24 Hours in Dublin

Dublin is the bustling capital of Ireland. It is rich in history but famous for its vibrant culture, night life, music and literature. You could spend days exploring this magical city but if you’re tight on time here’s my guide to spending 24 hours in Dublin.

9AM – Spire of Dublin640px-E4324-Spire-of-Dublin

Located in the heart of Dublin on O’Connell Street the Spire of Dublin is a great place to find your bearings. This pin-like statue stands tall and will guide you from where ever you may be back to the city center.

915AM- Arrange transportation

It might seem touristy but in my opinion the best way to see Dublin and get around quickly are the Dublin Hop On – Hop Off Buses.  For a one time payment of $30 you can have a full day pass for tours all around Dublin. City Sightseeing will guide and entertain in addition to highlighting the best of Dublin. Dublin public buses are unionized and often go on strike. The City Sightseeing buses are privately owned and will operate every day.

One Day Bus Ticket: $30

930AM- TRINITY COLLEGE AND THE BOOK OF KELLS LIBRARY

Hop of the bus and stroll through the majestic grounds of Trinity College. Modeled after Oxford and Cambridge the magical architecture will transport you to another world.

Make your way to the 18th century Old Library building which showcases the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a medieval manuscript and Ireland’s greatest treasure. If you’re a fan of “Harry Potter” you will feel at home in the monumental Old Library. The library was erected in 1743 and hosts a collection over 200,000 books.

Entry to Book of Kells Exhibit: $11

“I was in the library the other day, in the Restricted Section, and I read something rather odd about a bit of rare magic”- Harry Potter

11AM- Dublin Castle

After a short bus ride hop off at Dublin Castle. Dublin Castle has been a fixture in Dublin since the 13th century. It has acted as a fortress, royal palace, prison, government center and much more. Opt out of the guided tour inside. You will see more impressive castle interiors in other places throughout Ireland or Europe. Instead wander the grounds and snap a few photos. Then hop back on the bus and cruise to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

1145AM-  ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland and was erected in 1191. It is complied of several architectural styles including medieval and gothic.

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Stunning St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Entry: $6

1PM- Lunch on Thomas St

Get off the bus on Thomas Street and choose from several pubs and artisan restaurants. Why not try and get a seat at the oldest pub in Ireland; the Brazen Head Pub. Sample traditional Irish pub food and beers. But save room for Guinness at your next stop!

230PM- Guinness storehouse

Book your tickets in advance for your guided tour of The Guinness Storehouse, brewery and factory. Learn the history of Irish Brewing, some secrets to making Guinness, beer sampling and much more. Then browse the gift shop for the perfect souvenir!

4PM- SHOP!

Hop on the red line of the City Sightseeing Bus and cruise down Bachelor’s Walk and back up O’Connell St. Jump off at the Moore Street Market and head down Parnell St. Turn left on Capel and again onto Mary Street for an array of shops, bars and markets.

530PM- CHECK IN TO YOUR HOTEL

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Drop your souvenirs and bags at your hotel or hostel and get ready for a night out.

If you’re looking for a cozy, cheap and great location why not try the Abbey Court Hostel.

630PM DINNER

Take your pick from the plethora of pubs and restaurants near your hostel or walk down to College Green St. Which is near your next destination.

745PM GRAVE DIGGER’S GHOST BUS TOUR

Possibly my favorite tour in Dublin was the Grave Digger’s Tour! Your ghoulish guide will transport you back to plaque times and escort you via creepy coach around Dublin. Visit Dublin Castle at night, Christ Church, Cork Hill, Kilmainham Jail and more!

The tour concludes at The Gravediggers Pub. A famous pub located next to the historic Dublin cemetery. Down your free drink and then relax with a Guinness before heading back to Trinity College.

Jenny enjoying her Guinness at the Gravedigger’s Pub

Cost: $30

10PM- bar hop in temple bar DISTRICT

Possibly the most famous area of Dublin; Temple Bar District is a collection of pubs and Bars on the South Bank of the Liffey River. Lively nightlight, music, performers and tons of bars makes for endless fun! Check out The Temple Bar Pub, The Porterhouse, Stag Head and much more. The best part of Temple Bar is drinking is aloud in the street and public intoxication? Well that’s just being Irish!

Most pubs will stay open until 1AM and some clubs will stay open later. What ever you decided to do, you’ll be surrounded by culture, history and friendship.

8AM- BREAKFAST

Irish Breakfast

After your big night out you might need to sleep in but if you’re up early then grab breakfast near your hotel. The best place near The Abbey Court is The Bakehouse. This charming little eatery serves traditional foods on homemade breads. Everything is absolutely delicious and fresh. You will not be disappointed.

24 hours done

Hopefully you can find more than 24 hours to explore amazing Dublin. But if not I hope this guide helps you plan your adventure.

Have more time?

Here are some other options if you have more time in Dublin:

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Dublin Hop on Hop Off Map

More about my trip to Ireland and europe:

Ireland   Europe

Top Destinations in Hampton Roads

During my travels abroad I often find myself trying to convince my new foreign friends to make a pit stop in my hometown during their next adventure in the USA. Here’s my list of must-see things in the 757!

hrregionmap-profilesFirst off what is “Hampton Roads”? 

Hampton Roads (area code 757) is the name of the region in Southeastern Virginia, United States. It combines several cities including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Williamsburg, Hampton and more. Hampton Roads is renowned for miles of waterfront property, beaches, theme parks, history and it’s large military presence.

My Top Destinations (In no particular order)

1. Paradise Ocean Beach Club

My favorite summer spot is Fort Monroe’s Paradise Ocean Club. It is a privately owned beach on the Chesapeake bay that is clean, secluded and makes you feel like you’re at a 5 star resort. Why bother fighting tunnel traffic, searching for parking and wrestling with noisy crowds when you can go to Paradise Ocean Club? There you can rest comfortably in free beach chairs, have cabana boys serve you on the beach and then take a dip in the pool after sun bathing in a safe atmosphere. For only $5 (you’d pay more at the ocean front for parking alone!) you can enter the private beach. The club features miles of clean beaches, a beautiful olympic sized pool, oceanfront restaurant, beach bars, plus volleyball and corn hole courts. The best feature of the club is you can drink on the beach (it’s illegal to drink on the public beach).

2. Windsor Castle Park, Smithfield VA

Windsor Castle Park is in the heart of downtown Smithfield. It is a 208-acre riverside park that features miles of woodland trails, picnic areas, a dog park, fishing pier, bike trails, and a kayak/canoe launch. I absolutely love coming to this beautiful park. I usually go on my own for some meditation and reflection. It is a safe, well lit and well maintained park. My favorite part of the park is the kayak launch and the water system. There are tiny canals, large rivers and miles of tidewater to explore. On the water you can view crabs, fish, birds, turtles and more. Everything about this park is relaxing and calm. An absolute treat for the city dweller like myself.

3. The Leaping Lizard Cafe

A must stop eatery for all visitors of Virginia Beach is The Leaping Lizard cafe. The cafe features fresh ingredients, organic, gluten-free, vegan and other gourmet options. You can eat inside or on the comfortable patio. There’s also a built-in farmer’s market and antique shop. Every day their menu changes. I’ve had delicious sandwiches, delectable soups and the most heavenly pies.

4. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

BG Park Map

Since you’re visiting Hampton Roads why not take a pit stop and explore Europe? That’s right, you can visit Germany, France, Italy and more right in our backyard! Busch Garden’s Williamsburg is a world famous theme park that is a must-go for all VA Beach visitors and residents. The park has been voted “Most Beautiful” in America for the past 10 years. There are always fantastic shows, fun rides and great food! My friends and I often take on-a-whim trips at the end of our work days or when ever we are bored. This theme park never gets old! If you have time visit Water Country USA as well!

5.  The Naro Theater and Ghent, Norfolk

Need something to do Friday night? Why not visit the Ghent area of Norfolk. You could grab dinner at Luna Maya. Where you can feast on true South American options made with homemade sauces, real chilis, spices, and herbs. The absolute best hispanic food in the Hampton Roads. Then you can catch an indie film at the Historic Naro Cinema. This movie theater features limited release and foreign films. All for low-low prices. On a date? Snuggle up on the second floor for some privacy. After the movie try one of the many pubs and bars on 21st street. I recommend The Public House. Still want more? How about a late night desert? Sassi’s Cake’s and Sweets is a bakery and bar!  When in Ghent you’ll never find a shortage of good food, drinks and atmosphere.

6. Dance, Dance, Dance

My friends and I love to go dancing. Here are my favorite dance spots in the 757.

  • The Eagles Nest in Chesapeake
    • Not just a country bar! They have a country dance floor, a pop/hip hop dance floor, live bands, bull riding, corn hole, three bars and so much more. This is also the most diverse club I’ve ever been to. Every age, race, gender, whatever…all come out to Eagle’s nest and have a good time!
  • The Banque
    • I am the most un-coordinated person you might meet but I absolutely love line dancing. The Banque is a country-western bar in the hood of Norfolk. If you love people watching this place is the mecca. There are always tons of newbies, so you’ll never feel to inadequate. Plus there’s alway people willing to teach you the newest dance craze. So throw on your tightest pants, hot boots and a plaid shirt and getting kick’n.

7. Get Artsy

One of my favorite things to do on a rainy day is to paint. In Norfolk and Virginia Beach there are a couple of great shops where you can get creative and make something one of a kind.

  • The Mermaid Factory
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    My ombre mermaid!

    • Need a great souvenir from your 757 trip? Why not paint the symbol of Norfolk? Design your own mermaid at this unique little shop. Take an hour or so and create a one of kind ceramic mermaid that you can take home that day!
  • Color Me Mine (In VA Beach & Norfolk)
    • Paint pottery, drink wine and have a great girls night out!
    • $10 Studio Fee (Covers paints, glaze, firing, table fees) + the cost of your piece (ranging from $10-$100).
    • Takes about 5 days to get back
  • Paint ‘n Sit
    • This studio offers painting parties, classes and open studio. You can paint canvas or wine glasses. They’ll take you step-by-step through the painting process so that you can create a masterpiece.

8. See a play!

The Hampton Roads has an outstanding theater community. We have a plethora of professional actors and theaters. Many of which reside in Norfolk. Almost every night there is a play or performance happening. Here are links to some of the local theaters:

9. Drink, Drink, Drink

There are some fantastic bars in Hampton Roads. Here are some of my favorite:

  • O’Connor Brewing Company 
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    O’Connor Brewing Company

    • O’Connor’s is a working brewery and Tap House! They feature a huge beer hall, tasting room with a 24-tap bar, plus shuffleboard and corn hole!
    • You can sample flights of beer brewed on campus as well as other exclusives only available at O’Connor. This place is seriously a good time!
  • The Bier Garden in Portsmouth
    • A traditional German style restaurant with amazing food and a huge selection of German and international beers.
  • The Birch 
    • Craft Beer, artisanal Cheese and great atmosphere
  • Mermaid Winery
    • On a cool summer’s night my girls and I love to relax on the patio at Mermaid Winery. You can order flights of wine to sample, appetizers and spend the night gossiping and hanging out.
  • There are seriously tons of bars in Norfolk alone…this list could go on forever.

10. Shop till you drop

There are about six major malls in the Hampton Roads. All with their own different draws. But here are some of my favorite little shops in the 757. Ones that are locally owned and truly unique.

  • Kitsch
    • Kitsch VA is a store that sells handmade and artisan products made in Virginia. This is the perfect place to find a unique gift! They have cute toys, accessories, art prints, bath products, vintage finds and much more. The staff is friendly and the store is simply adorable. I always take Norfolk Newbies here and it quickly becomes their favorite local shop.
  • With Lavender and Lace Vintage Clothing
    • This is a magical shop full of stunning vintage clothes, antiques, and vinyl records. The owner Kelsie is a blogger goddess, who will become your fashion icon and girl crush. The store is charming and beautiful. You can find cool sun glasses, jewelry and gorgeous clothes.
  • Vinyl Daze Records 
    •  I am a huge fan of vinyl. My personal collection tops 100. So of course one of my favorite shops is a Record Store! Vinyl Daze is located in Virginia Beach. They sell new and used vinyl records and accessories.

So there it is! My list of Must sees and Must Do’s in Hampton Roads. This is only a short list. There are tons of things I’ve left out. So come visit me and my city and I’ll show you the town!

New Years in Sorrento

Tonight in Sorrento we celebrated New Years with drinks and dancing.

I was upset when everyone in my group decided to leave at 115AM even though our local guide told us Italy didn’t come alive until 2AM! I tried to convince a bunch of people stay but they wouldn’t listen. So I started walking back to the coach with them. As I walked back to the coach I started to get really sad. I really wanted to stay out and keep partying with the locals. But instead I was folding to peer pressure and going back to the hotel. Then I begun to cry a little. That when I turned around. I decided I would rather stay out by myself then go back to the hotel. I realized I don’t need other people to have a good time. I don’t need a safety blanket.

So I rushed back to the main square and continued dancing with my new Argentinean friends. I walked around the town for a bit. I loved people watching and interacting with the locals. The Italians were all dressed to the nines and the young people were so beautiful. The town was lit up with sprakling lights and fire works went off throughout the night.

Around 3AM I decided it was time to go home. But then I realized I lost the paper with my hotel’s address on it. I asked a taxi if he could take me to “Sister’s Hostel”. He had never heard of it. We googled it…nothing. He called his friend…nothing. With no other options I ask if he could drive me around and I’d pay him for however long it would take. So we headed out of town. I described my hotel to him. On the coast, with a garden, orange trees all around, nuns live in it…he said “that describes almost every hotel in Sorrento”. I was very lucky that my driver Rafael spoke english really well. We had a lot of laughs and even flirted a bit. We drove all around Sorrento and I think even Napoli. It was adventurous, hilarious and only a little worrisome. Eventually I saw a few things that triggered my memory and I was able to guide us to my hotel! Once we found it he offered to keep me out and show me more of the town… after assuring him my night was over Rafael invited me to brunch tomorrow with his family. He said they needed to meet the giggling American. It was a crazy night that I’ll never forget. I’ve never felt so brave or alive. Italy is an amazing, friendly, beautiful place full of life and culture. I can’t believe my luck and blessing to be able to celebrate the new year here.

Did I mention I hate Leprechaun

Next stop Dublin, Ireland!

Where did we stay?

The Abbey Court Hostel 

  • Location: AMAZING. Right night to Temple Bar Street (Only the most famous district in Dublin…).
  • accommodations: Livable. We stay in a 20 bed female room for only $10 a night. So we couldn’t expect the ritz. The bathrooms were all shared (Males and Females) so that was pretty crummy. But it was really an authentic experience.
  • We met some amazing girls and convinced them to join us on a pub crawl.

Jenny and I quickly discovered that single girls from all over the world flock to Ireland. It is safe fo1176231_10151783180245813_943688137_nr solo traveling and every woman loves a ginger with a strong accent. However…there are very few available men on the island. In fact the only guy we really chatted up was on our last night and he was our bar tender.

578378_10151783179990813_1421574582_nOur first day in the city we did the bus tour. Which we decided we should do in every city. It’s an easy way to see the major sites and get your grasp on the layout of the city.

We then went to the Leprechaun museum. I hate leprechaun. I’ve always been a little suspicious of them…okay I just don’t like them! But when in Ireland…you go to the Leprechaun museum. It was actually pretty cool.

Afterwards we went on a ghost tour! It was more hilarious then scary. We learned a lot about the city and then had drinks at a grave yard! Where I determined I don’t like Guinness and drank cider for the rest of the trip.

Day 2:1174984_10151783182395813_1343917098_n

The Cliffs of Moher

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Day 3:

Our third day didn’t start off very well. After a few drinks the night before I went to bed early while Jenny stayed out. At some point that night she lost our tickets for a tour of Blarney Castle the next day.

When Jenny told me in the morning we realized that without the tickets we didn’t know where we were supposed to meet our tour or at what time.

Travel Tip: 

  • Take a picture of your tickets with your phone

So we left at 7AM and headed towards the area we thought we were supposed to meet. We searched through a ton of different buses trying to find the correct company. But you wouldn’t believe the amount of tours going to Blarney castle and believe it or not most companies have green tickets (In Ireland…who would have thought?). After a hour of searching we knew we’d missed our tour.

I was extremely upset. Blarney castle was THE THING in Ireland I wanted to see. I didn’t want to be with Jenny for the rest of the day. So I walked down the street to cool off and die a little inside.

While I was licking my wounds Jenny was convincing anot993983_10200296729892158_1002056516_nher tour to take us free of charge. Some how she had managed a really small bus to take us on their trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland!

So reluctantly I got on the bus and sat as far away from Jenny as possible. I needed alone time.

The ride to Northern Ireland was breath-taking and Belfast was pretty cool. It had only recently been opened to American Tourists so I was the first in my well-traveled family to visit Northern Ireland.

While there we visited St.Patricks Cathedral and Dundrum Castle.

Then while we were driving home through the majestic mountains we passed Game of Thrones filming on the mountain side! 993983_10151783185115813_373153701_n

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