On Saturday the 11th, my housemate and I planned to meet up in Dublin with two other girls from our home college who are studying in Winchester, England. We took the bus over from Limerick and found our way down the river to where the other two girls were waiting for us. We all settled for breakfast in a cute café, Three Café, just across from our hostel, The Generator (if you stay in Dublin, I’d suggest to stay at The Generator as it is in walking distance to most famous sites around the city). I enjoyed some peppermint tea and a breakfast sandwich, and then we ventured out to the city to spend some time before we could check in to our hostel.
In Dublin The First Day
Our first stop was at the National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts & History, as it wasn’t too far of a walk from our hostel. The museum was functioning in the old Dublin barracks where soldiers used to stay. Because I am taking an Irish history course, I was very interested to see artifacts from their country. I also enjoyed handling a few guns on display. Couldn’t imagine ever toting one of those heavy things around during wartime.
After exploring hundreds of years’ worth of history, we left in the rain. It was cold rain, even hailing a bit at one point, and our umbrellas didn’t do a great job of staying above our heads in the windy weather (I honestly have come to believe it’s not worth it to spend money on an umbrella to use in Ireland… I ended up throwing mine away).
We managed to find our way to a little hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, where we feasted on a huge piece of pizza, hoping the rain would quit soon. The two guys that worked there were really nice and knew we were American after we ordered, and they bantered a bit about the weather. After chowing down on pizza we made a list of the things we wanted to do the rest of the weekend, trying to work around the weather. We decided to stick to activities that were inside for the rest of the day, and found our way to the art museum.
It wasn’t just an art museum, it was a contemporary art museum, the Irish Museum of Modern Art. I’m sure plenty of you have been to view contemporary art, but if you haven’t, you can’t really prepare yourself for what you might see. I swear, most contemporary artists must sit in their lofts in a cloud of weed around their head and a bottle of whiskey in their hand as they come up with their bizarre artwork. None of it made sense to me, even though I consider myself open-minded to artistic interpretations. But some of it was inspiring, like this one photocollage depicting a different perspective of nature that caught my eye.
After the art museum, we headed to the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology (Why even go to school when you can learn everything from museums for free?). There, I was able to witness even more of Ireland’s history, which gave me a better idea of the beginnings of Irish people and their tough stories (I also learned you should never visit an Irish bog).
We took a long walk back from the museum and wanted a nice sit-down meal out of the rain. If you are ever in Dublin, visit Arthur’s Pub on Thomas Street. Both locals and tourists enjoy this cute corner pub, and we for sure enjoyed their warm atmosphere and good food on Saturday night. I enjoyed mashed potatoes and chicken with a high fructose corn syrup-free soft drink. We only had one drunk local bother us, but after failing at his magic disappearing-straw act, he turned back to his buddies.
The hostel we stayed in was very comfortable and clean. I felt like I slept on a cloud that night and the next morning we woke up to much nicer weather. That day we planned to visit Dublin Castle, in the heart of the city, first thing in the morning and took the quick walk over from our hostel. The castle was actually not what I expected, as it looked very modern. I learned that the castle was used for inaugurations for each president nowadays and some concerts are even held there in the yard. My favorite room was St. Patrick’s Room, which was covered with dark blue paint and carpet. Many rooms had intricate white detail on the ceilings which I also thought were just gorgeous.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral wasn’t far from the castle, so we walked there next and took pictures in front of the fountain. We didn’t go inside as it began to sprinkle a bit and we were hungry for lunch. We stopped for a quick lunch of cheap but tasty chips and a burger and then headed to the historical downtown. It wasn’t raining on our way down, but the wind was incredibly cold. We walked past lots of shops along cobbled streets and came out to the famous General Post Office, where a leader of the Easter Rising, Patrick Pearse, read aloud the proclamation that Ireland was a sovereign independent Republic in 1916 (Again, I am glad I am taking an Irish history course or would have no idea what the big deal is about downtown Dublin). Past the post office, we saw multiple statues of leaders of Ireland’s history. We also marveled at the river views and bridges along Dublin’s streets.
We also saw Trinity College, although the weather wasn’t that great. I felt like I had to have received my PhD before entering the campus because it was so majestic and scholarly-looking. We warmed up in the tourist shop where I bought a few souvenirs and our friend took the tour of the Book of Kells, a historically beautiful manuscript containing the four Gospels.
Our last major stop was at the world-famous Guinness Storehouse. Of course, the rain had picked up again, and so we took a miserable walk over to the storehouse, about thirty minutes from where we started off. The Guinness Storehouse is 7 stories tall and is shaped like a giant pint glass. Each floor had different information about the history of the Guinness business, and near the top we were able to enjoy a sample of fresh Guinness and on the 7th floor was a lookout bar that had windows all the way around so you could sip on a pint of “the black stuff” while viewing all of Dublin. It reminded me of the tower in Chicago that looks out over the city.
That night we stopped at Nando’s restaurant near our hostel for some chicken. One of the girls in our group told us that Nando’s was Niall Horan’s favorite restaurant in Europe, so of course we had to go (my sister would freak out knowing I’m living only 2 hours from his hometown).
Dublin was everything I thought it would be: Quaint yet modern and very welcoming, as well as very Irish. There will be another blog about Dublin when I revisit for St. Patrick’s.