Saturday, July 13, 2024

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Journey to the Land of the Vikings: Dublin

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It was June. While I was thinking about a different itinerary, Dublin was calling me! I was ready to fly to Dublin of the Vikings, the capital and most historically important city of Ireland! I had already landed at the airport for Dublin, the subject of James Joyce’s Ulysses and mentioned in Radiohead’s “How to disappear completely” song “I float down the Liffey!

Dublin, a city of art, culture, and natural beauty, is a combination of the Irish words Dubh and Linn, meaning ‘black pond’. On the way from the airport to the city center, I realized that planning to see all the major tourist attractions would be exhausting, but the good news I learned from the taxi driver was that Dublin is a flat and easily walkable city, which made my job easier. Another thing I noticed as soon as I landed in Dublin is that people are well-dressed and friendly! They are also accommodating! I expected people to be cold and distant and I was surprised!

If, like me, you prepare your ‘must see’ list in advance, you will discover this city very quickly. If you are pressed for time and want to start planning your adventure right away, grab your list and get ready to immerse yourself in the unexpected charm of Dublin. Due to its compact nature, you can easily get from one place to another in Dublin without getting lost and spending hours on public transport. As far as I can see, there is a lot of traffic in Dublin. So, I recommend not to drive around but to use public transport.

In terms of choosing a hotel, if you want to be in the heart of Dublin, you can choose hotels in the historic buildings around St. Stephen’s Green. I would like to expand on the question of where to stay.

Dublin can sometimes feel more like a collection of villages than a city, each with its personality. Fortunately, this means there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a hotel. Whether you want a tranquil boutique hotel in a quiet corner of the city or a vibrant location where luxury is the name of the game, you will find what you are looking for. The closer you get to Grafton Street, the busier it gets; I’ve been known to walk down the side streets here and find crowds of people spilling out of the bars!

For a more local feel, I recommend The Liberties, a historic area within the old city walls where most of the whisky distilleries are located. The Liberties is an amazing place with traditional pubs, weekend markets, and tourist attractions! The medieval Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle are also nearby! Walking around The Liberties, I discover many historical monuments that give me a glimpse into the area’s past. As soon as I turn the corner at Cornmarket and Lamb Alley, I come across one of the oldest remains of Dublin’s city walls, built in the 12th century. I get carried away and enjoy walking down Cook Street to trace one of the longest surviving walls.

In the chic village of Ranelagh, I join the best coffee shops and sidewalk bars, as well as the hipsters who call this corner of the city home! An affluent village suburb, Ranelagh is centered around the main street of the same name, with trendy cafes, international restaurants, and gastropubs. Nearby streets lined with 19th-century red brick houses and foreign consulates lead to Georgian Mount Pleasant Square and Victorian Dartmouth Square, both with central gardens. Don’t be intimidated, I guarantee you won’t get lost ?

I have more good news for you! If you cross the many bridges over the River Liffey, which divides Dublin into north and south and runs right through the center of the city, you will notice that, when the wind is blowing in the right direction, it smells like the sea. The most famous of these bridges is the O’Connell Bridge (popularly known as the Ha’Penny Bridge) and I walk across it and breathe in the smell. As the weather is nice, I see people sunbathing by the river, reading books, and drinking coffee. It’s like a scene from a film! You can also go canoeing on the River Liffey, stroll through the lush green parks, and spend hours browsing through piles of books in the local second-hand bookshops. If you cross the O’Connell Bridge and walk down the famous street, you can see statues of O’Connell and trade union leader James Larkin, who played an important role in Irish history, as well as many important monuments, including Dublin Tower!

As time goes by, I realize that Dublin is an ever-changing and vibrant city. The different bars, cafes, and restaurants are a whirlwind of fun! Of course, before I arrived, I had read that this city was known for its love of beer and partying, but there is so much more to Dublin than the bar scene. History buffs in particular will be delighted with the excellent museums and attractions! Before we move on to the historical sites, I should mention that Dublin is also a great place for those who love the outdoors! The place to be is Phoenix Park! Located north of the River Liffey, this park is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe and is home to a roaming herd of beautiful fallow deer. Great for photography!

If you are looking for walls and towers in Dublin, I would recommend stopping off at Dublin Castle for something a little more medieval. A visit to the castle will appeal to anyone interested in Irish history.

No visit to Dublin is complete without a visit to Trinity College, Ireland’s most prestigious and arguably most attractive university. It is also a poetic tribute to the finest examples of Victorian architecture! Trinity College has a worldwide reputation as a leading institution for learning, teaching, and research, so it’s a must! The real must-see here is the Book of Kells, a manuscript written in Latin by Celtic monks! Ireland’s most famous artifact is on display in the library’s museum! For more detailed information there are videos about the mystery of the Book of Kells, I suggest you watch them. After seeing the Book of Kells, I realized that the real splendor of Trinity College comes from the ‘Long Room’, a huge and atmospheric library with vaulted ceilings and endless shelves of ancient books. It’s worth a visit just for the magical smell of leather-bound books. If you love libraries, head to The Liberties and visit the Marsh Library, which has remained unchanged for 300 years!

Another must-see is Christ Church Cathedral! It houses the heart of St Laurence O’Toole, the patron saint of Dublin! It is home to an exhibition called Treasures of Christ Church. Amongst other manuscripts and artifacts is a 14th-century copy of the Magna Carta Hiberniae (a law book from 1216)! If you take a guided tour, you will have the chance to ring the church bells! Your choice ? There are 19 bells in total and to get to the belfry you have to climb 86 stone steps in a medieval building and cross the roof in the south transept 🙂 It’s quite an experience! But the decision is yours ?

The Little Museum of Dublin should also be on your list. This award-winning museum tells the story of Dublin and its collection, housed in a beautiful Georgian building, is sure to interest you. Book your tickets in advance as the museum is only accessible by guided tour and most tours sell out quickly.

Described by The Irish Times as “Dublin’s best museum experience” and ranked as the number one museum in Ireland on TripAdvisor, you won’t regret it!

The National Museum of Dublin is also a great place for history lovers! Full of treasures and Viking gold! The National Gallery, just up the road, is full of artifacts from Ireland and around the world, as well as large-scale contemporary works!

Be sure to visit the Guinness Brewery, one of the first cultural icons that many people around the world think of when they think of Ireland! You will find lots of Irish beer in the old factories and warehouses in the St. James Gate area!

Before I came to Dublin, I had read that I would see a lot of colored doors on the streets. The reason why these doors are colored is quite interesting: When the British Queen Victoria died, the Irish refused to mourn, and in response to the order to “paint the doors black”, they painted all the doors in bright colors, thus creating the colorful doors that add great visual beauty to Dublin. Stop by for a photo!

It’s time to shop in Dublin! Grafton Street is the place to be! This area of Dublin has all the high-street shops you could want! You don’t have to go far if you’re looking for something different or a boutique. There is plenty to tempt you in the side streets of Dublin city center. This may never be the cheapest place to shop you will find on your travels, so make sure you take your euros with you generously ? Dundrum Town Centre in Dundrum is one of the most famous shopping centers in the area! You can find everything from high-end luxury stores to vintage souvenir shops. Emily chocolates, Irish whiskeys, Newbridge silverware, Irish-inspired Aran jumpers, and the famous Avoca products are some of the most popular souvenirs in town ? I especially recommend Baileys, the world-famous Irish whiskey from Dublin, which can satisfy shopping enthusiasts in many ways ?

As for Dublin’s food and drink culture ?

Temple Bar is probably the most visited area in Dublin. In this area, I find many old historic buildings and many Irish pubs with live music, beer and food. From what I have learned, many tourists do not go beyond Dame Street and the River Liffey, which mark the upper and lower parts of this cultural area. Tourists who enjoy Trinity College and Christ Church Cathedral don’t venture far to enjoy the nearby Meeting House Square with its galleries, archives, and weekly food market. Stalls selling Irish produce and food trucks seem to take over the square every Saturday between 10 am and 5 pm!

The food scene in Ireland is vibrant and varied. There are many great places to eat in Dublin 8, home to great cafes and neighborhood restaurants. Don’t leave Dublin without trying some Irish seafood! My advice is to go to the food market in Meeting House Square on a Saturday for half a dozen oysters and a glass of wine ?

When it comes to famous Irish pubs, don’t miss one or two. While there are one or two in Temple Bar that are worth a visit, the vast majority of pubs here have astronomical prices after 11 pm. Instead, head to the decent old pubs you’ll find around Liberties and Stoney Batter and enjoy yourself!

My recommendation is the Gravity Bar in the Guinness Storehouse. This iconic glass and steel venue is not only an interesting experience in itself, but also offers an incredible 360-degree view of the city from the top, and is a story of innovation, tradition, and a deep love of beer that began with Arthur Guinness in 1759. And of course, you’ll be relaxing with a great Irish pint ?

There is a wonderful waterfront area in Dublin! It is located at the mouth of the river Liffey to the west of Dublin, full of docks and it is very nice to take a walk in the sea air! It is also nice to watch the ferries crossing from Liverpool Harbour to Dublin!

At the end of my article, I should mention that this Celtic city, unlike other European cities, promises happiness with its friendly people and offers its visitors pleasant hours despite the cold and gloomy weather. So, whatever you do, make sure you visit Dublin! I am planning to go back soon ?

I wish our paths cross on colorful routes,

May the sunshine be in your heart forever,

See you in the blues,

Banu Demir

Editor & Travel Blogger

Instagram: bluevoyage_blueroute

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