Friday, 24 November 2017

Things you can do/see/eat/enjoy along the DART line (part I)

Hello again!

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time now....

I would like to tell you about some of the fantastic things that can be done, seen, eaten... and more! along the DART line because, believe me: you do NOT need a car to enjoy a SPECTACULAR DAY OUT - DART offers you so many things you'll be amazed!

First thing: the tickets - you can get a 1 Day Family Ticket for 2 adults and up to 4 kids for just 20 EUR* and start the fun...

Now, the itinerary:

I took the picture from the Irish Rail site and then cropped it so you could see the the DART line (the green one) a little bit clearer... please visit the site if you want to see the full picture.

As it is a very long line, full of attractions and fun things to do and see, I'm going to write several posts covering different parts of the line, so you do not get overwhelmed with information in one single post.

First we'll go SOUTHWARDS

and let's start with CONNOLLY STATION: this is the station to choose if you want to explore the city center.

Just go out of the building - which is beautiful, by the way - and take Talbot Street all the way to the Spire.

From then on, it is basically up to you and your budget as Talbot Street becomes Henry Street, one of the busiest shopping areas in the city, where you'll find all kind of stores, cafés, restaurants.... suitable to all shopping tastes. I will not mention any of them as the choice is so great, I am sure you'll find exactly what you like.

If you have decided to stay within a low budget, you can very well dig into Ireland's exciting history by taking the kids to visit the General Post Office (GPO), right beside the Spire.

This building was a key element in the Easter Rising and there is an exhibition inside that explains it in much more detail.


Back to the DART, our next station southwards is TARA STREET, and it is also worth a stop:

TARA STREET DART station is located by the Liffey river... nothing very special you would initially think, but just go round the corner and you will see a piece of street art that is worth checking: this giant squirrel made with street junk by Portuguese artist Artur Bordalo.

It is impressive!

Kids love to get close and find out what materials the artist used to do the squirrel, but if you see it from a distance, you'll be amazed....

They filmed themselves the other day trying to identify individual objects that together make this spectacular squirrel (I apologise in advance for the quality of the video, but they did it all....)

I had not heard of Artur Bordalo until he came to Dublin in April, but you can check his work here. Isn't it fantastic?

There is another place you may like to check here: the Custom House, at the other side of the river. Hard to miss, because the building is impressive! You can of course pay a visit to their Visitor Centre and learn the importance of the building over the last century.

And last but not least, also at the other side of the river, very close to Customs House, you'll be able to admire the Famine Memorial and the World Poverty Stone: both full of meaning and worth the visit.

The Famine Memorial is a popular stop for tourists, The statues are so realistic and heartbreaking that it is difficult not to stop every time you pass by, even if you've seen them more than once. They do take you back to the Famine years, to the pain, the hunger, the fear...

The World Poverty Stone is not so popular but it is as well full of meaning: it was unveiled 17 October 2008 - you may know that 17 October is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The Stone has the following engraving: "Whenever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty". These same words have been used in some other commemorative stones around the world with the same purpose.

Both Famine Memorial and the World Poverty Stone are obviously connected and they are very close to each other (a few metres apart). Reading the words on the stone while looking at the Famine Memorial has a very powerful effect. Do not miss them before going back to the DART.

On your way back to TARA STREET station, maybe you would like to have a cup of coffee? Let me tell you that you are just where you need to be: literally opposite the squirrel, you'll see the Shoe Lane café: a perfect spot for coffee lovers, even more perfect for those who - like me- like to try non-dairy milk with their coffee from time to time: they offer five different non-dairy milks!

Actually the café is really nice, warm and welcoming and their pastries are fantastic, so here's an idea: you could make it a first family stop to get some energy in preparation for what's coming along the DART line ;-)


Next station on the line: PEARSE STATION. A must-stop... for different reasons:

a) Donuts in the station building... just before you reach the street, there is an Off-Beat Donut store that is completely recommendable, specially if you talk to my kids, who are madly in love with the place! (Dad and I also like it ;-) )

b) Science Gallery, right opposite the main entrance of the station building. Highly interesting space where there is always an exhibition that is worth visiting.

Been there a few times and in some occasions the kids would ask us to stay "just a bit longer, mum... this is cool!", and those are the magic words for parents. There is a café inside and also a little shop, where we buy many of the birthday presents for the birthday parties that the kids are invited to.

c) Only a stroll away from the station, Trinity College is a must to visit, full of historic charm and so many things to see that you could spend a whole morning wandering around! By the way, you can access through the same entrance as the Science Gallery.

Along your stroll through campus, don't miss the Book of Kells, the Trinity College famous library (jaw-dropping!) and basically every corner of the place that has that capacity of taking you back in time just by setting your foot in it, so packed with history and knowledge. So nice! I never get tired of this part of the city


Next station southwards is GRAND CANAL DOCK STATION: located beside Google's European Headquarters (four impressive buildings, three of which are connected by a bridge). If you are lucky enough to know a Google employee (a "googler"), ask him/her to show you inside... interesting experience.

Besides this "techie" stop, you could also visit Grand Canal Square, just a stroll away from the station. Nice atmosphere and lovely view on a sunny day.

You could also grab a coffee (Il Valentino, in one of the corners of the square is a perfect spot)

Or have a full meal in one of the restaurants around: Milanos, Herb Street, HQ, the restaurant at the Marker hotel.... the choice is great. 


Next stop is LANSDOWNE ROAD STATION, and if you are a sports lover, I will not need to say anything else for you to know what you can expect here:

of course - the Aviva Stadium, traditionally called Lansdowne Road Stadium, where both the Ireland rugby and soccer teams play their home matches. It is possible to take a tour of the Stadium - there are tours everyday, except when there is a match so don't miss the opportunity to see a landmark of international sport and learn about its history.

Besides, the stadium is beautiful from whatever angle you look at it at any given time of the day!


Next station is one of my favourites: SANDYMOUNT STATION: Sandymount village is definitely worth a visit. Lovely coastal village with a fabulous strand, perfect to go for a breezy walk and enjoy the views and also a bunch of lovely cafés and restaurants to go for  a meal if the walk along the strand has left a hole in your stomachs.

There are also many other shops that I am sure you will like, most of them around the locally popular Sandymount Green.


Back on the DART line we arrive at SYDNEY PARADE STATION, in the heart of Dublin's Embassy-land and mansion-land ;-). Nice area to go for a walk and decide what type of mansion you would buy if you won the lottery!

Also Sydney Parade station is very close to Sandymount strand, if you just want to go for a walk and enjoy the sea breeze, this would be your stop.


Next stop, BOOTERSTOWN STATION  is full of surprises, even if you could initially think it is not interesting... I will tell you all about it in Part II of this "along-the-DART-line" series

* Price valid when this post was written November 2017

1 comment: