Goodbye Dublin, Hello Edinburgh!

After an amazing time exploring Ireland on our All Ireland Rocker tour, we arrived back into Dublin in the late afternoon and said goodbye to our guide Gillian and our group mates.

Our next destination was Edinburgh. But we didn’t head for Edinburgh right away. We were advised not to book a connection out of Dublin too close to our estimated arrival time – just in case there were delays in getting back to Dublin. So we booked our flights through to Edinburgh for early the next morning at 6am.

Now we had a decision to make… book a hostel, sleep a couple of hours, wake everyone else in the room up at 4am and take the earliest bus to the airport to make our flight. Or… our other option was to hang around in Dublin that night, catch the last bus to the airport and stay the night at the airport. In the end, we decided to (save a couple bucks on accommodations and) spend the night at the airport.

Luckily for us, a couple of our group mates and new friends were staying in Dublin for a couple more days, so we decided to have one last dinner and night out in Dublin together!

While waiting for our friends to check into their hostels, Ioana and I wandered around Dublin for a little while, taking in the sights one last time before we left. It was also an opportunity to grab some last-minute souvenirs!

We all met up and headed to O’Neill’s Pub and Kitchen for dinner – a HUGE dinner, might I add!

Hard to see but O’Neill’s is the red building in the middle there! Right behind what I think is a construction zone sign… (which to me looks more like a hockey player, so the sign must mean “Hockey Game that way” =P)

We tried to have dinner here before we left for our Shamrocker tour, but it was totally packed that night and we couldn’t find a table. So we were glad we got to try O’Neill’s before we left Dublin. It was a little bit confusing figuring out how things worked at this pub, but in the end, we figured it out.

This pub is almost like a ‘cafeteria’ – you queue up, order your main and then your chosen sides are scooped onto your plate.  Some mains, such as carvery items, are already prepared and waiting for you under the hot lamps, while others items, like the Fish and Chips or sandwiches, are made to order. You grab your tray and pay for your food. Prices here are very reasonable, especially considering the portions you get! Definitely a good choice, if you are hungry after a day of walking and sightseeing!

Then came the task of finding a table, while balancing your heavy tray of food and your pint of Guinness, if you made a pit stop at the bar! We were lucky and scored a table on the second level by the bar. After a quick ‘Slainte’, we dug into our plates of food. I had the fish special that night, but my favourite thing on the plate had to be the sweet potato side dish! Ioana had something from the carvery – which might have been either the ham or the Irish Collar of Bacon. As hard as we tried, I don’t think any of us finished the entire meal that night!

After a filling dinner, we chatted and relived our tour and adventures over a couple of pints and enjoyed some Irish music and an Irish dancing performance! We even attempted to create the Claddagh ring design, which once we sobered up, we realized we had copied the design wrong! But all in all, we had a great time and it was an awesome last night in Dublin!

We tried!

After a round of goodbyes (and a see-you-soon to one of our friends who would be joining us on our Haggis Adventures tour!), Ioana and I wandered back to Temple Bar, enjoying the joviality one more time. We took the last bus out of Dublin and headed for the airport.

In hindsight, we probably should have gotten to the airport earlier. By the time we got there after midnight, much of the prime sleeping real estate (benches or couches) was already taken. We managed to snag two comfy armchairs but there really was nowhere to stretch out comfortably and – nowhere to charge our dying phones. (So far, my favourite airport for staying the night is still Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport – lots of seating, lots of comfy couches and electrical outlets!) We got a couple hours of (interrupted) sleep and then it was time to gather our things, check in and go through security.

We had what we assumed to be an uneventful flight to Edinburgh. We say this because neither of us remember any part of the flight since we fell asleep immediately after buckling our seatbelts!

After landing and picking up our luggage, we got our tickets for the Airlink service (airport to city centre express buses) and were on our way to Edinburgh’s city centre! We got off at Waverley Station and hiked our way up a WEE bit of a hill/mound to our hostel. Since we were there VERY early in the morning, our rooms weren’t ready yet. So we stowed our luggage in their luggage room and headed out to explore.

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We stayed at Castle Rock Hostel in Edinburgh, although it would be broken down into 3 separate stays! It had a great location – just below Edinburgh Castle, just off the Royal Mile and just above Grassmarket! Close enough to everything, yet not teeming with people.

This was the view just outside the front door of the hostel – can’t beat that!!!

And here’s a view of Castle Rock Hostel from Edinburgh Castle. You can even catch a glimpse of Arthur’s Seat in the background!

The hostel had a mix of some really cool and interesting decor – from grand windows and curtains, richly decorated furniture to comfy couches, funky paintings, armour pieces… The hostel had a large self-catering kitchen, a couple of common rooms and even a “Groove Lounge” for guests to play music and jam together!

The rooms that we stayed in were clean and roomy, with plenty of space to store our backpack and luggage. The plus? Each bed had its own reading light and 2 outlets for charging our electronics =P! After this trip, we have found this to be pretty essential in any hostel room – so you don’t get 6 people all trying to charge their electronics out of 2 outlets!

Another bonus? One of the rooms we stayed in even had a view of the Edinburgh Castle! I sat up on my top bunk in the morning and this was what I saw out the window! Pretty awesome view to wake up to, if you ask me!

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Both Ioana and I had such high expectations for Edinburgh (and Scotland for that matter!) and we were scared of setting ourselves up for disappointment. But this city definitely did not disappoint! We loved the architecture, the buildings, the history, the stories, the views – we could go on and on!

Our first stop was Edinburgh Castle – stay tuned to our next post for more on our visit to this historic castle!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

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Ladurée РDublin

We’re back home in Vancouver – after enjoying our day in Dublin and our¬†2 weeks¬†in Italy! Italy is so beautiful – with the breathtaking scenery, the incredible history and the amazing architecture. We didn’t want to leave! Having said that… we were itching¬†to get back to the slightly cooler temperatures of Vancouver (Roma was 37C!!) and the refreshingly delicious water back home (The water anywhere else just doesn’t taste the same!!).

While we were in Italy, we – along with our backpacks (Mine is named Jamie Fraser…) got around by train quite a bit, which provided plenty of time for staring out at the window at the passing countryside, thinking, reflecting, napping and… even some blogging! But blogging with my little old smartphone made it harder to format posts and photographs, so I’m definitely happy to be back home and back on my laptop again! (Might have to figure out how to stuff the laptop into the backpack on our next trip!)

So without another long winded story, here’s our next post – started on the train ride from Firenze to Venezia!

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After having ice cream from Murphy’s in Dublin, we stumbled upon a Ladur√©e down the street. It felt a bit strange to be having French macarons in Dublin, but when the shop was right there, we knew we had to stop in for a treat. Since we had just finished our ice cream, we decided to come back later that evening to try some of their famous macarons.

After doing some (window) shopping on Grafton Street, we wandered back to Ladurée.

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They always have such lovely shops! This one was similar in decor to the one that I visited in Paris Рbut on a smaller scale. A Ladurée recently opened up in Vancouver but neither of us have had the chance to visit it yet.

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We walked up to the counter, where were perhaps a dozen different flavours of macarons in the display case. Again, being very indecisive, it took us a while to settle on some flavours.

We finally ended up with these: Rose Petal, Marie Antoinette, Lemon and Strawberry Candy.

The Rose Petal:

This had a really distinctive rose flavour but it wasn’t overpowering at all. Soft and delicate – just like a rose!

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The Marie Antoinette:

This was inspired by their Marie Antoinette tea, which is described as – “A delicious marriage of Chinese and Indian black teas combined with rose petals, citrus fruit and honey.” It had a strong tea flavour, which was very interesting to taste in a macaron. (It also had an interesting colour, which may have been what drew us to it initially!)

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The Lemon:

This macaron had a nice and refreshing lemon flavour. It was enjoyable and classic but it wasn’t very special or unique.

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The Strawberry Candy:

This was our favourite! It smelled like strawberries and candy and tasted even better! It had a strong strawberry flavour and the filling was marshmallow! The marshmallow filling was chewier and stretchy Рdifferent from the fillings of the other marcons. All in all, we enjoyed it and this macaron tasted very much like a strawberry marshmallow candy!

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These macarons were the perfect early evening snack to tide us over to dinner! ūüôā

If you want to try something different in Dublin, we definitely recommend going to Ladur√©e for a small treat ūüėČ.

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Murphy’s Ice Cream – Dublin

When we were in Dingle last September, we tried Murphy’s Ice Cream. It was so deliciously creamy and they had such interesting flavours!

So when we discovered that they had a location in Dublin, we knew we had to make a stop there when we were in town this time around.

We dropped our luggage off at the hostel after getting into Dublin and headed to Wicklow Street to find us some ice cream!

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They were handing out samples of the Dreamy, Creamy Caramel. I personally thought it was a bit too sweet for my taste, but Ioana loved it and settled for that as her choice.

As for me… I tried a couple of samples – lavender, dingle sea salt and brown bread. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m the most indecisive person in the world, even when deciding on something as trivial as ice cream flavours! I finally decided to go with Irish Coffee and Kieran’s Cookies for my flavours. (Yes, I didn’t try any of those… but they turned out to be good choices!)

As with the ice cream we had in Dingle, both of our choices were delicious, flavourful and creamy. I’m thinking Murphy’s needs to come and open a store in Vancouver!

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After having the ice cream, we stumbled upon Ladur√©e…. and of course, we had to make a stop later that evening! Watch for our next post to see what we had from Laduree!

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Dublin – Round Two!

Sorry to report another hiatus… But we ARE excited to report that we are writing to you from Vernazza right now!

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Breathtaking!

We will get back to blogging about Ireland and Scotland but we thought we would keep our readers, friends and families up to date with our current adventures! So here goes:

We flew into Dublin, after an exhausting day of planes and airports.

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We had a layover in Calgary – where passengers bound for Cowtown disembarked the plane, but apparently we lost a passenger who was supposed to continue on with us to Toronto. We never found out what happened to this person… but eventually after hand checking the passenger manifest several times, we loaded up some new passengers and headed off to Toronto. At Toronto, we had a 4hr layover, so we managed to grab some dinner. The first airport restaurant we came upon was called Fionn MacCool’s!

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Tired and hungry!

We took it as a sign that we were meant to be eating there!
It was airport restaurant food, so it wasn’t authentic Irish food or anything… but after two flights without any meal or snacks, we were ready for a meal.

After our dinner, we ventured to our gate to wait for our flight. I’d been trying really hard not to fall asleep the whole day, so I could adjust to Europe time. But it was getting really difficult now… (having been swamped with numerous rehearsals and wedding events and 3 ballet performances the week before we left, I was up until really late packing.) We were eagerly waiting to get on the plane, fall asleep and wake up perfectly adjusted to the local time in Ireland. And so we waited and waited… and eventually our boarding time passed without a plane being at the gate…

Finally about an hour late, we started boarding – an apparently new Airbus. It still had a bit of a new plane smell! We were seated at the very back of the plane, which we didn’t particularly mind. Except when the meals were being handed out! Both times, they had run out of a lot of food options by the time they got to us ūüėě But we settled happily for a grilled vegetable sandwich!

Finally after a full day of travelling, we landed in Dublin. It is nice revisiting a city that you have been to before. You already know how to get around and you already have your bearings. So we grabbed our luggage, walked straight to the Airlink stand and off to the city centre we went!

Once we got off at our stop, we easily found our way to the Barnacles hostel.

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We enjoyed our stay the last time we were in Dublin, so we decided to stay here again. Plus it was right in the city centre – a couple doors down from the Temple Bar and we could easily walk to wherever we needed to go.

Once we checked in and dropped off our things in our room, we headed out to wander Dublin. Since we had done most of the ‘tourist-y’ things last time around, we didn’t have many plans for our stay this time. Especially since we were only staying for a day and a bit… But we did have our list of things to check out and do: Grafton Street for the Disney store (of course), Murphy’s Ice Cream (which we first had in Dingle), drink Guinness (which tastes completely different in Ireland than at home) and listen to some trad music!

We checked off most of these things! (Food post to come next – because it deserves its own post!) We also leisurely wandered around to our old Dublin haunts…

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Ha’penny Bridge

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Iconic…

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Dublin Castle

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The iconic alley from “P.S. I Love You.”

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Grafton Street!

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The Disney Store! ūüėć

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Back to the Old Storehouse for dinner!

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We did scrutinize the technique and pour of the Guinness… but it was still good!

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Gorgeous at night!

More snippets of our trip to come! In the meantime, check out our Instagram for more photographs!

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Tour Day 1 – Belfast

After an early night, we woke up bright and early (trying not to wake the rest of the people in our hostel room), packed up our things and grabbed a very quick (included!) breakfast in the Barnacles Hostel kitchen. We were extra rushed that morning because we were also trying to check in for our Ryanair flight to Edinburgh in a week’s time and print our boarding passes before leaving for our tour! Unfortunately the WiFi wasn’t great at the hostel and we weren’t able to send our boarding passes to reception. We just couldn’t get it figured out in time, so we grabbed our bags and decided to figure it out later.

It was a good thing we picked the Barnacles Hostel – as it was literally 30 seconds away from the Shamrocker Tours departure point. We knew, as much as we planned to wake up early and be ready to go, we would need as much time as possible! So it worked out really well for us to stay at Barnacles – it was in the heart of Temple Bar, clean, breakfast was included, close to airport transportation and close to our tour’s departure point.

*We’ve just checked the Shamrocker Adventures website and it seems their office has moved – to the Four Courts Hostel. We have not stayed at this hostel before, so we can’t vouch for it. But it would sure be convenient to stay there before your tour starts!*

We got into the queue to check-in. There was also the option to sign up for the Optional Add On’s. We had already added on the Blarney Castle months ago, but because we didn’t do much research on Belfast or Derry, we decided to opt in for the Black Cab Tour in Belfast and the Derry Walking Tour, as well. The last thing – we also picked up our bright green wristband. Fan-feckin-tastic indeed!

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Once everyone was checked in, we followed our guide for the short walk down to where the bus was parked. Once the luggage and people were loaded, our guide did a quick headcount and we were off!

Our guide was Dave – or Disco Dave as we would later find out. Our bus driver was Fred and he did a wonderful job getting us safely to where we needed to be! (He could also sing!)

Dave introduced himself and began our tour by telling us a bit about the city of Dublin and its history, as we made our way out of¬†the city. He pointed out some famous landmarks – Ha’penny Bridge, O’Connell Street, the Spire and the Samuel Beckett Bridge (Dave loves bridges). Just with that introduction, you could see the passion Dave had for Dublin, for Ireland and how proud he was of being Irish.

Once we were on the highway, we had a round of introductions to get to know our fellow trip mates. There was a good mix of different nationalities on our trip – Australia, New Zealand, United States, India, Germany, Singapore, France and a couple of us from Canada!

Our first stop of the day would be Belfast in Northern Ireland. Dave then told us about the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the “Troubles”. I will admit that I didn’t know much about this at all. Although much of the conflict occurred before we were born, I was still a bit surprised that I hadn’t heard anything about the more recent conflicts, considering some of these events did occur in my lifetime.¬†Dave explained the history of the plantations, the conflicts between the Catholics/Nationalist/Republicans and the Protestants/Unionist/Loyalist, the violence, the bombings and the terror that occurred during the Troubles. There has been some progress in peace making and there is hope that this will continue in Belfast and all over Northern Ireland. As we would be taking the Black Cab tour of Belfast later on, it helped to have this introduction.

Over 2 hours later, we had crossed the border from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland and were driving into Belfast.

*Remember:¬†If you are visiting Northern Ireland, don’t forget¬†your¬†¬£ sterling. Some larger stores may accept Euros but this is not a guarantee; and smaller stores will likely not accept Euros. The other option is to use your credit card or withdraw money from an ATM.

Here we are in the city of Belfast:

Once Fred parked the bus, Dave gave us a return time and set us loose. One thing we liked about this Shamrocker Adventures tour is that you have the option to opt in or out of certain activities, according to your own preferences. So in Belfast, there is the option to take the Black Cab Tour, or plan your own itinerary – wander the streets of Belfast, go shopping, check out the markets or visit the other well-known Belfast attraction: the Titanic Experience. Unfortunately due to the limited time we had in Belfast, we were told that by the time the Black Cab tour finished and you made your way to the Titanic Experience, you might not¬†have enough time there to do it justice. So we’ll just have to save that for our next visit!¬†Some¬†people from our group chose to visit the Titanic Experience instead of doing the Black Cab tour, so they headed off in that direction.

Those of us on the Black Cab Tour waited by the bus for the cabs. We split up into groups with our 3 cab drivers and set out on our tour of Belfast.

Our little black cab

We had a lovely cab driver guide, who wanted to hear about our stories, as much as we wanted to hear his. (He asked us about Canada and hockey – we were more than happy to oblige!) He had many personal stories about living through the troubles and shared these with us as he drove us from stop to stop.

At each of our stops, we all got out of the cabs and met up as a group. Then one of the cab driver guides would tell us about the stop, the history and significance of that particular stop – whether it was a mural, a monument, a memorial or a peace line.

We appreciated how the tour and all the stops were conducted. We could take a guess as to whether each of our cab driver guides were unionists or nationalists Рand there was a mix of both. Yet, there were no jabs at each other or blaming each other for events that occurred in history or are occurring now. The entire tour was presented as objectively as possible, with personal stories from both sides. And this allowed us to see the events from different points of view.

First, we stopped in a Unionist/Loyalist (and mostly Protestant) area. We walked around to look at several murals and learned about the history and the individuals for whom the murals were dedicated. It was also very easy to identify which area you were in Рby the banners and flags that were on prominent display.


We then learned about¬†the “peace lines” or the “peace walls”. These were first built at the start of the Troubles in 1969 and were meant to be temporary measures to help keep the peace by minimizing the movement and thus the attacks and violence between the Nationalists¬†and Unionists. Unfortunately some 46 years later, these walls are still standing.

We stopped at this peace line, located along Cupar Way, separating the Shankill Road (Unionist/Protestant) and Falls Road (Nationalist/Catholic) areas. This was a particularly volatile area during the Troubles and to this day, there are still incidences in this area. 

We heard about how this concrete wall had to be extended up with corrugated metal sheets and up even further with weldmesh fencing. This was due to continued violence, with glass bottles, pipe bombs and other objects being thrown over the wall.

This particular section of the wall is a big tourist draw now and there are many messages of hope and peace written on the wall by visitors from all over the world. As we learned on the Black Cab Tour, there are some people in Belfast who want these walls taken down to continue the progress for peace and integration. They feel these walls are leading to further segregation instead of conversation and progress. However, the majority of Belfast residents, especially those living in the interface area between Nationalist and Unionist neighbourhoods, still believe these walls are necessary for them for their safety and to prevent the violence and attacks from occurring again.

There has been some progress since these walls were erected. Now, there are gates that allow for movement across some walls during the day time hours. Gates, such as this one on Lanark Way, stand open during the day to allow the flow of people and traffic but are closed later in the day to prevent any sectarian clashes in the evening and overnight.

Driving through the opened gates on Lanark Way

We had a discussion in the cab about segregation, integration and the progress that has been made. We learned that there are more integrated schools now Рalthough mostly nursery or primary schools. But it is a start. Perhaps this represents a new generation, who will be accustomed to having friends and classmates of Catholic, Protestant or other faiths. Perhaps having the children learn and grow together will foster a sense of community, acceptance, peace and respect. We heard multiple times from our driver guides that no one wants their children or grandchildren to grow up with the terror and violence that was experienced during the Troubles.

Passing through these gates on Lanark Way, we entered the predominantly Catholic and Nationalist area Рknown as the Falls Road area. Our next stop was the Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden on Bombay Street.

Entering the the Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden, with the peace line or peace wall clearly evident in the background.

Here, we heard about the violence and conflict that occurred in August of 1969 Рintense fighting, gunfire and the burning down of almost all of the houses on Bombay Street. This led to deaths, injuries, property loss and large numbers of terrified residents being forced to flee their homes.

The memorial garden dedicated to both the fighters and civilians killed as a result of the conflicts.

The last stop on our tour was at the “International Wall”. Here, the murals touch on human rights, political and other issues from Ireland and across the world. And that concluded¬†our Black Cab tour of Belfast.

The International Wall

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Review: We would definitely recommend doing a tour like this in Belfast, if you are interested in learning more about the history of the “Troubles”. It can be disheartening but it gives you an understanding of the history and what shapes the cultural fabric of Belfast and Northern Ireland. There are tour buses that also provide similar tours. However, we really appreciated getting to know our driver guide and sharing stories and thoughts with him. It made for a more personalized and intimate experience. Because we were part of a larger group, we were fortunate to meet 3 different driver guides. It was interesting having both Protestant and Catholic driver guides and seeing history through different point of views.

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Since we had some time before we had to get back to the bus, we decided to check out the famous St. George’s¬†Market. Our kind cab driver guide dropped us off just outside the market. He also gave us directions to walk back to the bus – very helpful. It wouldn’t do to get lost and left behind on the first day of our tour!

There were about 10 of us from Shamrockers all checking out the market. We decided to set a time to meet up after lunch, so we could make our way back to the bus together.

We enjoyed our time at St. George’s¬†market. There were food and drink stalls, fresh vegetables and fruit stalls and vendors selling¬†handmade goods, art, crafts and little souvenirs. We had a good wander through the stalls, before grabbing some food for lunch.

Inside St. George’s Market

And just like that, it was time to head back to the bus. We had a lovely walk through the city, taking in the beautiful architecture, back to where our bus was parked.

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Once we were all accounted for, we were back on the road, headed out of Belfast. The next stop on our¬†All Ireland Rocker tour is The King’s Road! I’m sure some of you will know the reference! ūüėČ And if you don’t, you’ll just have to wait for our next post!

Final Thoughts:

It was too bad we didn’t have more time in Belfast. It seems like¬†an interesting city, with lovely architecture, markets and history.¬†It does have a history of conflict and strife and although most of our day was spent learning about its conflicted past, Belfast is more than that. It is more than the peace lines that curve their way through the city¬†and more than the murals that dot the city. I see it as a city that is trying to move forward, to hope and to look to a future of peace and harmony.

What else should we see or visit if we are back in Belfast? Any off-the-beaten-track suggestions? We would love to hear them!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Day 3: To Jameson or not to Jameson? To Jameson!

So as you all know by now, day 3 had become our Taste-the-Drinks-of-Ireland day!

Moving on from The Guinness Storehouse, we made our way towards the Old Jameson Distillery on Bow Street (just off Smithfield Square). We were a bit too excited to be trying the famous Jameson Whiskey and finally seeing where it came from…Ireland and its pub culture seems to do this to you!

The old distillery is tucked away and very inconspicuous in its location. It wasn’t too hard to find, even after a pint or two of Guinness, but definitely pay attention to street signs and your map because you may just walk past it!


Again, we pre-purchased our tickets online, and this is what the Jameson website recommends as well. You get to choose what package you want, and they have several, and what time you want to do your tour. The regular price for an Adult walk in is¬†‚ā¨15.00 BUT if you purchase your tickets online in advance you get a 10% discount, making the ticket¬†‚ā¨13.50! A good deal in my opinion – seeing as you get a 50 min guided tour and it ends with a tasting of the famous whiskey itself.


The location itself is a museum, seeing as the actual distillery is now located in Cork, but this was the original site of Jameson Whiskey – when John Jameson set it up in 1780. The distillery continued to grow up to a whopping 5 acres in 1886, becoming a “city within a city.” The Whiskey business fell upon hard times after that point and underwent many changes to become what it has today!


This experience was very similar to the one we had at Guinness, the only difference is that here the tour is guided. Our guide was very enthusiastic and witty, keeping us interested at every turn. I won’t explain too much seeing as you get most of this info at the beginning of the tour!

Of course, you also get to know how the Whiskey is made, distilled and what the difference is between a double¬†or triple distilled product! And oh, what a difference it makes ūüėČ


After going through the different levels of the historical building and seeing all the different steps of making Jameson, we came to the end of our tour: the tasting! We were given three options and told to take a guess as to what brand of Whiskey/Whisky each one was:


I am not quite a whiskey drinker myself, but strangely enough of all the three samples,¬†the only one that appealed to me was the Jameson! If you’ve never tasted it before, the best way to describe it from my perspective is that it is a bit smoother than other whiskeys and it has less of an oaky-wood aftertaste.

After learning the difference between Jameson and other whiskeys, we also got a chance to enjoy a¬†final tasting. At the bar, you¬†can either get a Jameson on the rocks OR you can get a “Jameson, Ginger and Lime“. We… opted for the Gingerale and we were pleasantly surprised! I loved it! It definitely became a drink of choice on this trip.

In the end, after enjoying our last drink and being a bit giddy after all the Guinness and Jameson we drank that day, we came to the gift shop and, boy, does it have a lot to offer! You can choose to take away just a tasting of different Jameson Whiskeys or if you want something a bit more personalized, you can even hand fill your own bottle of the Jameson Select Reserve Cask Strength Black Barrel to keep as a memento! You even get to go down in the history books by logging your personalized bottle in the official ledger!

Overall, the Jameson experience was great and another definite recommendation for anyone travelling to Dublin. And, of course, if you are in Cork, consider visiting the actual¬†Jameson Distillery, where Jameson Whiskey is being made to this date! We didn’t have a stop in Cork on this trip, but next time – for sure!

Having successfully accomplished what we set out to accomplish on day 3, we¬†made our way back towards¬†Temple Bar and finished some last minute shopping. We returned to Grafton Street and I made my last purchase at the Disney Store¬†(I couldn’t help myself):

For¬†our last dinner in Dublin (or what we thought would be our last – more to come on this ūüėČ ), we really REALLY wanted to go to O’Neill’s Bar and Restaurant on Suffolk Street but it was packed! Granted, it was a Friday night… There was not one seat available throughout all the levels of that place! It was insane! Sadly, we decided to leave and instead just had some warm takeaway and finished the last of our cheese and crackers from the night before!

We were incredibly sad that it was our last night in Dublin. Especially since there was still so much of this lively, vibrant city that we didn’t have the chance to explore yet! At least we definitely have a reason to come back again soon!

You might be wondering Рwhy the early night? Especially on a Friday and for our last night in Dublin?!?! Well, we had to be up bright and early (and packed!) the following morning for our next adventure! We were excited to be embarking on our Shamrocker Adventures tour!! Day 4 brings the first day of our All Ireland Rocker Tour!!!

Stay tuned!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


 

© Letters of Wanderlust, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

 

Day 3: A pint…or 2 of Guinness!

I must say that I was a bit more excited for Day 3 to come along than any other day so far in Dublin. Day 3 was our introduction to the most well known alcoholic beverages Ireland has to offer: Guinness and Jameson Whiskey!

And our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse!

We chose to be early birds and go to the Storehouse before 11:00am because of a special online price and because we wanted to beat the crowds. Regular tickets are ‚ā¨20 per person, if you purchase at the Storehouse itself. If you do this, you risk waiting in a long line up, depending on what time of day you go, of course, and wasting precious time that you could be using to explore the Storehouse!

On our way to Guinness

If you purchase tickets online, you have a choice between purchasing a regular ticket or an early bird ticket. The regular tickets are discounted 10%, so they are ‚ā¨18. ¬†The early bird tickets, which we opted for, were a lovely discounted price of ‚ā¨14.40! They have to be redeemed before 11:30am, but for us this was perfect because we ended up spending a few hours in the Storehouse. We definitely recommend getting there early. With this online¬†ticket, you also get to¬†enter through¬†the fast track queue and, of course, a complimentary pint of Guinness!

The Guinness Storehouse Gates

*Disclaimer: At this time, we aren’t sure if these early bird tickets were summer only deals. Visiting¬†the Guinness Storehouse website right now, there are no early bird tickets available. Even so, we recommend purchasing your tickets online!*

So Day 3 started with a brisk walk to the Guinness Storehouse! As we mentioned before, we were staying at Barnacles Hostel in Temple Bar and so our walk to Guinness wasn’t supposed to take long, approximately 24 minutes to be exact, according to google maps. Lo and behold, we missed a left turn and after going down a hill, climbing back up a hill and finally seeing the signs on the road – we found our destination!


The Storehouse itself is built inside the St. James Gate Brewery and is 7 levels worth of interactive Guinness history intertwined with that of Ireland. The brewery’s atrium and 7 levels make up the world’s largest pint glass!

7 Levels of Excellence

It’s actually architecturally amazing being able to see all 7 levels from the ground floor. In 1997, it was decided to turn the “Hop store” into¬†what is now the Storehouse. The¬†Storehouse itself was opened in its current form in 2000. Since then it has continued to transform into the building we see today.

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Brewing Guinness ūüôā

Each of the 7 levels has a piece of Guinness history. I won’t go into intense details of what the 7 levels have to offer because you really have to experience it yourself. But we will give you some interesting tips on what is worth doing and what isn’t ;).

The 9000 Year Lease

On the first floor, you’ll be able to view the 9000 year lease that Arthur Guinness signed on the brewery site! It’s actually pretty amazing being immortalized in the floor of the Storehouse. From there on, you are given free rein to explore as you want!

You embark on a journey of how the Guinness is made, spending time learning about:

  • The Guinness brewing story on how Guinness is produced

What goes into making Guinness

Key Ingredient: Water

  • Arthur Guinness’ story and how Guinness was transported

Sir Arthur Guinness!

  • The unique art of Guinness advertising

One Advertising Campaign: Toucans!

Another Lovely Art Piece: Time for Guinness!

On top of this, you get a mini taste of Guinness, before your complimentary pint:

Then, you can either pour your own pint of Guinness or get a pint at the Gravity Bar!

We recommend going to the Guinness Academy and pouring your own pint! This way you learn how a proper pint is poured and will know how to pour your own from then on. You also get a certificate that you are a master at pouring Guinness. Definitely something worth putting on your resume ;).

The Guinness Academy

Also do not be afraid that if you pour your pint at the Academy, you have to drink it there. You are actually able to pour your own pint and then take it up to the Gravity Bar and marvel at the amazing views of Dublin.

View from the Rooftop Bar

After learning how to pour a¬†proper¬†pint of Guinness, we wandered up to the Gravity Bar. We were glad we poured our own pints because the bartenders were in such a hurry that they were clearly pouring the glasses quickly. People were also taking their pints before they had a chance to settle (you’ll know what this means once you get your certificate) not knowing that the pint wasn’t ready yet! So, we definitely recommend learning how to pour your own!

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Carved pint of Guinness

Also, do not overlook the opportunity to take as many funny pictures as you can on the advertising floor. Guinness has some pretty famous and spectacular advertising campaigns and here you get a chance to meet some of their Guinness characters. Clearly we had no problem fooling around a bit:

Fooling around on the Advertising Floor

In terms of food, we decided to have lunch at the Brewer’s Dining Hall. We had a delicious soup and our first taste of Guinness bread. It was delicious – warm soup is always perfect for a cloudy day! Another recommendation when visiting.

Overall, we were so thrilled with our experience that we just had to buy some souvenirs from the not-so-tiny gift shop! We couldn’t believe how much Guinness merchandise they had, from shirts, hats, keychains and magnets to Guinness pint glasses, Guinness chocolate, Guinness chips and, of course, specialty beer only available here.¬†There really is something for everyone!

The Guinness Storehouse was one of the highlights of our trip! It was so much fun and it appeals to people of all ages! It definitely brought out the Irish in us ūüôā

Good bye Guinness ūüė¶

Now that we have visited the Guinness Storehouse, it was time to make our way to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery Museum!

Stay tuned for our next post and Ireland’s best known Whiskey!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


© Letters of Wanderlust, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!