As you may (or may not have) noticed, I began writing again not too long ago for the first time in about 4 weeks. During my absence from Inspiring Pretty, I traveled to Europe! I am a bit of a traveling fiend, and I am finding it harder and harder to stay in US, so this summer I went to Ireland, France, Italy and Greece with one of my good friends. It was a blast and I thought I’d chronicle it for you in a few posts. Our trip was from Los Angeles–>Dublin–>Paris–>Athens–>Rhodes–>Santorini–>Athens–>Rome–>Dublin–>Los Angeles.
We left Los Angeles for Chicago early in the morning after the Carmageddon fiasco weekend. Our flight to Chicago went without a hitch and being originally from just outside Chicago, I just had to get some Chicago food as the perfect short welcome home and a sweet goodbye to America (not to mention my friend, Sarah, travelling with me had never been to Chicago). Unfortunately, we had to go through a debacle of airline and airport problems to reach the international terminal, but we did it. And when we finally got through, we were more than dismayed to find out there were absolutely no restaurants in the international terminal, and the only consumable items were things that barely constituted a sandwich for $9. We were starving though, and they knew it, which is why they charge so much, so we caved, bought it and had a sad last American meal. We would arrive in Dublin at 8 AM after 14 hours of travel and get out into the city, so we knew we needed sleep, but we didn’t get it because of the amazing movie choices onboard.
At Dublin airport, I was so thankful to pick up my bag at luggage claim, because each time I have traveled to Europe, my bag has been lost on the journey there. I was already happy and we jumped on the bus to our hotel. We were told to get off at “city center”, so we just enjoyed driving on the wrong side of the road with the driver on the wrong side of the bus as well and admired the gorgeous Georgian buildings in the quiet suburbs outside the city. Then, we came to the city and the driver yelled stop and after stop, but never “city center”. So, we stayed on until I was absolutely certain we were out of the heart of Dublin and eventually we were the only ones on the bus. Then, it came down to the hallowed rock-paper-scissors to decide who had to ask the bus driver where we were. Before we decided by best out of 3 though, he yelled “End of the line!” And, we had no idea what to do. So, this nice older Aussie bus driver saw we were 2 helpless, lost girls and gave us a ride back for free, just chatting the entire way and then was kind enough to give us precise directions, because I’m sure it was obvious that we needed them. We dropped our bags off at the hostel and headed out.
This was the first time I’d ever been in Ireland and the first time Sarah had ever crossed the Atlantic and we honestly just stood in wonder outside the hostel doors for a few seconds, beaming like tourists I’m sure. We had a full day though, and headed off.
We went tofirst, which was literally right next to our hostel. It was of course gorgeous as the oldest building in Dublin should be.
It was Sarah’s first time in a church in Europe and just in a building that old and she was blown away by how tall, ornate and rooted in old ways it was. We then toured the catacombs, which eerily had a restaurant. I still haven’t figured out why someone thought of that.
Then we moved to Dublinina in another part of the church, across the road (the church is connected by a tunnel overpass), where we briskly moved through hilarious wax statues from Viking times to the Tower of St. Michael. The tower had amazing views of the city although you have to dredge a few hundred steps to the top.
Next, we attempted to navigate through the city for the first time with simply a map (I’m accustomed to an iPhone just telling me where to go) to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery.
Of course we got lost, but we saw cool things, like massive old castle walls taller than I ever would have imagined, old churches and and interesting signs.
Our favorite sign was a Budweiser sign. Soon, we found it, though and latched onto a tour. We don’t like tours, but some places make you do them, so we tried to have a little fun on it.
At the end, a few people got to do a taste test between 5 of what is considered the best whiskey brands in the world and I was chosen. Sarah was jealous. And, I discovered whiskey is a very harsh thing to drink straight, especially 5 shots at once. Then, you also get another complimentary shot with the rest of the tour group.
I was feeling good after the tour and what do you do when you just drank whiskey? That’s right, you head to the Guinness Storehouse! The Guinness Storehouse is made of up enormous, gorgeous old brick buildings. It’s like stepping back in time. I felt like there should have been shipbuilders there taking a break from building the Titanic.
Once inside though, we didn’t want to learn about brewing after just leaving Jameson, so we just hiked it up to the Gravity Bar on the top floor, which has 360° views of Dublin.
And the views were amazing.
You can either pour your own Guinness or have simply walk up to the bar and order one. We ordered one for the cool design on top. After enough drinking for one afternoon, we ambled through the streets. We really just wanted to walk through the streets and look at buildings, because being in the streets of Dublin is like stepping back in time at least 120 years. We loved it.
We headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral next and I loved this church completely simply because I love St. Patrick so much.
You could tell by the layout of the church and streets near it, that this was a focal point in the city, at least in the past.
The insides were gorgeous and we wandered thinking about everything that had happened here over the years.
Each thing was beautiful and significant, from the crypts to the stained glass windows, to the seat cushions to the window shapes.
Everything in it was ancient, including the hung flags that appeared as if they could disintegrate at any second. After much admiration, we were now hungry and wanted some authentic fish and chips.
We only had to order one because it so big. We went to Burdock’s, the oldest chipper in Dublin, right by our hotel.
We then ate in the gardens of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, making us truly content to just sit and eat this different food and soak in Dublin and all of it’s splendor.
We had to leave eventually though, so we moved onto Grafton St, where we went to Bewley’s Cafe, the oldest cafe in Dublin. It has the best views overlooking Grafton St and 19th century charm you can’t beat. After about 24 hours of no sleep though, we were getting tired. So, after an obligatory (for Sarah) stop at Hard Rock Cafe, we headed home, but of course got lost.
We didn’t mind though. In fact we simply watched the Liffey River and strolled home. At the hostel though, we found out we were on the top floor up 4 flights of stairs and there was no elevator.
So, as exhausted as we were, we each hauled about 75 lb of luggage to the top and then collapsed into child-sized beds where we, not kidding, immediately fell asleep. After crashing for about 5 hours, we woke up at 10 pm and went back to Burdock’s where they were now starting to get to know us and then took the quickest shower of my life (where you have to press a button every 15 seconds to keep the water on) we went back to sleep.
The next day we were both wide awake at about 4 AM, which didn’t make sense on Dublin or Los Angeles time. Nothing really opens in Dublin before 10 AM (9 AM if you’re lucky), so we were left to our imagination.
After what felt like an eternity, we toured Dublin Castle, St. Audeon’s Church, St. Ann’s Church and Trinity College. We then realized we hadn’t been in a pub yet, in what is most notorious place in the world for pubs, and we were about to leave for Paris.
So, as we walked St. Ann Street we said we’d walk into the first pub we saw, which was Kehoe’s. It’s an old pub, whose decor is unchanged for over 100 years, still in complete Victorian style. We walked in and had no idea what we wanted, just not Guinness. It’s too bitter for us, but this is like blasphemy to the Irish, so we were timid to say such a thing. They were nice to the 2 young American girls, though, because you’ll never meet a more friendly people than the Irish.
So, our bartender, Sean, recommended Bulmers, an Irish cider. It was great and like at any pub in Ireland, Kehoe’s was filled with friendly Irish people (and at noon) so, you just start talking. They had a blast giving us tips and we made fun of our differences. Of course, the metric system was brought up and we defended America proudly. One guy even said “Your measurements are so weird and no one can remember them. If you can tell me right now how many feet are in a mile, I will use your system forever.” Without a beat, in unison Sarah and I said “5,280 feet.” His jaw dropped. From then on, we continually asked him “How many feet is that?” We had so much fun in a pub at noon on a weekday. We spent our last few hours in Dublin in this pub getting to know our bartender, a few more people and then got phone numbers and emails so we could meet up upon our return to Dublin. I absolutely loved this city now, but it was time to leave for Paris. So, it was back to the airport and soon we were onto Paris.