fall in ireland: dublin beginnings (part 1 of 2)

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i still can’t believe our 10-day trek across ireland went by so quickly! my parents, sister and i have been planning this trip for about 6 months. after many cross country skype dates between our family, we finally had the details of our trip nailed down. we decided to start our trip in dublin and then rent a car and drive around the country clockwise, driving a full circle around the bottom half of the country.

it was quite an ambitious trip because a lot of driving was involved, but i think we did a great job of delegating the appropriate amount of time in each place. we got to see SO much of the beautiful country. according to everything we read (and all the irish people we spoke to), we got so lucky with almost no rain and beautiful 60’s-and-sunny days every day of our trip save for the last day.

  • stay: 2 days | ashling hotel
  • don’t miss: guinness storehouse, kilmainham gaol, making conversation with as many lovely irish bartenders as you can
  • skip: one of the cathedrals
  • eat: a proper irish breakfast at the queen of tarts
  • drink: like the irish do (guinness). or if that’s not your cup of tea, anything from the francisan well brewery which is on tap most places

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our trip began in dublin where we landed at 6 am extreeeeemely jet lagged, yet excited to begin exploring. the first day we set off exploring the kilmainham gaol which was a great introduction to irish history and the city in general. it wouldn’t be a true trip to dublin without exploring the temple bar area which was fun to see, but would gladly never go back again. we had our first of many fish and chips (and guinness) dinners and called it an early night.

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the second day we were feeling a little more rested and hit the ground running. we walked the entire city starting with breakfast at the quaintest little cafe, queen of tarts. next, we walked over to christchurch cathedral and crypt which is the oldest church i’ve ever set foot in. the 1,000-year old crypt/museum was incredible, but extremely creepy. after christchurch we walked through dublin castle, st. stephens green (see the birds attacking us below) and trinity college to see their library as well as the book of kells (wow).

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our daytime activities ended of course, at no other than the guinness storehouse. coming from someone who is a passive lover of guinness, this was one of my favorite parts of dublin. the storehouse is in an absolutely massive building that literally takes up an entire city block in dublin. the tour was definitely setup to accomodate masses, but it was still so interesting to read about arthur guinness and the affect that he and his brewery have had on dublin, and irish culture as a whole.

after our big day of sightseeing and walking around downtown, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a special birthday dinner for my dad. it was a “traditional” dinner with stories and folklore at the oldest bar in dublin, brazenhead. while it was a little hokey for my liking, it was still entertaining to be a part of. they had this adorable couple of old men playing music during dinner which was the highlight for me.

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most of the photos from dublin were unfortunately taken on my iphone. i discovered on our last day in dublin that what i thought was a complete camera meltdown was actually just a little dust inside 🙂 back to regularly scheduled schmancy photos in the next post…7

on our last day in dublin, i went for a run through the incredibly beautiful phoenix park. then we picked up our rental car, explored both the grafton street and o’connell street shopping districts, and ended with a ridiculously cozy dinner of champagne and mussels at a local pub near our hotel.

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^birds attacking us at st. stephens green 🙂

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british virgin islands

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jost van dyke is the smallest of the 4 main islands that comprise the british virgin islands. at 3 square miles and a population of 298, it goes without saying that this island is completely off the grid. it’s so small that:

  1.  the first mate of the small boat we chartered was also our bartender that night at the local bar where the whole island parties together each night
  2. upon arrival, the “car company” left our suzuki next to the dock with the keys under the mat, trusting that we’d sign the paperwork and pay at some point later on
  3. within 4 days i felt like i knew everyone on the island

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we stayed at the white bay villas, the cutest little apartment-type lodging with the most incredible view. there are no grocery stores on the island, so our hotel asked for a grocery list ahead of time and had it all waiting as soon as we arrived. many people visit JVD, but not many stay on the actual island. we were so lucky. most people drive their boats in from st. john, st. thomas and tortola up to one of the 5 island beach bars to spend the day, and then either boat home or spend the night on their boats.

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