Well, hello Ireland. It’s officially my first day here and I’ve been going non-stop. I’ve only been here for a few minutes and I already get the sense that two days will be cutting Dublin short. From the moment I got off the plane my adventure began. None of my cards would be read from the ATM. This meant I was stuck at the airport till I was able to come up with a solution. Although it was only a €6 airlink ride, I had nothing but USD on me. How ironic? I haven’t even left the airport and I’m already lost stranded in a foreign country–luckily english is their first language.
I eventually figured out a solution! I found a cash exchange building where at least one of my cards worked–my chase debit card. Of course this was only card that charges me $5 fee plus 3% of whatever I am withdrawing. Either way, I made it! I overcame my first struggle of many struggles! I make my way to the ticket booth purchase a one way ticket to Dublin.
The bus ride was a blur to me. I was beyond exhausted from my flight. I had less than two hours sleep throughout the entire 12 hour flight. I woke up at 7 am Monday morning and it was 11 am (6 am EST) Tuesday morning by the time I landed. In the last 23 hours I had been up and active for 21 of them.
My eyelids felt heavier than I have ever remembered them being. I stared out the window with my head on the glass watching the environment whizz by me. Occasionally there would be a shock to my cognitive system telling me that the cars are driving the wrong way, until I realized that was normal here. It was oddly satisfying to see the drivers wheel on the right side of the car. It really made me feel like I was in a different place. It also was amusing to see little old ladies talking with their hands up staring out their windows where we would normally see an attentive driver.
Ultimately I find my way to Jacob’s Inn which is the hostel I will be staying in. I make my way inside, it has a very modern homey feel to it. I walk through an automatic glass door to see a smiling irish face at the front desk. He was helping two other people pay for their booking as I am just looking around at the place.
It’s my turn now and we joke around about how this is my first time and that he should go easy on me. I get the rundown of how the place works, breakfast every morning from 7-9 am followed by a free walking tour leaving at 10:10 am. I put a deposit down for a locker, receive my key and card and head for the door. Still a little frazzled I search my pockets for the key I was just given. I find it, insert it into the slot and wait for the light to turn green. Nothing. I try again. Now it turns red. Confused by this I head back to the desk to ask for help. The guy apologizes and says the door sometimes does this. After a few tries he manages to get the light to turn green he opens the door and tells me to enjoy my stay.
Excellent! I’m in. Time to go to the locker room and drop off half of my bag to lighten the load. There is another door that needs the key. A german girl and I are struggling to get through the doors and again my key card would not work. I try several times in multiple doors and nothing. I head back to the front desk where they issue me a brand new key card. This one works perfectly the first try.
I make my way to the storage room where I find my locker–which essentially looks like a kennel. Lockers stacked on top of lockers big enough to fit a Great Dane. I find mine right near the entrance but I walk around anyway to see what it’s like and to start conversation with a stranger. Everyone seems to caught up with their bags so I just continue back to my locker. Unzip the daypack from my backpack and lock the rest up safely. I made sure to take all of my cameras out so I can photograph as much as possible.
After this I head up to the second floor to my room. After getting a bit lost I manage to find the room. I swipe the key, and it turns red again. I think to myself playing the role of a frustrated hot-headed american who would stomp down to the front desk and unleash havoc. But in reality I’m too laid back for that, you get more with honey the vinegar. I make my way down stairs to the same gentleman who has helped me twice already and explain my situation. He asks if I remember the room number I tell him 217. I heard him typing away on the keyboard and mentions “oh, it’s not ready yet. Come back in a half hour and it’ll be okay”. Wonderful! Time to head out and adventure Dublin.
I probably should have asked what he recommended I do but it was too early in the trip for me to want to point out that I am a tourist. Although it’s clear and obvious I came in with a backpack the size of my upper body.
I walk out and decide to head right. I came from the left, saw what was there so I decided it was time to get lost. As silly as that sounds I felt like it would be the best way to see Dublin–wander until I came across something interesting. I knew I wanted to see Dublin Castle so I looked at a map and headed in what seemed like that general direction.
I came across some interesting architecture and decided it was time to see what my camera could do. I snapped a few photos and continued along the busy street. A few people seemed to be coming from the right so I followed the crowd. They must know where they are going right? I find the river and follow the boardwalk towards the castle. I look at the horizon and I see one of the towers! I wander around aimlessly walking where ever caught my eye. This is my favorite way to explore. Occasionally on my days off in New York City I would just travel out on a whim and get lost. It’s always fun to see where you end up and what you come across, I figured the same would be in Dublin.
It’s about 2 pm by the time I reach Dublin Castle. It isn’t as castley as I expected but it is interesting. I overheard a tour guide describe some of the features and I take a seat close enough to hear but far enough that I am not included.
Dublin Castle is an interesting place. Not so much for it’s looks but for its 1000+ year history. It was built in the 930’s by the Vikings. It was erected on top of a hill next to the River Liffey which was used for protection and shipping. Although this land was originally Irish the Vikings managed to overcome them and rename the city from Dubhlinn to Dyflinn (a more Danish corruption twist). Over the next few hundred years the landing would be occupied by multiple groups each of which would slightly adapt the name.
The Normans were the next to control landing (Dublinia) and build the castle up from its original wooden structure to stone around 1169. They controlled this structure until the English came in 1204 under the ruling of King John of England. This is where the name Dublin came into play. Although the name is similar in name the pronunciation was made more suiting to the English.
I eventually make my way to where the tour the tour would start. Since I was a little early I decided to enter on my own. We are allowed access to what is normally inaccessible for the free walking tours. This was fairly interesting. Although by this point I really knew nothing about Dublin, Ireland or castle it allowed for some interesting photography.
During the tour we came across one of the original medieval stone towers called the Record Tower. Sometime in the late 17th century nearly all of the castle was destroyed by a fire. It is thought that this fire was allowed to spread in order to rebuild the castle into a Georgian palace. Over the next hundred years the palace was built following the colonial style of the time. This is reason for the lack of medieval feel to it.
At the end of the tour I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of Irish history. The tour brought us from medieval times all the way up through Easter Rebellion where the Irish broke free from English rule. Something I didn’t realize was how recent the Irish had their civil war. It was in the 20’s, that means it was only one generation ago the north was at war with the south. In some parts the tensions are still high and you can see murals painted with IRA soldiers and their weapons.
I eventually make it back toward my hostel, after taking what ended up being the long way around. I check my room and the key works. Finally! I look around to see a lot of empty beds. This should be interesting, sleeping in a room full of 11 strangers.
I decide that I am ready to find my first nights meal. I wander the streets aimlessly, hoping to find something cheap and effective that jumps out at me. I eventually come across this great deal! €8.99 for “three courses”. It included an appetizer for one, a dinner, and a cup of coffee or tea. As I think to myself I don’t think I am going to find a deal much better than this the owner comes out to attempt to convince me. He must have been able to read the look of a lost, confused, and hungry traveler.
I head inside and take a seat. He gives me the biggest table in the restaurant as I ask him again that it’s three courses all for €9. He assures me that it’s true and sends a waitress over to take care of me. I tell her I just need some water and a few minutes. By the time I look at the menu I realize I am in Ireland eating at a Turkish restaurant. My first meal is going to be a meal that isn’t even Irish! Oh well, it is the food is where I am here for.
I look through the menu and decide to get a spicy beef kebab, and fish and chips for dinner. A figure a little bit Turkish and a little bit Irish. The food comes out and it is delicious! The appetizer was a small serving but enough to keep my stomach from jumping out and eating the table. Finally the fish and chips came out, the fish took up the entire plate on a bed of fries. A hungry man’s heaven!
After dinner I head back to the hostel and stop in the dinning room so that I can charge my phone and laptop. My goal at the end of the day is to upload all of my photos and pictures on to my google drive in case anything go missing I don’t lose everything. I spent the next 2 1/2 aching hours uploading photos. Never have I seen a slower working Wi-Fi. I mean I can’t blame them, they have a building full of Wi-Fi deprived travelers.
By this time I am terribly exhausted. I have yet to have a real nights sleep since I left for my plane flight nearly by this time I have been up for 30 hours of the last 33. But I can not go to sleep this early. I need to stay up as late as possible correct my brain. Right now it is about 3 pm back home while it is 8 pm here. My head is telling me that I have pulled an all nighter and it’s only mid day. If I go to sleep at 11 pm I should be able to wake up at a normal time feeling refreshed and on the right schedule! 3 more hours to power through.
I catch myself actually nodding off at the table. I look that the clock, there is about 15 minutes left of uploading. I stare intensely like it actually cared that I was staring it down. I look around and there are people everywhere, all talking in tongues I didn’t understand. I was however able to pick up that the group of 15 people to my right were German, and the group of five sitting to my left were French. That’s about as far as my language skills go. Even if I wanted to, which I didn’t, I couldn’t have a conversation with anyone. Right now all I was focused on was being a zombie until 11 pm.
Finally everything is uploaded and backed up. I am free to go upstairs and lay down. As soon as I put my head on my bed someone walks into the room. I told myself I wasn’t going to go out tonight. It just wouldn’t make sense. Earlier in the day I wanted to make it to the pub crawl the hostel hosts. What better way to meet people in Ireland then at the pub?! No way was that happening.
As soon as that thought finished I second guessed myself. The someone who walked in a few minutes ago just walked out of the bathroom 1000% dolled up. Normally I don’t stare but after being up for several hours and witnessing an Australian angel walk by me I couldn’t help it. I over heard her talk on the phone saying she’ll be down in a minute. What was I missing out on?! As much as I wanted to go, one beer and I I’d be passed out on the nearest stool. Another time, another place I tell myself.
I sat in the room scrolling through Facebook and writing in my journal. The next thing I knew it was 12 am. How can I nearly fall asleep at the table but I can last 3 1/2 hours scrolling through my phone? Social media is to damn addicting! I am actually glad that I have no reception most places I go. I am here to experience the moment, not my likes. Either way I turn the lights off, crawl back into my sheets and drift away.