Thursday, May 19, 2011

Expect the Unexpected - Dublin, Ireland

After Athlone, we have a couple of days to soak up Dublin...

Where we will sleep

Mount Eccles Court (Hostel)
How long? 2 nights
How much? €21.40 per night (2 adults)

Check in? 12 noon, but we will arrive around 8.30pm on the bus from Athlone.
Check out? 10am, although we don't leave for London until we catch a bus to the airport at 7pm. Mt Eccles will store our bags for free though.
Why we chose it? Mt Eccles has a decent user rating on Hostel Bookers. It also has free Wi-fi and free breakfast, both of which were things we looked for specifically when choosing accommodation. The hostel is well located too which is important because we won't have a bike in Ireland. We looked at Camac Valley for camping but decided on a hostel once we knew we wouldn't have the bike here. 

What we want to see 

Quick FYI - VisitDublin is an awesome site! Meanwhile, we're keen to check out -

The FREE walking tour by New Dublin Tours - Their parent company, New Europe Tours, offers tours throughout many European countries, including 13 walking tours through major cities, which are completely free. The tours are apparently very good, as the guides are paid nothing but the tips they receive on the day, so they work for their supper, and they do it well. These free tours occur in many of the cities we visit during our trip and we plan on trying them out a few times, especially when we are in a city for a very short time, such as Dublin, which we are in for 2.5 days. See the  website for a full list of the sites you see!
€0 admission
The Dublin tour is 3.5 hours long and departs the meeting point at 11am and 1pm. 

Guiness Brewery - Your prebooked ticket is valid for any day in the next 12 months, so you're not confined to a strict date and time, you just get the benefit of the discount, no price increases, and you get to jump the queue. The tour is self-guided and takes 1.5 hours, followed by a free pint at the end. 
€15 admission. 10% off if you book online, so when we booked it we paid €13.50 each
Opening hours are 9.30am-5pm 7 days.

National Museum of Archaeology - I'm particularly interested in the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibit along with the exhibits about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, and the Vikings. This may sound morbid, but ever since a primary school (ages 5-10) teacher told me about bog bodies, I've wanted to see one. OK, it is morbid, but I'm going anyway.
€0 admission 
Opening hours 10am-5pm Tue-Sat.

Kilmainham Gaol - Courts didn't want to see this - "Why would I want to see a jail?" - but it has been highly recommended to us by several Irish friends. I've toured Fremantle Prison in Perth, Australia before and it was very, very cool. 
€6 admission 
Opening hours 9.30am-6pm during the Summer with last admissions at 5pm. 
Admission is by Guided Tour only, which lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

Dublin Castle and St Patricks Cathedral both look super average, at least compared to the other castles and cathedrals we've researched for our trip overall. We'll pass the castle on the walking tour, but I don't think we'll make an effort to see either of these sites during our limited time in Dublin.

What we are expecting

Whenever I imagine cities I haven't been to, for some reason I imagine only 2 or three streets of them, and when I see pictures of city expanses I'm both surprised and slightly disappointed that they don't look how I imagined. With Dublin, my imagination doesn't impress. I imagine it to be glum, dirty and unimpressive. I imagine it to be grey and damp but with quirky little bars and alleys - lots of character. Warm bars with decor of orange and red lit up by dim lighting. I don't even know why that's in my head, but it is. I imagine brick buildings, nothing modern. I'm 100% sure I'm wrong. 

Courts thinks it will be like a city version of Athlone, just less friendly because it's a bigger city. He's looking forward to seeing where his ancestors came from and expects it to look the same as Athlone but with lots of old style buildings around. Still a city but old. He doesn't really know what to expect. When he pictures Athlone, he picture farms, villages and small town roads with corner shops. Dublin on the other hand is shops and buildings everywhere and a lot of pubs, but with the same vibe.

We'll see!