Paola Bassanese is an author and freelance writer. She is interested in healthy living, work/life balance, and the performing arts.
Dublin has a strong pull for writers and aspiring writers, but also for creative types in general. The cultural scene there is thriving, and so is the restaurant scene. While Cork is more famous for its culinary delights, particularly its food markets and its annual gourmet festival, Dublin has a lot of offer to foodies and culture vultures. When you first visit Dublin you will notice how many young people you see: mostly students and many tourists. To me, Dublin has all the vibrancy of a European capital, without any airs and graces.
Travelling from London to Dublin is very straightforward: by plane it only takes about an hour, so you can easily organise a day trip to do some shopping and see the sights. Budget airlines offer extremely cheap air fares when you book in advance, so for the price of a night out you can spend a whole day in a different country without breaking the bank. If you are travelling around Europe, you should definitely spend a few days in Ireland to explore what it has to offer.
Dublin has a good transport system comprising buses, trams and trains. You can get a visitor ticket (Leap Card) to jump on and off buses. It works out much cheaper than paying cash.
I love walking and believe it's the best way to take in the atmosphere of a place. When you walk around Dublin you will notice how many food spots there are all around. From traditional fish and chips shops to French restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice. During a totally unplanned meander through Dublin streets I came across Bun Cha, a Vietnamese informal restaurant in Moore Street, just off O’Connelly Street. It’s a great place for a quick lunch stopover to take a break from your shopping, and you’ll see many locals who eat there, some more in a hurry than others because they need to go back to the office. Moore Street is actually a foodie paradise because it hosts a fruit and vegetable market. There is a lovely buzz in the market, with beautiful and tempting fresh produce.
Another street that foodies need to know about is Drury Street, where you can find Asia Market, a quirky place where you can buy Chinese and Asian ingredients you wouldn’t find elsewhere as well as cooking equipment.
If you like to step things up a notch, you can cross over to the South side of the river Liffey and go to Dollard & Co., a rather posh-looking cafe, restaurant and food shop with a hint of Continental Europe. Lust over the freshly baked bread, order a substantial salad rich with superfoods and maybe treat yourself to some delicious goodies from the shop.
If you like the theatre (and there are many theatres to choose from in Dublin) you will find several restaurants that offer pre-theatre menus.
The Vintage Kitchen
Foodie Dublin Map
You probably don’t need to be a writer to appreciate the Dublin Writers Museum. Tucked away just off O’Connell Street in Parnell Square, this museum has brought together memorabilia from famous Irish writers including Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. The building itself is gorgeous and is worth a visit in itself to admire the lovely painted ceilings, the imposing staircase and an awesome library.
Online reviews of this museum are mixed; while the venue could do with some renovation and the displays could be made to look more attractive, there is so much material to see. I recommend the audio tour, which is included in the entry price. Personally, seeing with my own eyes the original theatre programmes from Oscar Wilde’s plays was worth the visit alone. It was also thrilling to see some original first editions of books, for example Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Not far from the Writers Museum is the James Joyce Centre. While I didn't get the chance to see it this time around, it is definitely on my to-do list.
If looking at all those books make you want to go shopping for some fiction, a great spot is Eason on O’Connell Street. Established in 1919, it is spread over three floors, of which the top floor is a Tower Records shop. You can also find a whole section for stationery and gifts.
Dublin in a Day
While it wouldn’t do Dublin justice to visit it in a day, you can start by joining a walking tour in the morning to learn about the history and attractions. You can’t go wrong by heading to Grafton Street and St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, then walk to nearby Trinity College.
If time allows, explore the back streets and green spaces. For example, I discovered King's Inn Park by chance and I thought it was rather lovely and definitely off the beaten track.
Day Trip from London to Dublin
Walking around Dublin
Have you been to Dublin?
© 2018 Paola Bassanese