When you take a weekend to visit a foreign country, you’re going to have busy days. We only have 48 hours total in Dublin this weekend and we got our money’s worth yesterday. When we had finally gotten to the Dublin ferry station at midnight, we waited about an hour for a taxi to finally take us home, and as we drove through the dreary city on the way to our little apartment complex run by Trinity College, I almost fell asleep in the taxi. We all barely made it to our beds and it took about half a second for us to fall asleep.
After sleeping harder than I’ve slept in a long time, we woke up around 9:30 and took to the city around 10:30. We grabbed lunch at O’Briens, a quant sandwich shop which we thought was a standalone restaurant but after walking for 10 minutes we began to understand these little places were like Starbucks, on every street corner. As we attempted to navigate the winding and twisting streets of Dublin, it was hard not to compare the city to London or other cities we’ve visited this trip. Dublin feels like a college town. The City Centre, where everything happens, is relatively small and we are able to walk to anything we could possibly want to see in less than 45 minutes. The city is also short. I know this is a weird way to describe a city, but I was actually surprised by the number of incredibly short buildings as we meandered around the city.
On our tourist checklist for our first day, we stopped by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Gaol, and Christ Church. St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church absolutely blew me away. Although these aren’t the first massive churches I’ve seen in Europe, just the day, the setting, and the stories within these massive, gothic walls, windows and archways told a story to which I was so connected. Just the majesty of the buildings made me connected with my faith in a way I was not expecting. I had to take a few moments to sit, think, and pray just to really process what was happening at each spot.
After we made our first stops, we headed towards the Guinness Storehouse. This massive seven story complex contained the tallest building in Dublin that I could find, and only slightly less history inside its walls than the 15th century churches we had just stopped at. The only I could ever possibly describe this massive storehouse would be to call in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory but for beer. Learning about how the beer is made, learning the history of its founder and his impact on Ireland, admiring the advertisements that have revolutionized global marketing, and yes, sorry mom, tasting a glass for myself. The sheer loyalty this country has to Guinness is astounding. It truly blows me away how everyone cares so deeply about this drink and admires Arthur Guinness, its founder. The experience encompassed inspiring all of my senses from the touch of barley and hops used, to the smell of each individual aromatic element present in the perfectly brewed Guinness Draught, to the taste of “The Black Stuff,” (fun fact, the beer actually is ruby red when you hold it up to natural light due to the roasted barley). The Guinness experience ended with me growing an undying, Irish-sized loyalty for the brand and the beer, while drinking my free pint at the Gravity Bar with a 360 panoramic view of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains.
Our final tourist stop on the adventure for day one was Killmainham Gaol. This fantastic jail turned museum tells the story of the Irish Revolution as well as the political and economical instability that plagued the green island. The uncomforting jail was used to house and kill political prisoners as well as house homeless farmers during the Potato Famine. The jail held exhibits discussing Ireland starting in the 1700s, and pushing all the way to the politics over the last decade. This museum really gave me and outstanding understanding of the political environment surrounding Ireland.
We ended our day grabbing a Moroccan dinner at a side-street restaurant. The food was fantastic and I can officially say that although it is a delicacy, I’m not the biggest fan of couscous. One thing that I particularly admire about the Moroccan meals is that they are very patient with their cooking. As we skimmed the menu, it stated that meals require slow cooking and may take time. This kind of slow-paced lifestyle was something I was not used to. Although I was starving to death after a day of exploring, waiting the extra half-hour for my chicken was worth it and it was absolutely delicious.
Dublin day two is tomorrow and I’m looking forward to another 12-hour day of walking, adventure, and charming food!