A Weekend in Dublin
Next stamp in my passport: Ireland! James and I, along with our friends Eli and Sydney decided to do a weekend in Dublin during our semester abroad at Exeter.
Transportation to Bristol Airport.
The four of us caught a train from Exeter St. David’s to Bristol Temple Meads at 12:30 pm on a Saturday. Once we got to Bristol Temple Meads we took a connecting bus, A1, to the airport.
Transportation from Dublin Airport to City Center
When we arrived at Dublin Airport we purchased a round trip ticket on Airbus747. The tickets cost €10 total for each person. The bus collects you at a designated bus stop in front of the airport and collects you at many marked bus stops throughout Dublin.
Bristol International Airport
Flying with Ryanair
Our flights were through Ryanair and educated ourselves on everything we needed to know about flying with Ryanair. We checked in online and printed out our boarding passes prior to flying to avoid the fees incurred at the counter (£15 to check in and £45 to print your boarding pass at the counter). Additionally, since we were non-EU passport holders we needed to get our boarding passes stamped at the counter. This is really important on Ryanair flights because you can be denied access to board your flight because the stamp isn’t on your boarding pass.
Security is so much easier when it’s customary to queue before approaching the belt. Additionally, Bristol’s airport is fairly small so security was quick and easy!
Fun fact - you only need to take your shoes off if you wear boots.
Gate & Boarding
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 the gates for your flights are not released until about 30 minutes before your flight. Most people sit in the waiting area after duty free and stare at the departure screen waiting for their gate number to be released. Once released its a dash to the gate, especially for Ryanair, as they do not board by zones. If you’re not one of the first 90 people on the flight, you personal item will be checked free of charge, but you’ll have to wait at baggage claim.
The flight itself was a quick 40 minutes, and though Ryanair is a budget airline, I would say it fared almost better than Spirit. My flight cost me all of £20 round trip whereas a flight from Myrtle Beach to New York can cost up to $300. The downside of the flight is that 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 in addition to charging for everything.
Saturday evening we decided to do a hostel tour, check in and drop off our bags. We were all staying in different hostels with the exception of James and staying at Jacob’s Inn Hostel, which cost £32 per night/person. Since we had an early flight on Monday morning we decided to pay for the hostel for just Saturday night and sleep in the airport on Sunday night.
The hostel included wifi, free breakfast, a lock box underneath the bunk beds, and privacy blackout curtains on each bunk. Jacob’s Inn Hostel itself was perfectly fine, however our experience at the hostel was not the best. We unfortunately had a roommate that suffered from sleep apnea and we didn’t get a single ounce of sleep.
The following morning James and I stocked up on breakfast. Boiled eggs, toast, jam, nutella, cereal and squash, coffee, tea were on the menu. James and I made a few nutella sandwiches for the road as a snack. We paid for the food…we were sure as hell taking advantage of our free breakfast.
On Saturday evening after all our bags had been dropped off, we walked around Dublin and checked out the city. 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 area and came across Zozimus bar which had an umbrella exhibit in front of it. Though it has lost a few umbrellas since the piece was first installed it’s still a site to see.
The Guinness Factory
After our breakfast on Sunday morning, we were off to meet Eli at his hostel. Once we got Eli we made our way to the Guinness Factory to meet Sydney and commence our tour. For James’ birthday I bought us tickets to the Guinness Factory since it was the one thing he explicitly said he wanted to do on our time abroad. If you ask me, 9:30 am on a Sunday morning is a bit early to tour the Guinness Factory, however, it was the cheapest time slot. As we approached St. James’s Gate, James was like a child, giddy with glee and excitement.
The tour commences at the gift shop, where everyone stands around the lease for the Guinness factory. Interestingly, the lease was signed for a period of 9,000 years at a whopping €45 a year. Talk about a deal.
First & Second Floor – How Guinness is Brewed
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.
Third Floor – Tasting Floor
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 – Guinness Academy
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 – Observatory
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.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
At about 11:30 we finished our tour and hit the town to see the rest of the sites! 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 spelled as “Padhraig” and then declared his mother spelled his name wrong.
After that, we walked over to the 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.
Temple Bar & Ha’Penny Bridge
Following the 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.
The next stop for us was Trinity College. We paid to enter the library because we wanted to see the Book of Kells and The Old Library. The Book of Kells is an original Manuscript Gospel ornately written in Latin on sheekpskin. If a mistake ever occurred the monks would scrape it off with a knife and begin again. The exhibit is very strict on its no photography rule of the Book of Kells. The Old Library in the Trinity College library has the Long Room, which is breathtaking. The photos speak for themselves.
King’s Park Inn
After our trip at the college, we ended up at King’s Park Inn. It essentially seemed to be a housing area, with apartments but behind it was a nice park where we sat for a bit to recuperate from all the walking. At this park we came across a tree that had basically taken over a bench. It’s funny how nature works isn’t it?
Eating in Dublin
When we first got to Dublin on Saturday night we were starving and stopped at the first place we saw. A random Mexican restaurant, very similar to a Chipotle or Moes. Fortunately they were offering a student discount cost €6 instead of €7.
The following Sunday we stopped at a Mongolian Restaurant for lunch, where you could purchase 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 quite impressive, until he spilled his food all over the floor.
Sometime during the night on Sunday we were in the vicinity of an Aldi and decided to do a supermarket dinner. The cheapest way to eat when traveling. 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.
The Brazen Head
On Sunday evening after we were done exploring we opted to check out The Brazen Head, which is the oldest pub in Ireland, and listen to some live music. Since we weren’t the only ones with that idea as it was jam packed, we were forced to find something else to do. Another pub closer to Temple Bar piqued our interest so we spent some time there listening to music before heading to the airport.
Dublin International Airport
Once it got late enough we decided it was time to head back to the airport. We hopped on an bus back to the airport to stake our claim on some benches to sleep on. Quickly we realized that 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 search for a decent spot to sleep. It’s safe to say I got minimal sleep and not even the Ryanair commercials could keep me awake on the flight back to Bristol. All in all the the weekend in Dublin was one for the books
Total Cost: £256.10
- Transport: £113.10
- Train ticket from Exeter St. Davids to Bristol Temple Meads (including airport bus transfer): £26.55 per person = £53.10 total
- Flight: £20 per person = £40 total
- AirBus747 from Dublin Airport to Dublin City Centre: €10 per person = €20 total *roughly £20
- Accommodation: £64
- £32 pn/per person = £64/1 night
- Food: £33
- Boojum burrito bowl to share: €6
- Mongolian 1 bowl and unlimited bowl: €6 + €13
- Aldi: €8
- Total = €33, roughly £33
- Attractions: £46
- Guinness: €14 per person = €28 total
- Book of Kells and Old Library: €9 per person = €18 total
- Total = €46
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