Dublin is one of the most pleasant, friendly cities I’ve ever been to. All of Ireland was extremely welcoming, but I spent the majority of my time in Dublin so this is where I really noticed the hospitality and genuine kindness of people.
I’ve stayed in hostels many times before, but never alone. However, that’s the beauty of hostels; it’s usually full of young people who are also traveling alone and looking to meet people who are doing the same. I was feeling a little down when I first arrived, as I had said goodbye to my family that morning after an amazing 9 days together over Christmas. Fortunately, I befriended a girl who was staying in my room and also traveling by herself, and we went for a few beers (Guinness of course!) at pub down the road. I’m not usually a dark beer drinker, but it felt wrong to drink anything else while in Dublin, and the Guinness was fresh and delicious.
We were at the bar for less than two hours total, but in that span of time we met and talked to a variety of people. They would come and sit next to us and converse with us, all with the intention of realizing similarities and commonalities, and bonding over things like places we’ve been or books/authors we liked. The atmosphere was so refreshing and I felt very much at home in this foreign place thanks to the friendliness of strangers. I headed back to he hostel fairly early, as I had an early morning for the Cliffs of Moher tour the next morning, and I went to bed already falling in love with Ireland.
Like I wrote about before, my Friday was filled with a tour to Western Ireland. Coincidentally, one of the girls on the tour was staying at my hostel that night, the Generator, so afterwards we headed back together. The Generator Hostel is the only hostel in Dublin that has a bar in it, which makes the environment even more friendly and inviting to meet people. I would recommend staying here for anyone who is traveling and/or looking to meet new people in a fun environment.
After freshening up, we met back st the bar. Since the next night was New Years Eve, we weren’t looking for a crazy time, but enjoyed each other’s compny, a few drinks, and talked and got to know each other. Meeting new people is so refreshing; it gives you the opportunity to see life from someone else’s perspective, which doesn’t happen as much when we grow comfortable with our surroundings. This is probably my favorite part of traveling.
I woke up the New Years Eve morning excited because I was meeting up with an old friend from camp and his sister. While I hadn’t really been alone during my time in Dublin, it was nice to be with a familiar face. After they checked in, we grabbed a drink at the hostel bar and caught up for a while. We then ventured out to grab a bite to eat, followed by a few drinks at a bar in The Temple Bar District. This area is famous for fun pubs with live music, which is my favorite thing about Irish pubs. There were quite a lot of people out already in the early afternoon getting a head start on the New Years Eve celebrations. To be honest, I’m not sure how/if many of those people made it to midnight.
We went back to the hostel and got changed and ready for the night. We started with a drink at the hostel again, where I met up with the friends I’d made the last couple of days. We then headed to a bar called Soder & Ko. where we were meeting up with other camp friends. While it wasn’t the venue I’d choose for NYE, I made the most of it. The most disappointing part of the night was the anti-climactic turn of the year–all of a sudden confetti wa falling from the sky and that was about all the excitement. However, I embraced the fact that I welcomed the start of a new year in Dublin, Ireland!
The next day was pretty relaxed. We went out and explored the city a bit, which is when I realized how small Dublin is (in a good way), especially compared to how spread out Paris is. We strolled through St. Stephen’s Square and walked around the Trinity College campus. Trinity is Ireland’s oldest university and was founded in 1592. Writers Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett attended Trinity College. It was cold, but the air was refreshing. After a mid-afternoon nap, we reconvened for dinner and my last night out in Dublin. We ended up back in the Temple Bar District at a bar with–you guessed it–live music. This night redeemed my average NYE and was my favorite night in Dublin.
My final morning/afternoon in Dublin was spent at the Guinness Factory. If you go to Dublin, it’s a must-do activity. It’s a self-guided tour, so you can take as long (or not) as you want on each of the five levels. The center of the building is constructed into the world’s largest pint glass. After a brief introduction where you view the 9,000 year lease for the building and learned the Gaelic word for cheers, sláinte (slawn-cha), which means health, we made our way through the factory. We participated in a Guinness tasting where I learned that the color of Guinness is actually a ruby red, evident when you hold it up in natural sunlight, and gets its color from roasted barley. I also learned that the word beer is believed to come from the word barley and that porter was invented in London in the 18th century. The cool, but perhaps inconvenient, thing about Guinness is that it has to be poured uniquely because it is so foamy. You can choose to learn how to pour your own Guinness at the factory, but we chose to enjoy our complimentary Guinness at the Gravity Bar, which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
We grabbed a bite to eat after the tour and I left for the airport shortly after. My cab driver kept up with the expectation of the amazingly nice Irish people I’d met on my trip. I arrived early to the airport–luckily considering all the holiday travelers–and was instantly nostalgic tocome back to Ireland. It has always been a place I’ve wanted to visit in depth, especially considering my Irish heritage (who would’ve guessed?!), but since my first trip here was pretty short lived, all the more reason to come back. Mark my words, next time I’m back I’ll be renting a car and exploring the entirety of this amazing country.
The last two times I’ve been waiting at the airport to head back to Paris, I’ve booked flights for more upcoming trips, and this time…? to Spain! I have my second-to-last week in Paris off of work, so I’ll be traveling with a college friend for six days! I haven’t been back to Spain since my J-Term course in 2014 and I’m so looking forward to it! Check in next month for my Spain post!