Imagine yourself on the edge of the pavement, intent on seizing the right moment to try your hand at crossing the carriageway. Imagine you have to look left first than right. Well, in that case, it'd be a bit like defying fate. In Dublin, this is normal daily practice, only that no one risks their lives, yes, the road traffic system rotates in the opposite direction. That is precisely why you have to be very careful when crossing the road in Dublin for the first time. This is not a typical element of the capital, but a characteristic that we can find in all of Ireland and England. I start from this element to emphasize the first cultural difference that immediately catches the eye when you get off the plane I head to public transport This little detail will put a strain on your sense of direction, you may get lost and take buses and trams in opposite directions, even you may happen to get into a taxi and sit in the arms of the driver (the driving seat of the car is on the right!).
But the beautiful Dublin is certainly not only characterized by this bizarre difference to which we are not accustomed, it is 'a fantastic city' with many unique and unobtainable features, which dances to the classic and impetuous rhythm of patriotic Irish songs, the transbording mugs of Guinness, of the inhabitants of a city that has been fighting for centuries to remain alive on an ungenerous island, a land that has granted extraordinary landscapes and wild nature, but at the same time has given little opportunity for agricultural development, due to a harsh climate, difficult to exploit, a geographically isolated position and a difficult history; all factors that have made Ireland a strong population of warriors, a community that has seen their children flee and emigrate throughout the world for much of the twentieth century, a community torn apart by conflict, but with a great sense of belonging that still remains palpable and transpires in the integrity of its capital.
I have spent only 4 days in Ireland, 3 days in Dublin, 1 at the Cliff of Moehr (with a stop in Galway).
I stayed with my partner and another couple of friends in a small apartment in Clontharf, (Airbnb link) residential area about 15 minutes by bus from the center. We were pleasantly surprised by the tranquility of the neighborhood, which is surrounded by two main streets located at opposite latitudes, both connecting routes in different central areas of the city. The neighborhood is formed by long parallel streets lined with several terraced houses in orange brick, with a garden outside. The traffic is really limited, and around there are few people, calm reigns supreme.
The next destination to which we are directed is the city center, easily accessible by typical double-decker buses.
Be careful; the single ride is quite expensive, it costs about 3 euros and you have to have them right in coin! For this reason we recommend to do the Leap Visitor ( https://about.leapcard.ie/leap-visitor-card)
can be purchased in the following points:
Bus & Travel Information Desk (T1 Arrivals)
Spar (T2 Arrivals)
WHSmith (T1 Arrivals)
Dublin City Centre
Dublin Bus, 59 Upper O'Connell St. Louis
Discover Ireland Centre, 14 Upper O'Connell St.
Visit Dublin Centre, 25 Suffolk St. Louis
Easons Busaras, Beresford Place
Easons Heuston Station, Dublin 8
The Leap Card is a card for public transport (72 hours in our case) the cost is 19.90 euros with it you can move freely for the next 3 days by stamping it every time you take a means of transport.
Once in the center we descend to O´connor street, one of the main streets where we can find the various public transport that branch off in various areas of the city, many shops and restaurants and the fateful pin (The Spire).
The pin is a 120-meter long needle structure located right in the city center, right at the top there is a fixed light that will be one of your points of orientation in the center of the capital,
If you get lost, look up, you will see the tip of the pin and you will understand how to get back to O´connor Street!
We immediately noticed the friendliness of the locals who proved to be extremely friendly both in public services and in giving us information, even giving us the places nearby in the bus.
We have explored its alleys, crossed one of the various bridges that cut in two the Liffey, the river that divides the city and we continued in search of the essence of the capital.
The mild temperature (12 degrees on 30 December) and the harmony of the old town, in which relatively few cars circulate, has made the walk an experience of pure discovery and total immersion in the magical atmosphere of the stone alleys that exude the essence of an ancient and joyful culture; the soft lights of the street lamps and the signs of the pubs created the contrast with the setting of the winter sun that around 5 p.m. accompanied the abandonment of the natural light to a pure transformation, almost mystical, plunging the city in the reddish night heat. Although it was Sunday, pubs, restaurants and various shops were open, clearly many tourists flooded the streets of the center, but also many clubs walked in total tranquility.
After a stop at the 777 pub (https://www.facebook.com/777.dublin), a small place where you can sip cocktails rather sophisticated (and also quite expensive) and eat Mexican dishes (nenache too abundant) every Sunday at the price of 7.77 euros we headed to a typical Irish pub recommended by a friend the Porterhaus (http://www.theporterhouse.ie/bars-dublin-temple.php).
The Pub is divided into several floors, as soon as you enter you can 'catch the acrid smell of beer with a note of grilled, there are several stairs on opposite sides of the room to reach the upper floors or the bathrooms located at least one.
The first thing that catches your eye is the incredible amount of beer plugs located on the wooden counter; on the stools sitting carefree several men, many of them tourists, but also some Irish.
The place is entirely made of wood and it´s really spectacular, it makes the idea of the old breweries of the past, and it is really well kept.
At Porterhous we drank several beers of excellent quality 'the menu' is really impressive, between draught and bottled beers you can count more than a hundred divided by country of production, for the most curious and 'can choose the option tasting. After about forty minutes a waitress came to ask us if we wanted to eat something, making us understand that if we did not want to consume more we had to clear the table, even if too much this fact makes the restaurant lose a point that otherwise would have been really perfect.
For dinner we opted to eat something at home because of the rather high prices.
On the second day we decided to visit the interactive museum of the Leprecauni ( http://www.leprechaunmuseum.ie/ ) , mythological figures typical of Ireland.
The visits to the museum are every few hours and are managed by the guide who becomes the storyteller of the group, will accompany you with great emphasis and enthusiasm into the magical world of Irish legends.
The visit is available in English or Gaelic, lasts about 45 minutes and is a fun and very interesting experience that I recommend to all (price 16 euros).
To eat something, we recommended a typical place called The Church ( https://www.thechurch.ie/ ) , an old church transformed into a huge luxury restaurant.
The lunch was not the best, the prices were quite expensive and one of the dishes arrived 30 minutes late, a recommended place to drink a coffee and enjoy the location.
The day passed through the streets full of street musicians that follow one after the other through Grafton Street and Essex Street, with truly incredible performances, that will entertain you pleasantly during your walks to discover the center.
The night of New Year´s Eve was a pleasant adventure, around 10 p.m. we left the house heading to the center in search of a place to dine, we immediately realized that almost all the clubs were closing so we got into a fast food in American style 80's, Eddie Rockets
( http://www.eddierockets.ie/ ), chequered floor, fire-red leather sofas and juke boxes on the tables.
We ate and headed for the streets that were incredibly lit by lighthouses placed on the houses, especially for the night of New Year's Eve.
The excessive light slightly ruined the typical atmosphere to which we were accustomed the previous days, but the euphoria in the air was enough to keep us smiling, and between one beer and the other we celebrated midnight on the Oconnel Bridge, we enjoyed a short fireworks display and we continued drinking a few beers in the pubs and walking through the city.
After a day of rest we decided to use our last day to visit the legendary Cliff of moher and the incredible cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
We booked the trip (https://wildrovertours.com/attraction/cliffs-of-moher/) at a cost of 45 euros per person, departure at 7.00 from O´connor street, and return at 19.30.
The bus trip lasts about 3 hours and a half (with a break in between) and is accompanied by a guide (Anthony) who will entertain you in a very nice way illustrating the various areas of the island with stories and anecdotes very interesting.
The trip from Dublin to the other side of the island will be an opportunity to enjoy the incredible wild views of the green island, endless fields, forests and small towns that extend across the diagonal that cuts Ireland in two to reach the Cliff of Moher.
As a suggestion I can tell you to wear mountain boots, or at least shoes with a good tank, bring a hat and dress well, you are going to walk on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic! The area is quite windy and the climate humid all year round.
When you get to your destination you will have 2 hours to visit the cliffs in total autonomy, pay attention to the advice of the guide who will give you various information on where to go what to do and what not to do.
The Cliff of moher are famous worldwide for being a natural masterpiece, their height (more than 200 meters of cliff overlooking) and beauty literally leaves you breathless, and as such compartment respected, this natural spectacle brings with it a sad record for accidents that are repeated every year due to reckless tourists, so be careful!
From the bus parking in a few minutes you can reach the site, which is divided into two roads that run along the two sides of the cliff. In two hours we were able to see only a part of the site, which would be worth a visit for at least 3 hours in my opinion.
In the first half hour time was not on our side, and large schools of fog fluctuated between the walk and the precipice, making the show less visible and dangerous the walk. Fortunately, after the first half hour, the fog began to clear up and the view before us was really something indescribable.
You could see precisely the entire coastline that drew the contour of the fjord creating an incredible gulf, the cliff, just below us, was incredible, more than 200 meters of precipice overlooking the icy waters of the Atlantic and on the other side endless green fields, hills that stretched for miles.
I strongly recommend to stay on the path and watch carefully where you put your feet, the ground is very slimy because of the humidity´and it takes very little to slip and fall, you are just a few meters from the precipice and not everywhere there are safety barriers, especially in the last piece where you leave the site. Beware of risky photos and selfies, always look where your feet are and not the screen of your phone or camcorder!
After visiting the Cliff of Moher, the bus continued towards Galway, a town on the opposite side of the island to Dublin.
We stopped to see other cliffs in a natural park not far away, but the stop was too short to fully enjoy the beauty of nature that surrounded us.
Arrived to Galway we have still had 2 hours of time to visit the town; after a short walk in the historical center, tired and hungry we have opted for going to eat something in a pub chosen at random. This time luck has smiled on us, the pub "The Dail Bar"
( https://thedailbar.com/ ) was divided into two floors completely made of wood, with a wood-burning fireplace that warmed the environment, we ate beef stew with Guinness sauce and mashed potatoes, and to digest sipped a good coffee 'rlandese with lots of double wisky, all at very low prices compared to Dublin.
Refreshed and full we walked lightheartedly through the center of Galway enjoying
the medieval atmosphere of the Irish city.
We left Ireland the next morning bringing home the positive memory of a unique and characteristic land, which certainly deserves much more than 4 days, and to which we will definitely return.