After quite a rough morning, I ended up walking around Dublin and MAN, have I missed Europe! After nearly five years since living in France, I just felt at home. I have always felt a kindred spirit with Europe, even after living three full years in Asia. Don’t get me wrong, Asia is AMAZING, but Europe has a much more relaxed atmosphere and and feel to it that I like.
I literally walked around for hours, taking it in. After living in Hong Kong for three years and Chicago for one, the thing that surprised me the most was the lack of skyscrapers and tall buildings. I know Europe is completely different than Chicago and modern Asia, but I had just gotten so used to constantly looking up that it was a bit shocking to see, well, nothing but sky! Some don’t consider Ireland ‘true’ Europe, but hey, they use the Euro, they are part the of the EU, and when I referred to it as Europe to my taxi driver, he had no issues with it, so clearly that means all of the Irish don’t ;).
I strolled around, taking in the city, and getting
most a few of my souvenirs for friends and family. Littered throughout Dublin are giant tourist and souvenir shops called Carroll’s. They are filled with everything and anything you could possibly want. Magnets, postcards, calendars, walls of shot glasses, crosses, four leaf clover charms, hats, bottle openers, literally you name it, its there – and perfectly met my shopping needs. I am a sucker for a good souvenir, so no shame.
It was starting to edge closer and closer to dinner time. I walked down a really cute street filled with famous bars and restaurants that were absolutely packed with happy hour fans – Irish and foreigners alike. When traveling solo, I always dread meal time because it means eating alone usually in a restaurant. I always feel so awkward, so I am pretty sure I walked up and down this cute street staring at restaurants, wondering which one I should go into. Some were too crowded, some were dead – finally I just gave up an saw a place that had an open seat outside. This place was called Alfies, using the same font as that Jude Law movie.
I ordered a cocktail first and a starter of a pâté which was actually quite good. I quickly ate through the three pieces of toast they gave me (WHY SO LITTLE?!!) but the waitress was nice and brought me some more. I downed my drink a little too quickly, because when in Ireland do as the Irish do…DRINK, so I ordered my first Guinness (EVER). As I do so, three girls sit next to me and I overhear them and immediately think Dutch. They ordered my drink and I slowly sipped my Guinness while watching people pass by.
What I love about traveling alone, is when someone sees you, they often engage you in conversation, and the girls did just that. I LOVE EUROPE. People are just so friendly and go out of their way when it comes to being nice and making others feel included. What started out as a ‘Will it bother you if I smoke?” turned into drinks, conversation, and Temple Street fun. Turns out they were all friends from the Netherlands, who all happened to be teachers! One of the girls currently lives in Bristol as a teacher, so her friends flew to England and then they DROVE to England via a ferry. WOW. They had just finished the Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, etc. and basically did the reverse route of what Joseph and I were about to do.
I got some fun tips from them, we discussed American politics, teaching, our travels. It was really nice to connect with some other girls and not be alone for a bit, and while I was going to go home to get some shut eye before Joseph arrived early the next day, instead they invited me out to investigate Temple Street, which obviously in-turn turned into some live music, drinks, and dancing. I had such a good time and I was really saddened to leave them and go back to my Air BnB. We connected on Facebook and although we weren’t able to meet up before they left Dublin, which is my fault, I do hope I will see them again. Even if we don’t, they made my night so much more enjoyable and that is something I truly love about traveling and being in Europe – it just seems a bit easier.
Stay tuned for more in Dublin and #ErinGoBroad!