Dublin is a truly walkable city that is easy to navigate and that is one reason I loved it. I am not good with directions. I will be the first to admit that I competely suck at navigation and maps. I have no sense of direction whatsoever!! GPS is my best friend. Dublin is a place that even I could navigate! I even ventured out on my own while my husband slept off his cold. I would never had attempted that if I didn't feel completely comfortable.
What I was most excited about was spending my birthday in Dublin. With Grafton Street close by and a bit of money set aside for birthday shopping, it was a really special and relaxing day. I never thought I'd be able to say that I went to a foreign country for my birthday- we're just not jetsetters like that so this birthday will go down in the books as amazing just for the sheer fact that we were in Ireland.
The morning of my birthday started with our very first time sleeping in during the whole trip! It was the first day that we didn't need to be somewhere by a specific time or be on the road as early as possible to make the most of the short amount of daylight that winter in a Northern European country provides. What a wonderful way to start the day! No alarm, no early morning breakfast calls and NO pb&j to make and pack for our picnic on the road! We lived off of pb&j! I'm not kidding! Our first day out of Dublin at the beginning of the trip we went in search of a Tesco and loaded up on the best sliced loaf of bread I've ever had, quality peanut butter and Bonne Maman jam that was half the cost of what it is in the States! We ate that every.single.day we were in Ireland- except my birthday- my birthday was reserved for the most sinful bagel and egg breakfast sandwich I've ever had, fancy fish & chips and of course: dessert!
The moment we arrived in Dublin all of those days earlier, I was drawn to a place called Queen of Tarts. I knew that my birthday treat would come from this little place with the cheeky name. I have a serious sweet tooth, so no special ocassion goes by without some sort of sweet treat- it's mandatory! Normally birthdays for me equal cake or a cupcake but as soon as we stepped into Queen of Tarts my eyes fell on the lemon meringue tart and I just knew that this was the treat of all treats to end my Dublin birthday extravaganza with! But I'm getting ahead of myself- the tart will have to wait!
The first thing on the agenda for my Dublin birthday was shopping! We had both resisted buying too many things. The only souvenirs we bought were from the Giant's Causeway (a tin whistle which quickly became the soundtrack to the latter half of the trip) and a few books from Trinity College (traditional Irish baking and Celtic lettering- can I get a nerdy woot?!), otherwise our main purchases had been food and admission to a few places. We were trying to be frugal with money as well as space in our suitcases. I desperately wanted to find a pair of shoes- my first trip to Dublin I found an amazing, avant garde pair of clunkers that I wore until they literally fell apart around my feet, and I was hoping to start a tradition.
In a city the size of Dublin you'd think that would be an easy feat- no pun intended. Unfortuantely for me, I had a specific type of shoe that I wanted. I saw them all over the feet of the stylish ladies of Dublin and yet I couldn't find them in a single store. Trust me, I looked. My poor husband had to go into every single store that sold footwear. Nope, none, zilch. The only thing I could think was that they were from a previous season and I was out of luck. So, since I am stubborn and refused to broaden my horizons I had no success in the shoe departement. I did however manage to find things to buy, in case you were worried. I don't regret not finding shoes but I do regret very much walking away from the Benetton jacket that I was eyeing. At the time I had just had a mini shopping spree at a different store so in my mind I couldn't justify buying the jacket even though it was on sale. A word of advice- if you find yourself loving an article of clothing in a foreign country and said purchase isn't going to make you homeless upon your return then BUY IT! I walked away from it, decided I could just order it online if I regretted it and left it at that. But I thought about that damn jacket every day before we left. And guess what?! You CAN'T order it online because it was only available in European stores and you won't find that out until you are sitting thousands of miles away having NON-buyers remorse. Sheesh- I might still be a teensy weensy bit upset that I walked away from it...
The one and only time we had fish & chips on this trip was my birthday night. We chose the Copper Alley Bistro because it had a small, intimate setting and a view of bustling Dame Street. The food was delicious but the restaurant was dead quiet- we were the only customers due to our habit of eating dinner early so that made it all feel a bit awkward. At least my husband and I enjoy each other's company and never lack for conversation- althought the rare times we do, we can sit in companionable silence and just be together.
The day ended with the aforementioned visit to Queen of Tarts. We ended up going twice before we left Ireland and our first venture was at their Cows Lane location in the Temple Bar area of Dublin, very near to our hotel. Something I've learned about Dublin (and London for that matter) is that places tend to close early (unless it's a pub of course). We walked in just before 7pm and were informed that they were closing- but the hostess immediately offered to put in a to-go order for us. We had intended to get our treats to go anyway so we didn't feel inconvenienced, just surprised that a cafe serves dinner and desserts was closing so early in the city center. Do yourself a favor and get something to go even if you plan to acutally eat there- the to-go box is the cutest thing ever- it reminds me of the Mendl's box from The Grand Budapest Hotel.
It was such a wonderful birthday in a place that is very dear to my heart. I wish I could make it a tradition and go every year, but alas it's too far away and not realistic financially. Everyone should be able to celebrate their birthday with people they love in a place that renews their spirits and fills their heart. I know how very lucky I was to be able to do just that.