December 5, 2013

Travel: Ireland for Thanksgiving 2013

This year I got it in my head that I wanted to go away for Thanksgiving. I had no particular destination in mind, I just wanted it to be somewhere I haven’t been and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. 
Enter Groupon. I get emails from them all the time, for mani-pedis, restaurant discounts, bicycle tours…and there are always really attractive travel deals at the end. Does that sound scary? Groupon for travel? Anyway, Ireland had never been at the very top of my list – not that I didn’t want to go, just that there were other places I wanted to go first. But a Groupon deal came up that I couldn’t refuse, and when I told my best travel buddy Claire about it, she was in. Here’s our deal: $1099, which included air (non-stop flights Chicago to Dublin both ways), six nights at the Ritz-Carlton and a car. How could we pass that up, right?
And here’s what I found out about Ireland: Irish people are the nicest people in the world, bar none. Everyone we talked to, everyone we asked questions of, everyone we got restaurant recommendations from, any store clerk, bus driver, post office clerk…they were all wonderful. They may not be the most attractive people in the world – they’re plain people – not sophisticated, not into fashion or makeup (but very few fat people) – but they are hands down the nicest. And – bonus – they have a fabulous sense of humor. I love the Irish!IMG_1570
Our Aer Lingus flight left at 7p and was uneventful, not very crowded (check out the O’Hare tram all decked out for Christmas) and landed in Dublin at 9 on T’giving day. We picked up our rental car (paying a little extra for an automatic – we didn’t need to remember to drive on the wrong side of the road AND shift with the wrong hand) and drove to Powerscourt, about 45 minutes south of Dublin, to our gorgeous hotel, near the sweet little town of Enniskerry.
After a little nap we got a bus from Enniskerry to Dublin, about an hour trip. Okay, maybe we weren’t in the best location but it was nice not to have to drive and park, and then we didn’t worry if we had a little too much Jamisons or Guinness. We did that bus trip almost every day.
While we were waiting for the bus on that first day we went into a little antique shop in Enniskerry and talked to artist and shop-keeper Brian Merry who called his daughter to get restaurant recommendations for us in Dublin, and we ended up at Brasserie Sixty6, where we ate seared tuna for Thanksgiving dinner.
On Friday we went back into Dublin, had a light breakfast in the tea room at Clery’s department store and then we got a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus, which is a great way to tour Dublin, and did a Pat Liddy walking tour with our guide, Liam. IMG_1592 See that needle-like structure in the middle of the picture to the right? It’s called The Spire, and Dubliners hate it. Liam told us a few of its nicknames: the stiletto in the ghetto, the stiffy near the Liffey (the river that runs through Dublin), the erection near the intersection… Seems Dubliners have clever, rhyming nicknames for everything.
On that tour we also saw Trinity College, The Church (used to be a church in the 18th century, now a cafe and restaurant), the Temple Bar area, Christ Church Cathedral. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting.
Poppies in Enniskerry (left, below) became our go-to breakfast place. There were always locals who, after the second day, said good morning to us. So lovely. Their food is all homemade: breakfasts, quiche, scones, porridge, sandwiches, desserts, etc. On our last day we got a big hug from the lovely young lady who worked there.Poppies
Days are really short in Dublin - sunrise about eight and sunset about four. They tell us in the summer it's light til almost eleven.
I didn’t expect Ireland to be a gastronomic powerhouse but we happily had amazing meals. Every one. Before the theatre one evening we went to The Church, just because it’s so iconic, not thinking the food would be exceptional, but we were wrong. It was amazing. Other restaurants we loved: Emilia’s in Enniskerry, 101 Talbot Restaurant in Dublin, 3 Qs in Greystones.
There’s so much to do in Ireland and we only scratched the surface but here’s some of it: we saw two productions at The Abbey Theatre; a one-man show called Silent and a play about the Irish uprising called The Risen. We went to the Writers Museum, Kilmainham Gaol, Irish Museum of Modern Art, drove to Glendalough to see a 6th century monastic settlement, had lunch in the lovely little coastal town of Greystones, visited the Trim Castle built in the 1200s, saw the spectacular Powerscourt Gardens…
Enjoy the pictures but know they don’t capture the beauty. IMG_1751



And finally, if you find yourself in Ireland and you’re doing a crossword puzzle and you need a 20-letter word for ‘photography,’ here you go:IMG_1827

1 comment:

Rokeya Sultana said...

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