Land at Dublin airport, take a trip through passport control, buy a Leap card at the tourist desk inside, put €20 on it, step outside to the bus stop, hop on the Airlink 757 bus, get a tour of downtown from the top of a double decker bus, step off 30 minutes later in downtown Dublin.
The EU really has passport control figured out. There are these machines that you step up to and place your passport on photo page down. A screen with webcams raises up to see your face, I presume someone at a remote facility verifies you, then a gate opens and you collect your passport and move on. This system processes a whole bunch of people very quickly, and keeps those control officers busy in a location where they can work comfortably and flexibly – I presume.
That’s if you have an EU passport. Otherwise you have to go through the cattle lines like usual. Which is the same system as every US airport for regular citizens. Why do we do that? We should make re-entering the country quicker, easier, and more efficient on the manpower side.
Downtown Dublin is undergoing tons of construction. New high-rises are going up along the river, and they look primarily commercial. It’s going to be some beautiful office space a short distance from all the fun stuff.
Eileen met us at the door to our Airbnb accommodations, a small apartment on the second and top floor of a townhouse a little bit South of downtown. She was so proud to tell us about all the fun and interesting things there are to do in Dublin, she clearly loves her city. We mostly wanted to pee.
After equalizing bodily fluids, we went out for a spot of lunch. Over the next couple days we walked around a ton of the city, saw St Patrick’s cathedral (about a 5 minute walk), took a tour of Dublin castle, ate a bunch of good food, checked out the Book of Kells at Trinity college, toured Guinness, and visited the National Gallery.
I have to focus on a couple of those, but first, how do you get around? Walking is great and very feasible. I recommend the Leap card for the buses and a bunch of trains. There’s a tourist version with unlimited usage for a period of days, and if you’re going to ride a ton and do some travel to other towns nearby by Dart maybe that would be worth it, but honestly I can’t imagine a scenario where it’s worth it and you have fun.
Instead, the regular locals Leap card is great. Touch it at the front of a bus when you get on, and tell the driver what your final stop is, they deduct the right amount automatically. You need to use the bus stop request button still, near your stop, of course. Anyway, a thing that makes this the better deal is the rate capping per day and week. One you pass a specific amount of transport usage you can use it for the remainder of the period for free.
Here’s a site with a good explanation so you can make the right choice for yourself:
There’s a way to get your unused money back afterwards if you are on the regular Leap card and your bank has an IBAN (lots of American banks don’t). There’s supposedly a way to get them to send you a refund check in euros, but the better thing is to donate the remainder to a homeless charity (an option right on the Leap website).
The Guinness brewery! If you want to talk to a brewery, or anybody in the know at all, you will be disappointed. Want to know why they use fish parts in their current filtering process? Too bad. Want to know why they’ve been able to serve Guinness on carbonation recently? Nope.
If you want to experience a beautiful tour that explains the brewing process in a highly refined touristy way, and you want to visit a beautiful museum, and say you’ve been to the home of Guinness, and want to drink a Guinness straight from the factory, and get a beautiful view of Dublin, and joke around with some Diageo employees, and maybe get some good food, then this is the tour for you!
I just enjoyed it for what it was, and had a good time. 8/10 would recommend. Just set your expectations before getting there.
St Patrick’s cathedral is a beautiful cathedral that is Ireland’s version of Westminster Abbey. The tour guides are these salty old Irish dudes. They’re great. Tour is included in the admission price. Definitely see this place for a good bit of Irish history. Jonathan Swift was in charge of this place for a while, and he was a hell of a dude. We got a lot more of the story while we were here.
There are many things the Irish are proud of. Becoming their own country, obviously. Jonathan Swift, also. They thought this guy was pretty cool, and for complex reasons I think. Which means that it’s a well-considered fondness. The Irish are very proud of their old revolutionaries – seven guys that started an unplanned revolution from Britain. The revolution was put down, but when they were sentenced to death and killed Ireland really took their side. They’re proud of those seven like we are of our founding fathers.
And they’re proud of their relationship with the US over the years. This comes up in a lot of unexpected places, but is very cool. It’s not reverence or anything, but show love and you’ll get a lot back in return. For instance, the US was instrumental in getting all the revolutionaries other than those 7 leaders released from prison after only a few months. The Brits owed us some favors before WW1 and for some reason this is one we called in. Some old Irish folks still appreciate that.
Dublin castle – don’t miss it. Take a tour, it’s great. You get to see more than just walking around by yourself. Queen of Tarts is across the street and you should get lunch there after buying your tickets and before your your time.
The Book of Kells is a quick little stop in Trinity College. This is an ancient translation of the Bible, and is just a work of art to check out. The museum has information about it and several other old books. The college library is also on this stop, and it is the most beautiful library I’ve been in. It’s ancient, and feels like being in a movie.
Lots of other stuff is available in Dublin. There are cool streets with chill nightlife, and shopping areas you find just by walking around. Have some drinks in Temple Bar.
Listen to Trad music at the Cobblestone. Maybe take a cab there. It’s a great bar with great music.