This past weekend, I took my first trip outside of the Netherlands. Six students from U of L, along with one other girl went to Dublin, Ireland for a long weekend. Getting to and from Dublin was kind of a hassle (about 12 hours of airports/planes/train stations/trains going there and about 10 coming home), but nonetheless it was well worth it; I have no complaints. I really enjoyed spending three whole days in Dublin, rather than the two that we were originally planning. We were able to see and do everything that we wanted to plus a lot more.
On Friday morning, we took a 3 hour walking tour around the city. The tour was through the website neweuropetours.eu. I highly recommend that if anyone goes to Europe to check out this website. They offer free walking tours in probably ten major European cities. They will take you to a lot of the famous sites for three hours and give you a lot of historical background information. When you are done, all you have to do is tip them (if they did a good job of course). The tour took us to Dublin Castle, Trinity College, Village Green, some cathedrals, Jonathon Swiftâ€™s birthplace, etc.
Later on Friday night, I partook in my first pub crawl. It was a really fun time, especially meeting many college age students from all over Europe and the United States. The crawl took us to 3 pubs, one pub/dance club, and one club all in one night. Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves. Dublinâ€™s main strip is called Temple Bar. Everywhere you look, you see restaurants, upscale shopping, pubs, and clubs. I personally thought that it was a much better version of Bardstown Road. It is quite touristy, but nonetheless it is a good place to enjoy yourself.
On Saturday, we kind of did our own thing. We went to a famous prison that housed and executed many political prisoners during the Irish rebellions against the British. I have always enjoyed history and learning about the Irishâ€™s centuries-long feud with Britain was quite interesting. They had 5 revolutions in about 300 years, with it all culminating with the Easter Rebellion in 1916. The Irish have a lot of pride, and we were able to experience some of it while touring the prison and seeing the sites where the political leaders were held and executed.
Afterwards, we toured the Guinness brewery. We went to the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam, but the Guinness brewery was much larger. In fact, there were about 20 or so different buildings scattered within one complex. They did a good job explaining the various steps in the brewing process. The end was the best part-we got to drink a beverage at the top of the tall building. The â€œGravity Barâ€ was circular and completely encompassed by glass windows. You could literally see the whole city. It wasnâ€™t nearly as tall as the Sears Tower or Empire State Building, but nonetheless it served the same purpose.
On Sunday, we went on a tour bus to venture away from the city a little bit. We went to the countryside for a few hours and got to see the famous Irish rolling hills, green grass, and lots of sheep and cattle. It was the Ireland that we had always imagined. Afterwards, the bus took us to a city called Kilkenny. The city was well-known because of a castle that has been maintained in almost perfect condition. It was nice to walk in a real and fully-standing castle.
Overall, Dublin was a great experience. It was definitely a nice change of pace to be able to communicate with everyone and read signs in English. The city wasn’t the cleanest by any means, and with the exception of some scattered cathedrals and castles, there were not that many nice buildings to see. On the other hand, the people were extremely helpful and friendly. However, after some people began to drink, they could possibly become quite loud, aggressive, and possible violent. I believe that kind of behavior is overlooked by the population (which is quite different than in America). Needless to say, I would never want to be a police officer. Regardless of these facts, I still had a lot of fun, and I recommend that you travel there if you ever get a chance.
Thanks for reading,