Sometime ago I decided to ignore my bank balance and book a ticket to Ireland for the weekend. Thankfully living right on the edge of Wales (almost) this ended up not being all that expensive. National Express usually has some good deals going and the trip is so easy, otherwise you can jump on the train or drive yourself.
I decided that I would try out the bus option, and aside for being slightly annoying at Holyhead with having to get off, walk through a building showing your passport and then get back on just to drive to the ferry to get off again it is actually quite convenient. They leave straight from Bangor so I was fortunate with that too but they leave from all major stations anyway, you may have to change a couple of times but regardless of where you are in the UK you can just as easily get to Dublin. Please note that if you decide to take the train you may have to change trains at some point a long the way too. I basically spent an hour or two looking for the cheapest option and the most convenient, National Express happened to be it.
Once on the ferry I found it hard to catch some Zs as I just so happen to choose the worst weather to travel in but it hasn’t been the worst ferry crossing I have done (remembering Zanzibar…. Bleurgh.) Once in Dublin I was not so lovingly picked up from the central coach station (it was rather early in the morning) and driven home. I say home but it actually wasn’t my home, luckily for me I do know some Irish people who were more than happy for me to stay with them but for those who aren’t as lucky as me there are so many hostels and hotels for you to stay in instead. Hostel world is my favourite, http://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/Dublin so check some out. Remember that if you are a student there are some good deals out there too so flash your cards at every possible opportunity.
After I had some breakfast, I was taken on a drive through the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Wow. I have to admit that I have been to some beautiful places but Wicklow definitely pleases any outdoor enthusiasts. Check out Glendalough as well, there is a sweet little café called the Glendalough Green that serves soups and cakes and tea (very important considering this was November in Ireland). Take a day to just walk around and explore. It really is breath-taking and the fresh mountain air is always good. If you fancy, there is a lake too that you can swim in. I imagine it to be bloody freezing but whatever floats your boat!
That night we hit the cinema and the pubs. A lovely evening spent in awesome company in a very cool city. Although I would never put going to the cinema on the top of my list, it was cool just being in Ireland. I have always had this sort of homesickness for that place even though I had never been there before.
The day next, feeling slightly more awake and ready to be the ultimate tourist I sat down with my friends and planned the best day of sightseeing that involved pretty much covering the whole of Dublin! My day started at the Guinness Storehouse, which was the best place to start, as it was one side of town so I figured I could finish on the other side. I would put aside a whole morning or afternoon for this, it is a huge building with much to see and do. If you go with friends perhaps take longer as the Gravity Bar up top has some wonderful views and of course the perfect pint of Guinness!
From here I just wondered and soaked up all the sights that Dublin has to offer. I definitely need to find something better to talk about but the architecture is just astonishing. Absolutely every building had some sort of character, be it a colourful door or a cool shape. Pay attention to the alleyways too, most of them were covered in awesome street art which is becoming another favourite of mine in cities these days.
Lunch was a rather long stop at the Tower Records, for those of you who don’t know Dublin, there is so much to see, do and listen too so why would lunch be any different? Here I was thinking just a quick bite to eat and I will be off again. The awesome band playing in the teeny tiny café put an end to that fairly quickly and I actually have them to blame for my lack of museum visits. Seriously ask the locals what’s what because without their valuable information you have no idea what you will be missing out on. You will not be disappointed, besides the Irish are very friendly so they are more than happy to help!
After my lengthy lunch I made my way up to the writer’s museum, I just had to do this considering I am aspiring to be a writer and studying most of the people featured in the museum. In all honesty for those with no interest in the subject of writing then I wouldn’t bother if I were you. It basically contains loads of writing about various poets and writers with not a lot else going on.
Save the time for some other museum, Dublin is full of them. From wax to a Whiskey to Natural History there are so many options and loads of family friendly ones too. My only suggestion would be to plan your time wisely, there is so much to do it would be such a shame to miss out on so much! As I live not too far away I plan on going back at every available opportunity so I have an excuse, for those of you who live further away it would be silly not to try to at least see everything!
From here I was all tired out, I had covered so much of the city I was about ready for a drink, and where better to go than the world-famous Temple Bar. If you want a touristy bar then this is it, but check out some others too as Dublin is pretty famous for their nightlife. As the rugby was on, I decided Temple Bar would be the place. It was full with so many people (Irish included) and they were serving Guinness and cider. Happy Days.
After the rugby I stuck around and ended up meeting the sponsors of the South African rugby team so as you can imagine I started off my evening having a jolly good time. Sadly it was time to leave to meet up with my friend again and join him for his version of a night out in Dublin. Aside from having to walk miles again I had an awesome night. Much cider was drunk and I met so many people who knew people I knew too. Such a small world! Anyway as you can imagine the details are foggy but I do recall having an absolute blast. When in Dublin you have to go out and meet the locals, listen out for the live music again because Ireland is harbouring some serious talent!
In my drunken haze I remember falling in love with Dublin, and reminiscing back now I don’t think it was the cider goggles at all. As cities go Dublin as everything I could ever wish for and more.
My last day, well afternoon (I had to sleep off my hangover) was spent walking around Trinity College. Such a beautiful campus, it actually made me feel like transferring. Sadly I am not clever enough to go there and I don’t think they do my degree anyway but if you get the opportunity I would definitely take a walk round. Some stunning buildings. Ask the locals as well about all the myths and what the buildings are for. There are some entertaining stories held within those walls!
To finish off it was a rather romantic stroll round Dublin castle in the twilight. The only thing that made it romantic was the lighting; the company I was in would cringe at me saying it was romantic. I’m pretty sure love stories were written within the vicinity of that castle though; Celia Ahern is after all from Dublin! I now know where she gets her inspiration.
A delicious dinner and a glass of orange juice completed my whirlwind weekend and I left feeling very sad to be saying goodbye. The real truth is that it’s not really goodbye and more of an I will see you later; I already have plans in my head to go back and spend much more time there.
Thank you Dublin for being the coolest city I have ever been too. It takes a lot for me to have favourites but you made it so easy, I am definitely still very much drunk in love with this city and can’t wait to go back to soak up more of what the Irish and Ireland have to offer. Dublin is just a small slice of a country that I know will be a highlight of my nomadic life.