Travel Diaries: Ireland, Europe

The continuing adventures of my younger self abroad in Europe.  Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day (today, not when I was actually there) I give you adventures in Dublin!  All colour photography is courtesy of my sister Mel Stone and all black and white is my own.

Dublin, Ireland, Europe

Tuesday   9/4/2007   9:30

I just have to say it, Dublin is awesome.  I love the Irish accent!   It is to London what the Boston accent is to New York: smaller, more relaxed.

We had a flight over here that would have been terrible had I not slept through it.  I don’t think I have ever been on a flight with as many obnoxious children before.  We landed, cleared customs, got our luggage, and waited for the bus.  And waited.  And waited.  I think it was an hour before it finally came.  And it was freezing out!  But we got it, I dozed some more, and eventually we got off and found our hostel, The Abbey Court.  It’s quaint and comfortable.  The people are reasonably friendly.  I like it.  Our first hostel in Europe!

First hostel!  The Abbey Court is the blue one
First hostel! The Abbey Court is the blue one

We couldn’t actually go to our room until 14:30, so we wandered the streets of Dublin.  It was quiet out as it was a bank holiday.  We ate a late breakfast/early lunch at a cafe called the Art of Coffee.  I had “white” coffee, which is basically coffee with cream and foam, as well as eggs on toast, which is a pretty excellent concept.  I don’t remember much more of our ramblings that day, we were so tired from spending the night in Luton Airport in England and having such an early flight. We did see a guy doing an incredible chalk drawing of Michelangelo’s The Holy Family on the sidewalk though.

One badass mofo right here
One badass mofo right here

Back at the Abbey Court, we chilled out and tried to stay awake in the common room.  There were some other people doing the same.  I wanted to try to talk to this one guy, but in a hostel you never know if someone speaks your language (thankfully, later in my European adventures my young self starts talking to people.  Sheesh).

14:30 finally rolled around, and we crashed in our 10 person dorm.  There was another guy there doing the same.  When we awoke we did some luggage reorganizing.  There is a luggage room out back where people keep big stuff, and so we put in the bins under our beds just what we’d need for our stay.  We took showers and felt more like human beings.  Yay for naps and showers.

Then we started to meet some of the fellow travelers in our room.  Jason is Australian and just spent the last couple of weeks further south in Ireland.  Lori is 22 and is student teaching at a military camp at a school for army brats in Germany.  It’s her spring break now.  She is actually going to school in Philadelphia.  She’s great, and is our new best friend, although she will be leaving us soon and going to Cork this very afternoon.  Chad is also American and has been traveling for the past 7 months.  He’s quite party-party, and was giving us all these cool tips.  He warned us that some bars don’t let you in if you’re not over 21 (my friends and I were 19 at the time).  Which is bullshit.

Lori, our new best friend
Lori, our new best friend

We went out with Lori to the Temple Bar area, which is all cobblestone narrow streets and bars and pubs and restaurants and street musicians.  It was jumping, and it was only a Monday night!  But as Chad said, the only day you will find the Irish sober is on Good Friday.  We went to this Italian restaurant for dinner, which was good but the flavors were a little off.  Italian food seems to be one thing you can find everywhere, it’ll be interesting to see how it changes.  And our charming Canadian waitress forgot to charge us for our bottle of wine, so it was all good.

After dinner, we went to the Quays Bar (pronounced “keys”) across the street.  I started the night right with a pint of Guinness, of course!  Tasty stuff, that.  It was crowded.  We bonded with Lori over more pints, trying out Kilkenny’s and Smithys (Smithwicks), more delicious Irish brews that we had not tried yet in the states.  But now we are going out to see Dublin Castle, so more about last night to come later!

Dublin
Dublin

19:40

So, when I left off, we were at Quays Bar.  A very drunk, very friendly Irish fellow quickly took an interest in our party, especially cute little Lori.  His name was Will, and it really didn’t take him long to make a move.  Meanwhile, Sara and I were trying to have a conversation (pointless really, in a crowded Irish bar) when a different drunk Irish guy approached the both of us.  He wasn’t that bad-looking, but no.  We ran away from him to where Mel and Jill had parked themselves in front of the musicians.

The Quays Bar musicians consisted of 2 older guys playing traditional Irish drinking songs, some with their own made-up lyrics.  Irish drinking songs are something else.  You don’t know how fun they are until you are in a bar in Dublin surrounded by strangers who all know the words and join in on the choruses.  So much fun!

In the Quays Bar: Sara, myself, Lori, Jill and Mel
In the Quays Bar: Sara, myself, Lori, Jill and Mel

It wasn’t too long before the creepy guy found us again and started talking to our group, so I hightailed it outside and started wandering the streets.  Drunkenly wandering up and down Temple Bar by oneself late at night sounds like a really stupid idea, but somehow I felt very safe.  Dublin is really alive at night, and it was a cool feeling to be stumbling, practically dancing through the sea of people and the old buildings.  There were some really groovy street musicians providing me with the perfect soundtrack to my rambling.  It was magical and surreal.  You just don’t do that in LA.  And it you do, it certainly doesn’t feel like the street is one big party!

Everyone else, including Will, joined me outside and we roamed about together.  We came upon one of the music groups I’d seen with a lot of really traditional Irish instruments and we all started dancing in the streets.  Dancing with us were these kids who couldn’t have been older than 14, but were smashed as well and obviously thought they were really bad-ass.  They jigged about, showing off some Irish dancing, and we pressured Mel into doing the only bit that she could remember from her own Irish dancing days.

But the fun ended when Will insisted that we go into Temple Bar (the namesake of the area we were in) and group-chug Coronas.  I came all the way to Ireland to drink Coronas?  Honestly!  There was a live band in there as well, and we all sang – or rather, shouted – U2’s “With or Without You”.  Will tried to persuade us to take the party back to his place, which I did NOT want to do.  Besides the obvious factor that it seemed sketchy, I had a feeling it would be pretty boring.  We broke Lori away from his side and the five of us stumbled back to the hostel.

Wednesday   10/4/2007   12:05

Continental breakfasts in Europe are never very big, so I wasn’t surprised by the breakfast of cereal and toast this morning.  We were all a little hungover, but none the worse for wear.  Oddly, the included breakfast for the hostel was at a pizza restaurant before it opened for the day.  Weird.

Lori was leaving on a bus for Cork at two, and really wanted to see Dublin Castle, so we trooped on over.  Dublin Castle is a really sissy castle as far as castles go.  It was originally a small fortress, but it was rebuilt in the Georgian style and is used for affairs of state and stuff.  The president was inaugurated there.  All in all, it’s a cool building, but not what you expect when you hear the word “castle”.

Jill and I guarding the "fortress"
Jill and I guarding the “fortress”
Dublin Caste
Dublin Castle

We continued our day of sightseeing with Christ Cathedral, which was really cool.  It was built in the 11th or 12th century, but has some Gothic characteristics.  There is a very large crypt, and their most impressive holy relic is this saint’s heart in an iron heart-shaped casket.  Mel said spoke to a woman in the crypt who said the heart had saved the life of a family member of hers.

By the time we were done exploring the crypt, we grabbed a quick bite at a crepe place and went back to the hostel for Lori’s luggage.  We said goodbye and parted ways, she to her bus and us toward the National Gallery.  We passed Trinity College and there was a cricket match on that we stopped to watch.  We didn’t stay long, it was cold and we had no clue what was going on, but we can now say that we watched cricket in Ireland.

The National Gallery was a very modern, linear building.  It was cool, but it struck me that it was too modern a building for a museum with such a small collection of modern art.  The collection was small, and they didn’t have a lot of well-known works or artists.  The Irish stuff was really good though.

After such a busy, hungover day, it was nap time.  We made dinner in the hostel kitchen, which was fun because of all the different languages spoken.  After dinner, we went to the Ha’Penny Bridge Inn for an open-mic stand up show they have upstairs on Tuesday nights.  I was a little worried, I usually hate stand-up comedy, but it turned out to be pretty good.  The emcee was hysterical and kept playing off the fact that most of the audience was foreign.  Most of the performers weren’t bad, just a little amateur.  The guy who won was crudely hysterical, but my favorite was this girl who made historical joke about what would happen if Emily Bronte got really drunk.

With or Without Yoooooouu!!!
With or Without Yoooooouu!!!

And that concludes our first 48 hours in Ireland, the first on our own in Europe.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Good Luck and Happy Travels,

Mo

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One thought on “Travel Diaries: Ireland, Europe

  1. Ah reading this made me miss Ireland, I love that country so much — and the people especially. (“the only day you will find the Irish sober is on Good Friday”, I’ve never heard that!) And that accent…don’t even get me started!

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