March 21, 2010

For our last day and a half in Dublin, we enjoyed some amazing sights and even more amazing food and drink. Queen of Tarts, a little bakery cafe with two locations within two blocks of each other (yes, it's that good!), provided us such an impressive stop for a little snack the day before, we headed back for breakfast the following day and enjoyed our view across the street of the Dublin Castle gate. The rest of the morning was spent on some of the great shopping on Grafton Street, full of UK goodness, such as Topshop, Marks & Spencer and Brown Thomas. I definitely could have done a lot more damage if my better half wasn't there to reign me in!

Scones w/jam & cream & tea at Queen of Tarts - not to be missed!

I could probably dedicate an entire post to describing, in detail, the lunch we had at The Mermaid Cafe, but I will try to control myself. We both agreed it was the best lunch we'd had - ever. The cuisine was described as French-American and the decor was rustic, Euro-coastal - all wood planks and stormy blue accents. It very much reminded us of a place we would have found in San Francisco, and so we felt right at home. Everything was fresh, simple and incredibly flavorful. If you ever find yourself in Dublin, this place is a must!


My pork with apple & fennel compote and mash

Russ' leek & mushroom risotto with truffle oil

Note all The Mermaid Cafe's recognition ... well deserved!

After being blown away by the culinary greatness that was our lunch, we headed across town for the much-anticipated Guinness Storehouse tour. While I've never been the biggest Guinness fan, I must admit, everyone was right in their assertion that you will never have a better pint than at the storehouse itself (I thought it was generally better throughout the city, in fact). Like the beer itself, the Storehouse was even more impressive than I expected and tour really was fascinating. After all that learning, we took advantage of our complementary pint at the Gravity Bar, a round, glass-enclosed bar at the top of the Storehouse, offering 360-degree views of Dublin.   

Coming up to the impressive home of Guinness (that's the Gravity Bar up top)

Reading up on how Guinness is made

Water from the Wicklow Mountains is a crucial ingredient

Enjoying our complementary Guinness & views of the city at the Gravity Bar

Sufficiently exhausted from a day full of walking the city, we decided on a low-key evening at the movie theater to take advantage of a movie in English! English-language movies are only shown one show at a time, once a week back at home, & the big English cinema in Frankfurt is currently being torn down. 

For our last night in Dublin, we knew we had to make it to the Brazen Head - the oldest pub in Ireland. It was there that we encountered more American tourists that bring us closer and closer to claiming Canadian heritage. What does the stereotypical American order when at such an historical Irish establishment? "What American beers do you have in a bottle?" Ugh. And so she ordered a Coors. And she had no euros to pay for it. Russ and I enjoyed our Guinness and shots of Jameson while snickering to ourselves. When in Rome ...

Views of the River Liffey and the Four Courts building

Grattan Bridge view of the sunset on the Liffey  

The Brazen Head

Check out that established date - this is one old pub!

Enjoying our Guinness on Brazen Head's patio

Our final morning in Dublin was spent with breakfast at a wonderful crepe place, a tour of Trinity College Library and perusing a few shops before we had to head to the airport. We made one last stop into the Queen of Tarts for a light lunch and some baked goodies to take home. Oh! And one final detour back to our first hotel where Russ had left his passport, and therefore, his visa. Thankfully I wasn't sent back home without my passport-less, visa-less husband!

Overall, Dublin was a great trip for a long weekend. It was just enough time to see shops, sights and even spend some time in the country. The people of the city are quite young - I read more than 50% of Dubliners are under 30 and a quarter are teenagers (which accounts for all the dyed-black hair shoved in the face and perma-scowls we saw while out on the weekend). Clontarf Castle Hotel was a great place to stay to enjoy some historical architecture and beautiful interior design, while the Clarence offered a great central location and an even better cocktail (it's Octagon Bar, also not to be missed). While it was nice to take a break from struggling with the German language, often Gaelic-accented English was equally hard to understand. Gaelic itself is a language like no other; think the red room on Twin Peaks

With an upcoming four-day weekend for Easter, we were thinking about taking another mini-break. This all depends on someone's workload and hotel availability (Easter is huge here, like Christmas, with markets and everything, so things book up fast). I'm crossing my finger for Prague, but we'll see!

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische