When we were in Belize and got posted to London, all I could think of was the cheap European travel that would be at our fingertips! Paris is a quick train ride away. Ryan Air is dirt cheap and flies all over. Alas, that’s not quite how things have turned out.

Maybe when I was 20 and staying in youth hostels it was cheap. But now that we’re a family of three, I want a decent-sized hotel room in a safe neighborhood…preferably with a separate space for our son to sleep so we don’t keep him up at night. And I found out that Ryan Air is certainly cheap…but you have to fly at 4am out of crazy local airports like Luton and Stansted that are nowhere near London…not like Heathrow and Gatwick are really that close either. But still!

So in the full year that we’ve been in London, we’ve only taken three trips outside England…Russia for my birthday, Amsterdam for Easter, and Orkney for my hubby’s b-day. I know, I know…I’m sensing you’re not feeling my pain. 😉

But hopefully you can still imagine my delight when my hubby had to pop over to Dublin for a few days for work last week, and we actually had enough notice to be able to take a few days off and join him. AND Ryan Air happened to have a great rate from Gatwick to Dublin at the very reasonable time of 12:30 in the afternoon. So we managed to get a free hotel room and two roundtrip tickets for me and my son for a grand total of $184 USD. Now THAT’S the cheap European travel I was looking for!

Of course we had to pay extra if we wanted to have checked luggage or reserve seats together on the plane, so we went carry-on only…and found out that Ryan Air actually has window seats on an airplane with NO windows. I feel like that should then not be identified as a window seat…but I digress.

Unfortunately, my husband did have to work for the majority of our trip. But we had two lovely days of mommy-son bonding and were able to take in the Book of Kells and the Brian Boru harp at Trinity College Library as well as St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We also happened to be at the cathedral when they’d set up a craft table for a school group that was coming later, and they let my son quietly play with glue and cellophane while I snapped a few photos of the amazing thousand-year-old Gothic interior (founded in 1191). Although I missed the tomb of Jonathan Swift. Will have to keep an eye out for that next time.

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I have finally learned that if my son’s not happy, I’m not happy. So I also planned some fun things for him. And we spent some lovely leisure time in the playground at Stephen’s Green, fed the ducks in the pond behind our hotel, and wandered aimlessly through the interactive Dublinia Viking and medieval Dublin history museum, which I highly recommend to anyone with children. It also has a bridge over the road that leads to the ground floor of Christ Church Cathedral.

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Saturday was a bit more of a challenge. We had thought of doing the Viking Splash tour (their version of a duck tour in an amphibious vehicle through town and across the River Liffey), but my hubby got pulled into work in the morning. And then we had to switch hotels as we’d only been able to reserve three of the four nights in one place.

So we didn’t make the Viking Splash tour. But we did manage to make it  to lunch at the oldest pub in Dublin, The Brazen Head (1198). Unfortuantely our son stuck his finger in the candle on the table and burned it, so it was pretty much downhill from there.

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The new hotel was awesome though. It was the Clontarf Castle Hotel, which was an actual castle built in the 1500s and beautifully renovated. It also happened to be where Embassy Dublin was holding their Marine Ball. So my hubby was able to procure us two tickets before we left London, and a fellow embassy employee hooked us up with one of their babysitters who came out to the hotel so we could pop downstairs and attend their ball.

I was a little worn out and definitely not as wired as I had been for the one in London. But it was really neat to actually be able to see the ceremony this time. There were probably half the people in attendance as there were in London, so we even got pieces of the birthday cake! And mine happened to have the word “Marine” across it. I thought that was pretty cool and was a great way to end our trip to Dublin.

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