On our first trip to Dublin, I decided to take along my dad, and both my children. Karam who is eight and Jeevan who is six, were delighted to be going abroad with their Nanaji (Punjabi for granddad).
We flew with Aer Lingus, Glasgow International to Dublin, a fairly short flight; we were there in an hour. Dad was well impressed with Aer Lingus, apparently the seats are roomier than the Air France ones.
Upon arrival we had the lovely Frank Moore waiting for us to whisk us off to the Westbury Hotel. Frank was very informative and built up quite a rapport with dad and the children. He sang Dublin's praises and now we were even more excited to be visiting the city.
Before we knew it we had arrived at our hotel, the Westbury is just off Grafton Street, a centrally located hotel.
There had been a short delay with our flight so we missed the first excursion on our itinerary, the hotel's concierge Derek, re-scheduled it for the next day. We were famished, so we headed straight to the hotel's cafe, Cafe Novo. Be warned the portions in Dublin are big!! Cafe Novo didn't disappoint. The children had the Charcuterie Board to share. It was a selection of cured meats, brie de meaux cheese, pesto, tapenade, roast red peppers, mixed olives & crostini. Dad and I had the superfood salad, broccoli, baby leaf spinach, quinoa, alfalfa sprouts, toasted pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts & avocado in honey lemon & soy vinaigrette. A lovely healthy portion, but that didn't stop us pinching food off the children's Charcuterie Board, the olives were especially yummy.
For our mains, Jeevan and I opted for the beer battered cod fillet with a pea and mint puree, hand cut chips & tartar sauce. He's six and wasn't i.d.ed!! And luckily he didn't get drunk on the beer batter! Dad opted for the pan roast supreme of chicken which was served with herb mash, peperonata & pesto. Again a healthy portion. Karam choose a cheese Panini, served with salad. Despite the fact that we were thoroughly stuffed we couldn't resist having a dessert, a few had passed our table and they all looked mouth-watering! Karam and I had the warm chocolate & hazelnut brownie with vanilla ice cream, words can't describe the richness of this dish, we should have shared, it was far too much for one person, the portion was large. Dad ordered the Apple tarte which was served warm with some vanilla ice cream, he enjoyed it so much that he didn't even share it! Jeevan went for plain and simple vanilla ice cream, when he wasn't looking his Nanaji stole a scoop! Luckily the portions are generous and Jeeves didn't even notice.
After such a long and leisurely sumptuous lunch, we decided to go and work it off. We left the hotel and stumbled into Grafton Street, one of the main streets of Dublin city centre, it was super, super busy. And there were numerous street entertainers.
The first chap we met had made the figure of a dog out of sand, fascinating stuff, and there were the various musicians, singing out their lungs.
We headed out to St Stephens Green, a lush park right in the centre of Dublin, it was teaming with people as the sun shone down on us. We had a leisurely walk around the park, and stopped off at the Oscar Wilde statue and took lots of touristy type pix!
Travelling with old people - Lol!! Dad will kill me for saying that - and young people means that after such long walk around the city centre, they needed to get back to the hotel for a wee nap before dinner. So we headed back to the hotel, thirty seconds after we arrived in our rooms there was a knock at the door, compliments of the hotel they furnished us with two bottles of beer! And two lovely cupcakes!
After everyone was suitably refreshed, naps, and showers later, we headed out to Gallaghers Boxty House for dinner. Be warned make sure you are hungry, because Irish portions tend to be enormous! The staff at Gallaghers are charm personified and catered to dad and the kids so everyone was happy.
We skipped starters and went straight for the mains. I had salmon with salad, Dad had the chicken salad, and the children had chicken and chips. The portions were huge and we were glad we hadn't ordered starters. Too stuffed to have a dessert, we left Gallaghers stuffed to the brim! This is a real Irish joint, and the staff are super friendly and put dad and the children at ease straight away. Will definitely be coming back, next time we visit Dublin.
Breakfast at the hotel gave us the perfect start to our day, as we headed off into the unknown. Our schedule for today started with a Viking Splash Tour. We boarded our bus at 11.30 it was jam packed, the tours are very popular, so be warned book in advance. Our driver's name was Gerry and he explained while momentarily we were on a bus, this bus would soon be gliding into the canal and would become a boat, exciting stuff! We donned our Viking hats, and were given an in-depth history of the Vikings connection to Dublin. The children particularly Karam were super excited about this, as she had recently participated in a school project about the Vikings, so she filled Gerry in on all the facts she had learned! Luckily for us we had a great bunch of people on the bus with us, and as Gerry drove us round the city and filled us in on the history, a good time was had by all.
Before we knew it we were at the dockside and Gerry did his magic and turned the bus into a boat, the children were in awe! The boat tour was relatively short but enough to show us some main sights of Dublin, including the studios where U2 recorded the majority of their songs and also the apartment owned by Bono.
We headed to the mainland and the boat became a bus again. We returned to St Stephens Green relatively dry and ready for lunch. Today we decided to stop by Avoca for lunch. Avoca is super busy, it is advised to book ahead. We had a relatively painless wait of twenty minutes. We were seated next to a group of beautiful people, an elderly lady and her two stunning grand-daughters, Dublin is full of beautiful people.
The restaurant was beyond busy, it took a while before the waiter finally came to our table to take our orders, we skipped starters and went straight for the main course. Dad ordered a chicken caesar salad, the children and I ordered chicken sandwiches with hand cut chips. Again the portions were enormous, and a bit overwhelming. We also had the fabulous home-made lemonade, a must when you visit Avoca. The cafe has a real buzz about it. It is without doubt the busiest restaurant we have encountered so far in Dublin, it is full of stylish people, so it's advisable to arrive suitably attired.
After lunch we decided to take advantage of our three day Green Open top Bus Tour passes and hopped on a bus at Suffolk Street. The tour was very informative, and dad ended up sitting next to a widow who told him all about her life in Dublin, and how she had recently become widowed and how she took these buses just to meet tourists. She was more informative than the driver about the various sites we visited. Our driver was very entertaining, every opportunity he got he burst into song. Last stop on our tour was Caol Brough where we decided to disembark.
A wee stop off at the hotel, for dad and the children to nap and get refreshed and then we were off out for a wee walk and round to Bewleys for dinner. Pizzas and pastas all round, thankfully a light meal after the mega meal we had at lunch.
Our last day in Dublin, and we decided to go and pay a visit to Dublin Zoo. We took the Green open top tour bus. Forty five minutes later we arrived at the zoo, it was mobbed, what with it being school holidays and a lovely sunny day, we wouldn't expect anything less.
Once we had paid entry we entered the zoo, first stop is the lions and the tigers. I could have taken the children home after this, they were well impressed. It takes approx one and a half hours to visit the entire zoo. Dad wasn't too impressed, he's the real animal lover in our family but found the zoo lacking compared other zoos he had visited. Back to town for a quick lunch at Cafe en Seine. No such thing as a quick lunch, the service was quite slow, which was surprising as it wasn't busy, there was only one other family of four in the restaurant, and two or three couples. Cafe en Seine has quite a spectacular interior, and the children kept busy exploring it whilst we waited for our food. We skipped starters and went straight for mains, assuming that the portions would be big. They weren't, still hungry we headed to Bewleys for some of their mouth-watering yummy coffee and walnut cake the children had cupcakes and dad had a coffee.
All too soon Frank arrived to take us back to the airport, we had a fabulous time in Dublin, and are really looking forward to our next visit.
Top Tip: Research by visiting www.discoverireland.com, before you leave to ensure that you visit all the best spots. The site is very informative.