Within minutes of arriving Dublin I was reminded of why I should never travel alone. I had taken the bus by myself and planned to meet my friends when their train arrived about an hour later. I thought I knew exactly where to go, but the bus dropped me off in a different location than the website had listed, so I immediately got lost. I quickly learned just how little I knew about Dublin: I had no idea what landmarks to look for, where famous buildings were located, or even the name of a popular street. Needless to say, I spent a very long time wandering around, trying to act like I knew what I was doing. Luckily I was saved by a tourist center. When I went in to ask for directions a slightly annoyed gentleman gave me a map and pointed me in the opposite direction.
Eventually I found my way to the Globetrotter Hostel and it was exactly what I expected: industrial bunk beds, starched sheets, dingy lighting and a moldy bathroom. It all felt completely right. Soon my roommates and friends joined me, and we headed back out into Dublin to explore. I got phenomenally lost once again (geography has clearly never been my strongest area) but luckily I was traveling with people who knew what they were doing, so I kept my mouth shut and pretended that I knew exactly where we were.
After spending some time in the city on our own, we met at a pub called the Workman’s Bar to start a pub-crawl. Our fearless and slightly exasperated leader, Dara, dragged our group to multiple different pubs and pointed out famous sites in Dublin. Each location was very different from the last. The first pub had an old-time feeling with a solo guitarist playing indie rock songs whereas the second one had a much more American vibe to it and an interesting display of bras strung together behind the bar. The last one had a trio of musicians on guitar, the tin whistle and the cello playing traditional Irish music (called “trad” music here). The pub-crawl finished at a club, but we only stayed for a few minutes just to say we saw it. We weren’t the only ones who left early: only about a third of the pub-crawl made it to the club.
Saturday morning we slept in and had a late breakfast of traditional Irish food – eggs, potatoes, sausage, black pudding, fried tomatoes and coffee. Delicious. Then we embarked on a self-guided tour of Dublin that squeezed as many famous sites as possible into one afternoon. We went to multiple free museums to visit exhibits on famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats, on Ireland’s role in the First World War, and on mummified bodies that were found in the Irish bogs.
Since it was a beautiful day, which can be somewhat rare in Ireland, we moved back outside to view the statues and historical buildings on the Trinity College campus. I thought this was especially cool to see because my Irish Literature class examines a few different writers and poets who either studied or taught at Trinity College. Some of them even have statues immortalizing their contributions to the English language.
My favorite part of Dublin definitely had to be St. Stephen’s Green, a massive public park in the center of the city. We spent a long time walking down intricate paths and watching swans on the lakes. If I ever live in Dublin I will visit that park every day, rain or shine. Then we ended our tour at the Dublin Castle. It was a short stop because we could not see much more than the courtyard without paying for a tour, but we managed to snap some photos, admire some architecture and peer into scratchy windows before heading back to the hostel.
That night we concluded our time in Dublin the right way: by visiting a variety of pubs. I can’t wait to go back to Dublin when my family comes because I definitely have a list of things I still need to see!