Posts filed under "ireland"

An Irish Apology.

Last year, 
I wrote a post
about how I didn't
love the city of Dublin.

The responses were varied.

Some of you agreed.

Some of you though I was crazy.

Last week, I went back
and I looked back through the comments
to find some recommendations
that you offered as highlights 
for my next stay in Dublin.

And, woah. 

You delivered.

First recommendation: The Bank for Dinner. Very cool place. So cool, we couldn't get a table. Next time!

So, Dublin,
I'm coming back to you.

With my hands over my heart,
pleading on my knees,
and my belly a little chubbier
after discovering some of the gems
of your fair city.

here are some new stops to add to the list
to create an awesome time of your own 
when you find yourself in Dublin.

*   *   *

Fallon & Byrne

After reading a comment recommending 
this stop for eats,
I was keen to keep my eye out for it.

Luckily, I didn't have to strain my eyes too hard...
as it was next to our hotel.

The first night we had dinner in the restaurant upstairs.


Tyler left with the baby a few minutes early
as I settled up the bill and ordered a coffee.

The amazingly sweet waitress 
talked me into embracing the moment alone
and trying their signature dessert, 
the Knickerbocker Glory.

Imagine a big sundae glass layered with
berries, ice cream, cheesecake, whipped cream, & digestive cookie crumble.


I also loved their take away coffee bar.

The week I was there, they were donating all sales
to the relief of the Philippines. 

After watching a few hours of coverage on it the night before,
that got big points from me.

And the flourless chocolate cake didn't hurt either.

Check them out here.

*   *   *

Central Hotel

This hotel is in a great location.

Not only is it a stone's throw from Fallon & Byrne,
but it sits just a few steps from everywhere you want to see
during your time in Dublin.

(Trust me, it's a decent place.)

The rooms aren't anything fancy,
but the prices are great,
the staff was really kind & gracious,,
the location is great,
and it will more than get the job done.

Check it out here.

*  *  *


All over Ireland, 
you'll see small shops
boasting that they sell Bewley's Coffee.

Go straight to the source
in the middle of bustling Grafton Street
while you're in town for a classic cup
and a great view.

Potato & Bacon soup with brown bread.... when in Rome.

Whether you eat inside
or score one of the balcony seats
on a nice day,
it's a stop that,
with it's stained-glass windows & constant buzz-
 will add a little character to your day
without stripping your wallet.

*   *   *

Brown Thomas

I think there is something 
really special about visiting 
the main department store of a city.

Not just one that is part of a chain,
but one that stands alone
as an icon for the city's style.

In Paris, you visit Printemps or Galleries LaFayette.
In London, Liberty or Harvey Nichols.
In New York, Henri Bendel or Barney's.
In Dallas, you go to the first Neiman's downtown.

And in Dublin,
you visit

The windows are gorgeous,
the departments are curated perfectly,
and the prices...
well, they're high.

(It's fancy!)

But it's worth stopping through
and buying something pretty for yourself.

Even if it's something on the smaller side,
like a pretty candle.

*   *   *

So thanks for the help, amigos.

It made my four nights in Dublin
all the better
with your suggestions and guidance.

And now,
I only feel it right to conclude 
with one more round of your suggestions
on the best Dublin stops...

I can only guess how great
 it will make next time like.

*all photos original to Aspiring Kennedy
Posted on November 26, 2013 and filed under "dublin", "ireland", "travel".

Write It Down.

I enjoy writing.


I can think clearer and articulate how I feel
by writing my thoughts down.

Journaling has always been a huge part
of all of my travels.

If you looked in my closet 
at my parents house,
you would find endless journals
half-filled with pages of my travels.

School trips, mission trips, family trips...
They would become immortalized by pen.

It seemed an injustice to the experience (and expense!)
to do anything but that...
As if it was wasteful to forget one day.

And I guess I still feel that way...

I love taking notes, pictures, 
writing favorite spots
we discovered down along the way
to show an odd form of thankfulness for the experience...

That's why this blog is so full of things, I suppose.

If someone can benefit from the experience I had,
it makes it live on and have a deeper worth.

But beyond the journaling & blogging,
I also love writing postcards.

I send them to the littles in my life that are special to us...
And, now that they've received them for a few years and the excitement has worn off a bit,
I get to write them to a new friend who needs them.

And that just makes the experience of going places,
even amazing places,
all the better.

Postcards? Pictures? Videos?

How do you savor your travel experiences?

* * *

I just walked in the door from two weeks 
moving around England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland...
capped off by a weekend in Barcelona.

(If that's new news, jump on the Aspiring Kennedy Instagram train for immediate gratification.)

More on those later
-as my immediate priority after a 4am taxi is a nap-
but for now,
check out two other places (on-line) 
that you can find me at recently.

Posted on November 25, 2013 and filed under "ireland", "scotland", "travel", "writing".

Pack Your Bags: Irish Day Trips

First, I need to apologize
for making some people
very sad when I posted about Dublin.

I said I didn't really love the city
and that I had hard time connecting to it.

So, I'm sorry.

{I actually am, as I get really sad when people don't connect with a place I love.}

Though it was awesome having you pour out in the comments
what things & places made the city great to you
and I can't wait to try out some of your suggestions the next time I'm there.

So while Dublin still isn't my favorite place in the world,
I can't say one bad word about Ireland as a whole.

Getting out of the city
and into the quieter places of the country
is something I hope everyone gets to do at some point in their life.

{And I'm itching to get to Northern Ireland... luckily I have a hot wedding to go to there this June.}

If you are wanting to get out Dodge
{or Dublin, whatever},
I would recommend these two day trips.


& Wicklow National Park

If you can get out of Dublin,
it's worth the hour-ish drive out to to Glendalough 
home of good old St. Kevin
and his (once) famous monastic community.

The ruins of this long-lasting community
are in impressive shape,
considering how long they have been around.

There is a small museum at the Welcome Center
that will brief you on the history of the site
and then you can head out to see the ruins in person.

{I always like getting some context before heading out to a site. Who doesn't though?}

After you've looked at all the old rocks, ruins & graves your heart can handle,
head out to the lakes for the real treat.

There are two lakes...
the first is about 5-10 minutes away
and it's really pretty.

But keep going on the path
until you reach the second lake
{about 20-30 minutes from the ruin site}
so you can see this.

You won't be sad you did.

If you're in need of a great place to eat,
right up the road from Glendalough
is the charming Wicklow Heather.

Not only is the food delicious,
but the restaurant is a literary-nerd's heaven
showcasing first-edition works by famous authors
such as James Joyce & Yeats in their Writer's Room.

{Editor's Note: Remember in PS I Love You when Hilary Swank mets Gerard Butler
on the road in the Wicklow National Park... 
yes, these are those Wicklow Mountains.}


The Cliffs of Moher

I've been to Ireland
several times before making it out to this famous coastline.

I'd call it a "Rookie Mistake,"
but obviously, seeing as how many times I've gone 
 that wouldn't really apply.

{or "The Cliffs of Insanity"as you Princess Bride fans may know them}
are on the Western Coast of Ireland.

It takes several hours to get out there
and making it out there will take up a day of time.

But is it worth it?

Oh yeah, baby.

Because after you get there, 
you can have this view.

{24 week pregnant lady not included.}

There is a small cafe & a restaurant at the newly refinished visitor's center
that you can find warmth in 
once those coastal breezes get the better of you.

Rangers can lead informational walks, 
but from my personal experience,
 it's not anything to cry over
if you miss out on making the tour.

Apparently, there's not much to say about these cliffs 
other than that they are really old 
and that puffins come to nest there in the summer.

To reach the famous cliffs,
you have two options:
you can take a tour with a group like McCoole Day Tours

If you drive yourself, will you promise to stop in the town of Ennis for lunch?

It's a tiny little Irish village
complete with an adorable town square
and it will make your day trip all the better.

You have the Aspiring Kennedy's word on it.

For what it's worth,
I've also heard Galway is more than worth visiting
when you're out that way.


PS. There's an awesome giveaway happening right now
for a sweet pair of shades from The Sunglasses Shop. 
Don't miss out on the chance to snag a pair!

Posted on January 11, 2013 and filed under "europe", "ireland day trips", "ireland", "travel tips", "travel".

Pack Your Bags: Dublin, Ireland

I'll be honest,
I might have Irish heritage
but Dublin is one place
I really don't connect with.

You know how some places just speak to you
and you feel, somewhere in your soul, a prickly feeling 
that can quickly escalate the enjoyment you feel over a lunch
into the hopes & dreams of someday relocating to that city
in order to recreate that experience every day?

Dublin isn't one of those places for me.

While it may not be my favorite city on the planet,
I can tell you that it's a place that you should visit once in your life...
just to experience real Irish culture up close & personal.

Because Irish culture really is charming...
but, dare I say it, better experienced out of this landmark city?

Since part of my job is to facilitate that once-in-a-lifetime experience for others,
I do know a few things that can help make sure that your trip to Dublin a bit luckier.


What to Do:

Visit Trinity College and see the famous Book of Kells-
gorgeous hand-written copies of the first Celtic Bible.

After you've worked through the exhibit, 
you'll be routed through the famous library
that you've probably pinned on your Pinterest travel board.


Take a tour with Lorcan Collins.
This guide is always one of my students favorite guides of the semester- hands down.

His tours aren't just walking tours of the city,
but are tours that explain the Easter Uprising of 1916.

{Think Tom Branson from Downton Abbey.}

He's completely Irish, incredibly smart, alarmingly sarcastic... but really a sweet guy.

The tours run every day from 11:30 (1pm on Sundays)
from March 1 - October 31 for €12 per person.


Visit Temple Bar.

Not an actual bar, per say,
but an area of town that is pretty touristy
but full of endless pubs that will make your visit
seem all the more authentic.


Tour the Guinness Factory...
Okay, so I'll be honest:
 I've never done this myself
but I've heard it's amazing and a must.

So therefore, you must do it and tell me all about it.

Where to Eat:

Ok, this is kinda cheesy to recommend
but you're in Ireland and it's actually kind of fun...

Go to the Arlington Hotel for their Irish dinner show.
It's €30 per person but you get dinner
(a really decent 3-course meal)
and you can watch some fun Irish music & dancing.

I've been twice. 

It's totally touristy, 
but hey, you are a tourist, aren't you?

{Editor's Note: If you're just up for the music & dancing,
 you can go in after the show starts after 8:30pm and sit at the bar instead. 
Shh... I didn't tell you that.}


Go to the Queen of Tarts for lunch or tea...
or both, if you're a fat kid like me.

This place is so cute! 

Eat a savoury tart
and then relax with a sweet homemade treat
and a fresh pot of hot tea.

Where to Stay:

If you're on the cheap... You can book a room at Trinity College. Like, an actual dorm room.
The rooms are affordable, centrally located, right near the airport shuttle-
but only available when students aren't living in them.


This is a historic hotel that often offer some affordable rates.
The breakfast is entirely Irish- complete with Irish oats & soda bread,
but the rooms, while slightly basic, are comfortable and have everything you'll need.

Plus, the front desk staff is so nice-
I swear you'll want to hug them before your stay is over.

Located right off O'Connell Street- right off the River Liffey.


This is one of the "nicest" hotels in Dublin...
but I have to say, if you find yourself in a standard room-
you'll know that the hotel reviewers had an upgraded room.

The rooms, while really large, lack any feeling of luxury...
and are very hard to keep warm in colder months.

The downstairs is nice for teas and drinks,
but unless you are willing to splurge on a nicer room
or find an amazingly cheap rate (like I did),
you can take or leave staying at this famous hotel.


So there you have it...
all my thoughts and ideas
to help give you a good starting point 
for planning your trip to Dublin.

Have you been?
Weigh in with your favorite places/meals/sites below
and help other people plan a great stay in Ireland!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on November 30, 2012 and filed under "dublin", "europe", "ireland", "tea time", "travel".