We spent 3-days in Dublin, and I have to say it’s the perfect city for a short vacation. The city is safe, smallish and very walkable, yet so vibrant and fun.
Here’s just a few of the city’s many highlights:
Temple Bar: While there is an actual bar with this name, Temple Bar is the name of an entire neighborhood best known for it’s night-life. Our hotel was in Temple Bar which meant we were very centrally located, though it also meant that I had to use ear-plugs to sleep on Friday & Saturday night, thanks to all the music and noise floating down the street.
Trinity College: Founded in 1592, this college in the middle of the city is still thriving. Tourists can visit the old library which blew me away. We weren’t able to take photos, so the photos below are of posters & signs. Look closely at the long hall below – it’s two-floors of books! Featured throughout the library are books that are centuries old, including an entire exhibit about the Book of Kells (pictured right), an excerpt of the bible that was scribed in the year 800 or slightly earlier.
St. Stephen’s Green – A small but beautiful park in Dublin’s center. We came here at least a couple of times during our short stay in Dublin.
St Stephen’s Green also contains a small Garden for the Blind in one corner of the park. The plants in this section are meant to be touched and smelled and are labeled with Braille, including the fuzzy Bunnies’ Ears and delicious smelling Golden Thyme.
Grafton Street Lastly, we spent a huge amount of time on Grafton Street, the “Michigan Avenue” of Dublin, lined with all the best shops.
The best part of Grafton Street? All the amazing musicians performing on the street. (Note: If you haven’t seen the movie Once (about street musicians in Dublin), you simply must add it to your list!)
We managed to cover most of the sights in just a few hours, leaving plenty of time for leisure. And by leisure, I mean naps & pubs for Mike, and grocery stores & vegetarian restaurants for myself.
Call me crazy (or incredibly lame), but I even opted to skip the Guinness Factory for more time to explore the local food scene. Mike skipped it too, since of course Guinness was plentiful around the city.
And this is where I flash back to the Virtual Food Tour of London that Hannah shared on my blog. As Dublin shares many of the same grocery chains as London, I was able to check off quite a few places from Hannah’s list, in addition to discovering a few other treasures.
Tesco is a typical grocery store, not unlike the common chains back home. I wish I had picked up a can of these Mushy Peas however, the ingredient label confused me. Mushy Peas are made out of ‘Marrowfat Peas’, which I thought might be animal derived. However, it turns out that ‘Marrowfat Peas‘ is simply the name for peas that matured and dried out naturally in the field.
From Tesco, I picked up some snacks for the hotel – bananas, tomatoes, yummy fruity granola bars, and Irish Potato Farls. The Potato Farls were SO good that I wound up buying more to bring home to the states with me. In our room, we ate these addictive, moist potato-breads cold, but they were even better when warmed in a skillet at home!
I was so excited to spot Nourish, a tiny Natural-Foods store. And I mean really tiny. The picture below is the entire store.
My best purchase at Nourish was a box of licorice & cinnamon tea. My cashier said that she doesn’t even like licorice but is strangely addicted to this flavor of tea. I also really liked the Nak’d bars, which were similar to Larabars. Until Nak’d Bars are easier to find in the states, maybe Larabar will consider making a Cocoa Orange flavor?
Marks & Spencer is a huge department store (like a Dublin version of Macy’s in Herald Square), but the highlight of M & S for me wasn’t their selection of English Hats… it was their massive Food Hall!
Marks & Spencer’s Food Hall is basically a fully stocked grocery store, with a focus on prepared foods. I was excited to see an entire section of Vegetarian Meals, all of which sounded incredibly delicious like the Roasted Butternut squash & Chargrilled Halloumi dish and Pad Thai Noodles below.
From the produce section, I finally learned that the Courgettes I’d been seeing on menus all over Dublin were simply Zucchini! (I had already figured out that the Aubergines were just Eggplants).
I also picked up some gourmet treats from the clearance shelves: Hot English Mustard, Mushroom Toastie Topper (surprisingly, this creamy sauce is Vegan, though it’s intended to be served on toast with cheese), and BlackCurrant & Cassis Mousse Base (also Vegan and intended to be mixed with whipping cream).
On my very last night in Dublin, I discovered my favorite grocery store of all – Fallon & Byrne – It reminded me of a gourmet food shop like Marks & Spencer, but with a Natural & Artisanal Foods focus. This place blew all of the other groceries I’d visited out of the water! Heck, it even has a Wine Bar inside!
In addition to a great selection of Local products, the store also had a selection of Luxury & International products. And by that I mean a $10 box of Lucky Charms cereal!
And as funny as it was to find Lucky Charms for sale in Ireland, I was even happier to see the warning on the Nutrition Label:
“May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
Sugary cereals certainly have that affect on me.
What do you think? Should sugary cereals back home come with the same warning label?
I left Fallon & Byrne with quite a few souvenirs including this gorgeous tote bag, Mustard made in Ireland, the best musesli (loaded with hazelnuts, raisins, dates, dried bananas, etc), and the only dairy-free, whole grain Brown Bread Mix I found in all my grocery-store searching.
And I left Ireland with a very, very heavy suitcase…
Stay tuned for a final Ireland post with my yummy Restaurant eats!
I’d love to hear from you!
Do you like going to grocery stores when you travel?
What do you think about the warning on the Lucky Charms cereal?