Bars, Beers, & Books: 48 Hours In Dublin
We did it! We made a lap around Ireland in under two weeks and lived to tell the tale of our mother-daughter trip! I only had doubts because, well, a rental car plus narrow roads plus driving on the opposite side plus foreign country (not to mention I had not driven at all in 10 months!) all could have equaled a number of different outcomes. But besides the minor bumps in the road, we came out victorious! The final two days we got to stow our car away and use public transpo in Dublin, the vibrant capital city of Ireland. We had a lot to squeeze in and as the title implies, a fair bit of it revolved around bars, beers, and books with visits to the famous Temple Bar, the Guinness Storehouse and Brewery, and Trinity College’s Book of Kells Exhibition & Old Library. But first, check out the ground we covered in the map below...
Stop 1: The Temple Bar
After a comfy night’s sleep and a plump belly, thanks to our latest air bnb host, we were seated on the top of a double decker city bus listening intently for the driver to announce our stop (the accents can be tough!) which was about to land us smack dab in Dublin’s center. It was morning. Upon exiting the bus the mix of crisp, cool air coupled with our excitement to finally experience Dublin got our bodies and feet swiftly moving. We spotted the River Liffey, which flows through the center of Dublin, and admired the calm setting from one of the bridges before throwing ourselves into the mix of pedestrians and cars that await in the bustling neighborhoods. We were in search of The Temple Bar.
We zig-zagged our way through several bustling neighborhoods, craning our necks from building to building and sneaking peeks into cozy cafes until we finally reached The Temple Bar. This iconic Dublin pub, open since 1840, is famous across the globe for its upbeat hospitality, traditional ambiance, and celebrated charm. With it being prior to 9 am, we decided to forgo drinking from “the largest selection of whiskey in Ireland” but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to scope it out. Don’t worry, though, we were about to quench our thirst at our next stop…
Stop 2: Guinness Storehouse & Brewery
I’m embarrassed to say we almost wrote off visiting the Guinness Storehouse but after reading compelling review after review we decided, let’s book the damn thing. I am thankful we did because it was probably one of the highlights from our time in Dublin. This place is incredible!
I will start by saying this is not your average brewery tour. I’d be more inclined to call it a museum complete with beautiful architecture throughout (plus beer sampling to boot!). Guinness takes the visitors’ experience to a whole new level with floor upon floor of amusing tid-bits, an enjoyable lesson on their rich history, a tasting session on how to gain maximum flavor and catch the subtle notes of a Guinness, plus plenty of interactive activities (put your own picture on a pint, for instance!). The word “tour” is used loosely as it is go-at-your-own-rhythm/self guided and we loved that about this place. We took in what we wanted, and skipped what we didn’t. The tour culminates on the very top floor of the factory at The Gravity Bar which greeted us with 360 degree views of Dublin and a circular bar to match. Here, we enjoyed a free sampling of Ireland’s most famous beer (complete with the Guinness ‘stache on our upper lip!).
Our Tip: Book online for a discount. Mid-week and early in the day means less crowds (especially once you reach The Gravity Bar). Your discount ticket includes a fast track queue, free pint, and you can start your tour almost immediately.
Stop 3: Book of Kells & The Old Library
Our next stop, while short and sweet, packed a mean punch. We buzzed over to the heart of Dublin’s Trinity College to pay a visit to the Book of Kells and the Old Library. The Book of Kells is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces in both Irish and early Christian art. It is known as an illuminated manuscript in Latin, or in other words, an elaborately decorated and illustrated bible made from calf skin and painstakingly painted by hand. The manuscript contains the four Gospels of the New Testament which is believed to have been created c. 800 AD. An excerpt of the book was displayed in a glass case for us to view, and while we couldn’t read it, touch it, or take photos, there was an overwhelming feeling of astonishment. This may sound silly but being in the presence of a piece of art that is so famous (and famously old!) was really quite astounding.
After viewing “the book” we passed through The Old Library which is incredibly pleasing to the eye. Is that a stunning library or what?!
Stop 4: St. Stephen’s Green
Lastly, we found a peaceful oasis in the middle of a noisy and energetic city. Paying a visit to St. Stephen’s Green (think mini Central Park) was another high point during our visit in Dublin. After wandering along a winding path within the park for the first fifteen minutes, we spotted a bench that could accommodate two more butts our size. We plopped down next to a professionally dressed man who was likely finishing his lunch before heading back to work. Then we people watched. And people watched. Besides a couple giggles, we fell silent for the next several minutes. Not only was this an ideal place for people watching, but also for reflection. The thoughts and memories of this trip with my mom casually swirled in my mind like the gentle springtime breeze. Pondering these new experiences together had me feeling at ease. Not much time had passed and we were both in a very relaxed state. And believe me, we had to pry each other off that park bench where we hesitantly faced the bustling streets of Dublin again. If you visit Dublin, don’t miss St. Stephen’s Green. Trust us.
We Out! But where Will We Go Next?
Summarizing this trip as a whole has been the most difficult section to write. Not only did I have cherished alone time with my mom, but I had alone time with myself. That is plain ol’ good for the soul. As a mother of two young boys, this does not happen very often, let alone an extended vacation to myself. When I’m feeling overwhelmed with life, with children, with work, I like to look back on how I felt during these times to myself. It is in these quiet moments that I can remind myself that time with my family as it sits is short. My boys will grow up. Life will move quickly. Difficult moments come and go. But the ones that I truly remember and can visualize in my mind are the experiences together, the travel to new places, and the adventures in-between.
This trip with my mom can’t be summed up with a word or two. Or even a paragraph. But it can be summed up in four blog posts (does that count?) and I really could not have imagined my “year of pause” without her in it as much as she was. Not only did we experience Ireland together this year, but also Minnesota, Glacier National Park, and Hawaii. I will look back on these times fondly and hope that she knows the overwhelming sense of gratitude that I feel for having this time with her.
And now a special word from my mom:
”You have made a tremendous difference in my life since Dad has been gone. Your faith and belief in me and my capabilities to live life more fully has impacted me to the core. It has motivated me to do better, be better, and take risks more often. Yes, I still have my moments but then I think of you, Chip, and the jibs. I’m so very proud of all of you and to be present in your lives. What a blessing to be included in family travels and our mom and daughter times together. Even a “date” night now and again with my favorite son-in-law. Overflowing with gratitude. -Teedo
Now that we have completed our mother-daughter bucket list, where to next, you might ask??? We actually aren’t sure. But it probably won’t be long before one of us is calling the other up and asking “Have you ever wanted to go to…?”