April 27, 2013
I just spent a few days in Dublin, Ireland, and I’m in love with that place. I belong there, and it is the only country I’ve been to where I don’t stick out as a foreigner.
I flew to Dublin on the 22nd and on the plane I met an Irishman named Shane. He gave me a list of things to see in Dublin and told me a little about Dublin and the culture of Ireland. There are two very popular sports in Ireland that I’d never heard of before: Gaelic Football and something called Hurling. Here’s a video of Gaelic Football: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEAbWrdB9XU, and one of Hurling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmzivRetelE.
My first afternoon in Dublin I went for a very late lunch at a Chinese place because it was close by and I was tired and hungry. Then I went to a cafe and tried to get on the internet but they didn’t have any. That was a little bit of a letdown. It was a cute place and I kind of wanted to spend a lot of time there, but it would have been tremendously boring, so I got a cappuccino instead and read for a half an hour. I went back to the hostel after that because it was a somewhat of a dreary day. I honestly don’t even remember what I had for dinner that night, or even if I ate dinner. Back at the hostel I spent time in the common room and watched a little of the news, I booked a bus tour for the following day, and then just kind of did nothing that night. I didn’t know anyone at that point and I didn’t want to go out alone, so I went to bed early.
The next morning I woke up early and headed out to the bus tour. I got on the bus but had to change my seat because an elderly couple got on the bus and there were no empty double seats available save for mine, so what could I do? So I ended up sitting with a woman named Julie from Canada. It was kind of a matter of fate because she and I got to talking about our lives and everything and it turns out that she used to be an au pair in Ireland when she was in her twenties. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m planning on being an au pair in Europe if I don’t get a teaching job for this fall. I’ve done a lot of research on it and it just seems like a wonderful thing. So anyway, Julie and I talked about that for a little and she said she’d pass my information along to a family she knows in Ireland who might be looking for an au pair.
Julie was traveling with her mother, her aunt, and her sister. Her mother and aunt are from Ireland, her aunt still lives there, but her mother moved to Canada when she was in her twenties and has lived there since. Julie and her family kind of adopted me for the day, which was very sweet of them. It meant that I had someone to eat with and do things with on the tour, which was a huge Godsend, really. As much as I love traveling, there are some things that are just plain sad to do by yourself. Eating alone ranks among the top.
The tour took us to Wicklow, Glendalough, Avoca, and through other towns, but those were the three main stopping destinations. They are very sweet little Irish towns, and very much what you’d see if you googled “quaint Irish village.” So cute. During the tour we stopped at the bridge where a scene in the film P.S. I Love You was filmed; we went to Lough Tay, which is owned by the Guinness family and where the Beatles’ song Yesterday was conceived, and it’s where the tv show Vikings is filmed; we stopped in Glendalough, which means “Valley of the Two Lakes;” we stopped in Avoca and saw the Avoca textile shop which sells wool items (clothes, blankets, whatever) made from genuine Irish wool grown by genuine Irish sheep. During the tour I got to know Julie’s mother, and by the end she’d invited me to stay with her in Nova Scotia this summer. I am very tempted to take her up on that. It would be such an awesome little vacation! I’ve heard it’s beautiful in Nova Scotia.
Our tour guide was very nice and funny and gave a lot of information about Dublin and about the villages we visited; to be fair, I remember maybe 10% of what he said. But he was a great tour guide. He even made each person or couple/traveling group sing a song during one part of the tour while we were on the bus. Of course I had to sing. I’d told Julie and her family that I studied singing in university, so they were very adamant that I sing. So I did. I sang the recitative from the Le nozze di Figaro aria, Deh vieni non tardar. And of course everyone loved it. I get a little embarrassed about it, though. Yes, I tend to sing better than the average person, but I also studied it for four and a half years, intensively. I had to work hard for it, and I like to sing for people, but I guess I don’t like to draw attention to myself too much. At least, I don’t like it to be the first piece of information people learn about me. But if I can make people happy through my singing, I guess it’s ok.
After the tour I went back to the hostel to think about where I should get dinner. I was just going to grab something alone because I hadn’t made any friends yet, but while I was chilling in the common room I noticed that a guy was holding a Nikon camera, so using that as a basis for conversation, I asked him about it. We talked about his camera and about my Nikon, and I learned his name is Khalil. He’s from Morocco and France and French Canada and pretty much all over, it’s complicated and I really don’t even understand it. But he’s cool. Then we met two guys from Amsterdam, Matthias (Matty) and Dirk (spelled “Dirk” but because of the Dutch accent, it’s pronounced more like “Derek”), who were both traveling alone having never met each other until they got to Dublin. Isn’t that always how it works, though? It takes a trip across the world to meet people who live in the same city as you. Irony at its best.
Matthias, Dirk, Khalil, and I went to dinner at a pub we found across the Liffey, the river that runs through the middle of Dublin. I’d heard about a pub and we went to look for it, but unfortunately it wasn’t where the map said it should be. What’s with that? It happened to me in Bratislava, too! Maybe the maps I have are seriously out of date. Anyway, we ended up at a pretty posh (in looks, not cost) pub and had dinner and beers. I am staunchly against drinking beer. I’ve tried it so many times and I’ve disliked it each time. The only cider I knew from this part of Europe was Strongbow, so I ordered that. The guys laughed at me, as did the waiter, and told me that that stuff sucks and there are far better ciders to drink. So the waiter brought me some Irish cider that was actually delicious. Bulmer, it’s called. Very good stuff. After dinner we went back to the hostel to figure out our evening plans. It turned out that some people who are regulars at the hostel for one reason or another, and some of the staff, were going out to this club called Dicey’s Garden later that night. Dicey’s Garden is the type of place where it’s so packed with people, it takes thirty minutes to move ten yards. I got so many drinks spilled on me that night simply because everyone was jostling everyone else. But it was really very fun.
The next morning we all woke up around 11am because we’d stayed out until around 3am. Matty, Dirk, and I had planned on going on the free walking tour of Dublin at 2pm, so around 1:45 we set out to the meeting spot. The day before, we’d talked with someone at the hostel about whether the tour was at 2pm or 1pm, and decided that it was at 2. We got to the meeting spot and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. And no tour guide showed up. Then we looked at the tour pamphlet, which clearly stated that the tour started at 1pm. Major failure. Since we’d missed the tour, we ended up just walking around Dublin together to see the places we’d have ended up seeing on the tour anyway. But this one was way more fun because at one point we were going to pretend that Dirk was a foreign diplomat and that I was his secretary and Matty was his driver, all so we could get into Dublin Castle. We totally couldn’t pull it off, though, because we quickly found out that Dirk was really terrible at pretending to be a diplomat. 🙂
I’d told Matty and Dirk that since that night was my last night in Dublin, we should go out again and have a really good time. We got a group together (Matty, Dirk, Khalil, two French guys, and a girl from Canada, and me) and ended up back at Dicey’s Garden again and even though it was packed the night before, it was almost empty this night. We have no idea why. We had a lot of fun and then walked back to the hostel around 2am, and stayed up talking until 4am. The next morning I woke up super early after only four hours of sleep, got a bus to the airport, and then flew to England to meet up with my British friend Anna.
Whew! That was a long post.
Thanks very much for reading! Don’t forget to look at all of the pictures I’ve uploaded from my trip. Click here.