A happy place where it always rains - that's my impression of Dublin.
Covering approximately 45 square miles with merely 1.3 million inhabitants, Dublin feels more like a large town than the capital city of Ireland. It possesses an attractive combination of hospitality, steep history, and comparatively low costs of living. which gives the city an aura of comfort and joy.
Dublin is also just a short flight from the UK -- perfect for a quick getaway with my winter visitors: my dearest mom and dad.
From Dublin airport, the city center is just a 25-minute taxi ride costing around €20. Taxis are plenty and reasonably priced here, and it's an excellent way to get local knowledge as most drivers will be more than happy to give you their own list of Dublin's hidden gems.
This being my parents' first trip to Ireland, sightseeing was certainly our top agenda. Mom wanted a selfie with the Oscar Wilde sculpture, dad wanted to pull his own pint at the Guinness Storehouse, and I wanted to check out the Long Room at Trinity College's Old Library.
Must-do list settled. Now, where do we want to stay?
Over the years many of my family vacations have been spent abroad. We would reunite somewhere in the world and explore new sights and cultures together. Therefore I have a pretty good idea about what mom and dad desire from a hotel:
(1) Clean, comfortable and preferably spacious room with tea-making facilities and a large bath tub;
(2) Hot breakfast with made-to-order options, and good coffee, especially latte;
(3) Central, pedestrian-friendly location with easy access to public transport system;
and last but not least...
(4) Friendly, unintrusive service and attentive staff.
Ranked #5 on TripAdvisor out of a total of 171 hotels in Dublin, the Croke Park Hotel is a modern, airy establishment in the more urban part of town north of the river, and a 15-minute stroll to the city's main artery - O'Connell Street. There's also a hop-on hop-off bus stop outside the hotel entrance.
It may not have the period charm of old town Dublin, but it does offer in abundance the most friendly service, excellent Irish breakfast and opportunities for (sports) star-gazing.
With wide boulevards and scenic river walks, the Irish capital is pedestrian friendly and a pleasure to explore on foot. As for attractions further afield, we just relied on taxis and the hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses, both of which offer amusing commentaries along the way.
During our four-day trip we visited a lot of sights and had some lovely meals. And here are my Top 5 Dublin Destinations that no tourist should miss!
1. For the Love of Books: The Long Room, Trinity College Old Library｜書蟲的天堂：三一學院的長閱讀室
If you love the oldie worldie vibe of Cambridge and Oxford Universities in England, you'll definitely enjoy a visit to Trinity College Dublin.
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity college - also known as the University of Dublin - is the oldest university in Ireland. The school sits in the centre of old town and while relatively bijou, it does have beautiful period buildings, pretty squares as well as an imposing 30-meter granite bell tower - the Campanile.
But no visit to the college would be complete without a walk through the Long Room within its Old Library.
成立於1592年的 Trinity college Dublin -- 又稱都柏林大學 (the University of Dublin) -- 是愛爾蘭最古老的大學。這個由伊麗莎白一世創辦的學校坐落在老城的中心，小巧精緻，校園裡有許多漂亮的古典建築，綠茵的草地以及一座30米高，氣勢宏偉的花崗岩鐘樓 - the Campanile。
At nearly 65 meters in length, the 300-year-old chamber is a modern bookworm's dream. With dark wood paneling, high arches, marble busts of famous writers and philosophers and floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with 200,000 old tomes, it is a picture straight out of Harry Potter films.
To get to the Potteresque library you'll first have to pass through the Book of Kellis exhibition, where one of the most lavishly decorated ancient manuscripts of the holy Gospels from around the 8th century is on display. Don't miss the bookbinding instructional video that'll make anyone appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity of our ancestors.
2. All About "The Black Stuff": Guinness Storehouse ｜為黑啤酒瘋狂：健力士啤酒中心
We all know that the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is a must-visit for beer lovers, but did you know that it is actually the most popular tourist attraction in all of Europe?
Most of the 1.3 million people who go through its doors each year -- that's one in every three tourists -- will probably agree that it's a well-deserved accolade, because there really is something for everyone, even those who have no affinity for "the black stuff".
It's hard to mistake the Guinness Storehouse for anything other than the home of Guinness - it is housed in a seven-story building shaped like a pint glass!
The self-guided tour at St. James's Gate Brewery (est. 1759) starts from the ground level, and as you climb up, you're invited to learn about the beer-making process, the company's heritage, and how to pull a pint of Guinness with perfect, thick, creamy 'head' -- that's what they call the layer of foam on top of the beer -- and you'll get a certificate to show for this newly acquired talent.
世界上大概沒有比健力士啤酒中心更有「酒味」的博物館，因為它的基地就是一棟七層樓高，形如品脫玻璃杯 (pint glass) 的建築！
The end of the tour takes you to the highest part of the building - the Gravity Bar - where you can enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness while taking in the spectacular 360° views across Dublin's skyline.
We came by the hop-on hop-off bus but missed the return journey, as the last bus left the Storehouse at around 5.30pm. There are always taxis waiting outside so there's no risk of getting stranded, but it's something to keep in mind when planning your visit.
3. Best Chicken Wings EVER: Elephant & Castle in Temple Bar ｜世上無敵的炸雞翅：大象城堡餐廳（坦普爾酒吧區）
What kind of person would come to Dublin for American-style chicken wings? The answer: anyone who's ever had chicken wings at the Elephant & Castle in Temple Bar.
We learned about this gem of a restaurant from a tourist office employee. Having moved from Argentina not long ago herself, she was eager to share her knowledge of the local food scenes. and this place was her number one recommendation for comfort food.
Stretched along the south bank of the Liffey, Temple Bar is a short stroll from Trinity College and has been Dublin's cultural hub for centuries. and home to artists and musicians for centuries. Today, with its cobblestone streets, beautiful baroque-fronted houses and a cute weekend farmers' market, the area still retains a relaxed, bohemian aura.
The nightlife, however, is what makes Temple Bar famous the world over. Pub crawl tours are popular all year round, but the ultimate event is definitely in March when tens of thousands of revellers kitted out in green take over the streets of Dublin to celebrate St Patrick's Day, with seemingly endless music, booze and laughters.
這家餐廳其實是一位旅遊局小姐介紹的，我們想吃正統的愛爾蘭餐，來自阿根廷的她便很熱心的分享了一堆當地美食知識。Temple Bar 區裡的 Elephant ＆ Castle 就是她的頭號建議。
但是 Temple Bar 名揚海外的主要原因是它精采的夜生活。無數酒吧林立於大街小巷，很多還有自家私釀的啤酒，加上每晚四處都有音樂表演，難怪慕名前來 pub crawl 的人潮不斷。每年三月的聖帕特里克節（St Patrick's Day）則是大肆慶祝的正當理由，處處可見穿綠衣，喝得醉醺醺的狂歡者，隨著音樂在路上翩翩起舞。
There's plenty of booze and laughters at Elephant & Castle too, but only for those with patience or the mind to plan ahead. It's normal to wait for over an hour for a table any time of the day, so walk-in is not recommended if you're tight on time. But the wait is certainly worthwhile.
When we finally got our table after a 90-minute wait, we were starving and ready to eat anything on the simple menu. However a scan around the restaurant revealed that every table had a basket of chicken wings, and it wasn't even complimentary. Our waiter explained that spicy chicken wings were the restaurant's most popular dish, so we ordered it just to experience the hype.
We were amused by the nutritionally imbalanced meal (chicken & fries) that all the college students next to us ordered. But after just one bite of these crunchy, perfectly fried, tender wings, we also wished we had ordered more of them and less of everything else -- these were seriously the best chicken wings outside of the U.S.A.!
In fact, they also have a sister restaurant in New York City at 68 Greenwich Avenue. One for the list!
隔壁的八個大學生，每人都只點一籃雞翅加一份薯條，我們剛開始還笑他們吃的營養不均衡。萬萬沒想到自己嘗了一口炸得恰到好處，香酥不油膩的雞翅後，我們也後悔沒有多叫一籃。說實話其他菜也都很美味，而且份量挺大的，只不過這裡的 spicy chicken wings 可是我在美國境外所吃過最棒的雞翅！
其實，他們在紐約市也開了家姐妹店（68 Greenwich Avenue），住在紐約的朋友們真的是太幸福了！
4. The Fight for Independence: Kilmainham Gaol｜為獨立而戰：凱勒梅堡監獄
Ireland is such a prominent name in the European history and popular culture that sometimes it's easy to forget that the Irish Republic had only gained independence less than 100 years ago after centuries of English occupation.
As Ireland prepares to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising - one of the most significant uprisings to end British rule ever to take place - we were briefed by our taxi driver on the significance of this event on our way to the hotel. To better understand the political struggles of the Irish people, he told us, we must pay a visit to a prison called Kilmainham Gaol on the outskirts of Dublin.
Kilmainham Gaol is one of the largest unoccupied jails in Europe. Between 1796 and 1924 when it was in operation, it gain fame as the place that held some of the most famous political and military leaders in Ireland including the leaders of the the 1916 Rising.
Now a government-run museum, no punitive activities take place behind the gaol's thick stone walls, and the only reminders of the bygone prison life come via a 60-minute guided tour that takes visitors through the prison cells, execution field and an on-site chapel. There's also an exhibition that tracks the history of the gaol and serves as a memorial for those who fought for Ireland's independence.
You won't leave this place feeling happy or relaxed, but you will take home a slightly deeper understanding and appreciation for Ireland, its people and the Irish mentality.
If you're planning a visit to Kilmaninham Gaol, to be sure to visit it early in the day as the hourly tours are small and fill up very quickly. Both red and green hop-on hop-off buses have a stop outside the prison.
5. Dublin's Favorite Son: Oscar Wilde | 都柏林最愛的文豪：王爾德
No Irish celebrity, past or present, deserves a playful memorial more than the 19th century writer Oscar Wilde. Born in 1854, the author, playwright and poet was most famous for his satirical comedies with a dark undertone, as well as his infamous imprisonment for homosexuality.
The statue Dublin has erected for this colorful character indeed reflects the man's flamboyant personality. Lounging leisurely atop a rock in Merrion Square overlooking the house he was born in, the stone sculpture of a 40-year-old Oscar Wilde appears surprisingly realistic.
Far from being handsome, Oscar Wilde was considered a dandy by his contemporaries. His formfitting outfit - a jacket in polished color stones with long, skinny trousers - exudes sartorial elegance. The leather-like loafers on his feet are adorned with intricate shoelaces. And that two-sided expression on his face, which may appear as a cynical smirk at the first glance, is actually meant to depict both joy and sadness.
Across from Wilde is a small sculpture of a naked pregnant woman with misery in her eyes - this is his English wife Constance, and the mother of his two children.
Not long after the birth of their second child, Wilde was tried and convicted of "gross indecency" for his relationship with a young lord. He died in 1900, impoverished and in exile, at the age of 46.
Exquisite, mesmerising and memorable - Oscar Wilde's sculpture reflects the charisma of this beloved literary giant and captures the romantic legacy of his work. It is truly a piece of art and well worth a visit.