Flying long haul really is a bizarre experience. Even though we were blessed with the luxury and room of business class (THIS time), we were still in a flying metal tube that was a gigantic vortex of time. All you can do to cope with the disconcerting nature of the whole thing is watch movies, sleep when you are tired and eat when you are hungry (even if it’s not meal time, cause you can do that in business class – who knew?!), and forget all about what time it was where. Etihad worked for us. Excellent service, very good food and top choices in wine. Flat beds were comfy, duvets soft, and pillows were just right. Really liked the free 15-minute massage at the lounge at Abu Dhabi – just enough time to ease out (or pound out!) some cricks. Brilliant idea. The fast track through immigration at Sydney was a nice touch, too (pretty sure these passes are given to all business and first class passengers from all airlines). I guess the real test of an airline, though, is the experience it provides its economy passengers, so that test for Etihad will just have to wait until next time!
We landed at 2pm, and had an incredibly smooth transition through to arrivals. No sniffer dogs, average time on luggage pick up and for once the ‘non-EU’ passport line was the shortest at immigration (with no declaration cards to be filled in). Our driver (courtesy of Etihad) was waiting at ‘arrivals’ holding our little sign and he whisked us to our hotel with lots of friendly chat and information.
Our hotel is slightly out of the centre of town, which is quite a blessing in terms of providing a restful night’s sleep. We are removed from the pubcrawl and buck’s night parties kicking up their heels in that lovely raucous manner we are all so familiar with! And we are also only 2 or 3 DART stops from the centre of town – really a lovely 15 minute walk into Dublin through the gorgeous Georgian streets – and the blooms of the magnolia trees as we are thrust into spring are so very pretty! The Sandymount Hotel is a family owned establishment, and the service is excellent! We have an executive room which is located away from the lifts and traffic areas – slept exceptionally well, especially considering we went to bed at the time that we would normally be getting up! The manner of all staff members is smooth, friendly and personal. Could not fault it in any way. Go to Sandymount Hotel
After checking in on our first afternoon, we decided to stroll into the centre of Dublin to explore. Only got as far as 10 metres from the DART station and the heavens opened – went with the train option instead! We then just wandered around near the Liffey, Temple Bar and Grafton St before deciding it was time to eat again (after all, it had been about 8 hours since our last nourishment – cheese plate and French Bordeaux on the plane).
We headed to ‘Il Primo’ – a truly delightful Italian restaurant in Montague St, Dublin 2. We were there during the ‘early bird’ time and had the owner/chef (Anita) and head waiter (Tommy) all to ourselves. We sat downstairs (street entrance level with only 4 tables) – lovely and intimate, but also a perfect perch to view the pedestrian traffic in the narrow cobbled street outside. We enjoyed a Cantina San Martino Prosecco as we deliberated over the menu and settled on a lovely combination of starter size portions (we had been eating pretty much constantly for 24 hours, and weren’t wanting to put all of the holiday kilos on in the first day!). As is our wont, we shared three fantastic dishes: a goat’s cheese pizzette with red onion jam and toasted walnuts; char-grilled asparagus with pecorino and mixed leaves; and a crab, lemon and leek lasagne (bit of a house specialty – we’ve not had anything quite like it before – sooooo delicious!). Tommy suggested a very light, citrusy Garganega and Trebbiano blend from Ponte Pietra, Veneto – the perfect accompaniment to the lasagne.
As we were early eaters on a Tuesday night, we were alone in the little downstairs area, and our hosts were delightful company – offering advice about their city and beyond, and excellent chat and banter about numerous topics. It was obvious as we were leaving that ‘Il Primo’ is a popular spot, with couples starting to arrive shaking off the rain and the cold from outside, chatting happily with Tommy as they were shown to their seat (and hopefully a glass of the light prosecco). Go to Il Primo
We ventured out into the drizzle again and walked back towards the Liffey to join our friends visiting from Germany, who were waiting for us at Maguires pub/brewery near O’Connell Bridge. We enjoyed a tasting tray of Maguires own brew and a cheese plate while catching up with our mates who we haven’t seen since our 4 months world trip in 2004 (far too long between drinks!). We then headed home to a brandy in the hotel bar before falling into bed and sleeping pretty much uninterrupted the whole night. Jetlag? No such thing!