Going to Ireland was very different from travelling around the USA or M'sia. Half the charm of Ireland is spending lots of time in the small, quaint Irish towns.
I'd recommend spending a couple of days in Dublin, but spend more time out in the middle of nowhere at small bed and breakfasts:D -leaves you closer to the castles and sites you want to visit. You'll come away with a better view of the romantic Ireland that most travellers including myself went to see.
Best way to see Ireland is to either rent a car or take a bus/train to get around great country side and small towns along the way. Our hotel was barely a 5 minute cab drive away from the shopping streets which looked quaint and original… but because we had landed in the early hours, the shopping streets were not yet open, nor were our rooms ready, so we decided to go walk outside - a perfect day, complete with a musical merry-go-round and the nicest cafes surrounded us. With grey skies, threatening to rain sitting in a cafe with a warm cappuccino suddenly Dublin became the most happening city in Ireland - I guess when we are less hungry we actually appreciate the subtle beauty, the calm perfection of this, very old yet extremely modern city! After a leisurely breakfast we headed to a multi brand super store, very avant-garde and did some early shopping :DD
The cold and the rain were no deterrents for us – we visited an art gallery and where delighted to see Leonid Afremov’s vibrant paintings- a celebration of art and colours, a 10min walk took us to the chocolate factory that warmed our hearts on a cold and wet rainy, rainy day:DD
About noon we headed for the Guinness Factory tour ( a tip: buy the tickets on-line to save yourself from long queues)
Of course you can't go to Dublin and not visit Temple Bar. Irish atmosphere is contagious here! You don't
Book of Kells was fascinating, even if you're not Christian or religious. The detail, the artwork - simply amazing. Before you go, however, read up a little on it. It is so much more impressive it you know at least a little before you go. Be prepared for the crowds. A place that clearly belonged to earlier times- has beautiful architecture, cobble-stone pavements, campanile, student chatter & bustle - all add to the great sense of history of this perfectly located university, with its wonderful libraries & the Book of Kells as samples of all that is on offer.
Day one we had packed in much, were dead beat with a longish flight behind us, and the non-stop touring since early hours, we stopped at a delicatessen, had some coffee and waffles to revive our flagging energies, bought some wonderful pastry for our ‘after lunch dessert the next morning’ - except, it didn't make it - we ate it as a late night snack! :DD
Dublin’s Grafton street is another awesome lively part of the town. The street is booming with street vendors, entertainers and uber cool designer shops. The coffee shops offer wonderful treats with high energy levels. It is the main shopping street in Dublin – need deep pockets as the stuff is enticing. There are plenty of reasonably priced shops to choose from as well, depending on the budget.
Nice hip atmosphere with many talented buskers all the way up and down the street. It's a place you can easily spend an entire day before you realize the day is over! You can't help but notice the amount of shops that are now closed on Grafton St. –On speaking with the locals, it became apparent, that the high rents are unsustainable in a country that does not understand the perils of expensive property. A wake up for Bombay?
Day 2 early hours saw us back on Grafton Street but now it was near empty with only a few solitary people on their way to office buildings , or darting around delivery trucks. The bronze Molly Malone statue fits the street quite well in the morning light without tourists posing in front of her for photographs; however, her low cut dress seemed a little daring for the sunrise! :DD\
We anchored at Bewleys Café – for Tea (and coffee) and scones - the magic of hot water pouring into the cup, admiring the stained glass, the artwork, and the highly decorated architectural details of the 1920s building, simply make you wish to linger on forever over your cuppa. We ordered takeaways, stepped out the front door onto the colorful entrance tiles before continuing our stroll towards St Stephens Green (park) – where we parked ourselves on lovely benches to see the swans and ducks scuttle about on the pond in front of us until our tea and coffees were done with. Day 2 morning bliss of quiet soon gave way to click-clack sounds of dress shoes hitting the footpaths, rumbling buses, taxis, delivery trucks, and other furious sounds of the city.
We saw a heckalot sights and sounds – many captured in the mind, at the risk of making this post too long, shall take a break now, will look at posting another post on Dublin soon.