A Saturday's Worth of Dublin

Application sent, Nomination in, Gala invite accepted - Now how do I spend the day after in Dublin?

Part of my everyday includes collaborating with Tourism associations around the world to build effective marketing strategies and plans. Tourism Ireland is one of these and I was fortunate to witness their value proposition in the flesh this past weekend as Air Canada Vacations was nominated for best international access initiative during a gala that celebrated excellence & innovation in tourism promotion. The event itself was inspiring and left me with a day's worth of Dublin exploration. I had two choices- sit on a bus to see the top sights or wander by foot keeping a few key attractions in mind. My intuition chose the later & this is the result:

 9am- Armed with an umbrella and city map (get one at airport tourist point), I head out of Ballsbridge for the Iveagh Gardens. Along the way, rows of cherry blossoms and lush hedges. I later find out that the gardens are one of Dublin's best kept secrets. The hedge maze is the discovery of the day!

Next stop, Camden street, trendy shops and intertwining cobblestone paths. Come across Joe's Coffee- a perfect spot to refuel - my macchiato is top!

1pm - Dublin Castle's 1 hour guided tour is the perfect way to soak in Dublin's rich history - find a potential link with my heritage on a plaque in the chapel. Look out the window to discover an extraordinary pattern on the lawn. It's official - Dublin is the largest garden in the world. What luck, a free design exhibition is just across "hidden heroes:  the genius of every day things". 2015 has been chosen as a year to celebrate the best of Ireland's design scene. Coming out, I pause to admire the architecture of the nearby Chester Beatty library and make a note as a tentative future lunch spot.

2:30 - Trinity college is my next destination. A few wrong turns lead me to an outdoor food market in the temple bar area - the quality and variety of goods is remarkable. Enjoy a healthy version of a samosa before continuing my journey toward the ancient Book of Kells and most inspiring long room (main chamber of old library).

4pm- Off to the sector of Grafton where Lux boutiques, department stores, quirky markets and local design hubs occupy the floors of antique buildings. Am tantalized with chocolate, cheese, ice-cream shops, natural food markets, creative cafes, award winning restaurants & historical pubs. Meet Helen who recently moved back to Dublin from Canada - we chat about her new adventure over wine and a local cheese board at Café/Market/Wine Bar Fallon & Byrne. Helen points to a relic pub, reputed for harboring unique characters.  I chose this spot to try a glass of Guinness. Never liked it but apparently it tastes different here. A shot of black current syrup later, a frown from a drinking veteran, and I am still not converted. Sorry.... J. Grogan's, however, does live up to its name.

Follow up with a promenade in St. Stephen's green - the cutest map points to its highlights: 2 ponds (with giant swans), marsh, falls, Swiss refuges and more!

I take the longer way back to witness more or less of the same eclectic mix. 8pm, seal the day at the corner pub to exchange stories with my colleague Alessandra who chose to hop on- hop off.

Thank you Dublin! You do justice to your brand's positioning - left me truly engaged & thirsty for more of your creativity & authenticity. See you in 2016?