There isn’t a place much more opposite to Croatia, than Ireland. Our warm Croatian adventure was over, and it was time to head back “West.” The rain and wind welcomed us to Dublin from the sky, and from the moment we got off the plane, we were reminded how different everything was. It still shocks me how much things can change in just a few hours! One thing was certain, we were in a different land now, one where the cars drive on the left side of the road, people speak Gaelic, drinking is the national past-time, and green is your color, this, was IRELAND.
In all honesty, by the time we landed in Ireland, I was still in shock that we even boarded our flight in Dubrovnik at all. The morning before, we had narrowly avoided crisis when we arrived at the airport later than we wanted to be. We stood waiting in an endless line (which we later found out was because it was a cruise-ship turnover day, and everyone was heading out of Croatia) to check in for out flight. It was just 20 minutes until our plane DEPARTED from the airport, and we were still lugging out bags up to the check-in counter. The woman at the counter looked over her triangle framed glasses at us, remarked about how late we were, the quickly muttered something in Croatian under her breath. She then got on a radio and spoke to someone. When she hung up, she started printing out luggage tags and told us to meet an airport officer at the information counter, and she would take us to our plane. We rushed across the airport, found the officer, a tall Croatian woman, and she led us through security (which had no less than 400 – 500 people in line!), whipped us through the personal items screening, and onto a bus on the tarmac: where an Airbus 320 was waiting FOR US! I hardly had time to get settled into my seat before the plane took off. I have never been so thankful or awestruck by an Airport Customer Service team, but I definitely felt that I had cashed in all my karma points for the year.
Alright, now for Dublin! Upon arriving, we made our way though the enormous airport, and out toward the bus station. We had done some research on getting a city bus pass that allowed us to take a “hop on hop off” bus tour of the city that also let us get a ride both from and back to the airport. When we got down to the station and asked the nice young woman about bus tickets, she told us that under the right circumstances, getting the 3 day ticket would have been the right option, but that for our trip we should only get the two day pass. This was because the bus drivers in Dublin were talking of going on strike that weekend in protest to unfair wages. Startled, but understanding, we purchased the two day pass, and boarded a yellow, two story “harry potter” bus as I deemed it, and we headed for the city!
We made our way through the Irish country side (on the left side of the freeway) and I couldn’t help but think Ireland was very much the way I imagined it. There were large draft horses in the fields between the freeways, long dark road tunnels, rain, and then, when we got into the city, long winding cobblestone roads. The city of Dublin is so old, not as old as the city of Dubrovnik, but still, OLD, and we were heading toward the center of it. After about a 45 minute bus ride, we got off at the station right across from Christ Church. I was NOT wearing the right clothes, and was shocked by the wind and the cold rain when we got off the bus with out luggage. We then walked a block or so until we saw a newsstand. Per the directions of our AirB&B host, I went into the store and asked for an envelope with my name on it, he handed me a white envelope with no writing on it. It honestly felt a little like a James Bond movie or something! I hustled out of the newsstand and we found the apartment just moments later.
The apartment was quaint, white, and not very well decorated, but it was a place to sleep for the next few nights! We wouldn’t spend much time here anyway, we only had a day and a half to explore Dublin, and we were going to make the most of it! Seeing as it had already been a long day of traveling, it was time to find some food. We spent some time walking through the streets, marveling at the splendors of Dublin, and looking at menus, until we decided on an Irish burger joint. It was PERFECT.
The night was fast approaching, so we decided to find the “Temple Bar” part of town.It was where we had read there were lots of bars, good shopping, and live Irish music! I’d say they were right! Even getting there early, the streets were packed with people.Cars were slowing pushing through the crowds on the cobblestone streets, and people were laughing and talking everywhere while enjoying food, drink, and music. We ended up heading to a bar called Gogarty’s. Inside, we found what felt to be a “real” Irish pub! There was an older Irish gentleman playing a multitude of instruments (the banjo, the harmonica, and an old recorder) and many people laughing, drinking, and singing. This was the place to be for the night and it was time for our first Irish pints and some live Irish music.
After our fun at the pub, we went home early to get rested for our first and only full day in Dublin. It was surprisingly clear and cold out that morning, which was nice for us seeing as we didn’t bring all the right layers for this leg of the trip! We went out to a place called O’Neils for breakfast, at the recommendation of a friend who had lived here before. It was probably one of the more decadent meals I had on the whole trip: French toast stuffed with hazelnut spread and topped with crystallized traditional Irish maple syrup served with fried blueberries, strawberries, and a fried banana. YUM!
It was now time to go and see some of the sights of Dublin! Figured since the Christ Church was literally right across the street from our apartment, that we should to to check that out first. Probably one of the most BEAUTIFUL Churches I have been in all my life. The ceilings, intricate stone art, and furniture inlaid with gold made this one of my favorite experiences in Dublin.
The earliest manuscript that describes the Christ Church at this location was written about in 1030, and throughout it’s history, the church as been a sign and a symbol, and icon of the faith and and power of the country of Ireland (History, Christ Church Cathedral).
After taking a good hour or so to explore the Christ Church and its Crypt, we headed out to see the sights of the city while it wasn’t raining. We walked past many old buildings, the City Hall and the Bank of Ireland (looked like Gringots to me!), until we found the Dublin Castle. We just walked around the outside and didn’t go in, but it was very neat to see part of an ancient castle hanging out in downtown!
For over 800 years Dublin Castle has been at the heart of Irish history.
From the founding of the first Celtic settlement in the 1st century A.D. to every Presidential inauguration since the foundation of the State, the site has stood witness to some of the most pivotal events in the country’s history (Dublin Castle).
It was then decided that we would shop! We wanted to see as much of the city as we could, so we started walking. More beautiful buildings followed us: more stone streets, horse-drawn buggies, double decker buses, and lots of people jammed the streets. We ended up stopping at a vintage dress store in a street market and I got a lovely vintage Irish green dress! I didn’t take any photos, but it might make an appearance this Halloween!
After visiting the market, the rain started, so we decided it was time to get on the bus and see what we could see! The first stop we made was at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
As the largest cathedral and one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s has been at the heart of Dublin and Ireland’s history and culture for over 800 years. Our story is a microcosm of the story of Ireland (Life & History).
Now that we had explored two of Dublin’s most famous churches and a castle, we figured it was time to do one more Irish thing: drink beer. This wasn’t going to be a visit to the pub though, it was going to the place where magic is made, or should I say, brewed: The Guinness Storehouse.
This place is seriously HUGE. The building towers over you in a wide stone alleyway when you arrive by bus. It was still raining, and we walked through the small front door until we made it to the counter to get tickets (ticket prices start at €14.00). Now, make your way through the maze, of Guinness. Learn about the founders of the company and all they have done for the city of Dublin, let the master brewers of the past tell you from their screens about how Guinness is brewed, and about how it became the world’s most famous beer.
I’d say, that for only having one day in Dublin, we did a pretty darn good job of seeing the sights. I think I would enjoy going back to Ireland, but perhaps not to the city of Dublin. It was such a busy city, beautiful, but busy, and I feel that I would enjoy the Irish Countryside much more. These past few days in Dublin have been amazing, unforgettable, and oh so full of adventure, but I’m ready to be home.
History – Christ Church Cathedral Dublin. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://christchurchcathedral.ie/about/history/