I apologize for being a few weeks late with this post.
The second to last week in June, I didn’t have any classes for the week and decided to take the opportunity to travel. All my friends had classes so I had to make the trip solo. It didn’t matter in the end because I met some great people and had an amazing time!
I arrived at the Dublin airport to be picked up by the hostel’s shuttle service. There was another girl on the shuttle going to the hostel and we started talking. Her name was Kylie and she was a fellow traveler.
Once we made it to the hostel, we dropped off our bags and took to the city to get our bearrings. We found not just one –but TWO– feativals going on. One was called Mayo and was celebrating a town nearby. The other, we found by curiousity. We saw a Waldo (known as Wally in Europe) and then saw another… And another… And another. We asked a group what was going on and they said something about a picture being taken in a few hours. We decided to head over to the area they were talking about. Glad we did.
Apparently we found Ireland’s second largest festival –behind St. Patrick’s Day. There were thousands upon thousands of people dressed like Wally. That is a lot of red and white stripes for one’s eyes! We were behind the crowd as they were being corraled onto one street to take a picture for the Guinness Book of World Records. Despite the throng of people, the festival was such a family atmosphere. It had this village/small town feel which was really neat.
After an amazing Irish meal, we headed back to hostel to shower foe the night. That night we decided to check out the night scene in Temple Bar. I love it! Everywhere had live Irish singers which made it a lot of fun. I was surprised by the older crowd out. I felt like a freshman again being the youngest at the bar. The crowd was definately late 20s and 30s. One place we went had a minimum age of 23. Being a girl, they didn’t question me and we walked in. Never thought I would see a minimum age limit of 23 when 18 is the drinking age there. I didn’t get IDed there but I did get IDed at some places with normal rules. Also never thought I would get IDed in Europe being 21. Marie-Michelle, don’t feel so bad!
We met three local Irish guys and ended up hanging out with them most of the night. They showed us some places that were more local and just had a good time with them. One even walked us back to our hostel at the end of the night. Felt like I was back home meeting a gentleman!
The following day, I did a day trip to Glendalough and Kilkenny. My hostel offered the tour free if you stayed two nights. I met a Canadian named Anna who had been working in Italy as a nanny for a family the past few months and was traveling. Sounded like a pretty neat job. She had to make sure kids did homework in aftenoon and was there to help them with their English. I ended up hanging out with her during the tour. Glendalough was BEAUTIFUL! After Glendalough, on the way to Kilkenny, we stopped at place they filmed Braveheart and PS I Love You. That was breathtaking!
Continuing onto Kilkenny, Irish weather began. The rain came down. Anna and I were determined to drink a Kilkenny beer in Kilkenny, so found an Irish pub and ate some bangers and mash and I tried Kilkenny for the first time.
Anna and I called it a lazy night that night and got some American fast food (it’s cheap!) Anna was flying to Greece and I was going to do the New Europe walking tour of Dublin. Met for the tour and loved the guide– Mick. He was slightly bigger guy and by the end of the run history run down of Ireland, he was sweating from head to toe because he had gotten so into it! Loved the passion!
We toured the castle, went past Trinity and even learned that the second largest Koran collection (behind Istanbul) is in Dublin in a museum that has free entrance. Who knew? The museum was founded when private collector decided to share his collection of authentic, first edition books. Even had some books from the Bible there. I didn’t have time to stop by when I was there, but it will be a must when I return!
I also learned a lot about the Irish famine –Irish point of view– on the tour. I thought that was actually really interesting. Called it a biased view, but it actually happened to them and it was great getting the story from the source. Made me have a whole new outlook on it and the British during that time.
I made my way to the Guinness Factory after my walking tour. In Dublin… Gotta tour the Guinness. The factory inside is actually in the shape of a pint glass. In the foam, or head, of the pint glass, there is a glass room that you can drink a complentary Guinness and get an amazing view of the city. I really enjoyed it! Don’t worry Nineen, I am talking about the view and the tasting!
That night I went to dinner with two girls that were in my room at the hostel that I had talked to on the walking tour. One was from Canada and the other was from Ireland. They had met traveling years ago and the Canadian was in Ireland for a wedding and they decided to meet up. Really neat story to have kept in contact with someone from years ago and to meet up again! Anyways, we went to another Irish restaurant and after eating, decided the music we heard playing must be live and not a CD and went to find the source. Sure enough, found a band upstairs. We hung out up there for a bit, drank a cider, and just enjoyed the company and atmosphere. A great way to spend my last night in Dublin.
The following day I had a plane to catch to London. I was really sad to leave Dublin. Dublin has made it’s way to the top of my favorite places list. Gosh, I love Ireland. I have already gotten a few questions of why I liked Ireland so much, so I will make a list:
TR’s “Why I love Ireland” list:
- Despite Dublin being the capital, has a small town feel
- Everyone is SO friendly (if you stop with a map in your hands, multiple people will stop to help you find your way without being asked)
- The “let’s enjoy the moment” atmosphere
- The live music scene everywhere
- The countryside is BEAUTIFUL
- The history
- The safe feeling –don’t feel like you are going to get pickpocketed by everyone like in barcelona (warning: doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on guard at all)
- And everything ELSE 🙂