History indeed! That was the theme for today. After two days of getting lost in rainstorms and a gloomy looking sky this morning, I opted for an activity I was not planning on doing this trip. A hop-on-hop-off bus tour of the city. I know, I know, this is a very touristy activity for someone who clearly defined that she was not a tourist from the beginning. I will admit I felt a bit odd taking part in it today, but it truly ended up being the best choice for the day and the city.
I started the morning with breakfast at the hostel before heading to tour the Old Jameson Distillery. This tour has been a booked part of my trip from the very beginning and I couldn’t recommend it more. There are two big tours in Dublin that everyone attends, Jameson and Guinness. Both are close to the same price, but Guinness is a few euros more.
Within my budget parameters, I knew I could only afford to do one, and since I love whiskey, Jameson was a clear choice for me. With both tours you are given a pint of beer or glass of whiskey at the end of your tour, which is wonderful. There are a few differences outside of price however. The Jameson tour is 45 minute guided tour, whereas the Guinness is a self guided tour that on average takes about an hour. Additionally, the Jameson Distillery includes a whiskey tasting as a part of your tour, which is a bonus that is not duplicated in the Guinness tour. I can only speak to the Jameson tour, but have heard wonderful things about both.
Touring the Old Jameson Distillery was incredible! They don’t actually produce any whiskey in Dublin after all production was moved to Middleton in County Cork. However the tour is still worth the price (my student ticket was 13 euros, about 15 dollars US). It includes a brief video explaining the very interesting history of the company, then a guided tour of the process, a tasting and finally your complementary drink. Our tour guide, Evan, was hilarious and explained what could be a very scientific process, very simply. (I finally learned the difference between scotch and whiskey!)
The tasting was a cool experience as well, I felt very grand. We tasted whiskey f
rom the US, Scotland, and, of course, Jameson. It was nice to have someone walking you through it to explain the differences between them all. After just learning about Jameson, it is easy to taste the difference, and now I understand why the differences exist. At the end of the tour we could either have our drink as Jameson neat, or Jameson with Ginger-ale and lime. This ginger-ale drink is apparently the new thing in Dublin (and the UK, according to the young couple next to me). I guess America is really up with the times because it tasted exactly like an Irish mule (Jameson, ginger beer and lime). Needless to say, I was a very happy girl after this morning.
After the Jameson Distillery, I found the stop to catch the Hop-On-Hop-Off Dublin bus. Although the tours are filled with some of the most touristy people around, these buses can be great tools for traveling inexpensively. You know the tourists I am talking about, the ones taking pictures of every single thing mentioned by the guide, usually with their iPad as well. As full as they are of tourists, its a great way to get around the city, get out of the elements, and learn a ton about your destination.
Ultimately I chose to take this tour for a few reasons. First and foremost, Dublin is a spread out, confusing city. By taking the tour, I was able to avoid getting lost, or spending most of my time walking from attraction to attraction. Additionally, I was on a bus, so I avoided the surprise rainstorms, staying dry and warm throughout the day. Finally, I was able to learn so much about Dublin, its history and the many attractions from the live tour guides driving us throughout the city.
Originally I was going to do a walking tour of the city, which I normally tip about seven euros for, but I chose to do this instead. The tour I took today had a student discount (ask everywhere you can!) so I only paid 17 euros for the full day. Additionally, these tours usually include access to their free walking tours and discounts at other attractions which added value and gave me more to see and do throughout the day. Being a dreary day and coming off some very busy days, I was a little lower energy than normal, so having the bus was great!
As I went through Dublin, I discovered two big things. First the national museums that are free entrance (and what I was planning on visiting today) are closed on Mondays, also many attractions charge entrance fees (by many, I mean all, except for the museums, that were closed). This was very frustrating in the beginning of the day, but truthfully choosing the bus for today gave it a silver lining. By taking the bus I was still getting all of the information. Also I was able to get off and walk around sites like Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take in their beauty even without entering. Then I could meet the next bus ten minutes later and be on my way. I was probably able to do more than I would have today if I hadn’t opted for the bus.
The trade off for using much of today’s budget on the bus tour, meant that I had to be strategic with food purchases today. Again I booked a hostel that includes breakfast in your room fee, so I ate before I left and didn’t have to worry about that. For lunch, I hopped off the bus in the Temple Bar district and found a little sandwich shop. I had stumbled on O’Brien’s (while lost) yesterday and my mouth instantly watered for one of their bagel sandwiches. So it worked out nicely when I found one today when I got hungry. I had an amazing bagel sandwich with bacon, avocado, tomato, lettuce and cheese. It was so delicious and at barely 5 euros, it couldn’t be more perfect. Midway through the afternoon I stopped for a snack near St. Patrick’s, picked up a fruit energy drink and some Cadbury white buttons before hopping back on the bus. Dinner was leftovers! I had the rest of my cheese and crackers from last night. All day I spent less than 8 euros on food and stayed on budget for the whole day, under 25 euros.
All in all, today was a very relaxed day of sightseeing. I learned so much about Dublin and saw all of the great sights thanks to the hop-on hop-off tour. This was a great way to use my last day in Dublin. Overall, Ireland was so much more than I could have dreamed. Dublin is a great European city, with great pubs, cathedrals and a lively spirit. Personally, I don’t know that I would return to Dublin but I will without a doubt return to Ireland. If you visit this city, you must take a day at least to explore the countryside and visit a smaller town. That is where I found the heart of this country. No matter where you come in Ireland, meet the people and enjoy the Irish spirit. It is rooted in a rich history and exudes from the people. As the Irish lady in the seat next to me on my flight from Edinburgh said, “You’ll love Ireland, we are a very lovely and kind bunch!” That you are Ireland, that you are.
-The Very Hungry Traveler