“Sláinte!” The tall, handsome bartender (with a very hipster beard) says as he carefully double-pours my pint of Guinness wishing me “good health” in his broad Irish Gaelic drawl. I take a sip of the cold, almost black stout, savouring the delicious chocolate undertones. Nearby, an elderly gentleman is eating a bowl of the thickest seafood chowder I have seen. He catches me eyeing his dish, gives me a thumbs-up and says, “Best chowder in Temple Bar!”
I’m at Gallagher’s Boxty House, a short walk down the road from my Airbnb apartment in Dublin’s Temple Bar. A small area south of the River Liffey, Temple Bar is considered the city’s cultural quarter. Boisterous groups, impromptu street concerts, weekend markets—the neighbourhood is almost always swinging, and it’s common to see both tourists and locals staggering in and out of the many pubs that dot the area.
Busts of famous philosophers and authors (including Jonathan Swift, writer of Gulliver’s Travels) line the length of the Long Room at Dublin’s Trinity College Library. The stunning two-storey room houses a collection of the library’s oldest books, about 2,00,000 in all. Photo: Irish Welcome Tours/Flickr/ Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)
For a solo woman traveller, a residence in Temple Bar may seem a strange choice. But after a night at a bland hotel in suburban Dublin, I wanted to spend the remainder of my time in the city in the thick of things. Temple Bar was a natural choice given its a central location, with the city’s important sights within walking distance. I booked an Airbnb apartment on Exchange Street, in a residential block of buildings on the Liffey riverfront. My hosts were an expat couple—Andrea was Italian, Christina was Spanish—with corporate jobs in Dublin.
I spent five days in Dublin, and quickly fell into a routine of sorts. Breakfast would be at Queen of Tarts on Dame Street (on Christina’s suggestion), a cheerful, red-fronted café-patisserie a 2-minute walk from the apartment. Some mornings began at my favourite shop Avoca, which has a bright café with a charming view of Dublin. Sometimes, I would head to Kaph for a second shot of caffeine; this contemporary café serves some of the best brews in the city.
Fortified with coffee, I would explore the city. Trinity College, with the stunning Old Library that seems straight out of Hogwarts, was always a win, but there was also the National Museum of Ireland, which has displays of Iron Age bodies recovered from peat bogs, and a 4,500-year-old boat carved out of a tree log. The delightful Little Museum of Dublin, a red-bricked Georgian building, catalogued Dublin’s story over the 20th century. I wandered into the Irish Whiskey Museum on Grafton Street one rainy afternoon, where a charming guide took me on an interactive tour through Ireland’s whiskey-making history, ending with a sampling of five Irish whiskies.
Returning to my Airbnb (as opposed to a hotel room) at the end of the night made me feel like I had a home in Dublin. Instead of doing batches of laundry in the bathroom basin, I had access to a washing machine. And of course, I could save a few euros by whipping up my own dinner instead of eating out for every meal.
is a Mumbai-based travel and food writer who is obsessed with coffee and all things Italian. She tweets and instagrams as @delishdirection.
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