Thursday, March 24, 2022
On Thursday we had to say goodbye to Rome. The boys loved Rome so much they were literally begging me to reschedule our flights to extend our stay. Ha!
That wasn’t happening, but we still did have a couple days in Dublin to look forward to.
My parents were ultimately going to be returning to my sister’s house for a while longer, so we needed to get them back to Ireland from Italy, and we wanted to spend a little time in Dublin, too. (My original plan had been to leave my sister’s, take train to Dublin, spend a couple nights and then go to Italy and fly home from there, but when I actually dug into flight planning, it worked out better to flip flop the plans and do Rome first, then Dublin.)
Final morning in Rome
Our flight was at 10:55, so fortunately we didn’t need to be up crazy early or anything. Ethan and I went out to the terrace to just take in the city one last time.
We had arranged a taxi van service for 8 a.m. The plan was to hit up the little bakery beneath our hotel for breakfast before leaving.
After packing up everything and checking out, we each picked out a baked good.
I went with this. I had high hopes, but it was honestly just okay. I am not a big “sweet” breakfast person, though.
It always feels charming to me to sit outside to eat at places like this. Maybe because it’s just not something I’m able to do often at home at all.
Our hotel entrance below- the actual hotel was up on the top floor of the building. It seemed that each floor was comprised of small inns. Again, I was very happy with our choice of lodging here. Loved the location, and the hotel itself was so comfortable and nice, yet affordable for central Rome.
Finally, time to go! The taxi van was on time (early, even) and off we went.
I do not remember anything too eventful about our airport + flight experience, so I guess that all went fine.
We flew west, so the time change was in our favor. We landed in Dublin by 1:15 p.m.
Into yet another taxi van….
The hotel I chose in Dublin was actually super close to the airport. Ideally, I would have loved to stay right in the city center of Dublin. But this wasn’t practical for several reasons, the main one being that our flight back to the U.S. on Saturday morning was relatively early, and being close to the airport would be way more convenient that day. Besides, we only had 2 nights in Dublin, and I felt confident we could just taxi back and forth just fine. Also, I got an amazing price on this very nice airport hotel (the same one we stayed at before flying to Rome, too!)- and the hotels in downtown Dublin are crazy expensive.
So our ride from airport to hotel was literally 5 minutes! Perfect. Another lucky thing- our rooms were ready for check in already.
We settled in, freshened up a little bit and by 2:30 p.m., we were out the door to head into Dublin! The hotel receptionist summoned a taxi for us. A little while earlier (once I knew our flight was on time), I had booked us 3:00 tickets for a guided tour of the Kilmainham Gaol.
We only had Thursday afternoon + all day Friday in Dublin, so we didn’t really have time to waste.
Our first stop was the famous/ must-see jail called Kilmainham Gaol, which opened in the 1700s. You can only tour the jail on a guided tour. It’s one of Dublin’s most famous sites for tourists.
Our guide was a real character. A very IRISH Irishman, complete with a heavy accent that I mostly understood?? He was funny, too! Definitely passionate about Ireland and its history.
Now, I’ll be perfectly honest. My knowledge level of Irish history is basically a 0 on a scale of 0-10. Apparently, it got left out of my AP European History class back in the day, because I seriously know nothing. (I am not so great at history, period….). I did know that there were serious issues, aka wars/ fighting between the British and the Irish though, so I guess that’s something.
My/ our lack of general knowledge of the history made some of the details about the jail go a bit over our heads, unfortunately. We learned, however, that back in the day, the jail housed famous political and military leaders who were arrested (i.e. a bunch of people I’d never heard of, but were very important in the fight for Ireland’s independence against the British). Therefore, the jail holds great significance in the country’s history.
I find old buildings like this to be pretty fascinating, just imagining what occurred between the walls and who roamed the halls. (I also enjoyed touring Alcatraz in San Francisco years ago, too.)
The guide was great. Like I said, I did wish I had read a bit on my own about the general history ahead of time though, and was kicking myself about that. Oh well. We learned a lot through the tour, and the museum exhibits at the end.
It’s always fun to go inside the jail cells on these types of tours. 🙂
The main room is definitely the highlight- it’s just super cool looking!
Tons of movies have been filmed here since the jail was closed down years ago now. It definitely has a very iconic “prison” look that is perfect for Hollywood, doesn’t it? I believe U2 also shot a music video in this room.
The tour continued outside, to the prison yard called Stonebreaker’s Yard. This was the most impactful area, to me. This is where the imprisoned Irish leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising (an armed insurrection against the British) were all executed by firing squad (among many others, over the years).
I also learned that in a firing squad, one of the shooters has a blank in his gun (but no one knows who has the blank vs live rounds). I guess that ensures that no one knows for sure who fired the fatal round- and maybe helped them all sleep at night afterwards, with the thought that perhaps they had actually fired a blank…
At the end, we spent some time in the museum:
By the time we finished, it was late afternoon/ early evening already. The jail is located a ways from the rest of more central Dublin, where we wanted to head for dinner. We ended up walking pretty far.
I felt a little “unprepared” for the Dublin portion of our trip, because I just hadn’t done my usual pre-trip research. I relied on my sister to give me some pointers as to what to prioritize seeing, which was great- but also meant I just felt a little out of sorts about where things were, etc.
The Brazen Head
The plan was to stop for a pint at The Brazen Head, which is Ireland’s oldest pub.
It’s a cool place! It was busy, of course- we weren’t the only ones wanting to sip a beer in the oldest pub in Ireland.
Had a really neat feel inside too, with lots of different rooms/ snugs/ whatever they’re called. 🙂
We managed to get a table!
We chatted with a nice young woman from Colorado at the table next to us, with her friend from England. They were traveling around Ireland together. They were also kind enough to take our picture!
After our drinks, we planned to move on to find a different place for actual dinner- hoping maybe for some place with music.
We headed to the Temple Bar area. This is the nightlife/ entertainment epi-center of Dublin. It’s very lively! Lots of pubs, etc.
However, we ran into a bit of an unexpected issue here…. everything was really pretty busy and crowded, and many places didn’t allow kids in after 7 p.m.! Hadn’t expected that. I mean, I guess they are basically bars, but we had figured there would be plenty of bar/ restaurant type places that would still be family friendly and serve food. (Again, I was a little unprepared.)
Dinner! The Old Storehouse
Fortunately, we finally did find a nice place that worked out great and had room for 6.
They even did have live music downstairs (though we were seated upstairs).
After my pre-dinner beer, I wasn’t starving, so I just got this soup and bread:
By the end of dinner and carb-fest, I was TIRED! It felt like a million years ago that we were having breakfast at a small bakery in Rome. And now we had flown across the English Channel, toured a historic old jail, pub hopped and walked all over Dublin.
Ethan is never too tired for ice cream, though, and he spotted an open place near the restaurant.
Now we just had to figure out how to get the ~20-25 minutes back to our hotel. Ivan muddled around on his phone and figured out that although they don’t have Uber there, we could order a taxi via some app (so basically, like Uber). While he did that, we enjoyed the lights of the Temple Bar.
After I think some minor complications actually connecting with our taxi driver, we finally headed back to the hotel. I may have dozed off a little. 🙂
And that was Day 13! Impossible to believe that we were down to our LAST full day in Europe the next day!!
2 thoughts on “Day 13: Rome to Dublin”
I am so glad that you lucked out with the weather on this trip. That makes the trip extra fun when you aren’t dealing with things like wind, rain, cold, etc. The blue skies are so pretty! I have never been to Ireland also do not know much about it besides what I have read in fiction books. My history classes in HS were so generalized and I feel like we only got up to WWII. I didn’t take a single history class in college! I didn’t want to take western civ as it didn’t interest me and that was the prereq for every other history class I was interested in. So I just skipped it altogether. I guess Phil had a much better history education because he knows way more about Ireland. I didn’t even realize that part of the country is part of the UK and the other part isn’t… And I didn’t know much about the civil war within the country. I have heard it’s very interesting to visit the northern part of the country. My friend went to Belfast and took a super interesting tour in one of those charming black cars that you see in Ireland and the UK.
Even though you hadn’t done as much research as you’d like, you still had a great time! And your hotel decision makes total sense since it was a short trip.
I love reading travel reports. They make me excited to plan our next vacation. It also reminded me that I want to visit Ireland sometime in my life and Rome and… it sounds like you had a fun and interesting day. Thank you for sharing!