Dublin weekend – City guide and Travel blog

So we had an intense full moon last week and I don’t know about you but I had a full moon meltdown. The perfect kind of course, one the universe sent to clear out some pretty toxic sentiments that were kicking around and kicking me down. Sometimes it just has to be done and sometimes it takes a bit of a shock to shock you into taking renewed action so instead of melting into a full moon emotional hangover I decided to reroute, rewire and change the pattern with a little encouragement from my fabulous coach and mentor Michelle Zelli. The remedy was to be an inspiring weekend, a mini getaway staycation just for me and Dublin has been on my vacay must see list for a while.

I currently live in Northern Ireland and have sadly only visited Dublin for brief work trips. Oh there was that one time I came to get bladdered for a friends 21st birthday which I clearly succeeded in as I have little memory of this.

That said whenever I visit here I have a yearning for more and I have found the energy here to be quite different from Northern Ireland so I couldn’t wait to really explore and take in the city and it’s sights. There’s such a creative buzz here and with so many tech start ups there’s an energy of opportunity and innovation that is super enticing. I did a last minute booking.com deal and found a hotel close to Connolly train station where I would arrive to. It was called The North Star, had four stars and looked pretty and boutique like in the pictures so I thought it was worth a look in. The reviews said it was one of the best located hotels in the city and since I like to explore on foot I thought it seemed like a good match.

On arrival I was shown to my room which was a bit of a disappointment as it had a view of a load of scaffolding. I’m not one to settle and if you don’t ask you don’t get, so I requested an alternative and I got to choose a much nicer room with a view of the beautiful old station building which I was much happier with. If you ever stay here its definitely worth specifying a room with a view. The hotel has recently been renovated and the entrance area is lovely and modern with a circular tunnel vibrating with overhead train rumbles which I actually found to be atmospheric as opposed to grating. The corridors are nicely decorated and the walls illuminated with black and white films projections which made an interesting visual point of focus. I deliberately didn’t include breakfast in my room as I like to do brunch on the weekends. It’s my favourite meal of the day and always worth exploring a city for a good one.

My first night I hit the town to meet up with some gal pals, we went to the stylish Chelsea drugstore for a cocktail on the historic George street. Interestingly the bar was a pharmacy at the turn of the century famed for researching the healing power of cocoa and stocking it for medicinal purposes. Sadly there was no chocolate to be found there now but luckily for me a glass of prosecco is the next best thing! For dinner we popped up the road to Isakaaya a japanese food joint where we feasted on veg tempura and pumpkin croquettes. The decor kind of reminded me of a pub, social centre and frat party all in one but the service was swift and food great. I was in bed by midnight and had a lush sleep as of course one does when they have a king size hotel bed to themselves. As much as I miss my husband it’s a real treat to have all that space! I swear there was no part of the bed left unexplored.

Saturday morning I hit the hotel gym which was a little outdated but who cares, I had it to myself and a treadmills a treadmill! My lovely friend Marion mapped out a days exploration for me so I wrapped up and hit the streets with my tourist map that the concierge had helpfully illustrated. I am a self confessed airhead in respect of any kind of map reading and my sense of direction is nil, but I found Dublin to be one of the easiest cities to traverse I have ever been to, which is a real pull for me as getting lost seems to be a talent of mine. Hey ho, my first port of call was the spire monument at the end of Talbot street, its an impressive spire that seems to go on forever and makes a visually arresting pinnacle to the crossroads and Dublin skyline. I then popped into the old post office which looks just as it did 100 years ago but today it’s still operates, business as usual.

I can’t lie I whiled away an hour caught up on Henry street which is basically high street central. I found myself pottering around Mango which is just doing nudes and camels so well right now! There’s nothing like a bit of window shopping to fuel an appetite so next stop was lunch at the lovely Woollen Mills. This lovely cafe has loads of irish charm and shelves stacked with interesting produce and trinkets. I had some yummy breaded aubergine sticks with salsa and a perfect almond cappa. I was really impressed with the menu here, and the cakes looked fantastic. It faces the halfpenny bridge which was my next crossing over to temple bar. Suddenly a few hazy memories springed back, the bars were bustling despite it being 12.30pm but this is Ireland after all and drinking is all part of the craic! I Can’t say I fancied getting involved, my bar crawling days are pretty far behind and it seems I am more good grub than good pub nowadays. Still the area has a great vibe, some cute shops and lots of colour, fab to mill about and people watch in. Oh the characters!

Next I wondered up to trinity college and took in it’s beautiful archaic buildings and architecture. I headed into the university grounds where I found the Book of Kells, a museum and incredible old library that Hogwarts was no doubt inspired by. It was breathtaking! So much knowledge in one place with books stacked to the ceiling only accessible by ladders and perhaps leprechauns, well the ladders didn’t look particularly human friendly. This is definitely a tourist hotspot but not to be missed if you are paying Dublin a visit. Its 10 Euros for a ticket and I see even the Obamas have had a perusal of the grounds.

Unfortunately the Dublin weather was dire and much of the day I was hopping in and out of shops to hide from the rain so by the time I got back to the hotel I was somewhat frazzled, wet and chilled to the bone. Comfort food was the only way forward so dinner was at The Elephant and Castle in Temple billed as a New York style diner. My friend and I had some cauli cheese and mexican salads topped off with an ice-cream sundae. Treat weekend was on! Some lovely yorkshire lasses on the table next door to us had got on the booze train a little too early and were somewhat worse for wear but every cloud, they kindly left us their bottle of bubbly so we ended the night on a fizzy high. Winning!

I had a lazy sunday morning, feeling a little hungover from the sundae and champers cocktail but knew some fresh air would sort me out so I took a day trip by car with my friend to Dunleery. A small town on the outskirts of Dublin with an artsy vibe. We first took in a stunning local beach with enormous angry waves and stopped for a coffee at a little irish coffee van that had been frequented by the hollywood actor Chris O’Dowd, I was suitably impressed! The eccentric irish owner regaled us with stories of warmer climes as the sharp winds almost throttled us.

On arrival in Dunleery we explored a little but soon settled on a lovely vegan place called The Maritime Cafe that did falafal salads and gorgeous vegan cakes plus a coconut and cacao hot chocolate. SO Dreamy! The cafe was all white sofas, cushions and layers of woolly blankets, very hygge.

I spent the evening in the restaurant adjoined to the hotel called Mcgettigans, catching up on some work over a bowl of sweet potato fries and a lovely glass of rouge. The rest of the menu was hearty irish fare so if you’re looking for a cosy perhaps stodgier dinner this place would be a worthy stop off.

Before I set off back to Belfast I wanted to check out the docklands area of Dublin and The Marker hotel, Dublin’s newest 5 star and a design must see amongst the google and facebook headquarters that have become central to the tech start up hub of the city. I walked from my hotel on Monday morning amongst the morning commuters and I must say I’m a big fan of the docklands area, the bridges and the modern industrial feel. It’s right up my street and peppered with a eclectic mix of cafes and restaurants. I passed plenty of clean, green organic cafes on the way. Dublin is for sure an easy place to do ‘wellness’ vibes and I found lots of great veggie and vegan options most places I went to.

The Marker hotel is spacious, light and serene. The architecture draws on the elemental nature of the Irish landscape combined with the sleek urban aesthetic of its surroundings, the roof kind of reminded me of the hexagonal stones of the giants causeway. I had breakfast in the brasserie, deciding on the continental breakfast as I can’t really say no to a buffet. I was totally tempted by the a la carte pancakes but will have to save those for next time. The service was excellent. I also really took note of the background music playing which transported me to an otherworldly realm and made me feel all wispy. Sounds weird but funny how much more you notice when you are on your own and really present in your surroundings, it’s so much easier to get in to that receptive mode where you notice and appreciate all the small things that we can often drown out when we are busy or reacting to others.

All in all I had an awesome weekend, connecting with a new city and new friends. Dublin makes a great weekend staycation, easy to get around and lots of variety food and do wise. It’s also an easy place to be on your own as everyone is so darn friendly especially the taxi drivers! Also when you visit make sure you download the Hailo app which is the uber of Ireland. Its easy to use and cheap as chips. Next time I come I am keen to get up to Wicklow to do some mountain walking which unfortunately the weather wouldn’t allow this time. I am finishing this on the train back to Belfast and I feel reinvigorated, buzzing with new ideas and now itching to go on another trip!

Love Jules xx

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