Standby to Dublin
Living for years near Dublin, Ohio, it was time to experience the real deal in Ireland. With a week to spare after finishing my masters and starting another year of teaching, I knew this travel-charged chica could fit in another trip. A mere light bulb-over-the-head idea a few weeks prior, it all came to fruition when I was snuggled in my first class seat to Dublin, feeling really lucky.
After a quick and cheap (8€) Aircoach ride from the airport to the city center, I reunited with my expat host, Lauren. Showered and suited up with layers of clothing, umbrella in hand, off we went to stroll the capital city. Don’t let the season fool you. My trip in August saw temps from 50°F-70°F with a sure shower, drizzle, or downpour daily. Ok, now I get why Ireland is so green.
Here’s how I saw it:
1. Grafton Street
You’ll find all the hustle and bustle of Dublin on this pedestrian street. With enough shops and restaurants to please the masses, this is one high-energy area. The throngs of tourists and locals alike, along with street-performers galore create a haven for those seasoned in the art of people watching.
2. St. Stephen’s Green
A walk down Grafton leads to Dublin’s coveted park. Although not expansive, this bit of green lends itself to the perfect stroll. Neatly manicured lawns, ponds full of swans, I can picture myself content here with a book in hand.
3. The Temple Bar
The usual stop on any tourist’s agenda. I must admit though that I never went inside. Jet lag had fully sunk in my that point and I keep reminding myself that breaking in new shoes when traveling is never a good idea. I figured there would be a pub or two in my future to get my Guinness on. Nonetheless, it was a quarter full of colorful façades, cobblestoned streets, and lively nightlife.
4. Chester Beatty Library
Housed next to Dublin Castle, is the Chester Beatty Library, an art museum and library home to an impressive collection of manuscripts, paintings, and rare books of the world’s religions and cultures. From Egyptian papyrus texts, beautiful copies of the Koran, to pages from the Bible dating as far back as 150 A.D., the treasures are truly something at which to marvel. The simplistic explanations of each of the world’s religions enhanced the scope of my understanding of faith and later fueled lots of dinner table discussion.
5. Trinity College
Thanks to the Camino, Lauren and I had our very own Dublin native to show us around her university. Carrie, my Camino friend walked us around the grounds and as a student, got us into The Book of Kells, gratis. Irish monks around the 9th century wrote a lavishly decorated copy of the four Gospels, which make up The Book of Kells. Upstairs, The Long Room of the Trinity College Library is not to be missed, housing 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. Afterwards, if it’s sunny, sprawl out on the pristine lawn of the cricket field. Raining? Grab a pint at The Pavilion Bar overlooking the field.
6. The Shelbourne
Located at St. Stephen’s Green, this luxury hotel garners rave reviews, but you don’t have to stay the night to take in this site. If you are looking for sophisticated ambience to juxtapose the pub scene, The Shelbourne’s No. 27 Bar & Lounge has you covered. Dine, drink, or do both under the soft glow of chandeliers and upscale décor. Here, Lauren introduced me to her new expat friends from which I found a fellow Ohio State Buckeye to be the other “O” in “O-H-I-O.”
This trendy eatery serves up generous portions of tasty steak made to share. The sides are what do it though; million dollar fries and toasted buttered bread with hen egg & truffled mayonnaise served from eclectic jars. I could have stayed for days tasting and re-tasting it all. And as I engaged in chat with the expat clan on education in the States and the lack of decent flushing toilets in Ireland, I figured I would make a pretty good expat too.
For an easy daytrip outside the city, this seaside fisherman’s village can be reached in less than 30 minutes on Dublin’s train system, the DART.
Lauren and I met Camino Carrie and her friend Rob for an afternoon hike with perfect weather that allowed us to see the sea all the way to the horizon. What we thought was going to be a leisurely hike, however turned into a semi-lost, 10K mud bath taking us really far from town. We were hangry and muddy, yet dreamily fixated on the views of the water, sailboats, and cliffs.
An elderly couple ended up driving us ten minutes up to The Summit, a neighborhood pub where we drank two pints of Guinness and waited for the bus to take us back to the harbor. That magical beer cures all.
Back in town, we settled on a restaurant along the harbor and Lauren and I split my last fish and chips as fresh as it comes.
I’ll surely be back for another taste of Ireland, literally. Guinness just isn’t the same in the States.
Saving for next time:
1. The Guinness Storehouse
2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
3. Queen of Tarts
Have you ever been to Dublin? What else is my list lacking?