Hello everyone! *waves*
As I mentioned in my post about my excursion in Wales, I wrote the absolute best post about my two days in Dublin and accidentally deleted it. Now, nearly a month since my trip, I am still mourning the loss of that post, but I decided that I need to share the rest of my two-week trip with you guys or the details will begin to fade if I put it off any longer.
So here goes:
After our connecting flight in London, we took a flight to Dublin that lasted around an hour and twenty minutes. We got off the plane, collected our luggage, and linked up with our EF tour guide, Jim.
Jim is a 40 year-old Brit with a silver head of hair and the greatest sense of humor ever. He was the best guide in the world and I am so glad my group was assigned him. Our full EF Tour group consisted of a small group of 8 from Ohio, a group of around 12 from Alberta, Canada, and my group of 16 from New Jersey (besides two boys in my group, the entire rest of the tour group were women!). The Canadians and Ohioians (?) also met us in the Dublin airport and then we were off. We loaded everything onto a charter bus driven by a plump, jolly, older Irish man named Tony who was the most adorable thing on this planet.
We drove to the center of Dublin and immediately hopped off to begin a walking tour. And then, Dublin began to woo me.
Its cobblestone streets and murky skies and squat brownstones with colorful doors and quirky alleyways, and not to mention, the pubs on every corner… it was an effortlessly animated city.
We were given two hours for lunch and my sub-group (Jasmine, Shaye, Jen, Ashton, Marissa, and Tyler, who I soon spent almost all of our exploring free time with) chose Marks & Spencer, which heavily reminded me of the Macy’s Herald Square in NYC. It’s a department store that is a supermarket/clothing store/home goods store and it is *sings* amaaazing. I wish we had one in the U.S.
After lunch, we traveled to the Temple Bar area, which also reminded me of Greenwich Village in NYC. Dublin overloaded the charm with Temple Bar, and that was when I fell in love. The Temple Bar area is a mostly pedestrianized area of Dublin. There was colorful graffiti everywhere, brownstones squished together to make the cobblestone streets into roads just wider than alleyways, and God, were there people. So many people spilling out of clubs and shops and pubs and more pubs! Somehow, there was constantly music playing, from wherever you were in that area.
After visiting Temple Bar, we went to Murray’s, which is the restaurant where we had our first international dinner.
We were served chicken in cream sauce with mashed potatoes and green beans with a pie crust. It was so good. Ugh. For dessert we had (ironically) apple pie, but it was shockingly tastier than American apple pie! It was sweeter and had a sharper apple taste. Jasmine had her obligatory authentic Irish Guinness and I had a taste, but this is an opinion I will always have: beer is disgusting. Moving on.
We finally traveled to our hotel, which was in Booterstown, across the street from Booterstown Beach, a scenic, long, rocky shore front. Jasmine and I lucked out: our room faced the shore, and gave us a stunning view.
After settling in, my group decided to branch off and use some of our free time and go on an evening walk. It was very chilly in Dublin, despite it being the middle of July, and being near the shore front surely didn’t help. Nonetheless, our walk was great. We visited Booterstown Beach which was right next to the Metro’s tracks and hung out for a bit.
Then we went on a hunt for ice cream, which was a lot harder than it may sound due to the fact that many stores in Europe close around 6:00 PM (do not fret! We eventually did get our ice cream 🙂 ). The early closings made everything eerily resemble a ghost town.
We walked into a random pub that was hosting a going-away party for a couple that was moving to America (the irony strikes again!) and then made our way back to our hotel. My beautiful hotel room view proved to be even more beautiful at sunrise the next morning.
Our second and sadly our last day in Ireland was b-u-s-y. We went on an “expertly guided tour” that was led by an Irish guide named Shane, a young man who was born and raised in Dublin. We sight-saw from our bus for most of the tour, only getting out for a few photo-ops. We visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was breathtaking.
Inside, Shane gave us a little Irish history lesson and I learned a few fun facts that I wanted to share with you guys:
- Halloween originated in Ireland
- There are more people living in the city of London than in the entire island of Ireland
- The Irish veterans of both World Wars went unrecognized by their society for centuries
- In the Irish flag, the orange represents the Protestant Irish, the green represents the native Catholics, and the white represents peace between the two sides
- Jonathan Swift is buried inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Professional sports players in Dublin do not get paid to play sports; some players have to work Mon-Fri as coach drivers, schoolteachers, and police officers
Shane was awesome.
After St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we visited Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in Europe. We visited the Papal Cross in the park, a gigantic white cross situated at the spot where Pope John Paul II held mass in 1979.
We then went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells, which was very, very cool.
After some free time for lunch, our EF group split up and half of us stayed in central Dublin while the other half went to Howth Bay, a fishing village on the outskirts of Dublin.
Being in the city of Dublin, being surrounded by the culture, the people, and the accents, felt different but did not give me that truly jarring feeling of “Oh my God, I’m in another country across the Atlantic Ocean I’m in Ireland holy crap.”
But as soon as I set foot in Howth Bay, I felt it.
We navigated our way across some very rocky hills, and stood overlooking the Irish Sea, some very lush greenery and those picturesque Irish cliffs, those same cliffs that most people envision when thinking of Ireland. It was serene.
With some free time, we ventured into the actual village of Howth and my sub-group and I got ice cream, explored an old Irish cemetery and abbey, and sat by the docks where a seal popped around in the water, looking for the fisherman that fed him on their boats.
(Just as a sidenote: I bought an orange flavored Calippo in an ice cream shop in Howth, and it quickly escalated into a full-blown obsession the rest of my time in Europe. Calippos are push-up popsicles popularly sold in the UK, and they were SO. GOOD. I recently bought push-up popsicle containers from Ikea and made my homemade version of a Calippo with orange juice to try to satisfy my craving for them back in the USA.)
We left Howth around evening time and traveled back to central Dublin for dinner, where we had Irish stew, which was also outstanding. My bowl was spotless by the end of the meal.
We wandered around the Temple Bar area for the rest of the night, sitting on the stoops of pubs and listening to buskers play great music, shopping for little souvenirs from street vendors and, for me, trying to pause my fervent photo-documentation of everything and simply bask in it.
Another sidenote: Ireland passed a same-sex marriage referendum on May 22nd, 2015, around a month before I arrived in Dublin. It is overwhelmingly clear why the referendum was passed, with gay pride flags hung from countless pub awnings, a rainbow arch on top of a large building that read, “Our Union Only in Truth” and a row of windows in a brownstone that were painted with the single word “YES!” It was so beautiful, seeing how badly same-sex marriage was wanted in Ireland and that Dublin so proudly showed off their passion for equality. It made me grin from ear to ear!
That night, back at the hotel, Jasmine and I couldn’t figure out how to lower the thermostat in our room which was the stuffiest of stuffy. So instead we slept with the window open.
Worst idea ever.
The next morning, to catch the ferry, we had to be down in the hotel lobby by 6:15 AM. So there I was, already exhausted from a late night in the city and to top it all off, a head cold. I got almost instantly sick from sleeping with the window open, and it was absolute hell getting ready to leave with congestion and incessant sneezing. But I did it! I hopped up on allergy and cold meds and sucked it up as we traveled to the ferry docks to board the Adventurer, the ferry we would take to travel to Wales that resembled a cruise liner more than a ferry.
At the word “ferry,” I pictured a small ferry along the lines of Derek Shepherd-Grey’s Anatomy-Seattle ferries. Not a Carnival Cruise ship. I couldn’t take a picture of the ferry when boarding, because the process is somewhat similar to boarding an airplane, so here is one off of the internet, of the Stena Adventurer, in all its quaint-ness.
The four-hour ferry ride was spent sleeping, writing the blog post I accidentally deleted, and watching Disney’s Meet the Robinsons with Jasmine on her iPad.
We crossed the Irish Sea and made it successfully from Dublin, Ireland to Holyhead, Wales, which is pronounced, (for my Americans out there) as Holly-head, not Holey-head.
Learn from my mistakes.
Then our one-day adventure in Wales began, which you can read about in my previous post, “A Day in Wales.”
So, in an attempt to wrap up this Irish tale, some may say that “a city is a city is a city.” But I disagree.
Dublin was magical and it was so buoyant and vibrant that a piece of my heart was definitely left there, probably in the crevice of some cobblestone in Temple Bar. I cannot wait to come back someday.
Next, I will (finally) be recounting my three days in London, England.