To celebrate our friend Kate’s birthday, I tagged along with a group of eight other girls to Dublin two weeks ago. I’m awful at updating this..my apologies. It was still dark when I walked to the bus station at 7:30 AM, but I’m slowly learning to never be shocked at the lack of sunlight here. After a nice (chilly) bus ride through the countryside, we got into Dublin at about 12:30 and walked to our hostel. I was kind of surprised at what we found. I expected the hostel to be more…well, hostile. You’ve seen that crazy Quentin Tarantino movie, right? Well, thankfully, this was nothing like that. The woman at the front desk was adorable and managed to get eight of us in the same room (one girl ended up in a different room down the hall). We went down to our room and met a Mexican girl who was already in there. She was on her way out and told us we could use her laptop if we wanted to. She left the room and left her laptop on a chair. Just like that. People here are so trusting. We didn’t really look like hardened criminals (we were sitting in a circle eating peanut butter sandwiches and apples while giggling and taking pictures), but even still, I don’t know if I would have done the same thing. After we were (sort of) full from our super hearty sandwiches we headed off to the Guinness Factory!
The Guinness Factory was about a 40 minute walk from our hostel but we hadn’t seen any of the city yet, so that was perfect. After nearly being blown away by the wind (I did not realize that Dublin was now the windy city), we made it to the factory and proceeded to take a million pictures of everything that said Guinness on it. Why? Because we could. I didn’t know what to expect at the Guinness factory; I’d heard mixed reviews, but it ended up being pretty cool. We walked our way through the four ingredients of beer (which I now know are wheat, barley, hops, and water), learned about the Guinness Master Brewers, saw old Guinness advertisements, displays of Guinness around the world, and anything else related to that bitter dark liquid that you could possibly imagine. It was set up like a museum, and since I’m a dork and love museums, it was right up my alley. I also got really excited because my last name was everywhere so I felt kind of like I belonged…I mean, at one point in time my family had to have brewed beer, right?
At the top of the factory there is the Gravity Bar, a circular bar with glass walls and plenty of beer. From there you have a 360 degree view of Dublin to enjoy while sipping your complimentary pint. And that is just what I did. Sipped it. I got nowhere near finishing the thing, which was a little embarrassing when I was standing next to my Austrian friend who finished in under ten minutes (she says its just because she’s Austrian..its also because I’m a wimp). What a champ. Its just not for me, though. Sorry, Arthur Guinness.
Even though Guinness is heavy enough to be considered a meal, we wanted some real food after an arduous day of enjoying a foreign city (poor us, right?). We found a cute little restaurant and waited what felt like an eternity for our food. I’m sure it took a normal amount of time but our growling stomachs were much louder than a voice of reason at that point. One thing I’ve noticed about restaurants here is that the service is very different. At home I’m used to constantly being annoyed by the server. They always manage to walk up to you table and ask how the food is just as you’ve stuffed your mouth full of something and can’t answer them. Here, they take your order, bring you your food and never come back. Literally. Our first night in Cork we were waiting for our check but couldn’t find our waiter. We asked someone to find and they said he’d gone home. This happened AGAIN at this restaurant. Either we dine at really awkward shift-changing times, or they just don’t have the same annoying approach to serving customers as Americans. Either way, we ate and left. Next order of business: a night out on the town.
When we headed back to the hostel to get ready we met our other roommates. We ended up with four guys; one from Sweden, two from Germany, and one from…I have no idea. They were really friendly and two of them ended up coming out with us. We decided to head to Temple Bar, which is a huge area of bars as well as the name of an actual bar itself. We went to the actual Temple Bar first but it was claustrophobia central. Waaay to many people and no possible way to move/breathe/sit down. After ten minutes of awkwardly standing in the middle of a crowd we headed out to find a new place. There are always people on the street promoting bars and nightclubs and they usually give you little coupons for drinks or whatever so we decided to take a man up on his lovely advertisement for a nightclub. I think we managed to find the absolute lamest bar in all of Dublin. Possibly in all the world. I’m not exaggerating. As we headed down the cheesy carpeted steps we realized this is NOT what we thought. There was a weird unidentifiable smell emanating from every object in the room. One drunk lonely man danced by himself while an older couple sat a table sipping cocktails. About 30 disco balls lined the ceiling. Videos of 80s hits were being projected on the walls. I felt like I walked into..well, a Madonna video circa 1987. At least the bar was aptly names…perhaps the one thing they did well. It was just bad. We made a few more attempts to find a place to go but ended up splurging on 99 cent chocolate cookies and eating them on the floor of the hostel. Just as fun. Maybe next time, Dublin.
After waking up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of the hostels free breakfast, we did some sight seeing. We went to Trinity College, which was gorgeous, St. Stephen’s Green (again, beautiful), Grafton Street, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral (well, we saw the outside), and wandered around to random places. Trinity College looks nothing like a college. It looks more like a fort or a castle. The ground is cobblestone and all of the buildings are amazing. I thought UCC looked like a castle until I saw this place. Trinity College is a touristy thing to see in Dublin, but I think I would feel weird if people were always walking around taking pictures of my school. People do that at Marist but they’re mostly biddies and they’re all holding red solo cups and wearing bikinis on the library lawn, but a few are classy like myself and take pictures of the river sans drinking memorabilia. But, I digress..
We moved onto St. Stephen’s green to get a taste of mother nature. St. Stephen’s green is a huge park with gardens and a pond (and a ton of cute little kids) in the middle of Dublin. We walked around and took a tonnn of pictures and just enjoyed the fresh air and came up with schemes to coerce people into letting us borrow their adorable children for the afternoon. Kids are just so much cuter when they gurgle with an Irish accent. From there we went to Grafton Street. It was…well I don’t really know. Busy. And not really anything too exciting. Besides the fact that its quoted in the song “Before the Worst” by The Script, I don’t really get the draw of it. A few of us headed over the Dublin Castle which in my opinion was less of a castle than Trinity, but it was still neat. We didn’t take a tour of the inside because we were running low on time (and money) so we wandered over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We learned that you had to pay to see the inside so we decided that the outside was beautiful enough. We still had time to kill before our bus so we sat on a bench by the River Liffey and just people watched for a little. We got some lunch and ran into quite a few of Dublin’s resident crazies (a woman wandering the street with a half empty bottle of vodka, a toothless man carrying a boombox and dancing on the sidewalk, and a man who pulled out a diamond ring and proposed to Chrissy through a cafe window) then headed to the train station. A few magazines and another peanut butter sandwich later we were finally back in Cork.
I enjoyed Dublin a lot but it made me really happy that I’m staying in Cork. I’m not much of a city person to begin with, but I’ve somehow managed to fall in love with Cork already. Dublin was a little too much for me; very cool to visit but I don’t think I could live there. Too much of a big city for me. Home sweet Cork 🙂
Well, in an hour I’m heading to Galway for the weekend. Maybe you’ll read about it in two weeks 😉