Traveling companion(s): Mary and Samm
Budget: Midrange ($1000-$5000)
Where did you go?
Despite our mutual love of travel, and a lifestyle that makes it easier to just get up and go (as a teacher, I have my summers off, and we don’t have any children) my husband and I had never traveled internationally together. So we decided to change that this summer, with a trip to Dublin, Ireland and the Czech Republic (Czechia).
We Chose Dublin because neither of us had ever been to Ireland before, and it was a city we could fly to directly, and relatively cheaply, from Chicago. From Dublin, we we were able to take a discount airline to mainland Europe, which was cheaper than flying there from the United States. Samm’s brother has lived in the Czech Republic for the nearly six years, which was our main reason for visiting Prague and Pilsen.
Some of the highlights of Dublin were:
Pride weekend: I must admit I was surprised that country that I had thought of as fairly Catholic and conservative embraces Pride so throughly, but everyone was out in Dublin and having a wonderful time.
Book of Kells at Trinity College’s Long Room: Want to step into Hogwarts? Then go to Trinity College and visit one of the world’s most breathtaking libraries.
Guinness Storehouse: Okay, so this is a straight up tourist trap, but it is totally worth to have a pint at the top of the world!
The Mucha Museum: This small museum is worth a quick visit if you love Art Nouveau.
Kampa Park Restaurant: An excellent fine dining restaurant with a remarkable view, and affordable by Chicago standards!
Letna Park: This a public park, virtually unknown by tourists, with a gorgeous view of Prague. Go at sunset!
Pilsner Urquell Brewery: It should come as no surprise that Pilsen is the home of the pilsner. Pilsner Urquell Brewery has surprisingly good food, and of course, beer!
Francis Brewhemian Beer Cafe: For when you get sick of pilsners and want a really good IPA.
What would you have done differently?
Airfare was a major expense, and I’m sure if I had been a little more savvy, we could have found an even better deal. Also, make sure you know what you are getting into when using regional airlines within Europe. We ran into some issues, which ended up costing us more money while flying from Dublin to Prague because I hadn’t thought to print out my boarding pass ahead of time!
What’s your best travel advice for other offbeat travelers?
Dublin is a very walkable city, with most of the attractions only a 10-30 minute stroll away. If you are able, I would highly recommend walking to save on the cost of taxis and tour buses.
I’m a pescatarian, and while I love fish and chips, I was elated when a couple friends recommended Cornucopia, and excellent vegetarian restaurant in Dublin. As for vegetarian eats in Prague, when you get tired of fried cheese (like that would ever happen) I highly recommend Radost FX. Don’t let the odd decor and nightclub vibe fool you, this place has great vegetarian food!
In Prague, consider staying in Zizkov rather than Old Town if you are traveling on a budget. We stayed at the Hotel Carlton in Zizkov and our room was amazing! You get so much more for your money when you stay just outside the touristy area, and it’s just a quick tram or bus ride to all the attractions.