Would you rather see a little bit of lots of places or a lot of one place?
It’s a question I heard this week whilst aimlessly scrolling through Facebook videos and it made me think about our recent trip to Dublin.
You see, if I was to answer the question for myself – I think I’d say a little bit of lots of places.
One thing my parents did very well when we were growing up were family holidays. We never did the stereotypical aeroplane, villa, two weeks in Spain (although I would kill for some Spanish sun right now). They took us to se a little bit of lots of places. We would set off at some ungodly hour and drive – yes drive – to Dover. Catch the Ferry to Calais and then stop off in Paris for two days, Switzerland for four, Italy for a week and then come home through Germany or Luxembourg. Every year there was a slightly different, slightly more ambitious road plan. Both parents sitting over a huge floor map with a pack of highlighters planning routes and roads and preparing for all eventualities. There were lots of mishaps and mini adventures, but they’re for another time.
I first went abroad when I was 12. I can’t say I particularly appreciated it at the time. You see, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (or maybe it was Order of the Phoenix) had just come out and I was absorbed. I remember sitting on the place and literally glancing up as we took off before my nose was back in a book.
I’ve learned to appreciate travel a LOT more now. Probably because I’ve read all the Harry Potter books at least 12 times and can bear to be parted from them long enough to admire the view from an aeroplane window. I think I’ve also come to appreciate that some places are worth visiting more than just once for a ‘little bit’.
It was 2016 when we headed off to Dublin. My good friend Ruth and I went on a summer adventure and we blogged about it here and here. However, this year we had no plans for New Year and were again lured in by chap flights so Mike and I booked to go back.
I had no hesitations about returning somewhere I’d been before. It’s such a fabulous city I was excited to revisit it and share it with someone else. There were some things I’d done the first time around that I was keen to do again. Some things however, we didn’t repeat. Not because they weren’t good, but just because it’s nice to see where the city takes you.
In Dublin, as a tourist, the city often leads you to Temple Bar. It is considered the MOST touristy area of the city to drink, and the locals almost scoff when they talk about it. But, when in Dublin… follow your feet and go! It’s full of live music, atmosphere and copious amounts of Guinness. The Temple Bar itself is one of the most famous, they have live music on most days. On a weekend it’s rammed, but I ask you – if you don’t spill Guiness on your shoes have you really seen Dublin?
Speaking of Guinness…
The other most well visited ‘touristy’ site in the city is the Guinness storehouse. Guinness is part of Dublin culture and it’s everywhere you go. There are rows of Guinness settling on every bar you visit. It almost feels rude not to see the Storehouse and understand the story. So, this is something we did decide revisit. I loved it the first time around. It’s full of interesting facts and as history geeks we adore all of the stories about the factory, the infamous lease and just how Guinness has made its way around the world.
Seriously though, if you do go pre-book. The queue for non-booked tickets is no joke and you end up paying a premium. Being organised here is definitely a good thing!
Rather pathetically, I still only managed half of my pint at the end – but I appreciated it all the same.
Something I had never even considered on a city break was to leave the city. It’s almost an oxymoron. But I do love a good blog (you may have noticed) and I read lots of reviews before we left. One of which was about things you can do outside Dublin. We were sorely tempted to go down to Wicklow and spend the day hiking, in fact we very nearly hired a car. In the end, we discovered the DART train. It leaves from the city and has you on the Howth peninsula in less than half an hour. We were sold.
We love walking – any of our facebook friends will know our Sundays are often filled with reservoir rambles or forest strolls. So passing up the opportunity to see some of Ireland’s coast was something we couldn’t do. Howth was the perfect seaside town with a pretty harbour, plenty of pubs and at least three good walking routes. We opted for the cliff path and I’m glad we did. Despite the thick mud and a little rain, we had the most wonderful walk along the cliff edge. We could see for miles and the walk was fantastic.
It was definitely worth gettin out of the city – even if the mussells we ordered at the halfway pub made a suprise return appearance later that night – ewww… let’s not dwell on that.
The first day we arrived in Dublin (at 8am), our taxi driver suggested we walk through Phoenix park. Oh – how I wish we hadn’t listened. Phoenix Park is beautiful – I am not detracting from that at all. This thing is twice the size of Central Park in New York. Walking through it was never going to end well – but we were newbies. We did not know.
‘It’ll take you about an hour’ said the taxi driver. We thought a flat path walk was child’s play for us seasoned hikers. So by 9am the morning we were trudging through Phoenix Park, and then still walking… and still walking… and still walking… and then the rain came… and the wind… and never the end. Finally, an hour and a half later, with new blisters and it had turned into a long. cold. marathon. More than 6km later we reached the park gates. We were still 2 miles from the city centre and realising that walking – had not been the best option. Although it was great from my daily step count – silver lining right?
We’d pretty much chalked Phoenix Park up to bad experience. We had no desire to return until a lady in the tourist office convinced us that we simply had to go on a deer hunt. You see, Phoenix Park has it’s own herd of 700 deer. Apparently, they were super tame and would happily eat out of your hand, she showed us a video to prove it and we were hooked. Only this time we hired bikes. We had learned our lesson.
We hired bikes from Phoenis Park Bikes which was super reasonable and cycled off in the hope of finding some deer. I have to say, it was a holiday highlight cycling over the top of a hill with moody clouds and scattered sunlight to see the herd of deer on the horizon. They were wonderful! We’d picked up a couple of apples and I wish we’d take more. After ditching out bikes we lured them in and they were just as tame as we’d been told. It was wonderfuly and totally surreal.
I would definitely recommend. The deer of Phoenix Park redeemed the terrible walking marathon we’d previously experienced.
So… long story short. When it comes to travelling – I’m voting for lot’s of little bits of places – but sometimes… just sometimes… a place is definitely worth visiting twice.