The Quick and Easy Dublin Tour - Doing the Capitol in a Single Day
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Before you head off to parts rural, get a taste of the "fair town" with Dublin tour
By Julee Glaub
I lived in Dublin for nearly six years and still enjoy the capital’s energy when I go back to visit. It’s a city where the new and old worlds blend tastefully, and with a population of just one million, a place where you often bump into folks you know. If I had just one day to see Dublin, I’d take in the city’s street life by strolling some of the best neighborhoods.
I’d start by grabbing a copy of In Dublin (which lists the week’s events) at one of the local magazine stands, and then head straight for Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton Street for breakfast. Bewley’s is a Dublin classic that came back to life just this past June after closing for a time. Although the classic Irish breakfast has been replaced with muffins and more healthy foods like Granola, it’s still a great place to enjoy some tea and old-time atmosphere.
I’d then recommend an outstanding two-hour walking tour of the city conducted by history graduates of Trinity College. It leaves from the Trinity College front gate at 11 am and 3pm in summer, with just one tour at 11 am in the cooler months
The tour, which costs just 10 Euro, covers major features of Ireland’s history, including the amazing Book of Kells in the college library. This illustrated manuscript, created by monks around 800 AD, is probably the most famous Irish work of art. Outside, the tour also exposes you to a great mix of old and new architecture around the city. (My favorite sights are always the brightly colored Georgian doors).
After this workout, I’d make my way back to the top of Grafton Street for afternoon tea at the Shelbourne Hotel. They do a lovely afternoon tea with scones, jam, and cream in a very old and beautiful landmark building. The Shelbourne is a wonderfully relaxing spot to recharge while reading a favorite Irish author or just chatting.
Feeling restored after lunch, I’d ramble down Grafton Street, now a bricked pedestrian mall, and have a look at all the new shops. Looking is recommended more than buying here, as prices are no bargains.
For a taste of Dublin’s most energetic, outdoor food market, I’d head north over the river on O’Connell Street, take a quick left on Henry Street and do some shopping on Moore Street. This is a real market for locals, with hawkers inviting you to come and get a great deal from them.
To end the day on a more refined note, I’d make my way to The National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square (Phone: 353 1 661 5133). To get there, head back to Trinity College, turn left and go one long block on Nassau Street. Admission is free. An hour or two isn’t enough to see this great museum, but you can at least make your way to see my favorite painting, “The Prodigal Son” by Murillo. The Gallery Shop is a lovely place for easily transportable gifts, and there’s a gorgeous restaurant.
Around dinner time, I’d head for the Temple Bar area, an incredibly popular neighborhood of restaurants, pubs and music venues west of Trinity College. The main street is called simply, Temple Bar. Nowadays, people fly over from the continent just to hang out here. Any time, day or night, the street is filled with people. It’s an atmosphere very similar to New Orleans. (The last time I walked through, I passed a restaurant where people were up dancing on the bar. If you like a tamer atmosphere, you might want to come in the daylight hours). There’s an almost unlimited number of restaurants where you can have dinner.
I’d look to close out the day with a play at 8:00 -- whatever caught my eye in In Dublin that morning. I lean towards the older theaters in Dublin, with their red velvet curtains and wood carvings that take you back in time (The Gaiety is a favorite). They’re small, perhaps a bit crowded, venues that create a sense of community among theater-goers. I’ve had conversations and even been offered sweets by “new friends” in nearby seats.
For a finale, I’d head over to Hugh’s Pub on the quays just beyond the Haypenny Bridge for a traditional music session. Then, I’d sleep easy, knowing that in just one day, I’d had a good taste of Dublin.
Julee Glaub is a musician. Her new CD, “Blue Waltz,” is available at www.juleeglaub.com