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Pack your bags: Dublin, Ireland

Last month, a good friend asked if I had a passport and if I was free in the next 6 weeks. Turns out, round trip flights to Dublin were $400 after taxes and fees. For those of you who've traveled to Europe before, you know how good a deal this is! Not ones to let an opportunity like this slip by, we had to take advantage of the deal and booked flights within the hour.

Here are some the highlights from our brief (3 days) trip:

* Shepherd's pie at a street fair in Temple Bar, an area on the south bank of the River Liffey in Dublin. There was tomato chutney on it. Enough said.

* Watching rugby at The Porterhouse. We were lucky enough to catch Ireland beating Italy as we watched with the locals. For an authentic experience when you're in town, check the rugby schedule and find a pub. Even if you're there with the kids, there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants showing the game.

* Irish coffee at the Old Jameson Distillery. While the tour was really fun - the guide obviously loved his job. My favorite moment was sitting at the bar afterward. Did you know there was brown sugar in Irish coffee? I didn't. And the way the bartender made it...I don't think I could ever replicate it. Believe me, I've tried since I've been home. I'm kind of a sucker for after-dinner coffee.

* Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse. Located at the top of the world's largest "pint" of Guinness, the best part about the Gravity Bar is surprisingly not the beer - it's the view! You can see the entire city and the Wicklow Mountains.

And now for some tips:

* Don't worry about a phone - there are more Wi-Fi hotspots than you could imagine. Even the phone booths are free Wi-Fi hotspots! I brought my iPad to keep in touch with home via email - it worked perfectly and I didn't have to charge it the entire three days I was there. Keep this in mind while packing: while there are more Wi-Fi hotspots available in Dublin, there are fewer opportunities to charge your device. Think battery before connectability.

* Give yourself extra time at restaurants. I was surprised how long it took for the check to come. Generally, we waited about half an hour longer than we were used to.

* The city is small enough that you'll be able to walk everywhere, skipping the buses and trains. Don't get me wrong, the public transportation is awesome, you just don't need it if you schedule your day appropriately.

As you can see, I never made it out of the city because of my crunched schedule (my trip was cut short because my American citizenship test was scheduled for my last full day). Don't worry, I'll be heading back there sooner than later (I hope!) and I'll come back with photos of the countryside.

Have you ever taken a last-minute trip? What are some of your tips for seeing a city in a few days?

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