I’m not sure what to think about Dublin. I arrived with preconceived notions of what I thought this city would be like and each one of those notions was turned on its head. I thought I would fall in love with Dublin right off the bat and I didn’t. I thought it would look and feel similar to Edinburgh and it’s not even close. I thought it would feel small, charming and sprightly and yeah, no. Instead it was loud, brash, stark and edgy.
Grunge is the first word to pop into my head when I think about this city. And not grunge like dirty, but grunge like Seattle in the early 90’s. Dublin is vibrant and youthful (40% of pop is under 30 – seriously!). It pulsates with the assertiveness and messiness of youth culture. And that makes it magnetic. Oh, and the kids look insanely cool here.
For me though, I didn’t feel as connected here as I have to others youngish cities like San Francisco, New York or Paris. I’m not saying Dublin didn’t eventually win me over, it’s just that we didn’t become besties. It’s probably because I’ve never been that cool or I’m just an old lady now, or both. I’m like Pearl Jam to Ireland’s Broken Social Scene. I appreciate the vibe here, I’m just not a part of it anymore. And that kind of sucks! But whatever, I’m old, this city is young, it’s not as grand as imagined, but it’s a lot cooler than expected.
Now for two asides:
- I definitely saw a cousin on every corner and the percentage of men who looked similar to my dad was high. Even the first person to greet me in the city said, “I knew you were Irish before you even spoke a word.” Cheeky bastard.
- And let’s talk about Irish men, shall we? I wouldn’t f**k with them. Dublin’s like a city of Colin Farrell’s walking around with a chip on their shoulder. I hate to say it, but it is kinda hot, just like Colin Farrell.
Georgian on my mind
Hands down, the distinctive Georgian architecture of Dublin is my favourite thing about this city. These 18th and 19th century beauties bring conformity in style and mix it with colourful pops of creativity. The must-see spots are Merrion, St. Stephen’s Green and Fitzwilliam. So iconic.
I see your true colours shining through
As a colour and creativity addict, walking the streets of Dublin provided me with a daily fix, in spades.
A lovely day for a Guinness
The number one attraction in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse. This is a tasting brewery on steroids. So many floors to explore, so many beers to imbibe. On my visit, I sat myself down at the private bar in a secret room. It’s only for those who sign up for the Connoisseur Experience and it is so worth it. For over an hour, you sit, drink, learn, drink some more, learn to pour, drink even more, laugh with your bartender, then stumble out with a fresh pour. My goodness, my Guinness.
I sat down a Guinness denier. I left a believer. THAT’S HOW GOOD THIS EXPERIENCE IS.
Lost in the library
Found myself waiting in line at Trinity College one morning to see what this Book of Kells thing is all about. Had no idea. Cut to an hour later and people had to drag me out of the room that holds this gorgeous book of Gospels. The tome dates back to 800 and is in pristine condition. The colours are rich and the artwork is intricate. Truly priceless. Only two spreads of the book are displayed each day, one showing a decorated page, the other features script. No pictures allowed, so I took photos of postcards on my way out. (The one on the right is the page that was featured during my visit.)
After leaving the book room, I climbed a few stairs and arrived in the Long Room, one of the most impressive libraries in the world. This room holds 200,000 of Ireland’s oldest books and, yes, it smelled delightful. Besides all the wood and books, there were busts of great philosophers and writers, an exhibit celebrating Jonathan Swift and Brian Boru’s harp, one of the three oldest surviving Gaelic harps in the world. It was the model for the emblem of Ireland.
Pump up the jam
Best night in Dublin was hitting up The Cobblestone pub in Smithfield with a lovely Australian traveler I met while touring the Ring of Kerry. This “drinking pub with a music problem” has, by far, the best Irish jam session. The pub was a crush and it was only a Thursday night.
A few more city scenes while out and about. Including my favourite spot to nosh, Cornucopia, which had the most delightful lunch fare.