Dublin was incredible for many reasons, but the main one was that it helped my put Italy into perspective. Here are some of the things that were different about Dublin and Italy:
1) Water in restaurants: In Dublin, you can get tap water. It Italy, you almost always have to buy a bottle.
2) Communication: The English was such a joy for me. I kept almost speaking Italian and then finding that I could speak English! I could get all kinds of useful information from strangers and employees alike.
3) Friendliness (going out): Socializing in Dublin is different than in Italy. Most Italians tend to go out with friends and stay with them. Boys are more likely to be friendly but that’s hardly a good thing. In Ireland I was able to befriend people and learn their stories.
4) Friendliness (general): People were helpful and kind. If I was taking a picture of something they always stopped to wait for me or went around me which actually made me feel bad. Italians usually wouldn’t do the same.
5) Toast: Just toast. It’s delicious. I’ve yet to see a toaster in Italy.
6) Change: Maybe I was a little hard on Italians about this, but no one in Dublin ever had a problem making change for us, ever. They even offered to split our restaurant bills without us asking.
7) Busses: We had to pay the driver each time we got on board. In Italy the system is patchy and a lot of people just don’t seem to pay.
8) Roads: The Irish drive on the left side of the road! I found this highly entertaining. There are also TONS of busses People seem to walk less than Perugians, probably because they don’t have to.
So why did I go to Dublin for only a day? Well I wanted to travel over my break but also needed to work around Mr. B’s schedule. The flight I’m on only cost about €34 anyway so it was all a pretty good deal. Jamie and Jenna and Jenna’s college friend Nora wanted to go there for the weekend so I joined in..
When we had checked into our luxurious Holiday Inn Express we headed into the city on a big yellow double-decker, left-side-of-the-road bus. We walked along O’Connell St. to Temple Bar which sounds like a bar but is actually a “cultural district.” On the way we stopped for some Irish food in a pub. Jamie got a beef stew and I had bangers (pork and leek sausages) and mash (mashed potatoes) in a red onion gravy. I was planning on getting it before I even arrived because I like the name, so I was glad to find that it was both edible and quite tasty!
Jamie had basically put me in charge of activites because I was in Dublin for such a short time so I dragged the group to a traditional Irish music pub crawl. It was much more music and history than crawl, which I think we all appreciated. We only went to two bars, both very authentic. At the first, we learned what makes a good Irish bar and what makes a good Irish music session. We each got a Bulmer’s hard cider and listened to our two guides sing and play guitar, violin, and a traditional Irish drum. At the second bar Jamie and I shared a half pint of Gunness with Blackcurrant (soda). The soda made it sweeter and so delicious and I don’t even like beer! At that point, the guides asked some of the group to sing songs from their countries. Some German women sang a song together, a man sang a traditional Norwegian song about a fisherman which was hilarious, and I sang a bit of ‘Love Song’ by Sara Bareilles. After that, around 22:00, we headed back to our hotel. I had gotten up at 5:00 so I appreciated the early bedtime.
In the morning we had the hotel breakfast buffet (toast!) and then took the bus downtown again. This time we walked to the Guinness Brewery. It was a nice walk all the way through town and we arrived at about 10:30- a bit early for beer, but we were in Ireland!
The tour included a free pint of Guinness so after walking through every floor of the pint glass-shaped factory, learning all about the vital components of beer making (wheat, hops, yeast, water) we went up to the Gravity Bar on the top floor to enjoy our beers with a gorgeous view of Dublin around us. Our beer-drinking abilities were pretty weak and it was still before noon (though almost 13:00 Italian time) so after a bit of slow sipping we headed down and out of there.
I’d like to add that aside from some puffy white clouds, the weather was absolutely beautiful- no rain and it wasn’t even that cold! We’ve been having incredible weekend weather luck since I’ve been here.
Another thing I should probably mention is that the 6 Nations football tournament was happening that weekend, England vs. Ireland, so it was more crowded than usual. We learned this from some men we met while waiting for our shuttle from the airport. They were visiting from Manchester for the weekend. One of them asked about the age of my mom and when I told him, he said that was perfect. I informed him that she was hot, but taken. “Just a small obstacle,” he replied. After that they offered us each a swig of whiskey from a bottle one of them had (above). Altogether amusing dudes.
The thing I liked most about Dublin was the incredible energy there- the people are kind, hearty, and they like to enjoy themselves. They were just so friendly, even in the short time we spent there. They also had cute accents. : ) All of us mentioned at least a few times how much we were reminded of Boston which makes sense. While I may not have preferred to study in a place sort of similar to my home, it spoiled me with it’s comparative ease and I definitely want to go back there in my life to see more.