DUBLIN: What’s the Craic?

Craic: (/kræk/KRAK) or “crack” is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland. -Wikipedia (and our Air BnB host confirms that we should measure a pub by its music and craic).

We went on a whirlwind three-day trip to Dublin, Ireland on a semi-whim.  We decided it was definitely worth the three days because WOW Airlines had airfares for $340 roundtrip from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Dublin Airport (DUB), with a requisite stop-over in Reykjavik, of course.

That price in airfare barely takes us to Dallas, Texas, one way–much less across the span of the United States. So, of course we jumped on the opportunity.

It also happened to be February, which is the husband’s birthday month. So I decided to turn Dublin into his birthday trip! How amazing of me, right? Best. Wife. Ever.

Getting to Dublin

While WOW Airlines makes travel affordable, you have to be prepared for a little discomfort. Especially when they change planes on you last minute. We went from having an A330 to an A320 (or A321). Either way, it went from a bigger plane to a smaller one. It was even more cramped than the plane we took to Iceland in October 2017.

How cramped?

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This cramped. I am all of 5’2.

The smaller plane also added a stop in Edmonton, Canada to refuel, also adding almost two hours to the travel time (we left earlier than scheduled – check your emails from WOW! – so we still arrived in Reykjavik and Dublin on time).

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View from our Air BnB

We opted for an Air BnB because it was more affordable than hotels in the heart of Dublin. Our particular Air BnB was located right in the Christchurch area: walking distance to everything from the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery, Ha’Penny Bridge, Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Temple Bar District.`

Better yet, the Airlink 747 (a bus that takes you to and from the Dublin airport) drops right in front of the apartment.

The buses drop off and pick up every 15 minutes or so, making it extremely convenient to travel to and from the airport for €12 roundtrip.

DAY 1: GUINNESS, JAMESON and DUBLIN’S OLDEST PUB

We arrived Friday morning into Dublin international airport. After customs, collecting our bags and the bus ride, we made it into our Air BnB close to noon.

But first…food! We were starving at that point!

We walked over to Leo Burdock‘s in the Christchurch area. It was a small fish n’ chips stand with no seating area (that particular location), so we took our fresh cod and chips and found a bench outside of the Christ Church Cathedral. There, we had a little picnic, and probably ruined some other tourists’ photos of the cathedral.

With our stomachs full, and post a quick shower, we had a renewed vigor to go out and explore. But of course, onto the famed Guinness Storehouse!

The Guinness Storehouse involves a tour about the history of Guinness and how it’s made. Then you continue upward, (yes, upward) to various floors featuring different attractions, including a lesson on how to drink a Guinness properly, and how to serve the “Perfect Pour” at the Guinness Academy. The experiences culminates at the top: The Gravity Bar – a 7th floor bar with 360 degree views of Dublin, where you can imbibe your “free” Guinness (well, you paid for the tour, and you poured a Guinness at the Academy, so you take said perfectly poured Guinness and you drink it upstairs).

The views are pretty amazing, as you can see most of Dublin: all the way to the coast, the greenery of Phoenix Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral…and everything in between.  The downside? Of course there’s a downside…it’s tourists like us…packed into this amazing little bar. On the bright side, we hear that the Gravity Bar is being expanded and will be twice the size by 2019!

Next stop: The Historic Jameson Distillery on Bow St.

A scant 15 minute walk and across the Liffey River is the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street. Of note, this is also right by the St. Michan’s Church — a legit medieval church with crypts and mummies which was founded in 1095, rebuilt in 1685 and rebuilt in 1825…it’s pretty old, and still runs church services to this day. But I digress…back to the drinking.

This Jameson distillery was established in 1780 (yeah, it’s old, too), but was closed in 1971 when the actual distillery moved out of Dublin into Cork County. So now, it’s more of a tasting room, a historical tour, and a really nice whiskey bar.

We had opted out of the tour because one, we had gone through the Jack Daniels Distillery tour the previous summer in Nashville, TN; two, because it was no longer actually a distillery; and three, it was almost closing time, and we really wanted to grab some drinks at their schmancy whiskey bar.

Instead, we went for a pretty cool whiskey tasting experience at John Jameson’s old office. Our guide actually turned out to be from Marin County, California — who fell in love with Dublin (and a girl who lived in Dublin), and decided to move there.

While there, Chris got a personalized bottle of the Distillery Edition – which is only available at the distillery, and our new favorite JamesonJameson Crested. It is not available in the U.S., but is much better than regular Jameson (and even a little cheaper). It is hard to find outside of Ireland, though may be available in other countries too. It is kind of the same blend as regular Jameson, but aged older. It has been consistently rated five stars online, and quite frankly, so would we. While I bought him one bottle at the distillery…Chris also bought another bottle at Duty Free in the airport.

We wrapped up our Jameson experience at the really nice bar and ordered a couple of whisky cocktails.

Next: Dinner at The Brazen Head

Finally, we were ready for dinner. We went on the nice eight-minute walk to The Brazen Head which is hailed as “Ireland’s Oldest pub.” It boasts that it is a historical site (oldest of anything usually is), and a great music venue. They also have an Irish storytelling dinner — which we may have to go back for. Instead, we were just there for the good pub food.

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Bangers & Mash
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Guinness Stew

We really enjoyed our meals at the Brazen Head, but as soon as we were done…our exhaustion and jetlag kicked in. We were well-fed, warm, and filled with Jameson whiskey and Guinness beer…it was definitely time to head back and cross day 1 off our list.

Look out for our post about our jam-packed Day 2, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, the Book of Kells, the Whiskey Museum, and a birthday dinner at the Bull & Castle!!!

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