What at first seemed like a tease turned into one of the most fun holidays I’ve ever been on. Dublin is a young and vibrant city, albeit a drizzly one (it was January, after all). The history, the pubs, the surprisingly lush parks and cosmopolitan vibe all added to a care-free, no pressure, no-itinerary traipse around a great city.
First thing was first, I bought myself some groceries. Delighted by the novelty of a below-street level supermarket, I stocked up on juice in cardboard cartons, (how European), sandwich supplies and plenty seemingly exotic sweets to get me through the week. Second thing second—I asked to be pointed in the direction of a quintessentially Dublin pub where I could find a pint and a plate of Irish stew. I ended up at O’Neill’s, a snug nook on Suffolk Street that’s been established for over 300 years. After a chill evening of watching rugby at the bar and babysitting my pint, I tucked in at Avalon House.
Sightseeing the next day was easy—all I had to do was walk around! I couldn’t help but inadvertently bump into landmarks and photo ops. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the GPO, The Spire, and even the Molly Malone statue ended up on my tour. As it was winter, there weren’t many tourists competing for these sights, so I had a leisurely and pleasant amount of time to gawk at the likes of the Book of Kells at Trinity College and the gardens of St. Stephen’s Green. The city had a very pleasant feel about it-it was clean, friendly and packed with beauty, even if it lacked big ticket attractions like London or Paris. I felt very at home.
Off to the Guinness Brewery! I snapped the obligatory self portrait in front of St. James’s Gate like everyone does, then jumped into the brewery tour. The brewery was very museum-like, with fascinating glimpses into the history of not only the brewing but also the marketing and brand name of Guinness. I savored my complimentary Guinness at the 360 degree Sky Bar, ending the tour, and was downright loopy by the time I had finished it. The rumors are true—Guinness tastes quite different (better) in Ireland!
|The Temple Bar|
I entertained myself further at the Jameson Distillery, strolling along the Liffey and dancing with new acquaintances in the Temple Bar. Window shopping on Grafton Street was fun, but the most I could afford to bring back for souvenirs were a few trinkets, (though I wished for lengths of wooly tartan and thick Aran sweaters). The talented buskers in this pedestrianized neighbourhood offered much in the way of memories and fun even if I did have a particularly light wallet for shopping.
Finally I bit the bullet and sprung for a car hire for a day trip away. I made it to County Wicklow where the grounds of the gorgeous Powerscourt Estateimpressed me with their elegance and splendor. The waterfall provided me a serene and quite enchanted setting for a picnic lunch. The drive back up the coast gave me just the taste of rural Ireland I desired, without having to stray too far from the city.
Overall, it wasn’t the most exciting vacation, or the fanciest, or certainly the most romantic. That week away, though, gave me the chance to meet new people, get my own international footing and pretend like I was some sort of intrepid explorer. Dublin gave me that chance and was the perfect city for it.