With airlines offering up so many pop up last minute deals, it’s a shame to not take advantage of it if you have a flexible schedule. Fortunately for East Coasters, we have fantastic and diverse places that make great long weekend getaways that are not a long flight away. If you’ve never considered Europe for a long weekend, it’s time you do.
There are many different ways to tackle Europe, but if you’re going for only a few days, take the shortest flight. That flight would take you directly to Ireland. In just over six hours, you could be sitting with a fresh pint of Guinness in your hand. That’s exactly what I did when a friend asked me to join her at the end of a business trip.
I used my miles to upgrade myself to business class on my Thursday night flight and I couldn’t wait to get on the plane and hit recline on the lie flat bed. The moment when I stretched my legs out to reach the foot rest knowing that I would not have to keep my knees at a right angle the entire time makes all the miles spent 100% worth it.
I'm 5'8", so I have an appreciation for leg room
I hadn’t done my research, however, to see how long the flight was going to be. When the flight attendant announced that it would be six hours and five minutes, I actually felt a slight sense of disappointment of not being able to soak up more of the good life.
All that aside, I landed in Dublin on Friday morning and hit the ground running as I typically do in a place with a time difference, frequently telling myself to stay awake as long as I can. My friend and I met up at our small boutique hotel in the young hip neighborhood of Temple Bar. We strategically chose it so that we’d be close to the action, not realizing that we might be a little too close to the action. All I will say is that earplugs are not sound proof and young drunk Irishmen have an affinity for singing songs from The Sound of Music over and over again in the middle of the street.
The bottom of this sign on the side of a garbage can says it all. This sign confused the hell out of me until I stayed a few nights in the Temple Bar area.
We proceeded to beeline straight to the Guinness Storehouse which is a massive seven-story building that offers the rich history of Guinness, the Guinness Academy where you can learn to pour the perfect pint (and even get a certificate afterwards), and a rooftop bar called Gravity Bar that showcases 360 degree views of the city. You would be remiss to not visit this treasured locale on your visit.
St. James's Gate
Ushers, Dublin 8, Ireland
The Guinness Storehouse features the Guinness Academy where you can learn how to pour the perfect pint. There really is an art to it!
Of course we had to give it a try...
Here's an incredibly awkward photo of me checking the top of the glass for the little harp design. You may think it's purely decorative, but it's also used as the indicator for when to adjust the angle of the glass when pouring from the tap.
After pulling the tap forward to pour the Guinness, we let the beers settle. When they're ready, we pushed the tap backwards to fill it up, keeping the glass straight. Before this, we poured the Guinness into a glass that's tipped at a 45 degree angle until it reaches the harp.
Never drink a Guinness until you can see the separation between the dark beer and the foamy head. We got to drink the fruits of our labor and then were awarded a certificate to prove we're masters of the pour.
Enjoying a Guinness poured by a professional (and not myself) at the Gravity Bar which offers 360 degree views of Dublin. My "straight off the plane" hairdo is captured perfectly. Side note: does anyone else have amazing hair on a plane? The dry conditions give me hair perfection (yes, I've admired it in the dim lavatory mirror) and then once fresh air hits, it melts away into what you see above. Sigh.
Check out that foamy separation!
The view from the top
After all that Guinness, we decided to make a stop at The Brazen Head, Dublin's oldest pub which dates back to 1198. The atmosphere inside is saturated in history and one can't help but imagine all of the debauchery that has taken place there.
Notice the gent in the kilt. Jen and I couldn't help ourselves...
...and we each had a little photo shoot with them and their hat...
Such fun guys!
The following day on Saturday, we strolled through the city, taking in all the sights and sounds. We brunched and shopped along Grafton Street on an unusually beautiful and sunny day.
We couldn't miss a stroll through St. Stephen's Green, Ireland's best known Victorian park.
I'm a sucker for beautiful hotels, so we popped into The Shelbourne, a five-star hotel across from the park.
The great thing about Dublin (and really all of Europe for that matter) is how easy it is to travel by rail. After our day in Dublin, we hopped on the train and rode to Dalkey on Sunday, the town that Bono lives in (which, for the record, is not the only reason we went there). Dalkey is a quaint seaside town about 30 minutes from Dublin with beautiful narrow streets and fun pubs. We didn’t go for anything in particular, mostly to see what lay outside of the city. This may have been my favorite part of the trip.
Finnegan's is apparently a favorite haunt of Bono and his family. Look at how charming it is!
We decided, however, to stop at The Magpie Inn for a quaint little lunch. I could have sat in this cozy spot all afternoon!
Soup & potatoes (duh - we were in Ireland!)
How adorable is this town?!
Back in Dublin, someone had alerted us to a hidden speakeasy called The Blind Pig that is a must, but was hard to find (as a good speakeasy should be). We decided to make our last night in Dublin the night to get adventurous. We started out by making a reservation, which generated an email to us with a few clues that lead us to a particular street. Afterwards, the directions got a bit vaguer: look for the red door next to the ATM, punch in this code at the door, walk through into the alleyway, if anyone asks you want you are doing you tell them you are “here for the old lady’s funeral”, and proceed to the black door in the alley. Once we settled into the bar in the basement, we skipped the Guinness and went for some champagne to celebrate a great few days.
the blind pig
On the hunt for the red door next to the ATM...
Champagne at last!
As sad as I was to leave on Monday morning, I left feeling satisfied knowing that it could be just as easy to return. The icing on the cake for this perfect weekend was that you clear US Customs at the airport in Dublin, making your return to the States easy, just like this weekend getaway.
Portions of this article originally appeared in The Showcase, where Ash is a contributing writer.