My journey to Dublin began with a 11:00 PM mini-bus trip to the London Stansted airport. Since my flight didn’t leave until 6:30 AM, I had the pleasure of joining many other London travelers sleeping on the airport floor. Not the best way to have fun on a Friday night.
For my first day in Dublin, I was ridiculously tired from staying up all night. After finally making it to my hostel (got off at the wrong bus stop), a free walking tour seemed like the perfect way to get introduced to the city. Not the best idea when it’s raining and you’re barely able to walk, thanks to too much walking in one pair of shoes. Since I was feeling pretty miserable, I got some coffee and decided to go see The Hobbit in Dublin! The theater I saw it in, the Savoy, is the oldest operational theater in Dublin. The large glamorous theater room was set up in curved rows that bring to mind a venue for theater performances, not movies. Now, making it even better was one interior design layout detail. In the back of the theater were exit doors AND doors into bathrooms. When I had to go to the bathroom during the ridiculously long Hobbit, the time from movie seat to bathroom to movie seat was probably less than a minute. If I ever design a movie theater… I’ll be stealing this idea.
For my day and a half in Dublin, I enjoyed exploring the city (and actually went on the free walking tour). Dublin, despite having about one million people, felt like a big “small town” to me due to the short buildings and the atmosphere. Compared to the Brits in London, the Irish in Dublin appeared to be bit rowdier, and the Irish accent was warmer and more fun. I was surprised to find that the Irish accent, combined with Irish colloquialisms, often sounded like an entirely different language. In fact, Irish itself, the Gaelic language, is on many signs in Dublin. I thought Irish was a dead language, but apparently it’s not. According to Google and Wikipedia, it is still the everyday language of several communities in Western Ireland and is taught in Irish schools. Ireland encourages the preservation of their national language, and the last census reported that the number of people claiming to speak Irish at least occasionally in Ireland increased from 1.2 million in 2006 to 1.3 million in 2011.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that the Irish fluency is increasing; the Irish are proud of their heritage and still take a general dislike to the British (according to the Irish boys who I ate breakfast with at the hostel). Some of Dublin’s points of pride that I learned of or saw include: Trinity College, the Book of Kells, Millenium Tower, the Temple Bar area, James Joyce, and Jonathan Swift. To be fair, I think I would have found the beautiful Irish landscape more impressive than any of these human landmarks, but I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to go to the Irish countryside.
And so concluded my European travels, until an indeterminate future time. They were fun, inspiring, delicious, (a bit) educational, and relaxing. Yes, I love to travel even more than before. This spring, I think I might try for some American adventures: first time in Boston and New York City anyone?