Our third day in Dublin began with something I’ve never done before: attending church in a foreign country. While I’m not a regular churchgoer back home, I knew it was something my mom wanted to do, and it was quite interesting to see the differences between a mass in the US and a mass in Ireland. The ones that most stuck out to me? First, mass in Ireland was much shorter and, second, the church also had a live violinist playing music (how cool!). We attended church at St. Teresa’s, which is tucked away in a little side street off Grafton Street.
From there, we headed to Brown Thomas, a fancy department store that appeared to be Ireland’s equivalent of Harrods or Selfridges. However, we breezed by all the makeup and jewelry counters to get to the really good stuff: the Laduree! Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will recall that I’m mildly obsessed with macarons, and having visited the Laduree branches in Paris and NYC, I figured I might as well add another city to the list. The Laduree in Dublin has all the elegant little touches and charming details that you would expect from the chain:
After stocking up on macarons, we visited one of my most-anticipated sites of the trip: Avoca, which I would describe as a store somewhat akin to Anthropologie, except way better. While you’ll find many Anthro-esque home goods at Avoca (think candles, soaps, and glasses), they also have something that sets them apart: their beautiful handwoven blankets and throws, made of lambswool in Ireland. It was the blankets that I came to Avoca for, and I am happy to report that I left with a very full shopping bag (my credit card is less happy to report this news).
In addition to having several floors of merchandise, Avoca’s top level also features a cafe, where we opted to have lunch. I thought it would be convenient to stay there for lunch, but what I did not realize was that their cafe actually serves up quite good food. We ordered a gigantic pitcher of lemonade to share, and it was super refreshing and delicious. And, my main course – the pasta of the day, featuring copious amounts of cheese and mushrooms – was also yummy (albeit quite rich). Avoca’s cafe also places an emphasis on sourcing natural, local Irish ingredients, which is always nice to see.
From Avoca, we walked over to the National Gallery of Ireland, which houses the national collection of European and Irish art (one wing is dedicated to each). While the collection is relatively small when compared with a Louvre or a Prado, it’s full of good pieces. Plus, because it’s small, you won’t suffer from the museum fatigue that can set in at larger collections. One pro tip: Some paintings have a small “no pictures” sign next to them – make sure to pay attention before you take a photo! I was heavily chastised by a guard for snapping a picture of a Picasso (I swear I did not see the sign!)
The National Gallery is located nearby Merrion Square, which I wanted to see for two reasons: 1) to pop in on the Oscar Wilde statue and 2) to admire the gorgeous Georgian townhouses that ring the square. First up, Oscar. While the statue itself is not that exciting, plaques nearby contained a variety of Oscar Wilde quips, which were fun to read:
After visiting Oscar, we made it to Merrion Square’s main attraction (in my mind, at least): Georgian townhouses galore! When I think back on Dublin, one of the first things I will remember will be the beautiful, ornate, and brightly colored Georgian doors – and the area around Merrion Square contains many fine specimens of them. I took many, many photographs of the doors; here are a few of my very favorites:
While on our door-admiration stroll, we also passed by the spiffy Houses of Parliament:
And then it was back to our hotel for a quick rest before our next adventure commenced…our Rick Steves Best of Ireland tour. While I love to travel independently, my mom and I have also taken several Rick Steves tours over the year and always found them to be excellent. Plus, with Ireland, I knew I wanted to make a loop around the island and I knew that I did not want to drive that loop (I’m not the best driver under normal circumstances, so who knows what would ensue when attempting to drive on the opposite side of the road). So, a tour it was.
Our tour began on Sunday evening with a short group meeting, followed by a short walk to Copper Alley Bistro, where we had dinner. I chose the beef stew for my entree and, while it was tasty, it was completely overshadowed by my dessert: Guinness chocolate mousse. The mousse was rich and decadent, and I loved how it was cleverly presented to look like an actual pint of Guinness.
After dinner, we embarked on a short walk around the city before heading back to our hotel. First, we passed through Temple Bar, which was as lively as ever:
Next up, we crossed Ha’penny Bridge and walked along the north side of the River Liffey:
Then, we stopped by O’Connell Street, a lively boulevard that’s home to lots of shopping, several statues of notable Irishmen, and the General Post Office (which served as the headquarters for the 1916 Easter Rising’s leaders):
And, finally, on the way back to our hotel, we strolled by Trinity College, which looks quite lovely all lit up at night. We would return to visit Trinity College the next day…but you’ll have to wait for my next post for more information on that!
- St. Teresa’s: Clarendon St., Dublin 2, Ireland | +353.1.671.8466
- Laduree (inside Brown Thomas): 88 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, Ireland | +353.1.633.7670
- Avoca: 11-13 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2, Ireland | +353.1.677.4215
- National Gallery: Merrion Square W, Dublin 2, Ireland | +353.1.661.5133
- Copper Alley Bistro (inside the Harding Hotel): Copper Alley, Fishamble Street, Dublin, Ireland | +353.1.679.6500