Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Dublin #1

So, I have just arrived back from the best weekend break in Dublin with my mum. When I say weekend, I mean Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but old habits die hard and whenever I go on a short break away it always feels like a weekend. My original plan was to do just one blog post on the whole trip, but having taken over 300 photos (woopsy), I think I will split the posts into each day. All photos are taken on my iPhone as I didn't have space for my DSLR so I am sorry if the quality is not up to scratch.

Having packed our hand luggage bags on Saturday night, we arose eager and ready to go on Sunday morning. Off we drove to Birmingham airport, where we boarded our Ryan Air flight to Dublin.

 Here are my obligatory out-of-the-window photos. Pretty good, if I do say so myself. Anyway, after a very short flight (around 45 minutes) we arrived at Dublin airport, hopped in a cab and made our way to our hotel. We stayed at Brooks Hotel on Drury Street. The location was amazing - in the creative quarter of the city which meant lots of independent shops and cafes to peruse.

We quickly dropped our bags in our hotel rooms (after a quick peruse of the 'Pillow Menu', ooh I say) and headed off for some lunch.

We didn't have to walk far before we stumbled across somewhere that looked right up our street.

We walked into Fallon & Byrne to be greeted by a vast array of luscious looking food, including mini pineapples and multicoloured tomatoes (why I didn't take pictures, I have no idea). We then headed up the stairs to their restaurant. It was quite a smart looking place, tables set out with white table cloths and everywhere surrounded by fancy looking wine bottles. However, despite the pristine table settings the atmosphere was actually quite relaxed and the waiting staff were extremely friendly. Not at all prissy.

We ordered a bottle of wine (it was a holiday after all), and then set about looking at the menu.

I opted for the vegetarian wellington. This consisted of pesto barley, caramelised red onion, confit sweet potato and onion hummus, with a pomegranate and hazelnut salad. It was thoroughly delicious. Just filling enough without leaving me feeling like a roly-poly. Mum opted for the chicken breast with roast garlic mash, shaved truffle brussel sprouts and Bourguignon sauce. Hers also received high appraisal.  

Happily full from our late lunch we headed back out onto Exchequer street (which was the road perpendicular to the one we were staying on). Everywhere was really lit up and having done a quick Google search, I can confirm that 'Nollaig Shona Duit' does in fact mean 'Happy Christmas' (surprisingly). We went on a quick exploration of the city, meandering our way up Grafton Street (a pedestrianised shopping area) up towards the River Liffey. 

Before reaching the river we walked past this stunning building which is in fact The Bank of Ireland. We both agreed that it reminded us of what we thought Gringott's Wizarding Bank from Harry Potter would look like. Very cute, with great big, red velvet bows on the pillars. 

Our next stop was Temple Bar. This is the lively, night time quarter of the city. Walking through this region at around 5 PM on a Sunday evening, Dublin definitely didn't do much to diminish their drinking reputation. Everybody was in lively spirits, with pubs full to the brim of bands playing live music and happy, boisterous customers joining in. There was also many a fancy dress party trundling round town (all looking a little worse for wear). 

However, one thing I have to say about Dublin is that despite witnessing a fair few intoxicated inhabitants (which would be the same in any major city), not one of them seemed in bad spirits. I saw no fighting, no grimacing and have to say it was pretty much smiles all round. 

Mum even stopped for a nice chat with this lovely fella. 

Before crossing over the bridge to the other side of Dublin, we couldn't resist popping into this little sweet shop. We didn't end up buying anything, but a little sugary detour has never done anybody any harm. 

I didn't actually get any pictures from over the other side of the river, and it was the only time we visited. I can assure you there were more nice looking restaurants and shops, however I got the feeling this was more like the business area of the city. 

After our little exploration, we made our way back to the hotel admiring the many Guinness signs on the way...more about Guinness tomorrow... 

After a quick cup of coffee and a shower, we both got ready for dinner.  A little side note - I absolutely love my toiletries/make up bag. It was a birthday gift from my lovely friends Amelia and Zoe, and I think it was from an independent store in Bristol. It's a great size, and lets be honest perfectly chosen for a foxy lady like myself (...). 

We headed round the corner to a great restaurant called Rustic Stone. It's selling point is that not only does it have delicious food, but all of it is pretty healthy as well. Health to one side, we started the meal with cocktails. I had a Coconut & Ginger crush - this baby consisted of coconut rum, ginger liquor and fresh lemon and lime juice. It certainly did the trick. 

Next came the decision of which food to order. After thinking long and hard, I decided I was in the mood for fish (this rarely happens so I decided to seize the moment). I ordered Fish in a Bag which was mackerel fillets baked with a number of different ingredients, and sounded amazing, only to be informed that they didn't have it. Boohoo. 

A quick decision later, I decided on the Superfood Salad. This was a salad made (as the title suggests) of all things good. Haddock, broccoli, avocado, quinoa and alfalfa sprouts are just a few of the things that could be found in this dish. When asked whether I wanted the large or small size, I assumed the large would be a main course size so of course I opted for that. What a shock it was when it arrived, the size of a mixing bowl it was stuffed to the brim with fresh ingredients. It was amazing, but there was no way I could finish it. Word of advice if you decide to go - opt for the small size! 

Mum chose the Rump of Beef with Basil and Pine Nuts, and I have to say, I was jealous. It came on a hot stone which ensured you cooked it to the exact amount that you desired. I tasted a bit of it, and it was incredible! Definitely a big recommendation. We also shared a pot of polenta chips. I have often seen people munching on these in Pizza Express, but never given them a go myself. Lovely and crunchy with a soft, fluffy inside - they are a big YES from me! 

Sorry about the length of this post but, (to your disappointment or (hopefully) joy), tomorrows may be even longer as we visited the Guinness factory, the jail (don't worry, neither of us were arrested) and had another fantastic meal. See ya then!

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