I came to Europe without much of a plan. I had a few flights booked, a couple of bus passes to get to the airports, and my first hostel was reserved. Other than that… I had no idea what I was doing!
My mom and her friend dropped me off at the San Francisco airport in the morning on May 19th (thanks mom!). We had lunch, said goodbye and off I went through security.
The 10 hour flight to London wasn’t bad. I didn’t get any sleep though. We left midday and it was 7am when I got to London so it was light out during the entire flight and I wasn’t tired. I watched movies, read books, and ate airplane food.
I arrived in London and went through customs and security again to get to my next flight. Apparently the security in London was a bit more strict. I had too many liquids, gels, etc. so I had to throw away my shaving cream to get it all to fit in the bag they provided. Oh well… onwards to Dublin!
I arrived in Dublin after a short 50 minute flight. I walked around for a bit having no clue how I was going to get to my hostel. I found a tourist/info station and asked what the cheapest way to get to central Dublin was. He laughed and said nothings cheap!
So I bought a bus ticket for 7 euro and headed into Dublin. I had a few hours until I could check in to my hostel so I wandered around Dublin. I ended up seeing quite a bit!
I came upon Trinity College, which happens to be the top college in all of Ireland. There were two guys playing croquet and I had nothing better to do so I asked if I could join in.
They explained that that they just started playing two days ago. Everyone was going through their final exams so they would just come out and play in between studying. Then they gave me the instructions:
Use the big hammer looking thing to hit the ball through the hoops in a certain order. Once you get through all the hoops you have to hit the stick in the middle with the ball. Whoever gets to the end first, wins.
It started raining while we were playing, but it added to the experience. I ended up winning the game, shook hands, and headed off to my first hostel.
After a bit of wandering around I finally found it, checked in, and got up to my room.
Bunk beds, old sheets, dirty shower. Lets do this!
I took a shower, washed my clothes in there, and hung them out over my bed using a bungee cord.
At this point I had been awake for about 35 hours. I was exhausted. It was 5pm local time in Dublin. It was time for bed.
I took out the overpriced piece of fabric that I purchased to separate my body from the sheets and my face from the pillow. It worked well enough. I closed my eyes and passed out.
I woke up at 7am (14 hours of sleep!). When I went to sleep I was the only one in the room. When I awoke the next day all of the bunk beds were full of strangers from all over the world. I’m used to knowing my roommates… this was just weird at first.
I quietly got my things together and walked across the old creaky wooden floor and headed out into the city. I walked along the river to this coffee shop called Thirdspace that a friend of a friend recommend I visit. I was extremely hungry at this point. I saw the words “Full Irish Breakfast” on the menu and went for it!
Bacon, eggs, rice pudding, beans, sausage, mushrooms, potatoes, and toast. It was heaven. Except for the rice pudding… not really for me.
I ate everything, drank a coffee, and kept walking around. I found the old Jameson distillery down the street and also found the castle in the city. Then I headed back to the hostel for a walking tour. Probably a good idea since I had no idea what I was looking at while walking around.
We toured the city for 2-3 hours and learned some of the history. Here were some of my favorites:
- The city built a spire to commemorate the new millennium in 2000. They didn’t finish it until 2003. The project went 10 million euro over budget. The locals hate the spire and refer to it as the Stiletto in the Ghetto.
- Most of the original castle was destroyed in a fire. The people destroyed the castle to create a fire barrier that would protect a tower with all of the city’s most important documents and historical texts in it.
- Ireland used to have crown jewels like London, but at night the guards would get really drunk and wear all of the jewels. They woke up in a drunken stupor one morning and everything was gone. No more crown jewels!
In the middle of the tour we stopped for a pint at a local pub. I hung out with four guys from the UK and we just talked and joked around for a bit.
After the pint stop I started talking to a girl from Germany who was with her brother in Dublin. We all got along well, got lunch after the tour, and then headed to the Guinness Storehouse to tour the spot where the Guinness company was started.
Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the space where the Guinness brewery is located. This guy had a vision!
Included in the tour was a pint of Guinness and we enjoyed ours at the top of the Guinness Storehouse overlooking all of Dublin.
Next we decided to visit the oldest pub in Dublin. It seemed like most of this city’s culture was built around beer! I wanted to really experience their culture so of course I had another beer at the pub!
Afterwards, I headed back to the hostel I was staying at, met some people there, and we decided to go out for the night. We went to a local bar with live music. Many of the students just finished with their final exams so there were a lot of people out!
That night I ended up running into almost everyone I met in Dublin up to that point. My new German friends that I went on the Guinness tour with ended up meeting us out at the bars, one of the students I played croquet with said hi to me at one of the bars, and then on the way back to the hostel I ran into the four guys from the UK that I met on the walking tour. The people that I was with from the hostel though that I was pretty popular for only being in Dublin for one day!
We all headed back to the hostel, I set my alarm for 5am and went to sleep.
The next day I awoke at 4:30am after about 3 hours of sleep. I grabbed all of my stuff and headed downstairs to pack it all into my backpack so I didn’t disturb everyone that was sleeping. I was all packed and ready to go find my bus stop!
After walking around for 10-15 minutes I finally found the bus stop, got on the bus, and headed to the airport. As I was about to board the plane the airline assistant stopped me and asked me if I read my ticket. I got really nervous, not knowing what he was talking about. He pointed to my ticket and it read: “Non EU passport holders must go to the luggage drop area to check in before going through security and boarding the flight.”
I smiled and asked if there was anything he could do. He checked my passport, wrote something on my ticket, and said I was good to go. Whew!
Off to London!
This post was written on a train from Brussels to Amsterdam with a screaming baby sitting a few seats in front of me.