Dublin is a city full of history and charm most often associated with drinking beer, having fun with friends and exploring the sights around the capital city. With an architectural skyline that weaves in the new and the old world, you will find this little valley town to be modern and welcoming. Between the buses, taxis, trains and bike paths transportation is a breeze. A nice walk down the river is a definite must for those who want a relaxing stroll through the busy streets of downtown.
As a nerd, my goal was to learn about Celtic culture in a non traditional, off the beaten path way. A train ride was a must, and so was tasting as many non USA available whiskeys and beers as possible. Add a touch of Game of Thrones and you will get to see the country side with a cape and replica Ice sword!
Here’s how we did Dublin, Nerd style:
1. Guiness Storehouse
Right in the city center, the Guiness Storehouse on St James street it the mecca of all beer lovers. Set up as a self didactic tour, the walls of the 7 story facility are full of tid bits, manufacturing trivia, trade secrets and history delivered interactively. The tour itself takes about two or less hours to complete depending on the crowds and your thirst for knowledge. Once you are done there are a few areas where you can sit, relax and enjoy food and beer – one pint or sampler try on the house! They also offer a Connoisseur tour in which they take you into a special tasting room and teach you more about their delicious products. If you are not interested in touring, they have a souvenir shop on the main floor where you can get pints engraved with your name or snacks and condiments for your next BBQ.
From Tara station, take the train to Howth, a beautiful fishing town complete with lighthouse, castles, cliffs, churches, and fish and wares market. The Market opens 7 days a week and hosts candy shops, food stands, souvenir shops and jewelry makers. This is a perfect spot to watch the locals walk their dogs and to grab an order of traditional haddock fish and chips (check Trip Advisor or Yelp for the best spots). On a nice day, take a boat ride through the bay. Be on the lookout for marine life and natural landmarks. Good half day trip, even if it is just to enjoy lunch or dinner.
3. Game of Thrones Tours Dublin
If you are a fan of this epic fantasy show produced by HBO then this is your opportunity to travel to Winterfell, the Twins and many of the sets used to portray Westeros on the small screen. There are many offerings to choose from but this company sets itself apart by providing apparel, swords, group pictures and behind the scenes look at the vision and effort required to pull of the stunning cinematography and visual effects. During the tour, a King or Queen of the North is crowned and sworn in at Inch Abby, the same site where Rob Stark was crowned. All you have to do is score the highest on the Brain of Thrones trivia game! Check out their facebook page for lovely pictures of kneeling Lords and Ladies if you need proof. 😉 (I was crowned Queen in the North!) Be prepared to take long walks though, rain or shine, and bring comfortable waterproof shoes. More info at www.gameofthronestours.com
4. EPIC, The Emmigration Museum
Did you know there are more people of Irish blood or descent outside of Ireland than in it? In the USA alone 34 million people associate their heritage with the immigrants/emigrants of the emerald isle. There is a little green behind the red, white and blue, according to President Obama, and according to the museum, this is a constant throughout the world. Interactive displays and art adorn the galleries, engaging visitors as they read and experience the bountiful stories and colorful characters of the Irish emigration history. Grab your EPIC passport, an audio guide and enjoy a journey through the wonderful legacy of the Irish people.
John Jameson came from Scotland in the 1700s and built himself a whiskey distillery. Little did he know that Jameson Irish Whiskey would become a household name, a staple of high quality rich spirits. There are four tours you can take at the Bow St location, the original site of the operations: The Whiskey Makers Tour, The Whiskey Tasters Tour, The Whiskey Shakers Tour and the Bow St Experience. Depending on your level of knowledge and expertise, each tour offers a unique look at the manufacturing processes, products and history of the 200+ year old company. If you don’t want to tour, you can access the gift shop and purchase exclusive blends. The Distillery Whiskey label can be personalized, which is a neat souvenir for hardcore fans. Slàinte!
6. Darkey Kelly’s
This restaurant and pub is located next to Christ Church and is highly recommended on Yelp and Trip Advisor. Their draw? Live music every night, featuring Irish tunes and folksongs to sing along. Their fish and chips are stellar; an entire piece of haddock to enjoy with thick french fries. Featuring over 170 whiskeys and 40 gins, this bar means business; their beer selection is admirable too. Come in early, before 7pm, and grab a bite until the show starts. It gets full past 930pm, which is when the fun begins. If this pub isn’t to your liking, there are many others in Temple Bar that will suit your needs.
7. Do Dublin or City Sightseeing
These bus services have routes that cover the must see sights of the city. With the ability to hop on and off when desired during operating hours, you will not need a taxi or transportation pass to get around. The stops are set to be 15 to 30 mins apart, depending on passenger volumes. They also offer wi-fi while you are on the bus! One and two day passes are available, as well as tours to destinations farther away. Book in advance and be on time to take full advantage of the bus schedule.
8. National Museum of Ireland
Situated across the street from Trinity College there are two museums dedicated to Archeology and Natural History. (The other two sister museums are outside the area we stayed in.) Admittance is free of charge which makes it so much more enticing to give it a go. With exhibits from the early Celtic cultures to modern history, you will have a lot to read and see in their estate. Depending on your level of interest and thoroughness, it may take you anywhere from 2 to 8 hours to experience both places.
Other nerd haunts include Riverdance (was out of town when we arrived), The Whiskey Museum, Dublin Castle, The Leprecaun museum, Dublinia, the GPO, the Custom House, dogpatch labs, harbour cruises and walking tours on Segways. We had limited time so we stuck to some of the basics including the Temple Bar. Take at least 7 days in this city and get a bus out to Galway and Giant’s Causeway. If you want to combine it with Belfast, give yourself 10 days and add more Game of Thrones, Titanic, and The Fall to your geek stops. So many good geeking out choices, so little time.