Exploring Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is a country that I’ve always wanted to visit since I was kid. As most people know, Dublin is the capital city and is the most often visited by tourists. Of course going to Ireland, I wanted to visit Dublin, but I was more interested and excited about seeing other parts of Ireland – like the smaller cities and the countryside. But after arriving in downtown Dublin, I was immediately hooked.

The city is divided into North and South by the River Liffey. I think the hotels might be less expensive north of the river because its “not as nice” as the south side. Its true that there are many more attractions south of the river, but I also liked the north. I could recommend staying somewhere near Parnell Square, where you are a few short strides to O’Connell Street.

River Liffey

Shopping

On Grafton Street its all about human to human marketing. Whether is firemen trying to sell their holiday calendar to raise money for suicide awareness, employees holding picket signs for the store they work to encourage people to come off the main street down to their alley, live street performers play rock music with enthusiasm for the crowds gathered around with their CDs on display and a banner directing viewers to their website and social media sites.

I was shocked by the detail and beauty of the window displays in Thomas Browns, a luxury store. The mannequin in an action post dressed on gold and red surrounded by finery. This makes you want to enter the store and convinces you to spend hundreds of Euro on such pretty items.

Grafton Street

Another major shopping area is on Henry Street. Here there seem to be more clothing stores and also shopping malls including Jervis and Ilac Shopping Centers. You could easily spend hours wandering from store to store. This street is longer than Grafton and at the end features The Spire – officially titled the “Monument of Light” – is a stainless steel pin-like monument standing 398 feet tall and looks like its tipping towards you if you look straight up at it.

The Spire

People/Fashion

Of course the Irish are known for thier sweet nature and hospitality. This couldn’t have proved to be more true as a kind Irish fellow sitting in the same row proceeded to chat for the full one and a half hour flight talking about the places to go. He even drew a very realistic map of the country and a road map for the tour across the country (which I will blog about soon). The hotel staff were very friendly, not only did they offer directions and assistance with a smile, but they were happy to talk about where you’re from or what you saw that day too.

Seeing Irish people was all to welcoming for me. The men wore heavy felt jackets often with blue jeans or cordoroy pants and the women also wore blue jeans with runners. It seemed quite popular for the younger ladies to wear their hair in a ballerina bun high on their head and they wore skirts with dark nylons in the cool weather. Like Canadians and Americas, the ladies from teenagers to grandmothers were wearing makeup, which is not often seen on the women living in Belgium. And yes there were quite a few people with lovely red hair.

Getting Around

In Ireland the cars are on the left-hand side of the road and thus the driver sits on the right-hand side of the car (as in the United Kingdom). They also have the double-decker buses, but are more commonly seen painted yellow and blue.

Like in London, there is helpful white paint on the streets reminding you to look right. It was somehow much easier to adjust to the “wrong-sided” driving because Dublin is much smaller than London. After the second day, I was naturally looking in the correct direction before crossing the street.

It was funny to see the people crossing the street on when the pedestrian sign was still red. Why? Because the sign always seems to be red. Dubliners are able to predict when it will turn green and have already crossed the street by the time it does. They also have no problem scooting across the road on a red if there are no cars coming.

Traveller’s tip: If visiting Ireland, its important to remember that not only is the traffic on the left-hand side of the road, but they also use the three-prong electrical plug like in the United Kingdom.

Dinner & drinks

You can get a reasonably priced dinner in any pub/restaurant and the groceries are more affordable than in Brussels. But like Canada, Ireland has much higher prices for alcohol and cigarettes. Based on my observations, I’d have to say that the Irish don’t drink nearly as much as those who live in Belgium. In addition to this, Belgian beer often comes in 7-12% alcohol and in Ireland, its usually around the 5% mark. It was interesting to see that they often had Canadian beer on tap – Coors Light. While it was disturbing to see not one, but three different pregnant women smoking, there were fewer smokers in Dublin and at a minimum of 8 Euro per pack, it makes sense. Although, many still seems to afford the habit.

Sights

Trinity College Dublin is an institution with graduates including James Joyse, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, etc. The campus is in the middle of Dublin and is home to the Book of Kells. I took a moment to image what life was like when the famous Irish authors of the 17th century were studying and writing in the city.

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

Temple Bar area, while it sounds like its full of restaurants and bars, is actually a place with daily markets. I was surprised to find myself walking around the markets with jewelry, handmade hats and mittens, glassware and fairly expensive trinkets. It was an unplanned turned down a street to check it out as I tend to wander around a city without looking at the map the whole time. Then when I checked the map to see which landmark could be visited next, I realized that I had just walked through the Temple Bar area and I was shocked. Just goes to show how little I actually knew about the city itself before visiting it.

Temple Bar area

Christ Church Cathedral founded c.1028 has a beautiful interior and there is a crypt that can be visited.

Christ Church Cathedral

Saint Patrick’s Church is The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The building dating from 1220 stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it that Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin.

It also seems to be a popular place to take graduation photos. There were many students dressed up in robes with the black cap and their family members were dressed to the nines. Also in the gardens there is a wall with plaques of Ireland’s most famous authors.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral

This was just a summary of the few days I spent in Dublin. After that I took a road trip where the Emerald Isle can be seen in its full glory (stay tuned).

Have you ever finally visited a city you dreamed of seeing for a long time? What did you think? Did it live up to your expectations or was it even better than you imagined?

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About Nicole Basaraba

Nicole Basaraba is a Canadian writer focusing on topics of travel (Mondays), writing and literature (Wednesdays), lifestyle (Fridays) and her experiences living in the capital city of Europe: Brussels, Belgium.
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11 Responses to Exploring Dublin, Ireland

  1. Absolutely fantastic post. Wow the photos!! Love it!!
    I’ve got a best friend (the one I wrote about it today’s post) who is DYING to go to Ireland. It’s her DREAM and I think her and her hubby are planning a trip this September. I forwarded her your post knowing it’ll just get her more fired up to save her pennies to take the trip…eeeekkkeee…
    I am not a big traveler actually. LOL! There are places I’d like to see like the Grand Canyon, western Canada, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Greece….I am not really “dying” to go anywhere. As I told hubby, if we planned a trip and I got to go, I’d love it. But if on my grave I never went, I wouldn’t feel like I missed out. Odd, eh?!
    But I sure do LOVE your travel posts. I can only imagine the time and energy they take but I gotta say, I love them! :-)

    • These photos are just the beginning. There’s more what that came from. I also wrote a post about Irish gastronomy a few weeks ago called “A taste of Ireland” if you’re friend is interested. Its soooo exciting going to Ireland. It really is a dream vacation.

      I know a LOT of people from my hometown in Canada wouldn’t mind going to Paris or Greece or Italy perhaps but they also aren’t dying to go, so you’re not alone there.

      SOOOOOOOOOO happy you like the travel posts. :)

  2. Thorough, entertaining travel post as usual, Nicole. Thanks for taking me along on your trek. I cannot wait to one day see the countryside of Ireland myself, and I anxiously await that post as well.

    I’d always wanted to visit Las Vegas, to see if it were as I’d imagined it from the movies. It’s so much better, like Disney for adults. The Las Vegas Strip is so much more spread out than I’d thought, and the mid-strip casinos aren’t glitzy as much as they are luxurious. In addition, I learned that Vegas is much more than gambling. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to go.

    Other places I’d love to visit are Paris, Sydney, and Tuscany.

    • Ireland is a must see. I’d say even over Paris, but that’s just my taste. I also want to check out Sydney and Tuscany is in the top 5 for me. :)

      I sent my mom your blog post about Vegas because she went in November. It sounded sooo fun. She went to the “old Vegas strip” as well which she said was so interesting. She also stopped at the Bellagio for the water show of course.

  3. Stacy Green says:

    Oh, the cathedrals! So beautiful I can’t even describe them. Ireland has long been in my top 10 of places to visit, but mostly for the castles and countryside. Dublin is a location I’d forgotten about. Walking into those cathedrals must be like stepping back into time. I imagine they’re still teeming with energy.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Nicole!

  4. Of course you can never go far in Ireland without a blessing -

    May there always be work for your hands to do.
    May your purse always hold a coin or two.
    May the sun always shine on your windowpane.
    May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
    May the hand of a friend always be near you.
    May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

  5. Ben Miller says:

    Dear Nicole,
    Thank you for sharing these photos with everyone. They depict a very beautiful and comforting vision of the Old World. I lived in Dublin for a year while earning my Master’s, but it is refreshing to see from another that which Dubliners enjoy on a daily basis. I see you managed to find the usual inclement weather piercing the heavens—beautiful in my respect, but I have always loved rain and overcast days. Ha ha, don’t worry about it; in fact, the rarity is to find photos with the backwash of a warm sun. At least your photos depict the truth, and not a false tourist allure. I especially appreciate your picture of Grafton Street. In my time there, I forgot to take a picture of Grafton Street. I went all over Dublin taking a lot of photos, and despite having always wanted to, never took one of Grafton Street. When I saw your picture it instantly transported me back to the life and atmosphere of such a vivacious street. I always thought it was so cool that, at least for the most part, no building in Dublin is taller than about 5 stories. With so much of the modern world, everything is getting bigger, taller, and seemingly more enclosing. In Dublin, I never felt claustrophobic like I do in New World cities like New York, because if there was ever a moment I felt uncomfortable being surrounded with so much (people, places, and things), from anywhere I stood, I could always look up and see the sky. Being a country boy this made my transition, adjusting to a life in the city, seem easier and more natural.
    If I may ask you a question, did you have a chance to see the country? I found the serenity and historical significance (even just knowing how much history the land holds) unlike anything I have encountered elsewhere. The fresh air and cool breeze is an amazing escape from the bustle of the city, where you can feel the land elicit its tribute to all those who walked in that very spot before. It offers a very humbling atmosphere and sense of serenity. In a few, short words, I find it to be beautiful.
    Nicole, thank you again for sharing these excellent pictures with everyone. I believe I may speak for us all when I say: such beauty can never be forgotten.

  6. Pingback: Celebrate Arthur’s Day – Guinness brewer | Nicole Basaraba's Uni-Verse-City

  7. Pingback: Celebrate Arthur’s Day – Guinness brewer | Nicole Basaraba's Uni-Verse-City

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