The trip to Europe didn’t exactly begin smoothly. To kick things off, my flight between Dayton and Chicago was cancelled, luckily I arrived unfashionably early and the airlines were able to book me on a different flight through another airline leaving 40 minutes earlier. Success.
The flight from Chicago to Dublin was short and sweet, after jet setting 18 hours straight between Washington DC and Johannesburg, South Africa, this flight was a walk in the park. I arrived at the Dublin airport just after 8:00 a.m. [GMT +1]. Bright eyed and bushy tailed [hardly] I was ready to get to the hostel and settle in, as well as catch some shut eye before exploring the city [I’m no good with sleeping on flights].
Everyone in Dublin was very helpful, I was sent in the right direction by a number of locals, eventually arriving by bus at the Globetrotters Dublin Hostel on Lower Gardiner Street, very close to the bustling O’Connell Street and just a five minute walk from the Temple Bar district. The staff at Globetrotters were wonderful and accommodating, even allowing me to check in five hours before the designated time, and for that, I was relieved. I did a little unpacking, showered, and attempted to take a nap before the exploration commenced. Eagerness and anticipation got the best of me. So, sans nap, I set off to explore Dublin.
Traveling alone in a foreign country, I had no set agenda to stick to so I decided I would just walk to the more famous sights first, maybe finding hidden spectacles along the way. First up, the Spire of Dublin [also referred to as the Spike]. Positioned smack dab in the middle of O’Connell Street, even the most directionally challenged could spot this monument.
I followed O’Connell across the Liffey River through to Trinity College. Trinity College was founded in 1592, making it the oldest university in Ireland. The campus was absolutely beautiful. Forgoing paying 10 euro to get an “official tour,” I did what any broke, post-grad tourist would do and created a self-guided tour. I’d say I did alright:
Since researching sights and sounds of Dublin, Paris, and London I’ve been looking forward to the Pont des Arts in Paris. I was happy to see the, tradition?, of writing you and your loves names on a lock, latching it onto a bridge, and throwing the key into the river is not only a practice in Paris. On the Ha’penny bridge locks can be found, representing loves that aspire to live forever. Adorable.
After miles upon miles of walking through out Dublin I was ready to recharge. I grabbed some grub [and a Guinness, of course] at a local pub. I was getting ready to leave for the hotel when I was approached by a new friend, Paul. A local, Paul told me all about his own favorite hotspots in Dublin and even ordered me a “Jamie-and-red” [Jameson and red lemonade, a lemonade unique to Dublin—or so I was told]. Paul was full of useful information, for instance did you know that coffee was discovered by Ethiopian sheep? Neither did I, but Paul did. He also told me Nolan is a very common Irish name, a first for me, as I have met only a handful of other Nolan’s. Getting in tune with your heritage is nice. After chitting and chatting it was finally time for me to get some rest! One of my favorite things about Dublin is that almost anywhere you want to travel on foot is only about a fifteen minute walk. That being said, I hiked on “home” so I could rest up for the arrival of my fellow Bobcats abroad.
The OU Crew
It is always a pleasant sight when you meet with familiar faces. Sam Girton and Frederick Lewis walked up the stairs into the lounge where I was waiting for the groups arrival. Sam and Frederick are the program directors for the Ohio University study abroad trip to Letterkeny. Of course, I was most excited to be reunited with my dear roommate, Annette.
Shortly after their arrival on Friday we set out on the town. We all grabbed lunch near Temple Bar, it was a great opportunity for me to meet the students taking part in the trip.
Following lunch we marched around town, stopping by Christchurch, the Dublin Castle, a perfect little French café for some cappuccinos and coffee, and eventually making it to St. Stephens Green. Feeling much more rested than the previous night, and more secure with friends by my side, I was ready to really see what the infamous Irish nightlife was like. Our group started out at a quaint little pub called The Stags Head. Mine, Annette, and Natalie’s favorite part? The corner window seat/nook with a perfect view of the street below. After walking around town some more, we ended our night at The Porterhouse. This pub was great, they had house brews and live music, you can’t really go wrong with either of those.
Saturday, our group decided to really be a part of a tourist agenda and visit the Guinness Brewery on St-James Street. On our way we made stops at an amazing farmer’s market, a book shop, and other cute stores for stumbling!
I have to give cudos to the design firm hired to put the tour of the Guinness Storehouse together. The brewery was amazing. Each of the eight floors had its own distinct purpose, some full of useful and interesting infographics and animations, others displaying archives of Guinness goods, overall the entire layout and flow of the storehouse was incredible. The best part of the tour was definitely the GRAVITY Bar, situated on the top deck of the storehouse, featuring stunning panoramic views of the entire city.
I could have spent many more hours cavorting around at the Guinness GRAVITY Bar, but we had dinner reservations and tickets to see Plough and the Stars at the Peacock Theatre. As a lover of theatre and the arts, I was excited to see a performance that was an embodiment of Ireland and fitted with Irish actors. Hmph. So, I won’t say too much about this play, other than the following:
- It was long, very long indeed. Bring some refreshments, people.
- I learned that I have no sense or understanding of Irish humor, yet.
- The skill and intensity of the actors were phenomenal.
- Word to the wise: If you’re seeing a play that is based on Irish history, know a little bit about Irish history.
The highlights of the day certainly out weigh the sap of the play, and the trip, overall, was great! So to recap…
Things I learned while in Dublin:
- I may have an Irish name and be of Irish heritage, but I don’t look very Irish, at all.
- Packing an umbrella, raincoat, and rain boots were a solid investment in this journey.
- Ireland is a great place for surfing some great waves [who knew!].
- Ireland has great seafood fare.
- Dublin is much smaller than I expected.
- Irish-English is far more difficult to understand than American-English, African-English, Canadian-English, or even the lesser known dialect of English, Cleveland-English, just kidding friends!
- I would be 100 percent OK with it if everyone called boys, “lads” and “laddys,” and girls “lasses.”
- Dublin was a blast, and a perfect way to kick off a great month long journey in Europe.