It has taken me a long time to sit myself down and start writing about my time in Ireland. Mainly because it involves a lot of reflecting and I haven’t been ready to accept the fact that my trip is over. The 10 days I spent in that country were an absolute whirlwind – the travel diary that I took with me remained untouched as there was absolutely no time for me to hastily scribble things down. Hopefully the notes that I made on my phone which most of the time just contain the name of a bar can jog my memory…
Ireland is honestly one of the most amazing countries that I have ever been to. Their history, although at times dark and emotional, is also combined with magic and wonder as they manage to weave their history with stories of fairies and giants. My mum has always told me that we have Irish in our blood but it wasn’t until visiting the country that I felt it – I felt so at home.
My first three nights were spent in Dublin, staying with my friend Rosie who had spent the last six months studying in the city. It worked out perfectly as the day I was leaving to join my tour she was leaving to start her way back home and I could use the days with her not only to sight see but to also recuperate and prepare myself for the intensity that the next few days were going to contain.
The first proper day with Rosie was the day that I was spoilt not only with Vegan food but also good bars. Sometimes it can be tricky to be Vegan while travelling and I honestly was not expecting any part of Ireland to be Vegan friendly, but Dublin surprised me. Rosie and her friend Julia told me of this place that had Vegan frozen yoghurt and after a quick squizz at the menu I found that they also had vegan pancakes – win win win!! The cute little cafe is located in the George’s Street Arcade and as you walk in your eyes are greeted by an array of chocolates and lollies to pick and mix to adorn your frozen yoghurt, where there is also a selection of flavours. Rosie also told me that if you manage to guess the exact weight of it once you go to the counter you get it for free… but I opted for the pancakes with coconut yoghurt, almond butter and pineapple. Not the most picturesque of meals but man was it delicious.
I normally see myself as a ‘big city girl’ but what I love about Dublin is the fact that you can make your way around the whole city centre in a couple of hours. We spent the day walking along the cobbled streets so that I could just absorb the whole city and the hustle and bustle. Dublin is both beautiful and not so beautiful, like pretty much all major cities I guess. It’s rich with history and has hidden secret spots, like the cute second hand record store we found after finding a random door on a side street and walked up its winding stairs, but in some areas it feels dirty and unloved. Little did I know at this time that Dublin was going to be my least favourite part of Ireland, which just shows how amazing and BEAUTIFUL the rest of the country is!
After a few quiet nights I was itching to go out and dance, something Rosie could definitely sense so once we had eaten (I can’t recommend the Vegetarian restaurant that I got take away from called Cornucopia highly enough!!!) we rallied the troups and by troups I mean Rosie, her friend Julia and I, and we took a bus into the centre. Our first stop was Lannigan’s, a pub that serves amazing Guinness and has the most eclectic interior, with booths out the back and array of items hanging from the walls and ceiling. After downing a pint we then headed to a bar called Cafe en Seine, an elegant art nouveau bar spread over three floors with Doric columns and glass panelled ceilings; honestly one of the most breathtaking bars I have ever been to with its old world charm and attention to detail. Compared to Sydney, drink prices are pretty reasonable as well, ranging from 6 to 13 euros depending on whether you’re getting a cocktail or not. We plied ourselves with Jungle Juices and Brandy Brambles while trying to avoid the advances of an Englishman who’s attempt at flirting meant insulting our accents… I told him to improve his game before walking out with sugar remnants on my lips, feeling very much like Carrie Bradshaw but probably looking more like Bridget Jones.
Our next stop was Whelan’s, which is otherwise known as “the pub from Ps. I Love You“, the most heart wrenching film of all time. Walking in it was absolutely packed even though it was only a Wednesday night, with the music blaring which put a smile on my face as I listened to the Irish accents surrounding me. The three of us decided to explore the pub to see what was happening that night and as we made our way upstairs we were handed a pair of headphones, with absolutely no explanation. Soon enough we realised we’d entered a silent disco as we made our way into the back room that was a little too well lit for my liking. Nevertheless, with a cider in my hand I started to boogie as I listened to music by bands such as The Smiths, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. One of the best moments was when I got to sing “This Charming Man” by The Smiths at the top of my lungs, showing the boys around me how it was really meant to be sung. Sometimes Ireland feels like it’s living in a time warp, which becomes especially evident when you listen to the music that bars and pubs are playing – I love it! The room was filled with drunk people splashing around their pints, dancing and singing at the top of their lungs, the best word to describe the atmosphere is jolly. Although I didn’t meet a gorgeous Irishman with a guitar, I still had an amazing night.
Although Dublin helped me ease into Ireland I was ready to start the tour I booked, so I took a taxi to the meet up spot at a hostel in the centre of Dublin. I was apprehensive and nervous as I sat myself down in the drivers front seat. I didn’t know much about the tour or what kind of people the tour attracts but any nerves I had were squashed by my cab driver who was honestly one of the friendliest men I have ever met. I think he could tell that this little Australian girl travelling alone was feeling anxious and made it his mission to make me feel at home. I quickly learnt that the Irish have some of the most welcoming spirits as he passed on Irish pearls of wisdom like “it doesn’t rain in the pub” which is both accurate and hilarious. He also announced something to me that will always stick with me: “if you love good craic, drinking, dancing and singing, then Ireland is the place for you”. This really resonated with me and made me feel at home and although Dublin hadn’t made me fall in love with the country yet, I was looking forward to finding out what I had signed myself up for.
I know that this isn’t the most exciting and in depth of posts but Dublin was more of a ‘landing pad’ for me to prepare myself for the whirlwind that the next week was so be prepared for stories about magical creatures, pub crawls and Irish history 😉