Let me preface this by saying planning the trip for Ireland was a lot of fun, but a little time-consuming. There are so many places that look absolutely amazing, but we were limited on our time. Rather than spending time driving or taking tours from place to place, we decided just to park it in Dublin. We spent the week after our Spring Break shenanigans
regaining our sanity recovering and then we were off!
Trip Fail #1: Frankfurt Hahn airport. Let’s just start this vacay off with a lovely fail. When I was looking for flights to Dublin, it was significantly cheaper to fly Ryanair. Aer Lingus and Lufthansa were almost double the cost, so Ryanair it was. The closest airport to us that serves Ryanair is Frankfurt Hahn. Over a month later, I’m *still* trying to figure out why ‘Frankfurt’ is even in the name. This airport isn’t anywhere near Frankfurt–it’s about 70 miles away. It was opened when Hahn Air Base (a former USAF base that supported NATO missions back in the day) was shuttered. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. We kept trying to figure out what part of the base the terminal was located on. My vote is that it was probably the old BX/Commissary area. Husband thought I was cuckoo for even attempting to guess. The facility is quite small and everything is run pretty old school. However, there was a McDonald’s, so we avoided the ninja death glare from the girl child.
Trip Fail #2: Ryanair. This trip fail is kind of a toss-up. The mantra, “You get what you pay for” absolutely applies to this airline. When you reserve tickets, you have the option to buy just the basic ticket and add-on as necessary, or you can do an all-inclusive package for a set price. I highly, highly, HIGHLY (did I mention highly?) recommend going for the Business Plus. Sure, it’s more expensive than the basic package, but everything is included. If you try to price out the add-ons yourself, it usually ends up being more expensive than the all-inclusive rate.
That being said, dear awesome readers, prepare for one of the stingiest and strangest flight experiences you’ll have. Ryanair is basically an aluminum frame that can fly you from point A to point B. The seats don’t recline (no need for your seat defender here), seats that are probably more for the size of teeny-tiny stick people, a safety card that is permanently affixed to the seat back in front of you, beverages cost money and the flight attendants try to hock overpriced perfume and lottery tickets. You can try to barter alcohol with the flight attendants, but at the end of the day, I’m sure it’s just one more story they get to add to their annoying passengers blog.
shady slightly uncomfortable two-hour flight, we were in Dublin. Oh holy day, we were literate again!!! Hello signs, menus, and bathrooms in English (and Gaelic, but hey…the primary language was English)!! We collected our bags and headed to customs. They gave us the sweet Irish green entry stamp and we were off to the hotel.
Trip Win #1: Clontarf Castle Hotel. When in Ireland and you have the option to stay at a hotel that was once a castle, you stay at said hotel. It is located in the Clontarf suburb of Dublin, which is about 15 minutes from the city center. It was a couple of blocks from the waterfront and the area was nice and quiet. The staff was super friendly and accommodating. The history behind this castle is really quite fascinating. Girl Child was a little creeped out by the dungeon-turned-seating-area, but I thought it was pretty awesome. The hotel did a good job of intertwining modern amenities into the building.
Trip Win #2: The Knight’s Bar. We ended up getting to the hotel around dinner time, so we were a getting a little hungry by the time we checked in. Rather than trek into the city center, we decided to check out the hotel bar—The Knight’s Bar. You know how most bar food is basically just thrown in a fryer from the freezer? Totally NOT the case here. The food actually tastes fresh and has a modern flair to it. The prices weren’t exorbitant (considering it was a hotel bar) and the wait staff was wonderful.
After dinner, we took a walk down to the waterfront. The walking path extended as far as we could see and there was a cycling path that ran parallel to the walkway. The sun was out and it was a beautiful evening. We walked about 2 miles and then called it a night.
We woke up and decided to eat breakfast at the hotel. American breakfast buffets will never hold a candle to the ones in Europe. They restaurant had a traditional Irish breakfast buffet set up, or you could just order a la carte. The food was excellent and there were a couple of curious options, and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly black and white pudding is.
Trip Fail #3: The hop on-hop off bus. Since we had such good luck with the hop-on hop-off buses in our previous travels, we decided to do one in Dublin. Here’s my advice: Don’t. They’re extending the track lines for the DART system, so it means super non-awesome traffic. Dublin is also a very spread out city, so the tour took almost 2.5 hours to complete. It did have some really cool commentary, but honestly, it was our least favorite bus tour so far.
Trip Win #3: Trinity College. Holy. Balls. One of the oldest colleges in Ireland, it is home to a stunning library and the Book of Kells (and of course, a really cool book/gift shop). While I was slightly disappointed that the library is now just a hands-off museum, it is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s exactly what you would picture a library in old world Europe to look like. The Book of Kells is one of the oldest hand-scripted copies of the gospel, dating back to the 10th century.
After plundering through the gift shop, we decided to grab some lunch. We found a place nearby, called O’Neill’s (thanks, Yelp). The food was delicious and the Guinness nice and cold. Originally, Husband had ordered turkey from their carvery for me, but since Boy Child was already over the whole fish and chips thing, he and I switched lunches. It was all phenomenal and I’d highly recommend. They have plenty of seats downstairs and an upstairs seating area as well.
Trip Fail-ish #4: The wax museum. Girl Child had done really well for most of the morning, so we asked her if there was anything that she wanted to see. For some reason, this kid had her heart set on visiting the wax museum. I’ll admit it…none of us were super stoked about hitting this up, but since she had been such a trooper, we all went along.
I’ve only been on the outside of wax museums, never on the inside. They kind of creep me out. This one was pretty sad. Some of the figures were fairly spot on, but others were nowhere close to their doppelgänger. The celebrity section looked as though it had been handed down from a different museum and they were just thrown into a big room. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. Girl Child walked out a happy camper, so that’s really all that mattered.
Once we finished the visit with our waxy friends, we did a little bit of shopping on the way back to the taxi stand. After a couple of misses, Mom and Dad found the elusive item for a friend that they had been looking for. We grabbed a taxi, went back to the hotel and called it a night.