Trip Report: Dublin-Tullamore-Galway #NoRentalCar Sept/October 2017

A trip report with day by day itinerary, recommendations and links, useful for others visiting these cities and traveling between them by train and bus.

If I were to choose keywords to characterize our trip I would highlight #no rental car and our themes of #dancing, #dining and #distilleries.

We also like to walk a lot, get around by foot rather than metro or taxi, with my personal best of 25,000 steps – as tracked on the iphone Pacer app – on a vacation day.

Pre-trip checklist: Check the weather – http://www.met.ie/; reserve key restaurant reservations in each city on their websites or using http://www.opentable.ie/‎. We also meant to pre-trip do the following but did none of these: Download mytaxi app, find a Hop on Hop Off coupon online, book key tours at attractions in advance

Dublin – 4 Nights

Wed Sept 20 – Airport arrival from overnight flight from the States – bus transfer to city (Bus 747 to Christ Church Cathedra stop)

Hotel check in Handels Hotel Temple Bar www.thekeycollection.ie/handelshotel.html 16 – 18 Fishamble Street.

They had a record of my email requesting a room with a view of the river. But our room, of course, wasn’t available at our early arrival so we walked over for Breakfast at the adorable Queen of Tarts main restaurant. http://www.queenoftarts.ie First of many Full Irish breakfasts.

From there we walked along the River path to the Guinness Storehouse and luckily we were able to have immediate entry. (Passed the Brazen Head Pub – oldest pub in Dublin – along the way but saved our visit for another day.) At the Guinness Storehouse (self-guided tour) I liked the advertising display of Guinness slogans and characters and TV commercials over the years, the photo booth and the view from the Gravity Bar where we enjoyed our free glass of beer. https:/…tickets

Returned to the hotel to nap which is when I became aware of the construction noise and church bells chiming every 15 minutes. The room faced the front of the hotel and I did see a sliver of the river but since it faced the street the sound of jack hammers and chain saws prevented any nap. Surely they would be stopping work by 5 pm, right?

Dinner – Vintage Cocktail Club 15 Crown Alley in Temple Bar waking distance from the hotel. Had booked on opentable weeks earlier. With opentable because you can easily book in advance and cancel easily online if your plans change.

The restaurant, as the name implies, has an extensive cocktail menu, a menu with so many pages it is really a book. https://vintagecocktailclub.com/cocktails/ How to choose? The waitress said, well if you like Cosmos, I recommend one of the Tiki drinks. I liked his better, a Sidecar with a sugar rim. With its speakeasy vibe, the restaurant is hard to find. Look for the “apartment” door with mailbox style letters VCC and then ring.

Having researched swing dancing in Dublin, I found boogiebeatswing.com, http://www.dublindy.com/ and https://swingscene.ie/dublin/ and knew there would be dancing to dj music at the Turk’s Head, inside the Paramount Hotel 27 Parliament St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Entry price was €8. By the time we got there after our dinner, the crowd was a little thin and we were tired so we danced a few and went back to our hotel.

While it’s true we knew what we were getting into by booking at a hotel in the Temple Bar area, I was prepared for a little noise from rowdy revelers in the area, but not for church bells chiming every 15 minutes. The construction noise had stopped, yes, and I fell asleep quickly but then the bells woke me up at 4:15 am, when I became aware of the sing songy melody. Ding dong ding dong. Then at 430 am it repeated twice. Ding dong ding dong Ding dong ding dong. Then 445 am three times. Ding dong ding dong, Ding dong ding dong, Ding dong ding dong. I laid awake listening. I tried to fall asleep again between chimes but I guess it takes me 16 minutes to fall asleep. And finally at 5 am the melody four times and 5 rings of the bell. We got the two fans going in the room in hopes that the white noise would drown out the bells.

Thursday Sept 21

In the morning I went to speak to the front desk manager about changing rooms. She had been so lovely when we checked in and helpful with maps and directions. While there were other rooms available for us to move to she admitted that one of them was near the elevator and the other faced the back closer to the bars which for some reason dispose of their nightly trash by breaking the bottles and this can be heard from the room. In any case, all rooms of the hotel are in earshot of the church. I asked, Any availability at your sister properties? She contacted the head office and found a room at the Hotel San George and graciously paid for a taxi to take us there and transferred our prepayment to that hotel.

Checked in to the Hotel San George, which is located across the river on Connelly Street. This was a good location since it was in walking distance to the first stop of the Hop on Hop Off Bus. We bought the bus tickets from the front desk and headed out first for a nearby breakfast at Kingfisher 166 Parnell Street, supposedly where the locals go www.kingfisherdublin.com/.

It was already late for breakfast, having spent the morning changing hotels but luckily we discovered such a thing as “All Day Breakfast” a menu item we found at many pubs – not “breakfast all day” but the Irish breakfast platter served anytime.

By the time we validated our two-day Hop on Hop off bus ticket it was after 2 pm. That worked out great because it gave us time this very first afternoon to do a complete two-hour loop, see the city and think ahead to attractions we’d return to over the next two days. We specifically bought tickets for the Green bus because I read right here on TripAdvisor forum that this bus line had live commentary versus a canned recording. So imagine my disappointment when we boarded and found out they would be using a recording. What?! I said to the guide. Not even a live joke or two? I guess he took that as a challenge because then we heard two hours of them. “This is the cemetery where the inventor of the crossword puzzle is buried. He’s at 3 down and 2 across.”; “This is the maternity hospital. There’s a 9 month wait to get in. And more people leave than go in.;” “This is the statue of Molly Malone and the famous song. Unfortunately for you, it goes something like this.” And those were just the family friendly jokes I can repeat here. Try to get on his tour. Paul Brooks.

The loop ended where it began, on Connelly street and from there we walked over to the Jameson Distillery and joined the tour that was starting in one minute at 5 pm.

After the tour and our whiskey cocktails we walked back along the Henry St. pedestrian mall, shopped at Bag City and peeked in at The Church Bar & Restaurant thechurch.ie to see the unique venue. I’m satisfied with a quick look at a restaurants and bars I had read about in advance, without having to eat or drink in each of them. There were more restaurants in Dublin that I wanted to try than mealtimes over the 5 days. During this trip I also popped my head in to Chapter One on Parnell Square. We already had a molecular gastronomy type meal planned in Galway so a quick look at the menu and the interior gave me enough of an idea to save this for our next trip.

Dinner – Winding Stair – http://www.winding-stair.com/ 40 Lower Ormond Quay, a fabulous meal of beet salad and steak, followed by a drop in to the Downtown Blues Social Dancing Party at Adelphi 52 Middle Abbey Street Dublin 1. www.DowntownBluesDublin.com

Friday Sept 22

Ok, overnight at the Hotel San George, was much quieter although this room was in earshot of a school so we were woken by the schoolyard playground sounds below. Am I really complaining about children and church bells? The room was very comfortable for the three nights we stayed here although the bathroom shower stall was the smallest I’ve ever seen and it was tricky to maneuver around the sink to get in. Nevermind, we very much appreciated the welcome bottle of wine the hotel had waiting for us in the room.

Breakfast – Lily’s Café 3A Cavendish Row

Day trip to Howth – We walked over to the Connolly train station and took the 12:33 DART for the 30 minute trip. From the station in Howth we walked around the Pier where we considered those restaurants for our later lunch but ended up going to The Abbey Tavern for seafood chowder.

That was just across the street the Hurley-Gurley Vintage Radio Museum in the Martello Tower, an owner’s collection of old time radios, phonographs and radio themed memorabilia, which we thoroughly enjoyed, being collectors ourselves. Two useful websites to plan the trip http://www.visithowth.ie and http://aqua.ie/things-to-see-do-in-howth/

Back in Dublin, we considered taking in a show from the http://fringefest.com/ schedule but since tonite was Culture Night https://culturenight.ie we wandered around instead with the crowds around Dublin though the lines were too long to visit any museums. Did enjoy a pop in look around at the The Shelbourne Hotel 27 St Stephen’s Green and Merrion Hotel.

The National Leprechaun Museum tours were sold out so we just took a photo of the front door sign.

Dinner – Rustic Stone rusticstone.ie Tried and loved the hot stone cook it yourself halibut with walnut relish and the Tuna with coriander

Madigan’s – listen to traditional music, some dancing going on

Sat 23rd

Full Irish Breakfast – Murray’s Pub

-free entrance w hop on hop off ticket at The Little Museum of Dublin https://www.littlemuseum.ie

Irish Whiskey Museum tour

Lunch – Bank Bar and Restaurant, in a converted Victorian bank http://www.bankoncollegegreen.com/restaurant/

Antiquing : Frances St shops; Dublin Vintage Shop on Capel St.; http://www.georgesstreetarcade.ie/ ; https:/…

Teeling Whiskey Distillery 13-17 Newmarket,https://teelingdistillery.com/

We hadn’t booked ahead so when we arrived the tour was sold out, so we just viewed the main floor exhibit and had a drink at the bar

Dinner – FX Buckly Steakhouse http://www.fxbuckley.ie/ Crow st. temple bar, reservations: crowstreet@fxbuckley.ie

Tullamore – 1 night

Sunday Sept 24

11:35 am Dublin Heuston Station train arrive 12:39 Tullamore

Tickets purchased online in advance, printed tickets out upon arrival at the station

lunch at the restaurant at Tullamore Dew Visitor Center

230 tour – 90 minute Whiskey Wise MasterClass https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/visit-us/

Dinner – Captain House Restaurant, Main street, Tullamore, captainhouserestaurant.ie

Hotel: Central Hotel Tullamore

Galway – 5 nights

Sept 25 Monday

Before we left Tullamore we took a nice walk from Central Hotel to the Charleville Castle. It was too early for tours but we enjoyed the stroll through the woods and a look around the Castle grounds.

14:18 train from Tullamore, arrive 15:43 Galway

Hotel Meyrick

Dinner McDonagh’s http://mcdonaghs.net/ 22 Quay Street, Fish & Chips and the 3 course special

Swing dancing at Busker Brownes bar, Black Magic Big Band 10 pm – midnight. No cover, Cross Street

Tues Sept 26

Hop On Hop Off Galway – one complete loop around then a second trip with a stop in Salthill to walk the promenade. City bus back to Eyre Square.

230 boat ride on the Corrib Princess http://www.corribprincess.ie/ a 90 minute guided boat trip up the River Corrib onto Lake Corrib and back

Drinks Bierhaus on Henry street. Tried the Galway Hooker beer

Dinner – Aniar http://aniarrestaurant.ie/. Choice of 5, 8 or 10 course tasting menu.

Monroes Tavern stopped by to watch the locals enjoy their regular Tuesday night Traditional Irish set dancing (looks like square dancing.) Dominick Street, www.monroes.ie

Open Mic Night at The Western Hotel, 10pm – had a Powers whiskey while listening to talented locals one by one playing the guitar and singing traditional music and some contemporary

Wed Sept 27

Day trip with Healey Tours – Connemara and Kylemore Abbey

Dinner – Il Vicolo Italian restaurant

Swing dancing – Garveys Bar Eyre Sq rockabilly band The Screaming Bluecats http://www.garveysinn.com/

More swing dancing sources:

Swing Forum Galway on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/swingforumgalway/

Galway Swing on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GalwaySwing/ and http://galwayswing.com/

Also https://swingscene.ie/galway/ and http://swingdancegalway.com/

Thurs Sept 28

Day trip with Wild Atlantic Way Tours – combo tour included ferry and visit Aran Islands (Inisheer) with tour of island by pony cart, then Cliffs of Moher visit by boat and then cliff top. Great guide Phil ODonndubhartaigh

Seafood Dinner at Martine’s of Quay Street, http://martines.ie/

Comedy Club – Dew Drop Inn

Too late for a drink at Tribeton (art deco interior)

Fri Sept 29

Breakfast at An Púcán, Forster Street, www.anpucan.ie

Visit to Galway City Museum and Legend of the Claddagh Ring Visitor Center

Antiquing at An Gailearai Beag – Antiques Shop at 4 Flood Street and Galway Crafts and Collectables at Corbett Court Shopping centre

Peeked in at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Griffin’s Bakery Shop Street and Aunty Nellie’s Sweet Shop.

Tried to visit Nora Barnacle Museum but it was closed.

Afternoon tea at Cupán Tae with the traditional 3 tiered china stand https://cupantae.eu/

Dinner Ard Bia www.ardbia.com local sourced (Venison was on the menu that night)

Wine and listen to John Conneely swing jazz band at Black Gate14 Francis Street http://www.blackgate.ie. He was great, buying his music. http://johnconneely.net/

Swords (Dublin Airport) 1 night

Sat Sept 30 Eireagle express bus, run by CityLink Non-stop to Dublin airport www.citylink.ie , then Premier Inn 2 euro shuttle bus from bus bay 16 to hotel

Check in Premier Inn hotel near Dublin Airport located in a shopping mall complex which also had a Friday’s and other fast food outlets. But I said, I’m not eating at a Friday’s, how about a 20 minute walk to dinner in Swords to Sagarmatha Kitchen http://www.sagarmathakitchen.iewhich I saw recommended on TripAdvisor. The website said it was the best Nepalese restaurant in Dublin. He nixed that suggestion saying, Would you go to an Irish Pub if you were in Nepal? So we skipped that and made our own walking tour of the town, the Castle, and the park and then headed to https://theoldschoolhouse.ie/.

Even though we did a lot we already made a list of what to do next trip, as we will certainly be back.

By Lisa Skriloff, Editor, Multicultural Travel News

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