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!


In Bruges


So the only thing I knew about Bruges was that it was the setting for a movie that starred Colin Farrel as a grumpy assassin. Oh and that it’s in Belgium.

But I was soon going to learn that it is a gorgeous, quaint little town that makes you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. But before we get to that, let’s start at the beginning…

As I said previously my friend Matika had invited me to go on a trip to France for the day with her and her friend Jo. Jo had found an amazing deal that included a trip on the ferry from Dover to Calais and a 6-pack of wine for the ridiculous price of £20. What a bargain! So of course I decided to tag along.

Jo picked us up and we headed off and it wasn’t long before she let us know that in fact we were going to spend the day in Bruges. Okey doke, sounds good to me!

After a quick trip down to Dover, a smooth ferry ride to Calais and a short drive to Bruges (Jo driving expertly on the wrong side of the road) I was ready to experience my first European town.

White Cliffs of Dover

Castle on top of the cliffs of Dover

On board the ferry to Calais 

Bruges was absolutely gorgeous, with delightful cobblestone lanes and charming buildings. The town had that feel of European sophistication but also of a quaint village appeal that made you feel like you could most definitely live there. It wasn’t a large town and I think you could certainly see the majority of the sights in a day, especially if you jump on board one of the cute horse drawn carts that frequent the streets or a boat ride on the canals. There are some grand buildings to take in but I think the most spectacular part of the town was watching the boats and ducks making their way along the canals and reflections of the enchanting buildings and bridges on the water.

Another of the amazing things about Bruges was being able to sample Belgium’s famously delicious fares – waffles, chocolates, mussels and of course, beer! Everywhere we walked around the town there were brightly lit chocolate stores tempting us with their mouth-watering delicacies. Lunch consisted of the most incredible waffles, smothered in chocolate sauce, icecream and strawberries and accompanied by a glass of Belgian beer. Towards the end of the day we stocked up with bags and bags of all the different flavoured choccies and then headed to a cozy restaurant to enjoy an enormous pot of steaming mussels. We were in culinary heaven!

After dinner it was back in the car for the trip to Calais and ferry ride back to grey old England. What a day! I was absolutely delighted by the beauty of Bruges and extremely satisfied with the delicious cuisine on offer. Thanks Mitika and Jo!

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