Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What I Wore, What I Packed, and What I Bought in Dublin

Packing for unpredictable weather is always tricky... And since it's been snowing CATASTROPHICALLY in Ireland, off and on for the last few weeks, this trip was really a challenge!

But I managed to cobble things together well enough - hallelujah! Of course, knowing that I would have my coat on most of the time makes things much easier.

2 things were really issues, the expected cold weather, and the unexpected moving out of the AirBNB into a hotel. I packed relatively lightly (for 10 days) because we were counting on doing laundry pretty regularly during our stay. Belovedest ran TWO Parkrun 5K's when we were there, so there were gym clothes in need of care...

So, theoretically, I would have been okay with just the clothes on my back when we arrived... I would have had to do some serious hand-washing, and my feet would have eventually grown SICK of the boots, but otherwise I could manage. If I can manage, then everything else is just a bonus, right?

travel outfit to Dublin Ireland March 2018
parka - Lands' End; earrings - Kendra Scott (similar here); sweater - L.L.Bean; scarf - Julie Egli; shirt - Lands' End (this print is unavailable, but other are here); corduroy pants - J.Jill; suitcase - Tumi; backpack - Standard; boots - Blondo

I tried to be really strategic about how I dressed for the flight - waterproof boots, because there had been snow in Ireland. Comfortable, but not sloppy, corduroy pants. A neat shirt that doesn't wrinkle easily, and a cotton sweater because I stay warm pretty easily. A parka, because we were going to want our parkas with us for the rugby match. A snazzy as heck scarf to make it all look better than the sum of the parts, and a pair of earrings that I wore EVERY DAY...

The Standard backpack was a gift from the team at Standard - full disclosure. But I've got to admit that I would love it anyway, and be likely to buy it. It's very... neat... with a sleek profile, and good solid structure. We actually CHECKED IT THROUGH because of the strict limits on Aer Lingus baggage, and it emerged from the Purgatory of the baggage hold looking brand-new...

I've GOT to give a big shout-out to the people at the Schoolhouse Hotel. If you've got no other idea about where you want to stay in Dublin, stay here, because I'm telling you to! The staff was outrageously nice to us...

We got to Dublin REALLY early - sort of the pre-dawn darkness... We took the Air Link bus into the city, and were dropped outside of the Schoolhouse, which was just a couple of blocks from our AirBNB. Of course we couldn't get into the apartment this early, so we went into the hotel for (a delicious) breakfast. Everybody was lovely, and we lingered in front of the fireplace...

The fireplace in the dining room at The School House Hotel Dublin Ireland

But the clincher was when we were leaving. We were going to take our bags over to the National Gallery, check them, and spend the morning there...

Siobhan, our server, RAN OUT OF THE HOTEL AFTER US, and told us to bring our bags back and leave them there. We assured her that we weren't actually going to be staying there, and she frankly assured us that it didn't matter... The entire staff that we met, both when we left our bags and when we picked them up, were only interested in helping us. It was a touching and wonderful first hour in Dublin...


This is what I packed, with one "phantom" item that wasn't actually in my suitcase on the way over, but was purchased the 2nd day we were in Dublin! I knew that I wanted to get a dark (as close to black as possible - Aran sweaters don't usually come in pitch black) cardigan with a zipped front and the most classic style possible. I bought a man's sweater (size small), because the ones for women were too... decorated. Lots of diagonal buttons and draped collars and stuff that didn't fit my requirement for timelessness!

Ireland March 2018 travel capsule wardrobe
cardigan - Aran Sweater Market; black & white turtleneck - Muji (similar here); down vest - Uniqlo; wool shirt - IceBreaker (similar here); gingham shirt - Lands' End (unavailable print, but others here); grey & white striped turtleneck - Lands' End; plaid nightshirt - Lands' End; white ruffled shirt - Lands' End; jeans - Dearborn Denim; athletic pants - Lands' End; athletic shoes - New Balance; flats - Arche; velvet pants - Uniqlo (similar here)

When we arrived I had a really clear vision of my cardigan purchase, and much less clear or insistent ideas of anything else that I might buy; I was pretty open-minded that if something had "whappage" I would make my move, but that otherwise, I would refrain...

Charcoal Aran cardigan, antique marcasite & sterling ring, black tweed scarf
cardigan - Aran Sweater Market; ring - Rhinestones; scarf - Stable

I love to stop into a little store called Rhinestones - it's in the rabbit-warren of little streets west of Grafton Street where there are lots of stores... (18 Saint Andrew's Street, Dublin 2) (they have no website...)

Yes, there are numbers after Dublin addresses - they're as close as Ireland gets to zip codes! The even-numbered areas are south of the Liffey, and the odd-numbered are north. I used to live in Dublin 1, which was just too cool...

If you're looking for beautiful knitwear and scarves, head into the enclosed mall beside the Westbury Hotel, also really close to Grafton Street. There are 3 stores there that I particularly love (so far):

  1. my scarf came from Stable, which is tiny, but has some of the most beautiful, authentically Irish scarves available;
  2. A cashmere shop called Madigan, which is SO TINY, but where the lovely ladies will make any design that they carry in any color that they carry (a staggering possibility!), and also
  3. Stonechat, where the jewelry is made right there in front of you.

There are other shops in this little mall that will interest - including one that carries gloves in every color you can ask for!

Also, if you've got a penchant for antique jewelry, Dublin is a feast of choices. The area west of Grafton Street - particularly Powercourt Mall - teems with antique jewelers. Have a clear idea of what you want and what you're willing to spend, or you could find yourself overwhelmed!

One last thing to share - we spent a night in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We were driving up into the area to do some family research for Belovedest, and chose to spend the night rather than drive up and back in 1 day. (although that would be pretty simple - it's a 90 minute trip...)

We stayed at the outrageously gorgeous 10 Square Hotel... the common areas downstairs give you NO SENSE of how lovely your room will be...

a bed at the 10 Square Hotel Belfast Northern Ireland
our bed...

Before dinner, we took a LONG walk, and then settled in for a cocktail at the Merchant Hotel. It might be the most expensive cocktail you ever purchase, but it will very possibly be the best cocktail you've ever had! And it's worth it just to experience the hotel and bar environment... it's quite posh, with some quirky art on the walls, too!

After this serious alcohol moment, we walked a bit more and had dinner at Hadskis, which is in a little courtyard just south of the Cathedral. It was delicious, and I've never been in a happier dining room - laughter was everywhere. I don't remember what I ate, but we had GIGANTIC Aperol spritz cocktails that were delicious. Maybe that's why everybody was so happy?

All in all, if you're considering going to Ireland for a vacation, I will scream YES YES YES at you. Unless you simply can't tolerate a bit of cool and rain, you're going to have a good time, and meet some of the loveliest people on the planet....


What I Wore, What I Packed, and What I Bought in Dublin
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  1. In winter, I like to have a pair of thin leggings--the kind that are just a degree thicker than tights. Or really thick tights. The extra layer really helps keep you warm, worn under pants, especially if you have to be outside without moving around (like watching a match).
    What happened with your AirBnB? We are AirBnB owners (among the few legal ones in our town; hoping the city cracks down soon), and I am always curious about other people's experiences, both good and bad.

    1. I did have leggings with me - under my sport pants they were really handy to have at the rugby match. It wasn't terribly cold, but we were outdoors for a LONG TIME...

      The AirBNB - the resident in the apartment upstairs from ours had some sort of a leak around their shower, of which they were unaware. Every time they would shower, water would leak around the base somehow and seep down into the space between their apartment floor and our apartment ceiling. Eventually, the water began to leak through at the weakest point - i.e. the hole where the light fixture was recessed. It was quite exciting... I don't know what all was involved in getting things repaired, but I know that it was 3 days later that the owner told us that we could return. At that point, we were so settled into the Hilton that we just agreed to split the fees for the apartment 50/50.

      Long story short - your neighbors can damage your apartment without even knowing it!


  2. Ireland and N.I. are very near the top of my list of places to visit next. And being from Scotland originally a little wind and rain doesn't bother me - and I know to be prepared for all eventualities! :-)
    Your sweater, scarf & ring are just lovely.
    We used to have "The Irish Shop" here in Toronto which sold some lovely and high end clothing and jewellery and many of us still mourn it's closing.
    Irish friends have warned me about the strict baggage rules on Aer Lingus (and other European carriers) but it must come as a bit of a shock to some travellers. Still - I wish that more airlines would follow their lead.
    Lots of great tips for hotels, restaurants and shops - so thank you!

  3. We spent 2 weeks in Ireland 2 summers ago (mid-June) & had record-breaking heat! I would also highly, highly recommend the Brooks Hotel in Dublin. The most amazing breakfast, perfect tea, lovely service, and great rooms.

  4. How timely and interesting as we will be going to Ireland and Scotland for 2+ weeks in May. I hate to be cold and plan to take items very similar to what you took and doing lots of layering. I was conflicted about whether or not to take my parka (almost identical to yours) or my lightweight raincoat. I think I will stick with the raincoat so I'll have room for purchases. Thank you for this information!

  5. Loved this article, Janice! Thank you for sharing all of the info. One question about the Aran sweater you bought - I followed the link & noticed the price. For that amount, the sweater is not handknit, is it?

  6. After your experience at the Schoolhouse Hotel I was surprised to read you stayed elsewhere during your AirBnB travail. Were they booked? Or were you just ready for something more predictable?

  7. Loved this post Janice---but what I really loved was the photo of you hotel room with colors and patterns I love: Blue, Gray, Black and White and Polka Dots!---you could do a who post on that Photo! ;-)

  8. So glad you had such an enjoyable time in Dublin. I've only been once but I loved it.

  9. Many thanks! This will help me refine my packing plan. I leave for my first trip to Dublin in two and a half weeks!

  10. Did you get a chance to stop for tea at Bewley's while you were shopping on Grafton Street. I understand they recently re-opened after a long hiatus. I've been to Ireland twice and I'm planning a return visit now that I've located the area near Grange in County Sligo where my great, great grandparents lived.

  11. maybe that Aperol spritz cocktail had something to do with your not remembering what you had for dinner, lol! And for travel clothes, I also go for comfortable and versatile, and I always have a spare shirt and extra pair of comfy shoes (and clean smalls) in my carry on bag. Also, we have been in a situation where a museum (The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC) refused to check suitcase/luggage, so it's good that you went with the hotel's offer. My husband still holds it against the Met... - nancyo

  12. I really loved was the photo of you hotel room with colors and patterns I love: Blue, Gray, Black and White and Polka Dots!you could do a who post on that Photo!

  13. I am heading to Dublin this May for my brother’s wedding. Dublin is top ten in my travel destinations. The Old Schoolhouse Hotel is the best place to stay. Will be staying there again in May. I use you 4 x 4 system all the time. I don’t like to travel with alot of luggage and blue and grey are my core colour - jeans and a thing that will go with my jean. Thank you for you posts over the years.