Creative Layovers: 9 Hours in Dublin

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-15xLast spring when I was booking my tickets back to the states I found the best deal on Aer Lingus (did you know all Irish planes are named after saints!?!). At the time I had never been to Dublin before and so the 9 hour layover on the return flight seemed like the perfect excuse to see Dublin and catch up with my friend Emily who runs the blog From China Village – named after her hometown in Maine – which is a fantastic resource for any visit to Dublin, especially if you enjoy a twist of DIY. This whole leg of my trip was particularly amusing because I had just come from a 9 train ride from Pittsburgh to New York where I caught my 7 hour flight to Ireland. I was only slightly jetlagged and in need of a shower, but it was an adventure and we got really lucky with a beautiful day! Emily also happens to be a Vayable Guide (what I do in Paris) and has two offerings – Dublin Like a Local and Made in Dublin – so she gave me a special blend of the two.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-3First off, when you’re jetlagged, it’s really nice to have someone show you around so you don’t have to think too hard. I first met Emily through twitter, then featured her on Boarding Pass, and actually met her in Berlin during The Hive conference. Despite having only met her once before in person, whenever we’re together it feels like I’m hanging out with an old friend. (Funny, when I’m giving my own Vayable tours, it never really feels like I’m with strangers). My pace of life typically is non stop so there’s not a ton of time for research, so it was such a treat to have someone like Emily (below) to show me the ropes – and make me want to come back for a longer visit!

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-5The other awesome thing is having an insider who can show you the places you’d never think to visit – like the roof of this museum for a great view of the grounds below.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-6I’ve always been a street wanderer. You never know what you may come across.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-11Our visit actually started with a trip to The Design Tower, which is full of artist studios. Emily had called ahead to arrange a special visit with a couple artists. This is definitely something I wouldn’t have done myself had I not been with a local. By the time we left the space I was totally fascinated by the process of soldering.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-13We got to chat with Aisling Nelson of Ringnoli. She makes lovely hair pieces – often for brides.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-12We also visited the Alan Ardiff studio that makes moving jewelry (that’s one of his prints left), and the jewelry designer Breda Haugh. I was fascinated by the low-tech nature of her workspace (right).

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-14Along the way we stopped at the beautiful new design-forward hotel, The Marker. We didn’t get to see a room, but I can tell you the bathroom was gorgeous! I was really intrigued by the geometry of the interior.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-8Now I know this is going to sound weird, but the yogurt salad lunch was a total highlight of our day. The other perk of seeing the city with someone who lives there is they know the good deals and special happenings in town. This actually was Glenisk – Irish brand of organic yogurt – Upfront & Personal pop-up shop. Emily had received a couple free coupons in the mail so we decided to check out their “yogurt salads.” Emily and I still talk about it to this day.  We both had the smoked salmon with lemon juice, olive oil and capers on greek yogurt as our savory option, and berries, honey and granola for dessert. SO amazing! You can find the recipes on the Glenisk website.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-9Another highlight for me was the Irish Design Shop. First it was fun because Emily knows the owners. Second, I love that everything they sell is made in Ireland. (It reminded me a bit of L’Illustre Boutique in Paris). They’d just opened their second location so we got to scope them both out. Definitely great for a more meaningful souvenir.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-10We covered the city by foot which also meant that we got to see great details along the way.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-17And enjoyed a little bit of nature in Stephens Green to get from A to B.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-4There’s totally a completely other side of Dublin I need to come back and explore (for more than 9 hours).

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-2I also enjoy having someone help me learn the ropes of local public transportation.

pretavoyager-vayable-dublin-1We ran out of time to fit in a proper beer, but Emily made sure I got to the airport in plenty of time, where I chugged my first Guinness before boarding my flight back to Paris. A giant success, I do say!

For more Dublin tips, visit Emily’s blog, or better yet, book one of her Vayable tours!

One of the perks of being a Vayable Ambassador is that I get to go on other tours!
Vayable is open to anyone who wants to create their own listing, so why not create an offering in your own city?

Follow my adventures on Instagram + Twitter!


  • Thanks for coming to visit The Design Tower. I really enjoyed meeting yourself and Emily for the first time. I’ve been keeping up to date with both of your exciting travel lives online ever since! I love your instagram account – wonderful snippets of your daily wanderings. I hope to do one of your Vayable tours next time I’m in Paris. There always has to be a ‘next time’ with Paris :-)

  • wonderful!

    there’s a whole new culture springing up of those like-minded flaneur souls that we meet online and then, slowly but surely, see as we traverse the planet too.

    happy to have read of such an encounter in your own fair travels.

    lovely pictures of dublin too.



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