Dublin up: Having the craic for St Paddy’s Day

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So I recently returned from my second trip to Dublin so I thought it was about time I tell you about the awesome time I had there earlier this year for St Patrick’s Day.

This year St Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday so I felt it was necessary to make the trip to Ireland and celebrate with those who know how to do it best. I booked onto a three-day Paddywagon tour which picked us up nice and early on Friday morning from Kilburn station in London at 6:30am including a bus ride through Wales and the ferry to Dublin.

The green Paddywagon bus

I hit it off with my next door neighbour on the bus, the gorgeous Laura (now one of my faves in London) and we knew we were in for a epic weekend. We met some of our fellow passengers on the ferry ride and made friends playing drinking games – perfect way to get warmed up for a weekend in Dublin for Paddy’s Day.

We scored an upgrade for our accommodation as they didn’t have room in the hostel in town so we were put up in a hotel near the airport (nice!) After a   quick freshen up after the long bus trip we were ready and hit the town. A quick meal and then it was on a to Messrs Macguire, a great pub right near O’Connell Bridge on the banks of the Liffey. They were playing the best cheesy music and the dance floor was the place to be. We couldn’t go too crazy though coz the next day was the big one and we had to be in fine form.

Making friends at Messrs Maguire with Frenchy and Papa

We had a relatively early start, getting all done up in our green to take our places for the St Patrick’s Day parade, the world’s biggest non-military parade with 250,000 participants.  Unfortunately the typical Irish weather arrived and with limited views of the parade we decided to take cover in a nearby pub, really that’s what St Paddy’s day is all about right! Many a drink was had, including a couple of Guinness and we got to experience some traditional Irish music and dancing. We also checked out a bar in Temple Bar, one of the only areas in central Dublin to have maintained it’s medieval appearance with cobblestoned lanes  and is now the main location for Dublin’s nightlife.

Kiss me I’m Irish!

The first Guinness of the day

With two of my absolute favourites – Laura and Sal

Later we ended up back at Messrs Maguire for another evening on the dance floor and mingling with locals and tourists alike. A fantastic day! Those Irish sure know how to party!

On the final day of the tour we had the chance to stroll around Dublin before we made a short trip to the beautiful area of Glendalough (apparently the setting for many Irish films including P.S I Love You) where we took in some fresh air and wandered around amongst the green hills and icy lakes – experiencing the real Ireland.

The Liffey river in Dublin

A babbling brook in Glendalough

In  the afternoon it was back to Dublin for a visit to the famous Guinness brewery where we learned about the Guinness family, how the black beer is made and of course how to drink it. It’s not quite my cup of tea but I forced myself to drink a few – when in Dublin do as the Irish do and drink!

Laura and I in Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness brewery

Then it was a sleepy overnight ride back to London and the end of what had been an amazing weekend making great new friends, catching up with my favourite Aussie and having great craic!

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Bahia Inglesa and La Serena

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Alan and I were both heading in the direction of Santiago but had no idea which towns to stop in on the way there and neither of us were keen on doing the 24 hour bus ride in one go.

I got out my huge map of South America and Alan got out the Lonely Planet and we found a couple of towns that looked quite nice on the coast of Chile that we thought might be worth checking out.

The first place that sounded nice was Bahia Inglesa. To get there we needed to take a 10 hour bus ride, via Calama where we changed buses and then to Caldera where we took a 15 minute taxi ride to Bahia Inglesa. The bus just dropped us on the side of the road at about 7am and we had no idea where we were so it was lucky that a cab came past not long after.

Bahia Inglesa is a tiny town that apparently gets quite busy in summer when Chilean vacationers take up residency, however it seemed like we were the only people there at this particular time. There was a beautiful little beach and when the sun came out in the afternoons it was quite warm.

We thought since we were on the beach we had to go swimming so we headed on down, jumped in, nearly had a heart attack it was so freezing and then went home. Good fun!

The beach front is lined with restaurants but most of them were shut at this time of year but we managed to find a place where we could get a glass of red wine and a dessert after dinner.

The next day we headed back to Caldera to organise a bus to our next stop, La Serena. Another six hour bus ride and we arrived at about 10:30pm and eventually found the hostel recommended to us by Lonely Planet – El Hibisco.

La Serena is another lovely beach town , with a population of about 150,000. We ended up staying three nights and two days and in that time strolled along the beach, had a look at the Chinese garden, the Arqueologico museum and the zoo in the local park and generally just wandered around the streets. It was a really nice town and the weather was great while we were there, so we spent quite a bit of time just lazing around in the sun.

Next stop Santiago.

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