Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Blogtober Day 3 - 1 Day in Dublin!

I recently spent approximately a day in Dublin and thought I may as well write a post about what you can do and see in the city if you're only there for a short time! I've been many times before, so I've not talked about the normal tourist spots, and tried to find places a little more off the beaten track. So sorry, no info on the GPO, Kilmainham Gaol, or the Guinness Storehouse here!

(... I did forget to take many pictures, as I only decided to write this up afterwards. Particularly of my food. Whoops. Sooo you're just going to have to make do with what I've got).

I actually went down on Thursday afternoon to see the Welcome to Night Vale live show, and headed back home on Friday evening, so technically I had slightly over 24 hours. But I saw some things - and ate some things! - I'd never been to before, so I wanted to make a blog post with my recommendations.

I'm a fairly regular visitor to Dublin as it's so easy to get to from both my home town and Belfast, where I currently live. I was recently informed that the best way to get from Belfast to Dublin is the Aircoach, which leaves from Glengall street, right by the Europa bus station, and cost £8 for a single. A great option if you're like me and forget to book the train early enough to get cheap prices! It only makes a single stop at the airport and then drops you off right on O'Connell street in Dublin city centre.

I stayed for one night at the Abbey Court Hostel, which I really liked. I'd never stayed in it before, but out of all the hostels in Dublin that I've stayed in, it's my favourite. The staff were super friendly, it's really well located, and the free breakfast was great. The room was a little small and it was a little noisy at night, as my room was facing out onto the street, but overall I'd happily recommend people stay there if you're looking for a budget option (as hotel rooms in Dublin ain't cheap!).

A friend said I should check out the Natural History Museum, which is a bit of a hidden gem in the city.

I found it a gorgeous building (...that I forgot to take pictures of the outside of), and really fascinating. The bottom floor is full of most, if not all, of the species of animals that are native to Ireland. It's easy to think that we don't have a lot of wildlife compared to other places - and I suppose we don't - but I'd never before realised the extent of the fauna that we do have!

The second floor has more animals - I think all vertebrates? - from all over the world. This is where you've got your rhino and orang-utan and elephants.

I'm an absolute bio geek, so this place had me written all over it, but I think it's really worth anyone checking out!

It also has these adorable frolicking hedges outside it.

I also called into the National Art Gallery, which is really close to the museum.

I'm not really all that into art, so I imagine a lot of it was a bit lost on me, but I did really enjoy the quick look I had around. There was some stunning art from Irish artists, and a fair bit about the history of art in Ireland, which is something I know shamefully little about. I do love looking at pretty landscape paintings though, and there was plenty of them.

This picture I think should be retitled 'Mansplaining: They've Always Been Doing It'
The museum was actually opened fairly recently I think, in the last few years, and it definitely shows. It's another stunning building, a pleasure to walk around.

Dublin is a really great place to go shopping. I spent a good few hours wandering around Temple Bar and the area just west of Grafton Street, around William St and Drury St. There are lots of little shops to wander in and out of, and loads of little cafes to take a break in! I particularly like the Powerscourt centre, even though it's well out of my price range, and I also found a little shop on William St called De La Punc, which had some really reasonably priced jewellery (and couldn't resist buying myself a necklace). If you're looking for some new clothes, try Folkster in Temple Bar, which has some really nice, unusual stuff. Is it books you want? That's a whole separate post, but suffice to say I spent quite a while in Hodges Figgis on Dawson street.

Now, guys, I need to talk about food. I had some amazing food in Dublin. I kind of want to go back down and just eat all the things.

For lunch, I ate in a place on Drury Street called Blazing Salads. It's a deli place where you can get a box, fill it with a mixture of whatever they have (check their website for the menu), and you're charged by weight. Everything is vegan or vegetarian, it's healthy, and it's so damn good. I seriously had the best broccoli of my life here, and also a great vegetable shepherd's pie. And some sweet potato hummus. Mmmm, hummus.

... someone please quickly talk me out of going back down to Dublin for vegetables.

Just across the road from Blazing Salads, if you feel like you need a reward for eating all that veg, is Cocoa Atelier. I called in just before closing on Thursday night just to have a nosy, and couldn't resist trying the violet and mango macaron. It was amazing, so I promised myself I'd come back the next day. And I did... to find it closed for refurbishment or repainting or something! So it's top of my list to visit the next time I'm in Dublin, just for their stunning range of chocolates and macarons.

I'd also recommend, if you're in the mood for Mexican for dinner, Pablo Picante off Clarendon street. They also have a place right next door doing tortas at lunchtime, but it's burritos and burrito bowls on the menu for dinner. I had the Victorio Verde burrito, with salsa verde and it was great - even though the salsa was spicier than the salsa verde I'm used to and I nearly burned the mouth off myself. (Also, just having a look at their website - they have the calories listed which is brilliant. Not enough places do that!).

And if you really don't care about calories, Dublin has the biggest range of doughnut shops I've ever seen. You can't turn a corner without bumping into yet another one! So I couldn't resist trying one, and picked myself up a Honeyfoam from Aungier Danger. I don't know if it's the best doughnut I've ever had, but it wasn't far off.

Obligatory Spire Picture
 That's pretty much the end of my 24 hours in Dublin. I hadn't been down for ages, and it's probably
been even longer since I actually had enough time in the city to actually do some sightseeing. I'd love to hear if I've made you want to check out any of the places I've mentioned, or if there's something I should see the next time I'm down (which hopefully won't be too long in coming!)

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