Dublin Vibes

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Ireland is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe – probably due to its grey weather, but the country is full of castles and ruins to discover and fall in love with. It has such a good vibe as Ireland has the youngest population in the European Union.

I visited Dublin and Galway in June, as Qatar Airways started direct flights to Dublin from Doha. The flight time is perfect and I got to experience the Dreamliner aircraft’s Business Class which made my flight a spoiling experience.

If you’re planning to fly with Qatar Airways and worried about the political situation in Qatar, you can be assured that there is nothing to worry about. The flight times to Europe hasn’t changed at all and all operations are running smoothly.

How to get to Dublin:

The flight from Doha to Dublin with Qatar Airways takes 7,5 hours. If you’re transiting through Doha, I would strongly suggest taking the opportunity to have a free stopover in Doha with Qatar Airways’ +Qatar campaign. You can stay in Doha’s one of the luxurious hotels for free, experience the desert safari or enjoy the Arabian hospitality.

Getting to Dublin from Europe is much easier and cheaper. The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair offers non-stop daily flights from almost all European countries. Train is another option if you live in the UK.

Dublin Airport is conveniently located approximately 10km north of Dublin City Centre with access to a large number of buses, coaches and taxis all allowing you to get to and from the airport with ease.

In terms of visa, citizens of certain countries must apply for an Irish entry visa before traveling. Note that it is not a Schengen visa, and some UK visitor visas allow onward travel to Ireland.

Where to stay:

If you don’t want to go for a quieter option, I would definitely recommend you to stay in the city centre of Dublin. We stayed at The Brooks Hotel which was located within a short walking distance from the famous Grafton Street. It is a 4-star designer boutique hotel, and you can actually order your breakfast to your room for only a service fee of 3 Euros.

Staying in a castle is another option to consider. We stayed at Clontarf Castle Hotel which was just 10 minutes away from Dublin City Centre and easily accessible by car to the airport. I would definitely recommend it to couples who want to celebrate anniversaries and special occasions.

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When to visit:

The best time to visit Dublin is summer time when the temperatures are warm and festivals fill the streets. If you’re lucky, the sun shows its face but remember that Dublin is a city where you can experience summer and winter all in one day.

Must-sees in Dublin:

Dublin is a great city where you can walk from one place to another in only 30 minutes. So it is easy to see the whole city only in a few days but you never get enough of it. I would suggest at least 5 days to enjoy the historical, cultural and entertainment scene of the city.

Trinity College and the Old Library was the highlight of my visit to Dublin. Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and is famous for its graduates such as Swift, Goldsmith, Wilde and Beckett. The Old Library’s wooden bookshelves, statues, and knowing the fact that it is still operating gave me goosebumps. Strolling around the campus is ideal in the morning before students start rushing to their classes so make sure to be there early to take the best photos.

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The Little Museum of Dublin was also pretty impressive in terms of understanding the history and culture of Ireland. Surrounded by plants, it is a hidden gem in the city centre, with photographs on its walls telling stories about the history. Have a look at Ireland’s greatest rock band- U2’s room if you are interested in the band.

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When you stroll around the cobbled streets of the city, you will see lots of street art, traditional pubs, book shops (even the ones specialising in 20th century Irish literature) and small design clothing stores. As you can walk anywhere, footwork is the best way to discover the city.

No visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse – the Home of Guinness. Don’t miss a real Irish experience at this unique factory. Try out the fresh Guinness you can’t have anywhere else.

Tip: Try a fresh Guinness with brownies, it is an unbelievable combination!

You can also visit Chester Beatty Library and have your lunch at the Silk Road Cafe which is located inside the library. On your way to the library, you can see the colourful Dublin Castle.

If you’re interested in shopping, take a short tour of Brown Thomas which is an iconic store and an important part of Ireland’s retail history since 1849.

Where to eat:

This part is my favourite! Dublin has an incredible and buzzing restaurant scene, and they have such amazing dishes.

Fallon & Bryne:

This award winning restaurant is a slow food inspired brasserie in the heart of Dublin. There is a grocery area downstairs so you may want to check it out too. They had two menus, one with meat and the other with vegetarian options. Make sure to have a reservation and ask for their early bird menu!

http://www.fallonandbyrne.com/

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Sophie’s:

Located in a stylish hotel, Sophie’s is a beautiful and modern glasshouse restaurant. You can enjoy the 360 degree views of Dublin while eating your delicious meal.

http://sophies.ie/

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Rustic Stone:

This modern and rustic Irish diner exceeded my expectations! Each item is served in the most artistic way so it was not only delicious but also an eye candy.  The steak comes raw but it’s on the stone so you need to be a bit patient until it is cooked. Enjoy the delicious complimentary olives while waiting for it.

http://www.rusticstone.ie/

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When it comes to food, I shouldn’t skip mentioning about the Irish butter. It is a creamy and salty butter which gives a complete satisfaction to your mouth. It is generally served in all restaurants before your meal so it is impossible to skip it. Buy some at the airport if you want to take the tastes of Dublin to home.

Finally, you will be amazed by the entertainment and nightlife options in Dublin. There are historical pubs at every corner, and the fantastic nightlife offers not only pubs but also lounges and late night clubs. As an alterantive option, dozens of people get together at The Stag’s Head‘s second floor every Tuesday for an Ukulele night.  It was so fun and we felt very welcomed by the people playing ukuleles, sitting on every corner of the pub.

In short, Dublin has a lot to offer to its visitors from all ages and nationalities, and I’m pretty sure I will visit it once again.

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Weekend in Como Lake

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If you live in Europe and are looking for a weekend getaway, look no further than Como Lake. Abount 45 minutes away by car from Milan Malpensa Airport, the lake’s surrounding towns are extremely pretty. Set against the foothills of the Alps, the lake is shaped like an upside-down Y, with three slender branches that meet at the resort town of Bellagio. At the bottom of the southwest branch lies the city of Como and Cernobbio where we went to attend a wedding ceremony last weekend.

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Como Lake view from Hotel Asnigio, Cernobbio

Bellagio:

Flying from Qatar and Germany, we hired a car at Milan Malpensa Airport. As the wedding took place at the evening, we headed to ‘the pearl of Lake Como’ – Bellagio directly from the airport. Bellagio town is characterised by century-old buildings, stone lanes and picturesque cobbled stairways filled with shops showcasing the finest Italian wares. It is very small so you can easily walk around the town’s narrow streets, dine in one of the Italian restaurants, shop Italian fine leather and even swim in the stunning lake. If you don’t have a car, you can take the train from Milan to Como Town and then a ferry to Bellagio. You can even take your car in the ferry but parking may be a problem in this little town.

If you visit Bellagio, don’t miss the Basilica of San Giacomo and the stone tower (“Torre delle Arti Bellagio“), and avoid summer time if you don’t like the crowds. Restaurants and hotels are a bit expensive but the town itself is definitely worth a visit.

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Bellagio streets

Varenna:

Varenna is an attractive village on the eastern shore of Lake Como, looking over the central part of the lake towards Bellagio. The best way to get there from Bellagio is ferry, and the return trip costs 9 Euros per person. This fishing village which dates back to 11th century offers panoramic views and cafes overlooking the colorful houses on the shores of the lake. Walk along the lake side, and you will be amazed by the breathtaking views. Personally, Varenna is my favorite but others are also not to be missed.

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Varenna – the view from Bar Il Molo

Cernobbio:

Our last stop was Cernobbio. It is located about 40 kilometres north of Milan and about 2 kilometres northwest of Como, on the border with Switzerland and near the Lake Como. This little town is a popular holiday resort because of its proximity to the city of Como.

Other than checking out villas, having a bite at one of the restaurants and taking a walk near the lake watching swans, you can drive up to the Monte Bisbino taking the cycling route. It is a mountain of the Lugano Prealps, located west of Lake Como, and the view from the top is spectacular.

If you are considering to stay in Cernobbio, you have a lot of options. We stayed at Hotel Asnigo which has views of the lake and an outdoor pool. Villa d’Este is another option if you are into a bit of luxury. We were not allowed to check out Villa d’Este but it seemed pretty from the outside.

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Cernobbio