Mar 29, 2011

Virtual Resources for a Real(ly Good) Visit to Dublin

I do everything online: I shop online, I talk online, I watch TV online, I work online, I order food online. If I could, I'd eat, bathe, and change the toilet roll online, too. I like to sleep offline, but just because I worry that mid-night flatulence and chatter would go viral.

I'm currently caught up with summer vacation planning/dreaming online, which can be a challenge. For one thing, it's hard to know who to trust. My I-trust-people-with-beards policy, which works amazingly well in Starbucks and when I need to find a toilet in a museum, is useless to me online. So is my I-trust-pregnant-people policy. It seems my gut is just not wired to be wireless. Plus, having worked in publishing/with companies trying to grow readership or sell books for more than a decade, I know how companies plant reviews, pay to be featured, and bribe each other with delicious white chocolate, so it makes me a little bit of a salt-pinching-Doubting-Thomas when I'm researching online. Hmmn ... makes me think there's a niche online for a traveling bearded pregnant lady who doesn't eat white chocolate; if you know one, can you tell her I am looking to spend my summer somewhere sexy, rich, and cheap, with fat locals so I can feel skinny.

Anyway, as I was bookmarking villas, yachts, and white summer dresses this morning, I was reminded to share a few sites I had bookmarked for my recent visit to Dublin. I haven't included any of the obvious travel sites where you can read a hundred inconsistent hotel reviews/become even more paranoid about bedbugs, and I'm also not including tourism sites, weather forecasters, or news outlets—you've got them covered. These are just a few handy, new, or less-traveled virtual resources to help you get a real grip on your visit to Dublin.

Eat Magazine

Eat Magazine is Dublin’s brand new free publication for people interested in food and drink, restaurants, and the culinary scene in Ireland. You can find the digital version of issue 1 (which includes including a 24 page guide to the best restaurants in Dublin) here. Upcoming issues will cover Dublin cookery schools, Dublin pubs, and a guide to Ireland's food producers. This is a handy resource if you care about eating at hot spots; I mostly just want my food hot.

City of a Thousand Welcomes

LOVE the idea of City of a Thousand Welcomes—a new  project that matches real Dubliners (known as ambassadors) with real like-minded tourists to give them some real insight on the city they’re visiting, packaged with one of the thousand welcomes that the Irish are so famous for, and a free pint or cup of tea! "The short-term goal is to give visitors a really positive first impression of Dublin. The long-term goal is to bolster the city’s reputation as a place where ‘great hospitality’ is more than just a slogan." CTW will be open for bookings in early June; join their mailing list if you're planning a visit, or sign up to be an ambassador if you live in Dublin. Excellent way to meet locals/new people.

Spotted By Locals

I came across Spotted By Locals—a series of blogs, PDF city guides, and iPhone apps with up-to-date tips by local bloggers in 33 cities in Europe—after my recent visit to Dublin, but I like the idea, and I'm eager to put their recommendations to the test next time. The food and bar recommendations are not great overall (suited more to locals than visitors wanting to feel like a local—there is a difference!), but the walks, museum reviews, and store reviews are helpful. Think they could take it a step further and allow you to sort reviews to suit your travel profile (i.e., single/couple/with kids).
A few things I've flagged for testing next time: The Writers Museum; The Hole in the Wall Pub; Hugh Lane Municipal GalleryKilliney Beach; Irish Museum of Modern Art; Royal Canal Walk from City; and Bray Head.

Virtual Visit Dublin

I like to fantasize and romanticize upcoming vacations, and the truth is there's only so much room for reality in the planning stages. I get how handy it is to see what your hotel room looks like before you splurge but I'm actually quite low-maintenance and a little old school in wanting to be surprised by my destination. Too much information is too much information. Still, VirtualVisit-Dublin—"A virtual prelude to the real experience that awaits you"—is too good a resource to ignore. I wouldn't use it but I'm sharing in case you have a very quick turnaround in Dublin and you want to vet some attractions, bars, or hotels before you go to save time. It's not yet a comprehensive database of everything to see and do in Dublin but there are plans to grow it to include "150+ full-screen high-resolution panoramas showing some popular and less well-known visitor locations in Dublin ... including visitor attractions, hotels, shops, bars and restaurants." (Also very handy if you just want to visit Dublin virtually.)

Dublin Event Guide

This is a free weekly no-frills newsletter and guide to free things to do in Dublin. It includes Joerg's Picks—the writer's personal picks for his week, as well as leads to live music, readings, talks, flea markets, exhibitions, workshops, sporting events, and more, all organized by day of the week. It could do with a little design help but it feels insidery and honest.
Visit or send an email to to subscribe. Follow Dublin Event Guide on Facebook.

Totally Dublin

This is a more-frills guide to what's happening in Dublin, complete with reviews, previews, and event/culture/comedy/nightlife/film/music/exhibition listings. The blog includes reviews, new shop alerts, and interviews. Great resource.

Dublin Blogs
Finally, blogs are an excellent way to get acquainted with your destination before you, well, get acquainted with your destination; they also help with trip anticipation—a key part of every vacation. If you focus on blogs that suit your interest—be it bird-watching, shopping, live music, food, or bar-hopping—you'll get lots of handy insights and hopefully a heads up on events that suit you. It will take a little blog-hopping to find the right reads for you, but it's a shortcut to your interests once you land in your destination. For instance, I occasionally check into Stephen Moloney's Stitches/Fabric/and Soul to get a glimpse of Dublin street style/get motivated to match my socks once in a while, and I found his list of favorite—and not so favorite—vintage haunts around Dublin very handy when figuring where to spend my five minutes/shillings while visiting. Also, if I'd had the liberty to be out past ten at night, I'd have referenced Nialler9's Gig Guide to catch some live music.
Get started by checking out the winners of this year's Irish Blog Awards.

(herself on the Ha'penny Bridge a few weeks ago)


josie said...

thanks for these!! i am going to dublin for the first time this summer (the irishman's bff is getting married) and will read all of these to plan! plan! plan!

hope you are having a great day/week!

Jacinta said...

Ooh lucky you Josie! You prob have friends/family to stay with but FYI we stayed at the Westbury (right off Grafton st and btwn Stephen's Green and Trinity) and I LOVED it. Not the cheapest option but so nice and great location and so much nicer than any hotel I've stayed in at home (haha I sound like a snobby New Yorker but I just happen to know what you get for equivalent price in NY so it kills me when a hotel costs a few hundred bucks a night and smells damp and feels cold!)
Anyway, already praying to weather gods for you!


Do you have fun mirrors at home? OK, I know I have not met you, but you look perfectly slim in all your pics :)
White summer dresses?! I do that every spring - dream of floating on a beach in one. Then I take a city holiday because, truly, I prefer cities.
NY and LA in a few weeks - woot! (The latter for a reading, granted, but still hoping to see a little of it!)

Jacinta said...

Photoshop! Actually, I wish I had Photoshop—instead I have a delete button on my camera! In all truth I'm only joking when I make fat jokes; like most women, I have ten pounds I'd happily donate, but it would have to be physically removed from me as I've no interest in doing anything physical to remove it myself! Totally with you on city vacations. I'm thinking Barcelona (actually, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"—I'm Penelope Cruz in case you didn't already assume that) because I can wear my wardrobe of white dresses and walk on beach as well as beautiful streets. Sooner sit outside a cafe than on a beach really, but I'll have the two boys with me so I need options.
Wish you were doing a reading in NY!

oaxacaborn said...

this is fantastic! love it. i'm dreaming of a trip to ireland and scotland, and have marked this post away for future reference. faithful reader of your blog also, btw =)


Barcelona. What a magical place. I really love it. I went with a friend - dying to go back with my husband. I hope you get to go.

I'm with you on the ten pounds. Though for me it's more like 14 pounds. But fat-burning exercise is such a bore :)

NY is pure holiday. I didn't even look for a reading. Some other time though, for sure.

Jacinta said...

Oaxacaborn, Thanks so much for reading and so glad to hear this may come in handy some day (hopefully soon!) for you. Skipping over to your blog now, and already envious that you are Oaxaca-born! xj

Jacinta said...

You Rule Writer: i spent a summer south of Barcelona (working in a resort town) when I was 17 and I am now horrified that I didnt take advantage of my location; i was too busy dancing all night and sleeping all day (kind of same regrets w college!) I wldnt change that summer as it was but I am eager to experience Spain beyond the bars and beach!

Brian Whelan said...

Sorry we missed you coming to Dublin.
Brian (Dublin Visitors -

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