I know that Ireland has had a fairly recent history of violence, however the last thing I expected on my final day in Dublin was to have my lunch interrupted by gunfire.
It turned out to just be actors filming a movie about the 1916 uprising in Dublin (it’s 100th anniversary is next year after all), but it was funny because they hadn’t blocked off the street and the shot was ruined when the “soldiers” ran into a gaggle of tourists. Nothing says authentic 1900s like bright pink rain jackets and iPhones.
Also it was good/disturbing to know that if there was actual gunfire around me I’d stay calm, just think it was fireworks, and then probably get shot… Oh well.
So, Dublin. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not my favourite city I’ve ever been to. Actually it’s not even in the top ten. I don’t know what it is about it, but I got no vibe from it. Nothing bad, but nothing super interesting either. And every person I’ve spoken to about this has agreed with me. There’s just no spark here.
That being said, there is plenty to do. The first couple of days were good, I just wandered around the city and checked out the library, the National Archaeology Museum, National Gallery and, most importantly, the Old Jameson Distillery.
I also did a free walking tour on my third day, which I really should’ve done on the first day, I think I would’ve appreciated the city more.
My saving grace was the impromptu day trip I booked out of desperation (on my second day here I was seriously considering going to back London until I had to be in Scotland). It was to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and it was amazing.
The Irish countryside is even more beautiful than you could imagine, and it finally got me excited about being here. We stopped at a couple of tiny villages, before our first major stop at Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. That’s fairly self explanatory, and the surrounding land and cliffs are absolutely gorgeous, it felt like the scenery in Jurassic Park – tall sheer cliffs covered in green.
The rope bridge wasn’t very long and was very sturdy, so there was nothing to be scared about. I made friends with an American girl called Lorena and we took silly photos of each other on the cliff top and bridge.
After a quick lunch at the local village pub, we drove past the cliff that doubles as The Wall in Game of Thrones, to the tip of Northern Ireland to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s a natural mystery how the “steps” are so perfectly formed. The official story is they’re the result of a volcano eruption, but I prefer the fantasy version involving two competing Giants from Ireland and Scotland. You can read the story here.
Standing at the bottom of the cliffs there you can almost believe in the magic of the story.
The causeway was a dream come true for the rock climbing kid in me, and I scrambled across the steps like a graceful rock wallaby (or at least I thought I looked graceful in my head).
After the causeway we headed to Belfast for our final stop. Now I don’t know enough of the politics relating to the North/South Ireland conflict to comment, but it’s no secret the two have an extremely recent troubled past. Despite this, I actually felt right at home in Belfast. It’s a beautiful city, full of Victorian style buildings, I definitely want to go back for a proper visit.
The only down side to doing the day trip was that because we had a schedule to stick to it meant we didn’t have enough time to fully appreciate each place. But that just means I’ll have to come back, hire a car and do it again way slower.
The beds at this hostel aren’t brilliant either, but after that trip I slept like a baby and didn’t even hear the two new dorm buddies come in.
The next day I was exhausted so I slept in, then did some laundry and caught up on the blog. I think this was my favourite morning, sadly, because I had the laundry room to myself and set up a little desk, blared some music and just generally had some good alone time.
I wandered around the city a bit again, then came back to the dorm early to do some writing. There was finally another girl here, named Meg, so we chatted and had dinner. Lovely girl from San Francisco. I’ve met so many Americans on this trip!
And the story is generally the same – quit stressful job and took off around the world. In her case she’s travelling for a year and is halfway through her trip. I was also lucky enough to catch up with her in London and Berlin a little later in the year too, but more on that later…
Listening to: Apocalyptica
Watching: Long Way Down
Reading: Pride and Prejudice
Current man-crush: Matt Berry