My husband and I visited Ireland and Northern Ireland from 5/21-5/29, along with our 22-year old daughter. Our daughter had been celebrating her college graduation by traveling with several friends, staying in hostels in London, Prague, Munich and Amsterdam. She met us in Dublin for the last leg of her trip, and picked the itinerary for much of our visit. We had a great time! I’ve listed the highlights below.
Day 1 (travel) – We flew through Boston, and as an extra bonus, were able to meet up with our son who works in downtown Boston. For the first of many times during the trip, we were so glad we brought carry-on, as there is no luggage storage at Logan. We took the blue line, and met our son at Tatte, a coffee/shop café that has become wildly popular. The coffee was good and the company was even better! It was really easy to take the blue line back to the airport in plenty of time to catch our overnight flight to Dublin. (We received some humorous ribbing from our son, due to my penchant for arriving at airports really, really early. Guilty, I admit.)
Day 2 (Dublin) – We arrived in Dublin at about 8:00 a.m. and took the Airlink Express (747) to the O’Connell Street stop. It was a short walk to our hotel (Jury’s Parnell Street). Our daughter met us, and we went to a late breakfast at Flanagans. Then, we walked to Trinity College to meet our daughter’s travel partners. The girls all went off to visit the Guinness Storehouse, as it was the last day in Ireland for most of them. My husband and I attempted to walk off our jet lag by walking through St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square. (We had already visited Guinness on a prior trip.) We walked to the Hairy Lemon for dinner, and my husband was tickled to see the snug where they filmed a lot of the bar scenes from The Commitments (a favorite movie of his). The food was really good. By the time we left, there were a lot of locals waiting for the live music to start at 8. We were just too jet-lagged to stay, so we went back for an early night.
Day 3 (Belfast) – The Titanic Museum was on our daughter’s “must see” list, so we traveled to Belfast. We had planned to rent a car, but my husband (who normally is the intrepid driver of the family) was still recovering from a nasty sinus infection, so we took the train. Great decision – it was very easy to walk to the Connolly station from our hotel, and the train ride was so comfortable. We weren’t sure how close the Belfast train station (Lanham Place) would be to our hotel, but it was less than a mile walk. We were staying at the AC Marriott, and it looked on the map like it was kind of far from the city center. We were delighted to find that it was actually very close to everything, including walking distance to the Titanic.
The Titanic Museum was really interesting. It focused quite a bit on the history of ship building in Belfast, as well as the Titanic design and construction process. It was sobering to think that some of the safety measures we take for granted (like having enough life boats to house all the passengers) came about as a result of the Titanic sinking. We had purchased timed tickets, and went on a fairly uncrowded afternoon, so we were able to enter before the time on our ticket. If you go, I would definitely avoid the weekends and try and pick off-hours. The exhibits are spaced pretty tightly and I can’t imagine how crowded it would be on the days the timed tickets sell out.
We closed our day by having a great meal at The Morning Star. While we were eating, a young couple pushed a pram up to the table next to us. They had a three-week old baby, and it was their first night out with him. They were worried we would be distracted by noise from their baby. (“You must think we’re terrible parents – taking him to a pub”, they joked.) The couple was so happy and their baby was so cute – it was fun to sit near them.