Before we left for Dublin, we've had several people tell us "The Irish are incredibly friendly! They will come talk to you at the pubs!" While we didn't get any locals chatting us up at the pubs, we definitely experienced some Irish friendliness on our very first day there. We had just arrived and were too early to check in at the hotel, and so we headed out and happened to be standing at the entrance of St Stephen's Green fussing with our camera when an elderly man approached us. He obviously knew we were visiting just from seeing us fussing with our camera. And before we knew it, he started giving us the spiel of the history of Ireland, the must-visit tourist attractions, which streets they were on, and how to get there. That was incredibly nice of him-- he really wanted to tell us so much about Dublin, the city that he lives in, but the conversation got too long and we had to excuse ourselves from him eventually.

St Stephen's Green

We left for Dublin thinking that we could momentarily escape the cold back in Chicago but lo and behold, Dublin was experiencing colder-than-usual weather while Chicago was in the warmer-than-usual mode. It snowed for 3 out of 4 days we were there, with a combination of rain. On our first night, we were awoken by the sound of thunder (and rain) and only to find the streets totally blanketed with snow the very next morning we woke up. We don't know exactly how Dublin deals with snow, but of all the days we were there, the city of Dublin never salted the sidewalks which had snow turned into ice. The sidewalks were slippery and we lost count of the number of times we saw strangers around us slipping and falling. We've never had to be that conscious of every step we take when walking along Chicago sidewalks as they would unquestionably be salted when it snows.

Dublin was perfect for us as we only had 4 days. The city is walkable to many places and we walked everywhere. On our first day, we kept looking out for street names expecting them to appear on a pole and then only to remind ourselves again that the street names are displayed on the outer walls of corner buildings. This threw us into slight confusion on the first day but after awhile we got the hang off not searching for street name poles but instead to glance up at the outer wall of a corner building where the street name plate would be displayed.

Corner building with carved figures on Parliament Street
Retail along Grafton Street
The Irish love their Guinness. And so do we. People tell us that Guinness in Ireland tastes much better and we couldn't agree more. Perfectly smooth until the last gulp, we had at least a couple pints a day. We were told that pubs in Ireland know how to store Guinness in a proper and ideal way in order to maintain the quality of the beer. If you just want to grab a pint, you can easily do it anywhere. If you want a pint AND a view of the Dublin skyline, go for the self-guided tour at the Guinness Storehouse Brewery at St James Gate. How could we not pay homage to the Guinness Storehouse during our visit? The end of the self-guided tour at the brewery was the highlight: it ended at the top floor of the Storehouse with everyone given a pint of Guinness to enjoy while overlooking the Dublin skyline. Just lovely.

Roasted barley used to make Guinness

Waiting for the Guinness to settle

The husband T is an avid fan of Scotch whiskey but we couldn't for our lives miss out on the Jameson whiskey distillery either. Thanks to friends who've told us ahead of time to remember to raise our hands when they ask for volunteers at the beginning of the guided tour, we were selected to be what they call "Official Jameson Taster". At the end of the tour, we and a few other volunteers were given Jameson, Johnnie Walker Black Label, and Jack Daniels to taste and then state which we preferred. The husband T asked the guide, "Should we give the politically correct answer or an honest answer"? His taste buds remained true to JW, however, we were comparing whiskeys on different distilled levels here so it wasn't an all-fair comparison. The Jameson we tasted was aged for 5 years, whereas JW Black is usually aged for 12 years. I did prefer the Jameson whiskey but that was because I am not a huge fan of the smokiness of JW Black in general. If we were given either my favorite JW Gold or Blue, needless to say, that changes my answer. Another volunteer visiting from Northern Ireland stated his preference which wasn't among the three whiskeys: Bushmills. Not surprising, since Bushmills is from Northern Ireland.

Old Jameson Distillery
Perfect on toast
One can never get enough of beer in Dublin. Plus, the Irish are really really good drinkers I must say. Walking into a pub at 6:30pm, we saw that it was already packed like sardines. When did the party even begin? It felt like 11:00pm back in Chicago. Nightlife is awesome in Dublin, for early nighters like me.

I don't know how they do it but Irish food really is a perfect accompaniment to beer. Even for non-drinkers, the food is hearty and so fulfilling. I believe I've found my favorite beef and Guinness stew ever. The stew was served with Yorkshire pudding which was amazing. We usually try not to seek out incredibly touristy joints when traveling but Brazen Head is a place that we will recommend. Popular and known as the oldest pub in Dublin, Brazen Head doesn't let their food slide. Bull & Castle is a gastropub that is worth visiting. They have Irish comfort foods like stew and fish and chips, but also other items that we wouldn't normally find at pubs like smoked salmon with a side of fresh greens.

Beef and Guinness stew with Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes
Curim Irish wheat beer
Fish and chips at Bull and Castle
We never thought of Dublin as a place to be spoiled for baked goods, chocolates, etc, but there really was eye candy in many places we were at. Brunch at Queen of Tarts was even more fun. Staring at the baked goods was eye candy in itself... blueberry scones, pear and chocolate tarts, Victorian sponge cake, and the list goes on. Or we could step into any coffee shop and there would be scones screaming our names.

Croissants at Chocolate Butler

Raisin scone with jam
We've been spoiled by the museums in Chicago and also the ones in London. They are huge and covering every part of one museum in one day is almost impossible. The museums in Dublin, however, were nowhere as big as we expected. We managed to cover the National Museum of Ireland-Archaeology, and the National Museum of Ireland-Natural History, and the National Gallery in one afternoon. While the museums are nowhere near a 5-star rating, they are still by all means worth making a trip there to see the exhibits. Christ Church Cathedral was beautiful although we didn't get to see the crypt.

National Museum of Ireland-Archaeology
Christ Church Cathedral
The really wonderful thing about Dublin is that it is walkable everywhere especially since walking really is the best way to explore a city. The city is friendly, safe, and beautiful. We would visit Dublin again even if it's only for the Guinness. It really does taste better than the ones we get outside Ireland.

General Post Office
Tulips on sale along the sidewalk

Brown Thomas departmental store

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