Tag Archives: Grafton Street

Dublin with Kids: What to do on your first interminable day

You’ve just landed in Dublin with two kids after a restless overseas flight on which no one got more than a couple hours of sleep. Bleary-eyed, you catch your Airlink bus into the City Centre, drop your bags at your hotel, and have several hours to kill before you can get into your room. You know you should heed travelers’ advice to stay awake to adjust to the new timezone but nightfall seems so far away. What’s the first thing to do? Find a restaurant that serves all-day breakfast and fuel up. Don’t be deterred by the fact that the place is named for a dish native to Italy, La Pizza serves eggs and beans at any hour! Plus, french fries. Nothing says “vacation” to the little ones like eating fries at 11 am.

Sufficiently sated, you’re still too early to check in so it’s time to wander around the new city. Armed with only the free tourist map from the hotel lobby, because you forgot to pack your daypack for this first adventure, you head for the River Liffey. It looks like all the good stuff is on the other side so you cross and wander in the direction of Trinity College Dublin, home of world class academics and the Book of Kells. Despite having read the children’s book and seen the movie countless times, the kids are not interested in seeing the actual book. Perhaps it’s because you make the mistake of calling its home a “museum.” Or perhaps it’s because waiting in a long line in the hot sun (yes, there are such days in Ireland) to see an old book just isn’t that exciting when you’re 6 or 4. Especially not compared to a huge metallic globe sculpture that spins around.

Arnaldo Pomodoro's Sphere Within Sphere sculpture outside the Berkeley Library

The Big Globe at Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

Reflections in the Big Globe

This provides a much-longer-than-expected interlude but when the moment is over, it’s over. And when the off-limits grassy quad of TCD tempts the little ones, it’s time to find a proper park. And that is how you end up in St. Stephen’s Green.

The Green is perfect for children because of the duck ponds, flower beds and wide open spaces for frolicking. And then you discover the large playground. You marvel at how quickly little children can make new friends and with what gusto they throw themselves into play. Running, climbing, kicking a soccer ball, experiencing the joy of movement after the confines of an airplane. Jet lag means nothing when it’s time to play! (For them. You’re really feeling it.) The only downside seems to be the lack of water fountains or restrooms. Bring your own drink and be prepared to walk a ways to download it later.

Pond in St. Stephens Green

Pond in St. Stephens Green

Cooling off at St. Stephen's Green

Cooling off at St. Stephen’s Green

Playground at St. Stephens Green

Playground at St. Stephens Green

Cajole your kids into leaving the park with the promise of a snack. Stroll back along touristy Grafton St and stop at a little shop for gelato (more Italian food) and some liquid caffeine for yourself. Take these into the nearby Burger King and studiously avoid acknowledging the signs that say toilets are for patrons only.

At long last, check into your surprisingly spacious Best Western Academy Plaza L-shaped room with one double bed and two singles and smile as the girls squeal over the leopard print sitting chairs. Squeal over the free wifi. Play a few games of Sleeping Queens, play on the iPad for a bit then head off to dinner. Walk all over North Dublin in search of something acceptable to eat, then end up right across the street from your hotel at Toddy’s, the restaurant of the hotel Gresham. Practice patience and compassion as your kids transform before your very eyes into whiny, needy monsters. Be grateful they wake up long enough to nibble a few bites of dinner. Stumble back to the BWAP (they love it when people call it that) and congratulate yourselves on having survived the first day!

You know what to do now.