Scarlett and I really don’t have the best track record when it comes to European jaunts. As you may have read in previous blogs, our trip to Belgium a couple of months ago proved that while I may have many talents, none of them lie in event organisation. From arriving at the wrong airport, to not having any accommodation booked for the last night, it’s safe to say I won’t be taking the reigns again any time soon when it comes to holiday planning.
Luckily for us, our recent visit to Dublin was overseen by Ireland’s tourist board who planned absolutely everything for us. Things went a lot smoother this time; a hell of a lot smoother. Well, they couldn’t prevent us from making Horrible Life Decisions ™ but to be fair, no one can.
Here’s our diary from what went down when we did Halloween festivities Ireland style.
Friday 23rd October
With a 6.30am flight from John Lennon Airport starting our day off, you’d think we’d be sensible and get our heads down early on Thursday night. But no, this is us; we don’t make choices that actively make our lives better – we make decisions that involve copious amounts of prosecco. When the alarm pierced my ears at 4am, Scarlett had managed a good three hours kip, while I had dozed off for a grand total of zero minutes and conjured up some stupid idea that I would catch up on all my sleep on the half an hour flight. Fast forward a few hours and we’re in a taxi to the hotel, stuck in horrendous traffic, with me sticking my head out the window, like a dog, in order to stay awake. Good start, Zoe.
Severely sleep deprived and ratty, my mood soon picked up the second we arrived at The Morrison. I was already excited to stay at the luxury hotel, just across from the River Liffey and only minutes from the famous Temple Bar quarter, but things really stepped up a notch when I learned we’d been given separate rooms for our stay! I love Scarlett, I really do, but after a week of having friends crash at mine, I was ready for some alone time. I bailed on her in the hotel lobby and ran up to my room where I got excited over the fact the telly had my name splashed across it when turned on and by the complimentary embossed umbrella in the wardrobe. Yep, basic umbrellas with hotel logos embossed on them impress me more than they should.
Where We Ate
After attempting a quick nap, we headed over to The Church to grab some lunch and meet the rest of the press group. Dublin is twinned to the city of Liverpool (as well as Barcelona) and converting old churches into breathtaking social venues is just one of the many similarities the two places share (Alma De Cuba being the Scouse equivalent.) The Church is at the heart of Dublin’s thriving bar and restaurant scene and the history surrounding the building means that you get so much more than a bite to eat when you call in.
We were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the listed grounds, even down to The Burial Crypts; where extensive excavation work had to take place during the conversion of the church in order to remove the skeletal remains. We also learned some interesting facts and anecdotes* along the way; such as the tale that the famous Arthur Guinness’ wife pushed out 21 children during her time on this earth. Yes, you read that correctly – twenty one. She must have spent the majority of her adult life sober and raising kids – every glass of Guinness should be toasted to her, the poor woman.
*Apparently many weren’t that interesting as Scarlett informed me I was boring people with my excessive tweeting of these supposedly ‘fun facts’. Apologies to anyone following me that day. I guess apologies
What We Did
Kayaking! Yes, I know what you’re thinking – just what one wants on a cold, October afternoon; severely sleep deprived and full from lunch. It’s also an activity in which you should wear something more durable and warm than flimsy leggings and a cardigan. However, even with all the odds stacked against me (those mentioned, and the fact I struggle to walk without falling over on dry land) I was psyched to get on the water and see Dublin from a different perspective. I managed to last the full session without capsizing and making an absolute show of myself – I am half considering updating my CV to include this fact.
As we sailed under the 18th Century O’Connell Bridge and the iconic Ha’Penny Bridge, I soon learned that, despite my enthusiasm and positivity, I am horrendous at kayaking. I somehow struggled to oar in a straight line and spent half my time stuck against side of the bank; angrily splashing about and trying to catch up with the rest of the group. Special mention to the heckler on the bridge, who when seeing me struggling, decided to yell “This is the spot where all the murderers dump the dead bodies.’ Thanks mate.
Where We Drank
Okay, spoiler alert for the rest of this piece – we drank a lot. I’m talking even Lindsay Lohan in her prime would deem our drinking a bit excessive lot. From the minute we went for lunch at The Church and got a large wine down our necks, we were pretty much on it until we got on the flight home on Monday. When in Rome do as the Romans do, and when in Ireland, do as the Irish do – drink!
Now on possibly my 38th hour awake, it would same a safe bet to assume I limited myself to a couple of night caps after cocktails and dinner at the gorgeous Woollen Mills. But no, 3am and I’m still going strong with the group in The Temple Bar; downing tequila shots and attempting to dance to the live music. FOMO works better at keeping you awake than any energy drink and pro plus could ever dream of doing.
I stumbled back to my room and proceeded to raid the mini bar. Drunk Me thought she was the height of stealth, carefully placing back the empty tubs and bottles into the fridge; thinking the hotel would be none the wiser. Drunk Me is an absolute idiot.
Saturday 24th October
It’s 9am. I’m trying to ignore the pounding at my door, courtesy of Still hammered from last night Scarlett but that girl is one persistent bitch. Eventually I grab my dressing gown, answered the door (still sporting full smokey eyes and red lips from the night before) and politely declined her offer to join her on a walking tour of Viking Dublin. She may tell you a different tale; one that involves me slamming a door in her face and mumbling “Fuck the Vikings” but she’s lying. She once told me kale cooked in the oven is a great alternative for kettle chips – she can’t be trusted, that one.
Anyway, if you’re at all interested in the history of Ireland and the Vikings then go for a drink with Jen; I’m sure she’ll love to tell you all the knowledge she acquired whilst stumbling around Dublin with a tour guide, still bladdered from the night before.
What We Did (Once My Hangover Disappeared)
After getting a Guinness pie in me at the Norseman Pub, I was a lot keener for the next group activity; a Food and Fashion Walking tour. Guided by The Irish Time’s Fashion Editor, Deirdre McQuillan, we wandered around the city; sampling bagels and exquisite chocolate, learning all about Dublin’s up and coming designers and discovering that my big head can even make a 2 grand Phillip Tracey masterpiece look horrendous.
The evening saw us attend the event I had most been looking forward to since I first scanned the itinerary: ‘Hushed’ at Marsh’s Library. The whole reason we had made the speedy flight over to Ireland the weekend before Halloween was to experience The Bram Stoker festival. Across the city, events took places during the day and night; 4 Days of Living Stories and 4 Nights of Deadly Adventures.
Taking place at Marsh’s library, where Dracula author Bram Stoker spent many a night researching ghouls, legends and mythology, ‘Hushed’ was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience of Dublin’s most famous buildings, cloaked in the dark of night. Led by an all singing, and chanting, emsemble, we made our way round with only the candle light to guide us. With no cameras or mobiles allowed, there were certainly no distractions and we got the Heebie Jeebies during our after hours tour.
Sunday 25th October
You know that kind of hangover where you wake up and the minute raise your head from the pillow you consider calling an ambulance to come save you from the hell you know you’ve got in store for the rest of the day? Well, that’s how I started our last full day in Dublin. Surprise surprise, we had overdone it on the ale yet again the night before. I’d gotten so drunk in the fabulous Liquor Rooms that I managed to lose they key card to my room. Not a problem, the reception kindly provided me a another card which I then proceeded to lose while making my way to my second floor room. Massive respect to the night porter for not even rolling his eyes at me as I sheepishly asked for a second replacement card in less than seven minutes.
What We Did
“The fresh air will do you good, blow away the cobwebs” everyone told me, as I scolled at them.
Yes, in the midst of The Hangover From Hell ® I was about to embark of a light cliff walk to the fishing village of Howth. Turns out, despite my claims at the time, they were indeed correct. As we made our way across the cliffs, towards the restaurant we’d be dining at (That’s how you trick me into physical exertion whilst I’m hungover – the promise of food at the end) my pounding headache and nausea vanished – so much so I decided to order a wine with my oysters at Ivans.
#LifeHack If you have never tried oysters before, and are unsure to whether you will like them, DO NOT, i repeat, DO NOT order them for the first time when you’re starving and hungover.
The evening saw explore the weird and wonderful events that have taken place in times gone by; unearthing legends and ghosts from the past on the Gravedigger Ghost Bus Tour of Dublin.
Given the fact my travel sickness once saw me vomit on top of a Barcelona tour bus, the real horror story could have been me transforming into the little girl from The Exorcist but luckily for everyone on board, all was fine. Making our way round the city, we learnt all about phantom pigs, haunted jails and Scarlett and I even got involved as look outs* for the some rogue body snatchers before ending up having a drink at the Gravedigger’s Pub. God bless the Irish for managing to get ale involved with absolutely everything.
*Finally, skills acquired in my misspent youth come in handy.
We then pottered down to the Project Art Centre for New Blood – a hedonistic vampire party to mark the end of The Bram Stoker Festival. When we’d spoke to the artistic director, Tom Lalor the night before, he had given us the brief for the dress code: “Imagine if FKA Twigs and Rihanna opened a strip club in Vegas.”
We tried, we really did, but our efforts with black eyeliner acting as lipstick looked pathetic in contrast to some of the stunning creations wandering around the place. Had Miley Cyrus had wandered in, wearing one of her most creative outfits, she’d have gone unnoticed – the costume game was strong.
Spread out across four spaces, one minute you’d find yourself immersed in an art installation, the next an electro rave, then on the terrace enjoying b(lo)body tonics at the shot bar. Needless to say, staying true to our form for the whole weekend, we full embraced the bespoke cocktails whilst admiring such a sharp bite of contemporary Irish culture.
New Blood was the perfect way to end our trip; we had learned so much about the history of Ireland over the three days we were there but this was a great insight into Ireland’s bright, modern future.
Dublin, you were an absolute ball and we will undoubtedly be back in the very near future*. Well, as soon as my liver as recovered.
*We really do have to return soon – we didn’t have time to visit the Leprechaun museum and how can I go on in life having not visited such a place now I know it exists.
See also: A Weekend In Birmingham