It all started with a 200$ CAD ticket to Ireland the week of my 32nd birthday which I couldn’t not buy. I had only meant to stay in Dublin for one day before heading to other parts of Ireland. People had told me I could do Dublin in one day, so I’d booked a good deal that included an early transfer to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher for the next morning.
“Now don’t do the pub crawl tonight,” said the lady at the check in for my hostel, “because your bus is bright and early at 6:45 AM.” How could I not go out for just one pint, though? It was my first night in a place I’d always dreamed of going to. I was in Ireland! I’d just go out to one locally recommended pub and get a feel for the place. I did not yet know that, not only are the pints bigger in Ireland than in North America, but there is also “no such thing as one pint.”
As I exited my hostel using Google Maps to find the recommended pub, fate intervened in the form of live music playing loud enough that I could hear it down the street as I left my hostel. It drew me over to an unknown pub, where I found the lively band that was playing the music that spilt out into the city. The pub was called the Quays. Inside it was packed but invitingly so, like there was still always room for one more. So I went in. I stood near the band listening, they were good and even better was the mood of the room, everyone getting into the music, singing along, dancing (even the men which rarely happens in Canada), relishing it just as much as I was. This was exactly why I had come to Ireland, for this feeling.
The band took a break and I found myself a spot at the bar and ordered a pint of cider, tipping the bartender. I noticed he did not take my one euro tip though and that no one else was tipping. A guy sat down next to me and ordered a drink, I watched and as he took his change, I remarked, “Do people not tip here?” He explained to me how it worked in Ireland and we started talking, he turned out to be British, and it turned into a deep conversation. The band came back and started to play Galway Girl and I sipped my cider, thinking “I’m in Ireland, drinking Irish Cider, the band is playing Galway Girl and I’m chatting with a totally hot British guy, is this my f*cking life?!”
The bartender came over and asked me how I was and if I wanted another drink, I looked at him puzzled because the one I had was 3/4 full. He came back a few minutes later and I began to think, gosh the bartenders are annoying here, pushing me to buy drinks when I’m hardly done with the one I have. Then I looked into his face which had seemed hard and tense and I noticed the softest blue eyes staring back at me and I realised he was flirting with me.
Between getting into a 4-hour conversation with the British guy and the blue-eyed overly attentive Irish bartender, I did not leave the pub until it closed and I was forced to leave but then the cute bartender told me where the best place to go for an after party was and told me to meet him there.
Suffice it to say, I did not make it onto my 6:45 AM bus.
But I didn’t regret it at all because I was already in love with Dublin at that point and now I had a whole extra day to actually see it since I’d been so tired from my flights on the day I arrived.
Since I had now missed my bus and Cliffs of Moher tour and had an unplanned day in Dublin, I did the free Next City walking tour which was a great way to get orientated to the city and get a taste of sights and areas I’d like to explore further. My guide Ollie brought in historical tidbits that intrigued me, I was beginning to be fascinated by this city, its history and it’s people. I now realised there was so much more about Dublin I wanted to know and explore. I wanted to get to know this city better.
I spent the rest of the day exploring the city further, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, St. Stephen’s Green. Everywhere I went people were so friendly. I loved the cobblestones even though they hurt my feet in the flat boots I was wearing, I loved the little bridges over the river Iffy. I loved the accents and the tall handsome blue-eyed men.
That night I went back to my new favourite bar where yet again there was live music playing and friendly people everywhere. I met an American that was one of those people I just clicked with and could talk to easily, 2 Norwegian guys and an Irish guy that kept buying us all drinks and shots. The music was fantastic again. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to meet people here. Dublin is just the kind of place that brings together people from all over the world in a convivial spirit.
My new American friend and I got to talking about how when strangers would come up to us and talk to us, our first reaction was what we described as the North American city person reaction of tensing up and thinking ‘who are you and why are you talking to me’ and glaring suspiciously. Even though Dublin is a big city, it feels natural to talk to strangers there and as the night went on that tenseness went away and I felt myself becoming more open and friendly. Maybe it’s just that my travelling persona that is more outgoing and confident and being in this new city encouraged that but I felt more open and comfortable than I have anywhere ever, whether it’s at home or in another city I have travelled to.
I was beginning to regret that I only had a week in Ireland and that I was leaving for Galway the next day (no missing the bus this time!) and would only be back in Dublin for a day before going on to Copenhagen and Iceland.
In Ireland, I felt strangely at home, I felt I could be myself, I felt the city not only accepted who I am but embraced and encouraged it.
Here are some pictures of my wandering around Dublin to give you an idea of why I fell in love with it :