a few months back, hubby and i wandered over to dublin–in part to take in the rolling green hills, maybe catch a glimpse of bono, and check off ireland on our mini-tour of PIIGS countries (we’ve yet to see greece). we stayed in dublin for one day and had ourselves a fine, lovely time.
the day began for us at elephant & castle (yes, it’s the sister establishment to the one in nyc. in fact, there’s a picture of the west village location hanging on the right-side wall in dublin). it’s a cheery place, tho the service is a bit slow in the early morning (~8.30 am on a Friday). the guy next to us complained about having waited 30 minutes for his first cup of coffee, but the second shift started filing and things picked up. the menu itself is rather simple — different combinations of ham, eggs and potatoes — hubby ordered one with french toast. they also offered a full irish breakfast with soda bread, beans and all. it looked kinda heavy, so we opted for one of the lighter egg/ham/potato plates. i really wanted to try the soda bread, and our waiter was nice enough to find some in the kitchen for us. it was grainier, more rustic than what i had imagined. i expected a sweet, dense bread that was doughier with bits of currants. the one at elephant & castle tasted a bit like eating one of those healthy swedish crackers.
after breakfast, we swung around to the front of trinity college for a two hour walking tour, or what our tour guide described as the annotated version of ireland’s 9,000 year history. most of the tour, however, centered around ireland’s relationship with england — a rather bloody tale of religion, politics, colonization and conflict. looking around, it was hard for us to believe that the cloud of warfare and tacit segregation hung over dublin up until the early 90s. we certainly didn’t see any signs of it with students hurrying to class, vendors selling daffodils and later on the boisterous pub crowd. a lot can change.
we tried to find something light for lunch. having passed by the queen of tarts on our walking tour, we doubled back to the cafe. hubby ordered an apple tart, and i got the victorian angel food cake. i much preferred the cake to the tart, though i thought that even the cake was a tad too sweet. pastry critique-ing aside, the queen of tarts is a charming place — at once warm, comforting, and a good place for travelers to rest their soles.
we traveled onward by foot to guinness storehouse. i expected something more rustic, but instead we arrived at what seemed like a universal studios theme park complete with electronic ticketing machines and surround sound. the 7-8 story building, constructed inside an old refining plant, explained the company’s history and beer making process. hubby got a kick out of the land lease that arthur guinness signed in 1759 — he leased the land for a period of 9,000 years for £45 per annum with no inflation escalator! that’s the lease (or replica of) in the picture below.
i much preferred the view from the top. the architects of the tour building had etched famous quotations from irish writers, like james joyce, onto the floor to ceiling glass windows. as i surveyed the 360º panorama, these words seemed to hang over the horizon, as a reminder of where dublin had been and how far it had come. i would have been wondrously satisfied had my day wrapped up there, but it was only 4pm.
we looped back to trinity college afterwards to take a peek at the book of kells as well as the trinity college library — both of which seemed like magical things beyond description. i’d suggest experiencing them for yourself.
we then wandered through grafton street where we stumbled upon a laduree counter inside the brown thomas. it seemed out of place to be eating a pastel macaron in dublin, somehow. i skipped the opportunity.
before we left on our trip, our waitress at prune had advised us on a few places she liked in dublin. we went in search of one of them, but it turned out to be more of a pub/lounge than a place to grab a quick bite. nearby we spotted bobo’s gourmet irish burger, and wandered in. burgers and stubby, fat french fries — not a bad way to end the day.
Elephant & Castle
18 Temple Bar
DUBLIN 2, Ireland
Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 11:30 pm
Sat-Sun: 10:30 am – 11:30 pm
Queen of Tarts
DUBLIN 2, Ireland
Open 7 days
(there’s also a location on Cow’s Hill)
Dublin Historical Walking Tour
St James’s Gate Brewery
Bobo Gourmet Irish Burgers
22 Wexford Street
DUBLIN 2, Ireland
(might want to phone ahead. i couldn’t find their hours online)