Editor’s note: Bella Supiana from Mangetout is the NEW food/travel blogger for JJ Kavanagh & Sons. She’ll be travelling around Ireland and visiting some of the magnificent food markets and giving her thoughts on some of Ireland’s hidden restaurants and cafes ~ hope you enjoy!
After a comfy journey from Shannon up to the big smoke of Dublin on a JJ Kavanagh & Sons, I checked into An Oige, an international hostel based in Mountjoy St. Once a convent, An Oige has re-created a budget hostel for the city trotter and those who want to explore the hip capital of Ireland. Offering a free continental breakfast in a jazzed up deconsecrated church, one can sit in awe, staring up at the multi-national flags that hang from the walls. With top class bilingual staff, you are bound to find the hidden gems Dublin has to offer!
It was a cold Sunday morning and I had to wrap up snugly under warm winter clothes to embark on one of the most exciting ways to explore Dublin city! Aboard JJ Kavanagh & Sons NEW partners City Sightseeing Hop on and Hop off bus I destined to check out the best spots the capital has to offer. I love travel. Yet never seem to partake in touristy tours, but this was something I agreed deserved a huge thumbs up and here’s why:
After collecting our tickets from the City Sightseeing office at O’Connell street we hopped on our first red bus, taking the red route as suggested by the lovely Laura of JJ Kavanagh & Sons, crossing the river Liffey, I passed the historic Trinity College, home to some of the most beautiful buildings one can visit whilst in Dublin. Stop five would be a great place for any museum enthusiast but we were headed for St Stephens Green. On the way we passed the Department of the Taoiseach, a stunning building which stands proud as you pass it, I wouldn’t mind having an office in there!
Stop 7: St Stephen’s Green. ‘Ireland’s best known Victorian public park’ as described on ‘Heritage Ireland’ I took my first stop to stretch my legs and bask in crisp winter air. Paintings line the gates to the parks where their prideful owners, suffering through the cold weather sit on garden chairs and wait hopeful of a sale. I had the pleasure of speaking with a few of them and learned that most of them maintain painting as a weekend hobby. For splashes of colour or intricate drawings this is the place for any art lover!
Under my parker jacket, I strolled throughout the busy Green. A place for lovers snuggled up in the terraces, fitness fanatics pounding the pathways and moments of calm for those who want to gaze at the floating birds and swans on the little pond near the park entrance. A tranquil oasis, I stretched our legs until our fingertips started to fizzle from the cold. The only solution to this was a hot chocolate at Butlers Chocolate Café right next to St Stephens Green shopping centre.
I had never heard of a Butlers café and soon found out from a friend that there must be one hundred of their cafes scattered around Ireland! Where have I been? Filled with excitement we briskly walked over to the café which I hoped served the best hot chocolate in Ireland! To no disappointment I sipped on delicious chocolatey hot chocolate accompanied by a free chocolate truffle and listened to a busker as he amicably sang some Christmas classics.
Stop 18:Nancy Hands. As if I hadn’t filled myself enough, a quick pit-stop at the famous Nancy Hands bar and restaurant was my next stop. A tasting of Irelands finest Guinness awaited me!
From St Stephens Green to Christ Church Cathedral a couple of interesting stops would delight any hard-core tourist, including a historic cathedral which would make for any great photograph and the Guinness Storehouse home to the world’s supply of the famous Irish stout, Guinness. With Hop on and Hop off enjoy €1 off your entrance ticket to the storehouse!
Stop 21a: Smithfield. We hoped to see some reindeers as we drove through Phoenix park but unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side. Eoin, however, the ecstatic bus driver and commentator was what compensated our disappointment. An absolute peoples’ person and well up for the craic he commentated us through the park and down to our next stop where the Christmas Bazar awaited us.
The Old Jameson Distillery was on this stop and if we had had more time it would have been a true tourist destination to visit. We hopped off next to a lovely green park and then followed the colourful posters to find the bustling market jam packed with crazed market goers. A warehouse with a brilliant vibe and funky music played from a DJ booth, the market was filled with trinkets, vintage finds and alluring foodie smells which made my tummy rumble with hunger! I knew I was headed to the IBelieve Christmas market and that was the only thing stopping me from gobbling up all the market fare! Enya was in her element and splashed out on a fur coat, scarfs, a notebook (which she later gave me as a gift before we hopped onto our next red bus!) and earrings, I’m sure! A definite must for any market lover!
Stop 22: Bachelors Walk. Our final stop was Bachelors walk, where we crossed over the river Liffey once more but by foot this time to sip on our free Irish Coffees served in O’Sullivans bar. They were absolutely delicious and laced with whiskey! I love the cooling sensation of the lightly whipped cream on top and the melt in your mouth hot coffee and whiskey slightly sweetened with a small bit of sugar on the bottom. A pure treat and a great way to finish our trip around Dublin.
We also used this stop to visit the IBelieve Christmas market which is about a ten-minute walk from O’Sullivans bar. You can read about the top foodies to check out whilst there over here.
If you like what you see and would like to visit Dublin over the Christmas break we’ve 27 services daily to Dublin City!