Next stamp in my passport: Ireland!
Around lunch time on Saturday, James, Eli, Sydney and I started our journey to Dublin. First, we had to catch a train at half past noon, to Bristol Temple Meades station, where we were taking a connecting bus to the airport.
Bristol International Airport is rather small, much like the Myrtle Beach airport so it was rather easy navigating throughout. We were flying with Ryanair and had checked in online and printed out our boarding passes prior to our flight (because it was £15 to check in and £45 to print your boarding pass at the counter). Since we were non-EU passport holders we still needed to get our boarding passes stamped at the counter to indicate that our passports were checked. This is really important on Ryanair flights because you can feasibly make it all the way to the boarding gate, and be denied access to board your flight because the stamp isn’t on the boarding pass.
Next step was security. Oh my gosh I love these Brits and their queues. Security is so much easier, and less hectic when it’s customary to queue before approaching the belt, rather than everyone standing as close to it as possible. Fun fact, you only need to take your shoes off if you wear boots. Yay for trainers (sneakers). Once you leave security you are forced to walk through the maze that is Duty-Free before you can enter the waiting area. Unlike the US, here in the UK, the gates for your flights are not released until about 30 minutes – 1 hour before your flight. So most people sit in this waiting area, surrounded by restaurants and couches and stare at the departures screen waiting for their gate number to released. Once released its a dash to gate, especially for Ryanair as they do not board the plane by zones, but rather by first come first serve. If you’re not one of the first 90 people on the flight, you will most likely have your personal item checked free of charge, but then you will have to wait for it at baggage claim. Considering we only had a day and a half in Dublin, we didn’t want to wait at baggage claim, so we made sure to speed walk to our gate as soon as it was released and immediately get in at the front of the queue to wait for boarding.
A cool thing about this flight is that you actually walk outside and climb the stairs into the plane, from either the front or back end. Oh how this reminded me of all my flights to Tobago as a child, I love boarding planes in this manner. The flight itself was quick, only 40 minutes, and though Ryanair is a budget airline I would say it compared almost better than Spirit. The seats were roomier, though albeit not as padded, and the prices far cheaper. My flight cost me all of £20 return trip to get from Bristol to Dublin. A flight from Myrtle Beach to New York can cost up to $300 if you buy online. The only downside of the flight is you really can’t nod off and take a quick nap because Ryanair blasts adverts over the loudspeakers. I guess that’s how they recuperate their costs on low budget flights, also by nickel and dime-ing you on every possible thing. While we were on our FORTY MINUTE flight, a girl in the row in front of me decided she was hungry and when the meal service(hot or cold meals) commenced FIFTEEN MINUTES INTO THE FLIGHT she thought it was good idea to order a hot meal. Five minutes later, she has her meal, mind you we’re now literally at the halfway point of the flight. She sits and chats for five minutes, and then an announcement comes on, “We will begin our initial descent into Dublin, please stow your tray tables and raise your window shades.” Twenty-five minutes into our flight, she realizes she literally has zero time to eat her meal and calls over a stewardess, THROWS out her meal, and yells at them for not having enough time to eat her meal. James and Eli (both starving) were sitting next to me and looked at each other like what the hell, Eli almost yelled out that he would take her meal before she just threw the untouched meal away. She stated that they should have never given her the option to purchase a hot meal since the flight was so short. The stewardess, (I commend your sassiness), responded with, “Well you did know it was a 40-minute flight. It’s not our responsibility to tell you not to buy a full hot meal on a short flight.” Then she DEMANDED a refund for her meal she threw out, like honey you could’ve closed your meal and taken it with you. The airline was kind enough to compensate her with a cold sandwich instead, but it just blew my mind that someone could be that daft, and rude. Sydney missed the whole fiasco as she was a few rows back, enjoying the view and quiet. On the plus side, I got the window seat and had a great view out of window flying over Ireland.
Once we got to Dublin Airport, we quickly bought a return bus ticket on the Airbus, connecting us from Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre and we were on our way! Sadly we left the rainy, gloomy weather of England, to only be met with even more rain and gloom. It was very cold, rainy, windy and we were all exhausted and starving. We got off the bus, right in the heart of the city, and decided food was the first thing we needed to do. What do you eat when in Dublin? Mexican. Because it was the closest restaurant to the bus stop. Imagine a Chipotle, or a Moes. That same exact concept, but some random name. We were lucky in that they offered a student discount, so my burrito bowl (though much smaller than my usual portion in the States) only cost €6 instead of €7. After we all scarfed our meals down, we were rejuvenated and ready to take on this new city.
We decided to do a hostel tour and drop off our bags.First, we went to Eli’s hostel, then mine and James’ and lastly Sydney’s. After all the bags were dropped off, we walked around Dublin and checked out the nightlife. Dublin was a very lively town, people were everywhere going to a pub, or a restaurant, shopping or listening to some live music. We basically walked through the entire nightlife area and found the Zozimus bar that had hanging umbrellas in front of it. Though it has lost a few umbrellas since the piece was first installed it’s still a site to see. By this time it was now nearing 11 pm and we decided to head back to our hostels for a good nights rest.
Our hostel: Jacob’s Inn Hostel.
Price: £32 pn/person.
Pros: Wifi, free breakfast, lockbox beneath bed (no locks provided), warm comfy beds, gaming center, lounge area, black out curtains for each bunk, great location.
Cons: Inconsiderate guest suffering from extreme sleep apnea that decided staying in a SHARED hostel room was appropriate. I’m pretty sure none of the 8 people in my room got any sleep because this guy sounded like he was drowning, driving a tractor, suffocating, sloppily eating, and snoring ALL AT THE SAME TIME. If you know you have severe sleep apnea, you should really get a bedroom to yourself.
The following morning James and I were up at breakfast, stuffing our faces full with as much as we could stomach so we wouldn’t be starving all day long. Boiled eggs, toast, jam, nutella, cereal and squash, coffee, tea were amongst the menu. We also managed to make a few nutella sandwiches for the road as a lunch snack. We paid for the food…we were sure as hell taking advantage of our free breakfast. After we were full to the brim, and loaded with road sammies, we checked out of our hostel and were off to meet Eli at his hostel since he was on the way to our first destination. Sydney’s hostel was closest to our destination so she was meeting us there. For James’ birthday (I treated him early since our trip was in October) I bought him and I tickets to the Guinness tour, the one and only thing, besides going to Italy, that he has explicitly told me he wanted to do while we were abroad. Now 9:30 am on Sunday morning is a bit early to do a Guinness tour if you ask me, but considering it was cheapest time slot that’s when we were going. As we approached St. James’s Gate, ironic, James was like a child, giddy with glee and excitement. I think, besides myself and the Eagles, this is the most excitement I’ve seen from him towards something else.
The tour commences at the gift shop, where everyone stands around the lease for the Guinness factory. An interesting fact about the lease is that it was signed for a period of 9,000 years at €45 per annum. What a freaking deal.
Anyway, there are five floors, and the first two floors explain how Guinness is brewed. The first floor is a video-graphic tour, whilst the second one has replicas of machines and takes you step by step from one machine to another.
The third floor is the “tasting” where you walk into a room and smell these five gassy columns that exhibit certain smells relevant to the drink and then if you’d like there’s a Guinness sample.
The fourth floor consists of the Guinness Academy, where you can become a certified Guinness “pourer”. Apparently, there is a specific way that one must pour a Guinness. If I remember correctly you hold the glass at a 45-degree angle, pour until the liquid gets about 3/4 of the way then straighten the glass. You stop and let the Guinness settle, and then do the second pour where you top it off and let it settle again, then sip. The fifth floor is a Cafe of sorts, and then up at the top is the Observatory deck where you can have a drink with a view of all of Dublin. With your tour ticket, you are entitled to one free pint of Guinness. It was a rough morning for James, considering none of us but him was drinking. Eli managed to give his pint to a very appreciative gentleman, whilst Sydney struggled to give someone her drink. James drank both mine and his.
At about 11:30 we finished our tour and hit the town to see the rest of the sites! We basically just strolled back to the city center and saw a few sites along the way. We got a view of the official Dublin City Wall on our way to check out St. Patrick’s Cathedral. James saw a sign that had his middle name “Padraig” on it so he was very happy, then saw another sign immediately after that had his named spelt as “Padhraig” and then declared his mother spelt his name wrong.
After that, we walked over to Dublin Castle and viewed the castle and the gardens, which didn’t really look like a castle. It was more of a square, with a courtyard and a church on the corner. The church itself looked more like a “castle” than the rest did.
Following the Dublin Castle, we walked over to Temple Bar and the Ha’Penny Bridge(one of the many bridges that connect Dublin since a river runs right through the city center). Temple Bar is one of the most iconic pubs in Dublin, though I’m quite sure a tourist trap. We decided we were quite fine just viewing from the outside, and opted for lunch.
At this point Eli was drained, hurting and starving. James and I are definitely more used to pushing our bodies because neither of us was really hungry, and could’ve kept going but for the sake of the group we stopped at a Mongolian restaurant where you could buy one bowl for €6 or unlimited bowls for €13. Sydney and I opted for one bowl each, whereas James and Eli did the unlimited. While at lunch, we did have the pleasure of seeing a man take advantage of the ‘fit as much as possible’ mentality into the one €6 bowl. His bowl was towering with noodles, and it was actually quite impressive, up until the point where he spilled half of his noodles tower on the floor. Yet he still somehow managed to have a massive bowl of food even though he dropped half his noodles. I admire that he made sure to get his money’s worth.
The next stop for us was Trinity College. We ended up paying to enter the library because we wanted to see the Book of Kells and the Old Library anyway. The Book of Kells is an original manuscript Gospel, in Latin. It is ornately decorated and written, on sheepskin. If a mistake every occurred they would scrape it off with a knife and begin again. The exhibit is very strict, and you are not allowed to take photos of the Book of Kells. The Old Library in the Trinity College library has the Long Room, which is breathtaking in its own right. The photos speak for themselves.
After our trip at the college, we attempted to do the Leprechaun Museum, but €14 was far too steep a price for leprechauns..so we ended up at King’s Park Inn instead. It essentially seemed to be a housing area, with apartments but behind it was a nice park that we kinda just sat in to recuperate our bodies from all the walking we did all day. I’ve left out all the bits where we got lost here and there, and the distance between places but we easily walked at minimum 10 miles that day. Anyway at this park we did see a tree that had basically taken over a bench.
We decided to walk back to Sydney’s hostel since she was the only one that had paid for a second night in a hostel and hung out there for a little. Her hostel was right next to the Old Jameson Distillery so it was like killing two birds with one stone. After we recuperated we decided to check out The Brazen Head, which is the oldest pub in Ireland, and listen to some live music. Sadly we weren’t the only ones with that idea as it was jam packed and we were forced to find something else to do.
We were in the vicinity of a local Aldi (great, cheap supermarket) and opted to buy ourselves dinner. James and I spent €8 got six rolls, cold cuts, cheese, granola bars, zip lock bags, and of course cookies because god forbid James misses out on cookies. We managed to feed ourselves for the rest of the night, and breakfast and lunch for the next day. Score. Since our flight was at 7 am the following day, Sydney decided to go back to her hostel have dinner and try to get some rest because she would have to leave her hostel at 4 am to get the flight. We were planning to sleep in the airport to save money, so we had nothing but time. We opted to go back to the Temple Bar area, and went into a pub and listened to some good old’ Irish pub music for a bit. On a side note, Dublin is beautiful at night. Since there are rivers that run right through the city, all the various bridges across the city are lit up and create a very scenic view.
After we had killed as much time as possible checking out various pubs, we got the next bus back to the airport, where we quickly realized we were not the only ones planning to sleep in the airport. Most of the good McDonald’s booths were taken by people already sleeping so we had to improvise. I learned that Eli and James are both booth hogs, and I basically got no sleep. Maybe an hour or two tops. At about 5 am, I woke them up, we got our boarding passes stamped, and went through security to board our flight. I was so tired that not even the Ryanair adverts kept me awake. It was lights out the minute we were up in the sky.
Total Cost for James and I: £256.10
- Total Transport: £113.10
- Train ticket from Exeter St. Davids to Bristol Temple Meades (including airport bus transfer): £26.55 ea = £53.10
- Flight: £20 ea = £40
- AirBus747 from Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre: €10 ea = €20 = roughly £20 (the pound was almost 1:1 when we went)
- Total Accommodation:£64
- Hostel: £32 pn/per person = £64/1 night
- Total Food:£33
- Food = €6 burrito bowl, €6 + €13 Mongolian, €8 Aldi Dinner = roughly £33
- Total Attractions: £46
- Guinness= €14 ea = €28 = roughly £28
- Book of Kells and Old Library = €9 ea = €18 = roughly
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