I am so blessed and thrilled to say that I have now been to Ireland. Being that my family is very proud of our Irish heritage, I was very excited to learn a little more about the country.
We got flights there for about £30, which is $45 round trip. That’s right, round trip. Unfortunately, this cheap price came with consequences. Our flight left at 8am Saturday morning, and with all the new US citizen Europe travel advisory crap, we decided to get to the airport a wee bit early just to make sure we got cleared.
So one thing I am super excited about is the ease of getting to the Airport here in Edinburgh. There is a shuttle bus, for £6 round trip, that runs about every 10 minutes starting at 4am to the airport. Its about a 15 minute walk away from me, I really cant beat that. So at 4:45 we went over to Waverly Bridge and caught the 5:05 bus to the airport. We made it to the airport by 5:30, and made it through security by 5:45. So we had an hour and a half till boarding. Nice. After a quick nap in the terminal, we boarded our flight.
Now I know what people mean by “budget flying”. This plane didn’t even have seat back pockets, and I felt like the chairs I were sitting on where built by Hasbro. Alas we made it to Dublin in one piece, found our way to a bus and hopped on towards downtown. I thought for some reason that the bus would be scenic, but it really wasn’t I ended up dozing off for a few minutes.
We made our way to the hostel, but weren’t able to check in cause it was still only 10:30 in the morning. We went and grabbed some food, and decided to start exploring Dublin. Since it was a Saturday, it seemed like it was very touristy, lots of tour busses and people walking, pretty crowded in the streets.
We headed to Trinity College, which I heard is a must see, and wow all I can say is that the Trinity campus rivals Harvards. It is enclosed by buildings similarly to Harvard, with a beautiful center area. A famous attraction is the book of Kells, which is some very renditions of the Gosepels, written by Celtic Monks in 800A.D. After the ogling of some Irish football players, we walked around the Liffy, which is the river that runs along Dublin. The views from the Liffy were beautiful, especially some of the bridges that cross it.
So fortunately my friend Kristina knows about this free tour that is offered to college students in certain European cities, and to our delight, there was one in Dublin. Basically what this consists of is a college-age or recently graduated student who knows a lot about the city provides free tours to students travelling. The tour lasted about 3 hours, and we got to see Dublin castle, the Christ Cathedral, the Temple Bar District, the “Stiffy on the Liffy” (sorry at this point I cant remember the real name of the gigantic pole in Dublin), the Parliament type house, and a few various statues throughout the city. After about 3 hours, and some interesting characters along the way, we ended up in a beautiful park, and lo and behold, there was a wedding!
We did a little bit of shopping, which even though I was warned that Dublin is expensive, they also use the Euro there, so I had to be careful to think about the Euro value vs. the dollar value vs. the pound value, and whether or not I was getting a good deal. It started turning into some sort of algebra equation, so I ended up just getting some stuff if I thought it was a decent price.
That night we went out for some traditional Irish food at a pub, I ended up having the beef stew. All the years of eating my grandma’s yummy beef stew, I love it, and this one had lamb in it. Quite delicious. We ended up meeting some people from Boston (they’re everywhere) who were next to us, who actually had some mutual friends. As I bored my friends discussing Engineering plastics manufacturing, we decided to head to the temple bar district.
This district is sort of known as the touristy pub area that you think of when you picture a Dublin night scene. Lots of singing, people in the streets, tourists and shenanigans. Oh and Guinness. It was a good time though.
Sunday brought us to a self guided tour around St. Patricks Cathedral, which was absolutely breathtaking. The outside alone was gorgeous, and unfortunately I couldn’t see the inside.
We went to Dublinia, which is a Viking museum, that highlights the Viking invasion of Dublin. Apparently it had a big impact on the culture here. It was a very interactive museum, and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed it. There was an observatory at the top, which had a nice view of the city, and lots of pretty stained glass. For some reason, the museum is connected to the Christ Church, so we got to see that as well.
After this, we headed to the Guinness factory for some good ole Guinness fun. Not going to lie here, I was pretty disappointed. Instead of it being an actual factory tour, it was more of a museum devoted to the process of brewing Guinness, with fake equipment and video screens simulating what actually happens. While it was interesting, I would’ve preferred to see the real thing. My favorite part of the factory was the design of the inside, even though I’m petrified of heights (who knew?!). The inside of the factory is shaped like a pint glass, and as you tour the museum you eventually make it to the top, which has the gravity bar, the best part. Every entrant gets a free pint of Guinness (provided they’re above age, of course) so I gave Andy my voucher (I think Guinness is gross) and let him enjoy it (Almost too much, hehe). The gravity bar has spectacular views of the city, and although the visibility wasn’t the best, it was still really nice.
By this point we were all really tired, looked around a few more shops, had an early dinner (bangers and mash, YUM!! And sticky toffee pudding with ice cream, YUMMER!, and called it a night. We had a 6:30am flight the next morning and didn’t want to be totally exhausted for class, what good students we are 😉
Oh yeah, so this was my first time ever staying at a hostel, and I have to say it was a pretty pleasant experience. I felt like I was at summer camp again, which really isn’t a big deal to me. We had our own room, which was nice, and it had a sink and stuff, we only had to share toilets and showers. The beds were more comfortable than here in Edinburgh! While it was a little loud, it definitely suited our needs.
Ultimately, as much fun as Dublin was, I am very glad that I am here in Edinburgh. I’ve been here for over 5 weeks (I know, right?) and I still haven’t seen the whole city. Dublin is pretty quaint compared to Edinburgh, but definitely a fun place to visit for a couple days