I took a long 17 day honeymoon across Europe. Over a handful of posts, I’ll compile a bit of advice I have, assuming I can reasonably give any advice for each place. One thing that always has driven me crazy about people telling you travel advice or stories is often is it’s all whipped up into a frenzy, mainly saying things like, “It was the absolute best! Do what I did or you wont have an incredible time! You have to go see this or you’ll die!” But, I don’t buy that. Not every place one goes to is the absolute best. Some are average or even bad. That’s fine. But knowing that, I’d also like to provide information on what to avoid, so you have the chance to avoid some of the mistakes I did and make mistakes of your own.

Other places: ParisDublinAshford CastleRomeFlorenceVenice

 

The Food

The Rolling Donut

Big fun selection of donuts. And they were pretty good too! Parking is tough right by there, especially during rush hour.

Guinness Storehouse 1837 Bar & Brasserie

I enjoyed this meal. I had the Herb-Crusted Fillet of Cod, Mushroom, Leeks and Artichoke Puree paired, of course, with the complimentary pint of Guinness that came with admission. Alyse got the Tomato Soup with Grilled Sourdough and Herb Butter, she didn’t like it as much, but I thought it was pretty decent. The Guinness Bread & Kerrygold Butter wasn’t great, the bread and butter were cold, making it hard to spread/enjoy.

Kilkenny Cafe and Restaurant

Located just up the stairs from the Kilkenny Shop, it’s a cute little counter-service restaurant that has a selection of hot and cold treats. They also have a barista brewing drinks on demand. I only had a little scone and a latte, the scone wasn’t my style, but that’s sorta my fault. I had no idea what was in it, I just thought it looked nice and went for it. The latte was good though. What was nice was I got to sit and listen to live music, which they must have all day long, cause it was pretty early in the morning when we started there.

The Temple Bar

We swung by for a pint on Saturday night, and my goodness gracious, it was packed. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe a lively bar with someone playing an accordion in the back or something. That was not this, it was very young and felt bro-y in my opinion. Probably not a fair assessment, but what are ya gonna do. Anyway we had a pint, didn’t get a chance to eat, partially because it was late, and partially because we couldn’t figure out if they served food, where they served it. But that’s ok cause we went to…

Supermac’s / Papa John’s

I can only assume the Supermac’s Papa John’s is the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell of Ireland. And you know what, when you’ve had a drink, and are hungry and just want to go home, it’s just as satisfying. But, also we couldn’t find anything else to eat cause it was late. So, be careful if you’re hungry and it’s late, you may be stuck with fast food.

 

The Brass Monkey Restaurant and Wine Bar

Not my favorite. It was a bit out of Dublin, probably 20 minutes or so. We went cause we were looking for some good seafood, found this one that seemed like it might be good. We had a seafood platter and their deluxe seafood chowder or whatever it was called. Neither were great, and it was far too much food for the two of us. Wouldn’t recommend.

 

The Fun

Guinness Storehouse

An interesting museum to all things Guinness. As much as everyone already says it, it’s true the view from the Gravity Bar is great. Well… I think it was great. It was very foggy when we went. But what we could see was nice. I’m personally a big fan of Guinness beer in general, so I think I was pre-disposed to have a good time, but I could see if you’re not much of a drinker, or a fan of the Guinness Lore, then it may be skippable.

Connoisseur Experience at Guinness Storehouse

This, was, great. In some ways, yes, it’s a too expensive beer tasting. You taste four Guinness beers (they have more than just their stout!), you pour yourself a perfect pint of Guinness, and you’re on your way. But, what’s great is the… well experience. You sit at a bar for about 16 people, and the bartender tells you the story of Guinness. Like how they took a 9,000-year lease on the 4-acre brewery for an annual rent of £45, or how doctors recommended Guinness for pregnant women. But, it’s also the atmosphere. The bartender is friendly, and very Irish. He poured us some extra beers when they came up in conversation, and it felt like we were palling around at our neighborhood bar where everyone knows our name. We made friends with the people at the bar with us, and it was a real nice environment. And, because we said we’re on our honeymoon, he sent us off with a few extra bottles of beer as a congratulations.

The Aran Sweater Market

A touristy shop filled with wool sweaters from(?) the Aran Islands. Honestly the shop keepers weren’t that helpful. Still we did end up buying a blanket. It arrived FAR before we got home, no big deal, DHL called me told me whats up, I said hold on to it I’ll be there to pick it up on Monday. I go on Monday, it’s not there DHL says the sender requested it back, I gotta talk to the Aran people. So, I email. I call. I email. I call. I email again. Nothing. It took two weeks, and it wasn’t until I tweeted at them that they sent it back. So, I guess maybe go somewhere else?

Kilkenny Shop

This is just downstairs from the cafe I mentioned above, and just across the street from Trinity College. Honestly, I really liked this place. It was filled with fun little Irish goodies, some tacky, cause why not, and some really great items. We bought a few little nicknacks as souvenirs and gifts for friends. The store clerks were very helpful, and told us about the tax free deal! I’ll cover that in the tips below.

Trinity College

A really nice college campus right in the HEART of Dublin. Home to the Book of Kells.

The Book of Kells

I’ll be honest, this may be an overrated tourist attraction. I get why it’s an attraction, but I honestly feel like they didn’t do a lot to gussy it up. I guess there’s not a lot to be done with a… real old book. The old library was really gorgeous, and of course we enjoyed seeing that and took a lot of photos. But, I don’t know if this was something I’d say is a must do unless you’re the type of person who must do things that are must dos just because they’re must dos.

The Temple Bar Neighborhood

This is where the kids go. I did not enjoy this that much.

 

The Hotel

The Croke Park Hotel 

Good: Nice hotel, free parking. Decent little continental breakfast, with full bottles of water, we snatched like 6 of them to keep on us for the days. They also gave us a certificate to redeem for 4 free drinks at the bar, but we didn’t have time to use them cause we were so busy running around.
So-So: The smell. It overwhelmingly smells like whatever perfume they loaded that place up with. It’s a good smell, it’s just a lot of that smell.
Bad: Nothing really bad to say.
Verdict: Solid choice. A bit away from the center of Dublin, making it less ideal for walking, but parking wasn’t too hard for us in general.

 

The Tips

  • Temple Bar is a tourist area, but if you’re just swinging by for a pint of Guinness, maybe go somewhere else? A bartender at the Guinness Storehouse was telling us of all the standards they have for bars that serve their beer, cleanliness, temperature, how often they have to swap out kegs, etc. etc. He said almost everyone does it… except The Temple Bar area, and to avoid that. So… if that guy said it, I believe him.
  • Non-EU visitors, don’t pay tax! Many shops will let you purchase tax free (immediately or the tax to be refunded to you after you return home). We used the Horizon Card, you have to fill out a bunch of information when you first get it. Then swipe it along with your purchases at shops, (ask liberally if shops do tax free, not everyone will tell you!). When you fly out of the country, there’s a little kiosk at the airport where you swipe your card, scan your boarding pass, and boom, no taxes! It’s not an INCREDIBLE savings, unless you’re buying thousands of dollars in souvenirs. But hey, might as well use that money saved for another pint, right?

The Flight

Aer Lingus 527

  • Paris to Dublin
  • 5:00 PM to 5:40 PM (1:40) duration
  • Delayed over 3 hours.

Frustrating we got stuck in Paris, but I guess it was weather related. The real thing that bothered me is we weren’t alerted until 15 minutes after our flight was supposed to take off, easily predictable given our plane hadn’t even left from Ireland at 5:00 PM when we were supposed to take off (an hour and a half away). They did offer us a pastry and a drink at the terminal at CDG as a way to make amends. Not enough in my opinion.

Charles De Gaulle Airport – Aéroport de Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle

Good: Star Alliance Lounge was dope with plenty of alcohol, food, seating, and fast wifi (get access with a Chase Sapphire Reserve). Very cheap to fly to since it serves as a big European hub. Pretty easy to navigate, even for people who took three years of French in high school and only managed to pass two. Customs was fast.
Bad: It’s an ugly airport, plucked straight out of District 12.
Verdict: Hell yeah. You don’t use airports cause they’re pretty. Sorry, Wellington International Airport.

Dublin Airport

Good: Dublin Airport Executive Lounge (more below). Easy to get through.
So-So: Customs, wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible.
Bad: Security. They were very strict about the amount of liquids allowed. Only one sandwich sized ziplock bag per person. My wife brought a lot of little liquids and man, they kept scanning and trying to make her bring less. This angered her deeply. If you’re checking a bag, I highly recommend putting ALL your liquids in their. Don’t think you can get around it, or it’s as easy as USA’s TSA. It’s not.

Dublin Airport Executive Lounge

Pretty good! The snacks were decent, and in true Irish fashion, there were cans of Guinness available. I had one, and took one for my flight. I’m very Irish. A little crowded, but not uncomfortably so. If you wanna get access to airport lounges like I got, check out the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

 

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