Temple Bar

Temple Bar

Temple Bar is your go-to neighborhood if you’re looking for a fun night out in Dublin. Pubs and clubs are more than plentiful, but be warned: the area is full of tourist traps in the form of overpriced and overcrowded bars, especially on the main strip (you’ll know when you’re there). That being said, there are some truly great spots that stand out, and these are the ones that make Temple Bar and its surroundings so wonderful. My personal favorite was The Porterhouse, with multiple floors, live music, more beers on tap than you can count to, and a friendly staff. During my short visit to Dublin, I already felt like a local there thanks to the great staff. The bartender (one of dozens) not only recognized me, but remembered my drink order! Awesome!

Temple Bar

Mercantile

If there’s no live music, it ain’t Dublin. Almost any worthwhile bar in the area (and even out of the area) is going to have some live tunage for its patrons, whether it’s one man playing acoustic covers or a three-piece ensemble rocking out to authentic Irish folk music. Either way, it’s awesome, and it truly sets Dublin apart from any other place in terms of authentic, cheerful nightlife; there’s nothing else like it. There are few things more rewarding in life than watching two Finnish brothers join a rowdy Irish dance competition while the locals riverdance to live Irish tunes. And trust me, this only happens in Dublin.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar

And don’t think for a minute that the awesome music is exclusive to the bars. The madness continues on the streets of Temple Bar. Check it out:

Trinity College

Trinity College

Talk about a beautiful campus. It’s not too often that a university is one of a capital city’s top attractions, but in the case of Dublin’s Trinity College, it makes perfect sense. Located right in the center of Dublin, Ireland’s oldest university remains a prestigious academic institution to this day, and it’s got eye candy to boot. Remarkable works of architecture comprise the campus grounds as beautiful buildings (new and old) surround alluring courtyards, statues, trees, etc.

Trinity College

Trinity College

Notable Trinity alumni include the likes of Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Jonathan Swift, to name a few. University staff members wander the campus wearing cloaks, the style of which depends on their position. It’s almost haunting. Regardless, the big attraction at Trinity College is the Book of Kells, located in the Old Library. If your not a student of the college, it’ll cost you to get in, but it’s worth checking out (you can’t actually “check it out” of the library, obviously) the Book of Kells as well as other impressive, ancient collections in the beautiful library. Fun Fact: the Old Library was digitally recreated inch-for-inch in Attack of the Clones (The university wouldn’t let George Lucas actually film inside).

Old Library

The Old Library, home to the Book of Kells

Trinity College Arts Building

The Arts building, supposedly designed to resemble the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Uh...

Trinity CollegeTrinity College

Trinity College Exam Hall

Every student's least favorite building: The Exam Hall

City of the Week: Dublin, Ireland

Dublin

I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting the Irish capital, so let’s just say I was blown away when I arrived in a city so full of life, lovely lads & lasses, and live music. To put it simply, Dublin is awesome. Awesome people, awesome culture, awesome bars, awesome music, awesome food– awesome city. The city’s distinct yet equally intriguing neighborhoods have been, and remain today, home to a variety of interesting characters. Many artists and authors, both natives and foreigners, have drawn inspiration from the city, including James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, and Bram Stoker. Surely the rowdy pubs were lovely places of inspiration for them as well. Irish porters, stouts, and whiskeys are all phenomenal, but there’s much more than the drinks that makes Dublin such a great place. The city (and the country as a whole) has had a long and bloody history, but today it stands proud as the capital of the Republic of Ireland. This is Ireland at its best, and its best is simply amazing.

Late-Night Stroll Through the Montmarte

Montmarte

Though some may argue that it doesn’t retain the same charm it used to, the Montmarte district of Paris remains to this day a very special place. The neighborhood is a showcase of all the things that make Paris such a charming, beautiful, and lively place. Quiet, narrow, winding, cobblestone streets lead the way up the Montmarte hill, lined with terrace cafés, restaurants, bars, cabarets, and former brothels (though the prostitution remains). Oh, and it’s absolutely beautiful. In other words, it’s an artist’s paradise, or so thought artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso, all of whom at some point lived and/or worked in the Montmarte. It’s easy to see why so many artists were drawn to the neighborhood; the sights, the sounds, and the overall bohemian culture and atmosphere are unlike anything else. Though that exact vibe is no longer present, you can still get a good feel for it, especially at night; when the sun goes down, so do the tourists traps. To top it off (literally), at the peak of the hill stands the Sacré-Cœur, another beautiful, iconic Paris landmark. From there, you will get the absolute best view of Paris, rivaled only by the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Montmarte

Lapin Agile

Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit) cabaret. To make a living, Picasso used to paint for the owner in exchange for meals.

Montmarte

Bohemian Cat

Bohemian cat

Montmarte

View from the hill

Moulin Rouge

At the bottom of the hill is the famous Moulin Rouge

Sacré-Cœur

And at the top, La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Cœur

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe l'Étoile

Another iconic landmark of Paris: The Arc de Triomphe l’Étoile. Located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the massive Arc de Triomphe stands as a monument to those who fought in France’s many wars (both Revolutionary and Napoleonic), and also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s an epic monument that honors a time of epic importance in French and Parisian history. The Arc is also the location of Place de l’Étoile, a 12-lane roundabout where insurance doesn’t matter and an accident occurs every half-hour, according to my walking tour guide. Regardless, the Arc de Triomphe is a beauty, and its grand size and scale really must be seen in person to truly understand. For a small fee, visitors can access the top of the Arc (while going through a small museum on the way), and treat themselves to more amazing views of Paris.

Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe

Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe

Eternal Flame

Eternal Flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

statue

On the way up...

Paris

View from the top

Paris

arc de triomphe

Crazy in Louvre

LouvreMark my words: If you were in Paris for a week, you could literally spend every second of it at the Musée du Louvre, and the trip would still be amazing. Not only that, but you wouldn’t even get close to seeing all of the museum’s massive collection. The Louvre is overwhelming in all aspects, whether it’s the beautiful palace that houses it, the ridiculously large collection of masterpieces and brilliant art, or the overall size of the museum in general. It’s the world’s most popular art museum for a reason.

Even if you don’t feel like coughing up the well-spent €10 for entrance, the exterior of the Louvre is a fascinating work of art in itself. The Louvre Palace has a long history, originally built in the 13th century as a castle fortress (parts of which can still be seen inside). In the 16th century, it was rebuilt as the Louvre Palace as we (somewhat) know it now. The palace exterior hosts truly remarkable architecture and some pleasant courtyards. But of course, the real treasures lie inside.

Louvre Palace

Louvre Invisible Pyramid

Ok, so you’re in the Louvre. Obviously, if you’re a first-time visitor, you’re not leaving without seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Don’t worry; as enormous as the museum may be, there are signs at practically every corner directing visitors towards the Mona Lisa. But don’t be surprised if you can’t get a great look at the small painting as it is usually surrounded by hoards of camera-wielding tourists. Regardless, once you cross the Mona Lisa off your list, prepare to get lost (literally) amongst one of the largest and most astonishing art collections in the world.

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Code of Hammurabi

Code of Hammurabi

Aphrodite, known as the "Venus de Milo"

Aphrodite, known as the "Venus de Milo"

Michelangelo's "The Rebellious Slave"

Michelangelo's "The Rebellious Slave"

As great as the Louvre may be, I have to admit that I was frustrated and exhausted (both mentally and physically) by the end of my short visit. Keep in mind, when I say “short,” I mean a few hours, and that is precisely the problem. The Louvre has such an insanely large collection of art that a few hours is nowhere near enough time to appreciate the greatness of it. If you have a few specific pieces you want to check out, chances are that they are spread around the museum, and you will get lost and distracted on the way, which can be stressful. Instead of forcing yourself to see specific works, I recommend setting aside a nice, big chunk of time to visit the museum, and simply roam around and get “lost” in the good way, by absorbing the phenomenal art around you. This way, you can see your favorite pieces while also appreciating plenty of new things. It is said that if you spend 30 seconds looking at each piece of art in the Louvre, it will take you 3 months of time to see everything. The collection is that huge, and the quality of art is simply incredible. The Louvre is an absolute must for Paris and by far one of the city’s top attractions.

The Wedding Feast at Cana

The Wedding Feast at Cana

One of the "Four Captives"

Liberty Leading the People

Liberty Leading the People

The Louvre