3 months ago, I was absolutely set on going to Dubai for my birthday. I did a ton of research on flights and hotels but after booking an incredible summer adventure (more on that soon), I was left with just £50 and broken dreams. But HAVE NO FEAR – I found a great ‘DUB’ alternative. The one, the only… Dublin, Ireland!
I seem to have got into a habit of spending my birthday abroad – I love the fact that it takes the pressure off the day and makes it more about the place that I’m in. People find it so surprising that I don’t like my birthday *queue taunts that only children love attention* and although I’m growing to embrace the birthday spirit, I’m still 110% #teamchristmas. You see, birthdays don’t fit into the category of ‘good attention’. It’s like ‘WELL DONE FOR BEING BORN, CONGRATULATIONS FOR CONTINUING TO STAY ALIVE, HERE’S TONS OF PRESENTS. OH, AND WE’D LIKE TO SING A SONG ABOUT IT’ but I’m being a very negative-nelly instead of admitting that the last three of my birthdays have been pretty, damn cool (you can read about the coolest one here) – Now, let’s get to the point… DUBLIN!
Who I went with: My trusty amigos: Minnie and Leonie.
How we got there: £20 RyanAir flights.
No joke, I’m talking £20 RETURN from Birmingham – what a bargain! It was hardly a luxury-flight and it only included hand luggage allowance but, for a few days away, you really don’t need anything else.
So, how did we snag such a great deal? Honestly, I have no idea. I can’t give you tips and tricks for when to book or what website to use but, in case you’re curious, we found them on skyscanner just a few weeks beforehand. That said, I think flights from Birmingham to Dublin remain notoriously cheap all year round – so if you fancy an affordable getaway then this is definitely a location to look into.
How long for: 4 days, 3 nights.
We had endless hours to explore Dublin – potentially too many. You could probably do it in 2 days and 1 night if you were pressed for time but it’s always nice to be able to relax guilt-free and throw in some day-trips.
Where we stayed: Isaac’s Hostel, Dublin.
I decided to take it upon myself to book the hostel in the only way that I know how to: 1) http://www.hostelworld.com, 2) check for good ratings, 3) choose the cheapest option, 4) pay deposit, 5) voila.
I’m sure you all know, hostels are my go-to choice for accommodation – I must have stayed in about 50 of them in the last 5 years. Of course, things like Air BnB and couch surfing are becoming popular nowadays – both of which I’ve tried out (and loved) – but there’s something about hostels that just makes me feel at home. It’s the best way to meet new people and a great platform to book activities and trips at a discounted rate. My standards for accommodation are also dangerously low – which I only just figured out in Dublin. Long story short: we changed rooms every night – for reasons that I slept through the entirety of…. Oops. Turns out that loud snorers can really ignite peoples’ inner psychopaths and, over the course of the weekend, Minnie and Leonie came up with some (scarily legit) ways of eliminating the snorer from our hostel/the universe.
The rooms are basic and the showers are push-showers, which means you have to turn them on again every 10 seconds to keep the water flowing. I secretly love this water-saving technique, not just because I’m a “savetheplanet” freak but because I can be a culprit of unnecessarily long showers… So, by pressing the button it reminds me to stop performing an entire Taylor Swift set to my loyal audience of 1 (the shower door) and just get out as quickly as possible. I also think that when you’ve endured hostels in Latin America that don’t even provide hot water or indoor showers – a push-shower becomes the least of your worries. Don’t get me wrong though, I can see how it’s just inconvenient for people who are used to the luxury of their power shower but I also feel quite grateful to have had these life experiences. I feel like I’ve said shower WAY too many times in this post, I should really move on…
Other than these minor blips, Isaac’s is a super cool (ridiculously cheap) hostel just outside of the centre. There’s free breakfast, a sauna, a downstairs chill area with pool tables, free luggage storage and a bar crawl every night! The area it’s located in is slightly run-down but it does have a takeaway around the corner that does pizza, chips and a drink for just €5 (with vegan options, yay!) and, so, nobody can complain about that.
What we did:
I use the term ‘walking tour’ very loosely because it was, technically, just the three of us taking turns with a map to guide ourselves to various places of interest. Would I recommend this version of a tour over a paid one? Absolutely. However, I can’t stress enough that the free tourist maps they give you are definitely not scaled-down well – there were times when we were walking for MILES to cover a centimetre distance on the map and other times when we took 3 footsteps to reach something that the map suggested would take 30 minutes… looking back this may have something to do with the fact that none of us have any sense of direction but I’m still going to stick with my theory anyway.
We explored Dublin Castle, sunbathed in every park (yeah, I said sunbathed – in Dublin – for real – Leonie got burnt), admired Trinity College, browsed the shops on the high street and ate all of the food ever, ever, ever. I’m aware that’s the world’s worst ‘guide to Dublin‘ – here are some tips to make up for it:
Notable restaurants: Cornucopia (Totally vegan, totally yummy), Honest to Goodness Café (Meat-eaters and Veggies alike can have the yummiest brunches here)
Notable things to see: Keep your eyes peeled for the ridiculously cool street art on every corner – your Insta-game will be on point in Dublin (and yeah, yeah I can literally hear the number of eyes rolling at the fact that I just said Insta-game, but Instagram is LIFE, I tell you… I’m kidding… No, I’m not… Oh, whatever)
Probably Dublin’s most over-hyped tourist trap… but such a fun day out, I can’t deny that! Endless videos, displays, facts and hands-on activities like a ‘Pour a perfect pint’ challenge make it hard to get bored – plus, it’s the one place where drinking at 10am is not frowned upon. In 2015, there was some (not so) breaking news that Guinness was going vegan by taking the isinglass (parts of a fish) out of the brewing process. I have absolutely NO idea if this has been implemented but for my own peace of mind I’m just going to say that it has… Also, I ate cheesy chips and an ice cream on this trip, so I’m not really in a position to preach right now…
Guinness Top Tip 1: STUDENT DISCOUNT. Seriously, take your student cards everywhere you go it’ll save you a load of cash.
Guinness Top Tip 2: When you buy your ticket, you are given a voucher for a drink that can be exchanged anywhere on the premises. Naturally, everyone wants to use it for the ‘Perfect Pint ‘ challenge but there’s also an amazing rooftop bar where you’ll end up wanting to buy a second. I seemed to have found a loophole – when they try to take your voucher off you for the ‘Perfect Pint’ challenge, just explain that you want to observe others and not actually partake. Once you’re in there, no-one seems to know whether you’re an observer or a partaker and you end up with a free pint and a voucher still firmly tucked inside your pocket. I’m aware that this is a bit cheeky and I have no idea how long they’ll go without monitoring tickets properly but hey, it’s worth a try!
Guinness Top Tip 3: Guinness tastes kind of terrible. Sorry.
This is a must-do in Dublin. If you’re staying at a hostel there will undoubtedly be one every single night but even if you’re not – just head down to the Temple Bar area and there’ll be a million and one to choose from (free entry on your birthday too – just sayin’). You’ll get very merry, very quickly and everyone is so friendly that you just end up having the best night ever. We didn’t quite make it to the club (the lure of junk food was way too strong) but I got a few too many birthday serenades/cheek-kisses and a rickshaw ride home from an extremely attractive Brazilian man, so in my opinion the night was a success 💪
Galway and Cliffs of Moher
Like I said, we had so much spare time it seemed silly not to make the most of it. We booked a tour across the other side of the country to see some cliffs that I thought looked cool on Google Images and another buzzing Irish city: Galway. The coach journey was loOooOOong and Leonie and Minnie don’t cope well with early mornings, so they slept for the entirety of the trip while I entertained myself at the back of the coach.
It’s a shame the sunny weather decided to disappear upon our arrival but the cliffs were ridiculously beautiful. We had about 3 hours to explore – many pictures were taken, lots of chill sessions were had and I made sure to torment the others by straying dangerously close to the edge on more than one occasion…
So, that’s that, my friends! Unfortunately, I haven’t got any trips booked for the next two months due to the fact that I need to work 3 jobs non-stop to save some serious $$$, but as I mentioned at the start, a new adventure begins in August… Stay tuned!