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Dublin 101

Ah, the Emerald Isle! Americans stamp their passports here more than any other country. Why? Because there is simply nothing like the charm and friendliness of Ireland. The Irish are famous for their hospitality and “come join us” attitude. It’s this amazing spirit that allows for so many opportunities to learn and enjoy. The nation’s capital, Dublin, is full of amazing sites and experiences. But, what is actually worth it? We’re here to tell you what to get to fast, what to pass on, and what to see instead. So, pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink, and let’s get to the craic!

Join us as we chat all about planning a trip to Ireland and discuss all of our picks! It’s all on our podcast Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World! Click here to listen and choose your platform.

Guiness and Jameson’s

The storehouse experience is literally the most visited tourist attraction in the country. Spoiler alert: they do not make beer here. They also do not make whiskey on Bow St. when you visit Jameson’s Distillery. I know!!!!! I’m sure the beer and whiskey enthusiasts would love it but if that is not your cup of tea, consider whether your time is worth it.

guinness glass filled with beer
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Pass on Ireland’s, number one tourist draw. Instead hit up the Smithwick’s tour in Kilkenny and the Jameson’s distillery in Cork.

Book of Kells at Trinity College

The story of this illuminated manuscript is one of legends. From the age of Saints and Scholars, monks toiled over the pages to create this work of art which is now beautifully enshrined in the grand library at Trinity College. The setting is gorgeous the exhibit is first class. But if you don’t know why monks coloring pages in a bible is important, is this for you?

brown book page
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  • Verdict: Pass if it’s not your thing. Go if you are enamored by art that was created with love under such dire circumstances. Above all, know the story.

St. Patrick’s and Christ Church

Religion can be a touchy topic in Ireland. While troubles were certainly centered in Belfast for years, make no mistake, Dublin was the original epicenter of uprising. What’s this got to do with churches? Many Irish Americans go to pay their respects to their Catholic ancestors who left Erin’s green shores on coffin ships during the famine. These are not their churches. In fact, they are not Catholic churches at all! Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning. However, their architecture is easily found and centered in places like London. Is it worth your precious time?

low angle photo of blue concrete building
Photo by Mark Dalton on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Pass, unless churches and their architecture are your thing. For those of you looking honor your Catholic roots, check in at Our Lady of Knock Basilica or Croagh Patrick in the west.

EPIC

Speaking of your Irish roots, so many visitors strive to understand the journey of there to here. In fact, the umber one reason people visit Ireland is to trace their roots! Dublin has heard you all and EPIC is certainly the place for you. This modern immigration museum traces the history of the Irish population throughout the world and strives to connect you to your heritage and culture.

brown brick road
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  • Verdict: A must! If you are looking for a place to start understanding your roots, this is stop number one. Leave with the name of a town in a county and set out to find your people.

The GPO

What 1776 is to Americans is what 1916 is to the Irish. It was here at the main general post office that 16 brave men started taking action towards British independence. In short, the story of a free Ireland starts here with the Easter Rising.

The Irish Declaration of Independence
  • Verdict: A must! To go here is to understand Ireland. There are no substitutes for this impactful piece of history.

Kilmainham Gaol

Once you finish at the GPO, head towards Kilmainham. The jail that housed those 16 men until they were all executed by the British authorities. The story is powerful and the building is an interesting mix of tragedy and splendor. you may even recognize some of the areas from famous movies.

hallway with window
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Top of my list! If you see nothing else in Dublin, see this! History buffs, proud patriots, architecture hounds, and movie maniacs will all connect.

Temple Bar Pub Crawls

If there is one word that should be central to your travels in Ireland, it should be storytelling. And while pub crawls in the US tend to be full of uncontrollable debauchery, this is not the case in Ireland. Yes, you’ll have a drink, yes, you’ll go from pub to pub, but that’s where the similarities end. Pub crawls showcase, music, storytelling, dance, literature, history and more. They are a super fun way to get your bearings on the town and enjoy all aspects of culture.

assorted liquor bottles
Photo by Lucian Petronel Potlog on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Certainly! Isn’t this why you came to Ireland anyway? Find a pub crawl to match your interests. If you can think it up, it probably exists!

Dublin Castle

The castle on Dame St. is a conference center, an administrative government building and a tourist attraction. With ornate English state rooms, there is a bit to see with the required tour guides. At 700 years old, there’s no doubt the castle has tons of stories and I’m all for that!

administration architecture building castle
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  • Verdict: Pass, Ireland is full of lots of castles, is this really the one you want to see? Wait for Kilkenny Castle and Blarney Castle. Then stay the night at a private castle found in many places including Air B and B. Better yet, try out fancy schmancy Ashford Castle from the Guinness Family.

O’Connell and Grafton Streets

The two major streets of Dublin, each has quite a distinct purpose. Look towards O’Connell Street to give you a sense of history and Grafton Street to get your shop on. You are bound to wind up here for a bevy of reasons, just enjoy!

The charming streets of Dublin
  • Verdict: Sure! You’ll enjoy both in equal measure.

Croke Park and Aviva Stadium

It’s time to get your sport on! Choose a stripy scarf and join in the team spirit. It really doesn’t matter what side you root for, just enjoy the fun like a temporary local. If there is no game scheduled, take advantage of the stadium tours which wind up being far more interesting than first meets the eye.

man in blue and white striped soccer jersey playing rugby
Photo by Patrick Case on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Have some fun! Cheer along with modern Ireland.

Arlington Hotel’s Celtic Nights

Kitchy? Yup. Full of tourists? Uh-huh. So-so dinner? True. Go anyway! This is a great, old school first night stop. Get a table close to the stage so your mashed potatoes clatter in time to the dancer’s feet.

Irish musicians
  • Verdict: Yes, only if you have a sense of humor and you’re looking to unwind a little. It’s a great stop to help get rid of your jet lag. Otherwise pass for one of the more serious options above.

St. Michan’s Church

I love Irish humor. And this might have been one of the funniest stops I’ve ever made. St. Michan’s is an active church with a little bit of a skeleton in the closet. Each day, visitors can take a look down in the crypt at the amazingly preserved residents. What makes it so much fun? The guy taking you on the tour has a great Scooby-doo quality that just can’t be ignored.

low angle grayscale photo of empty brick stairs
Photo by Ravi Kant on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Enjoy the storytelling with no crowds then hit the pub afterwards to reflect on the surreal experience! It’s a quick stop to fit in.

Viking Boat Tour

Dublin, above all else, is a working city. With the River Liffey running through it to create north and south banks, getting out on the water may seem like a fun time. but make no mistake, the banks are not filled with charming sites or historical buildings. Instead, you get a great look at the back side of the studio space U2 use to record some music.

bridge under the blue sky
Photo by Lucian Petronel Potlog on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Pass. The WWII duck boats are unique but it’s not worth the time to make the splash.

Leprechaun Museum

There’s no doubt that Ireland is connected to the grumpy little fellows along with fairies and banshees. This lo tech stop will have the kids finding that ever important storytelling aspect of Irish culture. Make no mistake though, Americans link leprechauns to the Irish far more than the Irish do! (The same goes for green beer and 4 leaf clovers.)

green and brown floral ceramic vase
Photo by Lucian Petronel Potlog on Pexels.com
  • Verdict: Take the kids, pass with the teens, get a pint with the adults.

When all is said and done…

Dublin is a dynamic springboard to a country full of unbelievable things! Northern Ireland, The Wild Atlantic Way, and Southern Counties await you. Be sure to balance your time and not put all of your eggs in one Dublin basket. Enjoy with balance. Dublin can be enjoyed in about 3 to 4 days.

Use these apps to hear stories about all of the different public art throughout town. Try, also, the 1916 historical walking tour.

Art Trax

Storymap

Travel Lifestyle

The Tale Of Two Waterfalls: Victoria and Niagara

I was talking with my very best friend the other day and we were reminiscing about a very particular day from a few summers ago. Let me set the scene. My bestie was enjoying a little down time between Summer commitments and decided to take advantage of being close to the great Niagara Falls. She and her husband were hiking on the walkway when her phone rang.

Be sure to join us for the conversation! We are talking about this very topic on our podcast, Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World. Click here to join in the fun!

Half a world away, I expected her to pick up from home. I had no idea that she was at the Falls as I called her from Zambia. My view? The Great Victoria Falls. I was standing just to the side of Knife Point Bridge watching the Zambezi water spill over the top. Who would have ever thought that the two of us would be standing in front of the power of two of the most famous falls in the world!

waterfalls under blue sky and white clouds
Photo by Anthony Rodriguez on Pexels.com
Victoria and Niagara Falls

Niagara and Victoria

Victoria and Niagara have a lot in common. They both provide a natural boarder between two countries. Both provide immense tourism for their local areas and both leave no doubt that the power of water is an awesome natural wonder on our planet. Moreover, both create moments of inspiration for every traveler that commits to experiencing them. However, it’s here that their two paths diverge.

Way over in Livingstone….

Way back in 1855, one of the most famous first tourists happened upon a place that locals called Mosi-oa-Tunya or the smoke that thunders. He promptly renamed the massive column of water Victoria Falls after his queen. (Ahhh… colonization.) These days, The Falls continue to thunder as they stretch just over a mile across and drop about a football field. They serve as the international border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Zambia was exactly where I found myself the day of our phone call.

Victoria and Niagara Falls
The smoke that thunders from the upper falls

I was lucky enough to stay at Avani, a lovely hotel resort with free roaming animals and amazing Moroccan architecture. But, the true draw of this particular location is just steps from the entrance to the Falls. The Zambian side of the falls were easily accessible to anyone though the National Park Gate but Avani literally had a back gate entrance set up for its guests making it as convenient as possible. And P.S., it was not the most expensive hotel in the area!

Victoria and Niagara Falls

The Upper and Lower Falls

Without any other exploration except the ride from the airport (I’ll leave that amazing video below), I headed out that back gate and went right to the National Park. As soon as I was through the gate, a wonderful college intern offered to take me through the pathways and tell me the story of this wonder of the world. I live for people like this. People who have no other agenda other than to impart their knowledge to you and make your experience better.

My walk began at the upper falls. My guide, Isaac, led me down pathways and explained the scientific side of things as well as previewing the power yet to come. He reminded me that at night, there are hippos that love this particular spot and one must be careful! I will. I promise. As Isaac continued to lead the way past bubbling water that stretched as far as the eye could see, he pointed out the famous Devil’s Pool. Used by daredevils to get as close to the drop as possible. I had already made up my mind not to take that dip because of the aforementioned hippos and the fact that I can not do a back flip into water.

Victoria and Niagara Falls

Sam pointed out the visitors that were on the Zambia side had a bit more protection than the ones on the Zimbabwean side who had no safety rails or clear pathways between them and the 354 foot drop. No thank you! 

Victoria and Niagara Falls

While you could already feel the magic of the water in the air, it wasn’t until Isaac showed me the lookout over Rainbow Falls that I got my first glimpse of this massive force of energy. We continued walking around the gorge and into the pathways that become part of the micro rainforest. toward Jack Knife Bridge. This short span gives you one of the best views and ensures you feel your share of the water! It was in this very spot that I called my bestie…

Victoria and Niagara Falls

Meanwhile, in upstate New York…

If Victoria Falls had a little sister, it would be Niagara. Standing 187 feet tall and about half a mile across, Niagara Falls comes in at about half the size of its African big sister. However, don’t be mistaken, this largest drop in North America receives far more visitors. While the days of honeymooning in Niagara Falls are over, lots of fun is still waiting for every kind of traveler out there.

Just like in Africa, Niagara serves as a famous border and has very distinct sides. The Canada side tends to be a better experience while others say that the magic of Niagara lies in its old school American Falls roots. Either way, there are plenty of amazing treasures to experience while you visit. And that’s exactly where Terri was when her phone rang…

Get Ready, Get Set

Terri drove in to Niagara Falls and made a beeline for the State Park. While the surrounding town is not much to look at, Terri says that once you park and get into the actual park, things are well worth your time. With plenty of pleasant and calm walkways, the state park gives you every opportunity to enjoy the falls from pretty much every possible angle. And it’s these walkways that tend to be overlooked the most.

Victoria and niagara
The Maiden of The Mist

Armed with a waterproof bag and a poncho to head for the marquee event, The Maiden of The Mist. Unlike many other waterfalls, Niagara allows its visitors to get behind the falls and see them from quite a different perspective. In turn, making it quite the draw. But, wait! Terri told me that you don’t want to miss out on the Cave of The Winds which, again gets you up close and personal to the water.

Victoria and niagara
On the way to the Cave of the Winds

Terri and I had our laugh and spoke about what we were seeing in that exact moment. Then she continued on her way to The Cave of The Winds with a great documentary and tons of information about what makes these falls so special.

Victoria and niagara
Terri taking my phone call with complimentary waterproof gear. Spoiler alert! It doesn’t work!

Top Of The Falls…

While Niagara Falls is not a foodie mecca, but the Top of The Falls may be a great choice if for nothing but the view. Otherwise, foodies will find better choices like great polish food. Or the famous Duff’s Wings not too far away in Buffalo. And PS- Buffalo has a lot to offer! Another great area is Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown.

Victoria and niagara
The bridge which serves as the customs checkpoint to Canada

From anywhere on the American side, the Canadian side certainly beckons. And Terri agrees! Her advice is to sincerely explore both sides of the falls. Don’t miss out on the different views and experiences that each have to offer. Just remember, you need your passport!!!!

Victoria and niagara
The Fallsview area on the American Side.

Moments when you feel the magic around you and you feel connected to someone who gets it like you do are rare. Terri and I were over the moon to have a chance to connect from half a world away at two of mother nature’s masterpieces.

fashion woman notebook pen
Family Travel Hub

The World According To Zoey

Ladies, Gentlemen, fellow travelers, nothing makes me happier than introducing you to the bright minds of tomorrow. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Zoey. She’s in elementary school and a fantastic budding writer. Take a look at her very first blog post! I’ll be sharing more from Zoey in the future. I sure hope you are as inspired as I am!

fashion woman notebook pen
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

About Me:

Hi! I’m Zoey and I am going to be blogging about all sorts of fun things! You might know me from a past class, my siblings, the school newspaper (I was a reporter), or announcements. I have 4 sisters, Grace, Ava, Mya, and my baby sister, Lorali. I have 2 dogs (Wrangler and Lana), a cat (Archer), and over 25 fish (Mostly my older sister’s)! Me and my family travel a lot. We have gone to Disney world, Outer Banks, Lots of beaches in Florida, the Poconos, Myrtle Beach, and wait for it… The Bahamas! I went to Nassau, Bahamas just last summer! I hope you enjoy my blog!

It’s time to celebrate!

I’m going to tell you all about some nationally celebrated days we have going on this week. (The best ones that are not boring). Yesterday, Sunday, was National No Excuses Day. I love this because I’m full of excuses and I really need this day. My mom is always getting on my case because I will come up with excuses why I can’t help my sisters clean up. (But they do the same thing) Today is National Neighbor Day, I hope everyone waves, says hi, or maybe does something kind for them. Tuesday is  National Starbucks Day. I don’t understand why people like starbucks so much, you can make coffee at home for way cheaper.  Wednesday is  National Checklist day. I will have a blog entry about this topic coming soon!!! On Thursday it is National Homemade cookies day. We all know that Mrs. A Morris makes THE BEST cookies. I think my cookies are about halfway to how good her’s are. Friday is National Name your car day. Do you have a name for your car? We do not name our cars but if we did our expedition would be called The Old Girl because sometimes my mom says that. It’s also National Walk and Bike to school day (Note for teachers; I hope to see bikes in the parking lot!) I have also found out what month it is (Both September and October). It’s pretty crazy how every month and day have things going on but no one really knows unless they look it up. 

                      September; (There’s ALOT, but here’s what I found to be the most interesting.)

  • Baby Safety Month
  • Better Breakfast Month
  • National Chicken Month
  • National Honey Month
  • Self Improvement Month
  • World Candle Month

                          October; (There’s ALOT, but here’s what I found to be the most interesting.)

  • American Cheese Month
  • Eat better, Eat together, Month
  • National Book Month
  • National Bullying Prevention Month
  • National Caramel Month
  • National Chili Month
  • National Dessert Month
  • National Pasta Month
  • National Pickled Peppers Month
  • National Pizza Month
  • National Pretzel Month

I hope you enjoyed reading these National Days! Don’t forget to share with your family and celebrate! And there you have it. National Days and the World According to Zoey!

photo of planner and writing materials
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

For more on how great the big wide world is check out our posts like the art of the journal. We’d love for you to visit!