Monday, February 16, 2015

Dublin: Avoid Tourist Trap, Find HugeParty

Is Dublin a HugeParty? O'Hell yes!

Boasting a large catalog(ue) of whiskeys, beers, pubs and live music, Dublin should top most party traveler's "bucket list". I agree, as long as you're willing to explore the entire city.

St. Patrick's Park

As part of a work trip I spent six nights in Dublin, a combination of work events and my own exploration provided me with a tremendous experience. Interestingly, I became both an advocate and nay-sayer for future trips to this fine city. Let me explain...

Guinness Tour!!!

Read more after the jump!!!

Where to Stay?

First of all, I think it is imperative to stay near Temple Bar, but not in Temple Bar. A bustling tourist/bar district, Temple Bar has plenty to offer a traveler (Social Scene, Food, Bars, New Friends), but I also believe it is over-crowded and misrepresents Dublin. But, like a moth to a light, I still highly recommend you set up camp where there will be guaranteed nightly action.

We stayed at The Westin Dublin, it is fancy and expensive, but also fantastic if you can afford it (Fun Fact: This hotel was the site for the Bank of Ireland). As far as hotel bars go, The Mint Bar in the hotel is pretty fantastic. Located in the basement, this bar was surprisingly packed on both Thursday (Jazz Music) and Friday (Swing Music) nights.

Made a New Friend in Temple Bar

Temple Bar... Ugh.

I've alluded to it above, and want to reinforce it here.... Temple Bar District in Dublin is very fun, but does not paint an accurate portrait of Dublin.

Dublin's Temple Bar District is a fake Irish ambiance. I experienced many of the bars in Temple Bar (including Fitzsimons and The Auld Dubliner) on multiple nights. Each night you're going to get the same gimmicky "Irish" live music, cheap shot specials and Guinness beer. This can be very fun, but awfully repetitive. Go for one night, just to say you did it. 

If you're looking for a true Irish pub, I believe you can find better. If you're looking for a HugeParty with other tourists, Temple Bar is your spot. I'd recommend ending your night here at a pub, but spending your days throughout the city.

Think I'm wrong about Temple Bar? Other people share my opinion.

What to Expect? 

  • Food...The Worst - Meat. Potatoes. Meat. Potatoes. Meat.... After 6 days in Dublin, I became sick of meat and potatoes. I'm not saying that's all they serve, it was just very hard to find different. Plus, and this goes for Europe in general, SPICY food does not exist. My bland food experience in Dublin left me craving spicy. I literally do not have one recommendation for a place to eat in Dublin. Not one. Sadly. Feel free to disagree in the comments section below.
  • Favorite Bars - You're required to have a pint at the oldest bar in Dublin, The Brazen Head, established in 1198(!!!), when people were much shorter apparently (the bar height is quite low). Just south of Temple Bar is the Grafton Street area, I recommend Dakota. IF YOU MUST hang out in Temple Bar, I recommend Fitzgerald's, perhaps the most authentic Irish Pub I could find while staying close to the hotel.
  • Cost - Very affordable, aside from where we stayed. Food and drinks were well priced, comparable with a big city in US. Certainly much lower than London, which was my second stop on this work trip. 
  • Avoid!!! - Too much time in Temple Bar and Taco Fries. Have I made my point about Temple Bar yet? Good. Also, Anthony Bourdain tried "Taco Fries" in his show The Layover. Henceforth, I tried them at 3am at a place called Abrakadabra. Here's someone else's picture of their experience (I didn't think a picture was warranted). So gross.
    The Brazen Head. Established 1198!!!!


    Without a doubt, the locals I met at the many pubs I frequented were some of the friendliest strangers in the world. I guess that's what I've come to expect under the influence of good beer and whiskey. 

    American tourists are very prominent, but they're just as excited to be there as you, and they're likely "finding their Irish roots", which can be cool to talk about.

    Guinness Tour

    The Guinness Storehouse is Awesome. Totally worth it, so I won't tell you too much, except to book in advance if you can. Oh, and if you can make it up to The Gravity Bar, you're in for a treat, perhaps the best view of Dublin. 


    Certified Guinness Pourer

    Jameson Tour

    This is another Awesome must stop. If you want the best experience, be sure to volunteer to be a taste-tester. 

    Jameson Tour!!!

    Jameson Taste Tester

    As a taste-tester, I took my job very seriously. I do this serious research for all of you. Anyways, you get to drink a little more if you're a taster, and they have you sample Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels and Jameson.

    Here's the secret... as the tour is about to start, they'll ask for volunteers to be a taste-tester, be sure to put your hand up quickly, as they only select 6-8 people. You get a certificate at the end of the taste test too. Verrry Official.

    Taste Testing Worksheet
    "Official" Taste Tester

    Tip: If you have more than one person that wants to volunteer in your group, do not sit next to each other in the beginning of the tour, the guide will only select one person from your group.

    Fancy Jameson Chandelier

    Fake Production (They no longer make whiskey at the factory)

    Travel Quote?

    "God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world." - Ed McMahon

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    1. Oh yes. Dublin IS SUCH A PARTY...from what I remember, at least.

    2. I can't wait to move to the UK this year - Dublin is on my list for the summer!

    3. I have a lot of friends from Ireland and they all say the same thing about Temple Bar - seems it has become enothing more than a tourist trap. But at least there are plenty more places to go!

    4. Great post and adventures! And I know about what you mean by the 'spicy' part. I come from Asia and after staying in Belgium for a while, I often crave for the spicy dishes!

    5. I've never been to Dublin but it's on my wish list. By the way, you should come to Romania for some really spicy food! ;)

    6. I've never been to Dublin but it's on my wish list. By the way, you should come to Romania for some really spicy food! ;)


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