helicopter landing pad) and happened upon these two fine gentlemen.


We were close enough to our next stop, Christ Church Cathedral, so we walked the short distance over to snap some pictures. We didn’t pay to take a tour, but just the outside was beautiful enough for me.

Our next hop-off was to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We opted again to not pay for the guided tour, but instead walked around the grounds outside to take pictures. I loved the gothic architecture and how much history it has having been around for several hundreds of years. It will always be one of my favorite parts of Dublin.


We ventured on foot to the next stop- Teeling Whiskey Distillery.

Here we did opt for the guided tour and I am very happy we did. Our tour guide was funny and full of knowledge. I was quite impressed the distillery has only been opened since 2015 (and the first new distillery to open in Dublin in over 125 years). We were able to see the actual parts of the process, including the lauter tun, the wort in wooden barrels, and the copper distillation pots.

At the end of our tour, we had a wonderful tasting experience where our tour guide actually sat down and taught us how to properly taste whiskey. We did the Teeling Tasting which included a shot of Teeling Small Batch and a handcrafted whiskey cocktail. While I didn’t love the shot of whiskey (I gave Josh mine), I did love their Winter Spice Tea cocktail (Teeling Small Batch, vanilla liqueur, housemade apple-cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and Put the Cat Out tea).  Without hesitation, I would recommend this tour and say that it is by far the best distillery/brewery tour I’ve been on.

We hopped back on the bus at Teeling and rode to the Guinness Storehouse. After the whiskey tasting, we decided it might be a good idea to grab something to eat before drinking more alcohol, so we walked over to The Brazen Head for a late lunch. I was really excited to take Josh there for food, as it was one of my favorite places when I had visited previously. It was as good as I remembered. I had an order of Guinness stew and Josh had the bangers and mash with a Smithwick’s.


After a wonderful lunch, we walked back to the Guinness Storehouse to take the tour there. This tour was quite different than Teeling- it was all self guided through several different levels, each with a different “themes” at each level.


One aspect of the tour that was really neat was the tasting room experience. When we entered the room, there were four columns with “fog” rolling out the top, each with a different scent (barley, hops, esters, and malt) from an ingredient of their beer. After the smelling portion of the experience, we moved into another room with small tasting glasses of Guinness where the guide taught everyone how to properly drink Guinness. I thought it was a really nice touch and enjoyed a more hands-on part of the tour.


Another part of the tour that I enjoyed were the oversize Guinness ad animals.

The last part of the tour and possibly the coolest was the gravity bar on the top floor where they pour you a pint of Guinness and you look out of a 360 degree glass window over all of Dublin city.

After Guinness, it was too late to stop off anywhere else on the tour, so we rode the bus back to Ha’Penny Bridge and headed to eat.


We had planned to eat at Stag’s Head, but upon arriving and ordering a drink we found out they don’t serve food after 6 pm. It was a real bummer. We enjoyed a pint there anyways and headed back across the river to O’Connell’s Bar to eat.

I had been craving fish and chips and that’s just what I ordered. It also came with mushy peas and coleslaw. Josh had the fish pie which sounds kind of weird, but was actually really delicious- it was full of gooey cheese, bacon, and yummy flaky fish. Of course, we also had to have a side of brown bread with butter.

While we ate, a pretty blonde played the guitar and sang at the front of the restaurant. Note- if you ever eat there, sit downstairs in the main bar if possible because they have several cozy circular booths down there that would have made the experience even better.

To end the night, we stopped back in at Cloud Nine for dessert. I had a nutella crȇpe with crème brȗlée gelato (so creamy and smooth with crystallized sugar pieces, yum!) and Josh had a nutella and strawberry crȇpe with crème brȗlée gelato.  


My obsession with Irish sheep is real…


We ended up booking another night at Abigail’s Hostel, but we switched to a private room with an en suite bathroom. While it was cheaper to do the 12 bunk room, I definitely enjoyed having some privacy and not wondering if anyone would be coming into the room in the middle of the night.


Tip of the day: Purchase tickets for the DoDublin bus- you don’t have to worry about driving and parking, it takes you to the top Dublin attractions, and it’s fun.