A sunny St Patrick’s weekend in Dublin

To celebrate our friend’s birthday, we planned a trip for the four of us to Dublin. How exciting! For a cultural immersion no country’s better than Ireland to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. To give you a tip though: it’s the busiest time of the year in Dublin, and we booked our trip in November to be money-wise… and at least to get somewhere to sleep!

I’d been to Dublin in 2017 as a solo-traveler, but going back with Salty and our friends was amazing! It is lovely to share moments altogether when traveling, and the second time you tend to discover new treasures.

As a cool surprise, our friends got us St Patrick’s head boppers which we wore the whole weekend to match the local vibes!

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Welcome  to Dublin

From Leeds, it’s so easy to get to Dublin. A 45-minute flight. We’ve booked our tickets with Ryanair, for a total of £75 for two persons. Sweet! When you arrive in Dublin airport, it’s also really easy to get to town as there are plenty of options and the cheapest one is the Dublin City Bus, twice cheaper than the Aiport Bus service.

Eternal Irish showers welcoming us… Being already a bit late, starving and soaking wet, we wanted to get to our accommodation asap to change and go for a Guinness. Our friends had booked a Bed & Breakfast a while ago at the North of Dublin Centre, in an area full of… B&Bs and close to THIS thing:

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Lovely walk in the rain to our guesthouse

Once we found ours, the host talked us through loads of details. Keys, drinks, keep it quiet at all times… We were tired and hungry, so an expedite check-in would have been much appreciated. Overall he was warm and very (very) dedicated.

Don’t expect a modern furniture around here. Mostly, you’ll find traditional guest houses and the whole place reflected that. In spite of being clean, everything looked and smelled old. However, mattresses felt comfy.

Never lie down on a bed if your plan is to go out again and drink a Guinness.

So now, where to eat? We’re hungry!

We were craving fat food like hell. So hungry. The closer the better but it seemed there weren’t too many options nearby. We’ve been recommended by our super host to Supermac’s, apparently a must eat in town which we headed to. Indeed, not cheap but so good! I think I had a kind of Philly Cheese Steak sandwich with beef and onions, and it was heaven. Salty got a big fat burger. Once we were done, we walked to Temple Bar and got a Guinness in a live music bar.

The Long Room Of The Old Library At Trinity College

Next morning, we got a 8-euro breakfast each at the guesthouse and it was delicious and filling. Then we headed to Trinity College through the narrow Irish streets of Dublin. We realized it’d be a busy weekend just seeing tourists everywhere. We penetrated in Trinity College Campus and admired the architecture.

Then we decided to visit The Old Library. Count 14 euros per person by the way, for the exhibit and the Long Room, but totally worth it. Beware of the queue and the 30-minute wait which can be a pain in the rain.

Follow our walk from our entrance in Trinity College to our visit of the Long Room with a few pics below…

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This ball reminds you of Quidditch? In fact, it’s called Sphere Within Sphere, “a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. Versions of the sculpture (diameters vary) can be seen in many settings worldwide, including Trinity College, Vatican Museum, Berkeley University, (…).” Source

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These Library 200,000 oldest books are carefully organised by department, shelf and alphabetical order. You can’t access them. The Long Room is dark enough to protect the books from the natural light that could eventually fade them.

The Long Room, built between 1712 and 1732 is long of 65 metres.

We continued our walk, and surprise

After leaving our philosophy mates, we continued our wandering through Dublin, and I wanted to check a small cute shop. Actually, it ended up being a beautiful shop center in a breathtaking architecture and antiques, designer shops, jewelers, coffee places and restaurants.

Contemplate this hidden gem hereafter…

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George’s St. Arcade is another highlight of our trip

In this place,  they sell everything from art to second-hand clothes, which makes it so typical and famous. We enjoyed having a break there while it was raining outside.

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3pm, we’re hungry. Let’s try the famous Irish stew!

And for that, let’s go back to The Quay’s Bar in Temple Bar. They serve the traditional Irish stew, which in sum is a thick soup made of meat (usually lamb as they have a lot of sheep there) and veggies. It tastes so good! We had to wait quite a lot though as again, busy time in Dublin, but it was totally worth it.

The down side is that the waitress rushes you as soon as you’re finished, which is a bit frustrating but understandable as it’s annoying to be waiting until a table gets available.

The famous, the star, the delicious Traditional Irish Stew and its bread and butter… Take us back!

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Continuing our exploration to Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle is surrounded with a lovely park and another library and I thought Salty and my friends would enjoy it. We found a free exhibit of design (it’s always better when it’s free) and we visited the Library where they also had a free exhibit on writing techniques. Finally we had a break in the Library coffee shop. We walked so much that Saturday! We definitely eliminated the Irish Stew, too.

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A typical end of the day in Ireland

After our long day of discoveries, we came back to our guesthouse, changed and went to a Vietnamese restaurant. Then we headed to Temple Bar again, had a few drinks in a fancy bar with a French name (can’t remember), tried to dance on a poor DJ set and ended up going to a 10-euro entrance gay club. And there the music was amazing! We finished our day in the early Sunday morning, ready for St Patrick’s Day Big Parade starting at 12pm.

St Patrick’s Day Parade after hangover

We split in two groups for breakfast and found each other afterwards, in the Parade’s crowd who was waiting for the event to start. Lucky us, sun was with us which helped overcome our hungover heads.

We took so many photos of the show, I’ll just share the best ones…

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Last hours before going back to the airport

Once the Parade was over, we walked along the bank to enjoy sunny Dublin and went passed The Guinness Factory which we haven’t photographed, but Salty wanted a souvenir.

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Then we arrived to this park, relaxed a bit and enjoyed an Irish Coffee on our way back to the guesthouse, before picking up our bags, checking out and going to Dublin airport.

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What a great experience, we hope you enjoyed reading through our discoveries and travel anecdotes of Dublin. Share your reactions with us by leaving a comment!

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36 hours in lovely Chester and countryside

Good news is you never need to go too far to find the perfect getaway.

For Chester, we’ve made a quick search: best cities to visit in UK, and pretty Chester showed up. Then we thought ‘Why not?’, plus it’s not too far from Leeds, 1 hour and 30 minutes by car. Let’s go!

On the road

We left Leeds at about 08:15, and parked the car in Chester around 10:00. Contrarily to what I’ve been told, parking was pretty easy to find in town. First impression when approaching Chester’s City Centre was like “Where are we?” and “Looks similar to Leeds, doesn’t it?”. Turned out we’ve been genuinely surprised when we reached the Centre, a 3-min walk from Delamere Parking, where we’d parked the car.

Chester City Centre

We like to take our time when visiting places, and not planning much, just going along the mood.

Chester Street
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Chester Street Pink Door
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Weather on our side, Chester reminded us of York, with the kind of same layout: a city inside Roman walls circling the buildings. We just had to follow the path, and walked quite a lot for such a small town: 13,000 steps which makes it a nice promenade.

Pretty Chester’s Cathedral is quite noticeable, which you can visit if you like. To be honest, it was so beautiful outside that we didn’t want to lock ourselves in.

Chester Cathedral and streets
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In addition to being quiet and absolutely charming, Chester offers everything we can hope from a typical British experience: narrow streets, shop galleries, enchanting residences, musicians, hungry squirrels and… an elephant.

Chester City Centre
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Chester Squirrel
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Chester Architecture
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Chester Roman Passage
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To save money, Salty had prepared delicious sandwiches, perfect for a break in the sun, enjoying some street music and contemplating the architecture.

Chester Woman Playing Pipes
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We even had two awful bitter cups of coffee (which they call “hipster” coffee). The problem is that the coffee shop was cute, which’d make you think they’d serve normal coffee, like any normal person would hope for. But no, once again, it had to be bitter and very hard to slurp. It’s just definitely not our taste.

Chester Narrow Passage
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La Brasserie at The Chester Grosvenor

Fortunately, La Brasserie at The Chester Grosvenor made it up to us and we ordered a really enjoyable afternoon ‘tea’ (in reality, we’re coffee persons), along with delicious scones and cakes.

La Brasserie Chester Grosvenor
Audrey Langevin
Afternoon tea La Brasserie Chester Grosvenor
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In addition to offering an excellent staff service, this brasserie is elegantly designed with golden ornaments and mirrors for the pleasure of the eyes, which makes it one of the highlights of our journey.

At about 14:30, we went back to the parking (we only paid £4.50 for 4 and a half hours, pretty reasonable). Overall, we spent £10 each that day. The best part was yet to come, as we headed to the countryside, to Rowton Hall Hotel & Spa.

Rowton Hall Hotel & Spa

This hotel isn’t cheap (£155 for one night, breakfast included), but to celebrate our one year together we wanted a nice retreat with a spa.

Here we were, wandering past Chester in the middle of nowhere to this quiet place. The hotel itself was okay, the staff charming who welcomed us really well. Bear in mind that the newspapers’ morning room delivery (offered at the reception) isn’t included in the price.

Our room (number 6) was spacious and clean, but its furniture a bit old as well as the walls that’d deserve to be repainted. Also, I was expecting more freebies upon arrival, and a better coffee in-room as I don’t drink instant coffee.

Bedroom number 6 Rowton Hall
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Even if we weren’t there to watch TV, the TV screen was a bit small for the size of the room. Finally, the mattress (which I think was a Queen size), was a dream: very very comfy!

Overall, Rowton Hall looks a bit vintage and would require a refreshment, as well as its spa facilities, even if the latter is clean and well equipped: a big pool, a fitness room, a steam and a sauna with a spacious and secured changing room which you can all access for free, as part of your accommodation rate. We spent the afternoon there and it’s been very relaxing.

Their breakfast was outstanding: the buffet’s selection is comprehensive, and in addition you can choose anything from their breakfast menu, which sounds more like a tasty brunch. Totally adapted for a Sunday, we loved it!

59 at The Hollies

Later on, we had a reservation for two at 59 at The Hollies. The Hollies are a local farm, 59 is there restaurant, a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Once again, we headed to the countryside! I selected this place because their meat is supposed to be delicious. So it was. Their 59-day aged beef is an absolute… food orgasm! You can feel the difference when tasting local farm food.

In total, we spend £75, including: 1 piece of beef each accompanied with salad, 2 sides each (1 x farm greens, 1 x sweet potato fries), 1 glass of red wine each (the Entrecôte wine from France was like velvet, delicious!), 1 dessert each (Salty chose the Hollies Moo-Moo that is a tremendous amount of ice-cream and farm fresh cream, I had the gluten free brownie and vanilla ice-cream). The atmosphere at the restaurant is lovely, with low lighting, perfect for a romantic dinner, the staff is somewhat nice too.

Audrey Langevin

Square a Lot 59 Hollies
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Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre

I’ve always loved horses, and Cheshire is home to loads of equestrian and horse centres, which in one word is… paradise. Salty has got some intuition and randomly selected one on Google Maps for our Sunday stop on the way back to Leeds.

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Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre
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We ended up in Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre! They have a full farm with shire horses, chickens, pigs, peacocks and… one Scottish wildcat (a true beauty and menaced animal with less than 100 in the wild).

The ticket is £9.50 each, and you can cuddle horses and spend as much time as you want. They present the shire horses to visitors at specific times and organise many activities.

Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre
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Chickens Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre
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Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre
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We chose to walk around as they own several acres of pure nature, silence, and lovely animals. There is a couple of trails to follow through the different animal areas. This farm is ideal for families or simply to rejuvenate in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday.

The staff is absolutely charming as well and this Centre made our escapade a truly unique experience.

We hope our trip inspired you and that you’ll want to explore Chester as well. Share your reactions with us by leaving a comment!

Also, follow us through our next getaway to… Dublin, Ireland, March 15-17, where we’ll celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

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