St.Patrickâ€™s Day in Dublin was the goal. Unfortunately, it was the goal of lots of other people from around the world, and they planned it out better than I did. There were no hostels in the city that had vacancy for the 3 nights of the weekend, and the ones that had partial vacancy were priced high, even three weeks before the event. After a failed couchsurfing attempt, I posted to â€œThe Hague 2011 Exchangeâ€ facebook page to see if anyone else was trying the same thing, and I found that two American girls had already booked a hotel room and would let me crash on the couch (not really crash, I had to pay my third) for the 2 nights they were going to be there. Since I had waited so long to book everything though, I ended up paying 50 euros more for my plane ticket, so that was a mistake that I wonâ€™t make again.
As it turned out, our hotel was really something like 7 miles outside of the Dublin center and a little hike from the nearest bus stop. Since Dublin busses only take exact change and the fares are strange (2.40, 2.65, etc.), it ended up being a big and expensive hassle to be that far away and riding the bus back and forth maybe twice a day, not to mention the time spent each way. This is where I learned that, all other things equal, location is the most important factor for me in hostel picking.
The first night we were there was actually St.Patrickâ€™s, so we changed and went immediately to town, arriving around 9. The next hours were spent in the Temple Bar area, which was packed with people, green, decorations, and beer glasses. It was a blast. Dublin really enjoys its major holiday as one big family. It was a comfortable place to be because we could speak the same language to anyone. At the end of the night, we had to take a cab home because the busses werenâ€™t running. The bad location bit us again .
The next day, I saw most of the standard sights of Dublin- Trinity College, the shopping areas, etc. My favorite things by far were the full Irish Breakfast (great after a night of Guinness) and St. Michunâ€™s Church, which I found out about on a youtube video. The place isnâ€™t touristic at all, so you donâ€™t have to pay to check it out. The main attraction is in the cellars, which have the right humidity and temperature to have preserved some mummies all the way back from the Crusades. The most surprising thing was that they will let you go right in among the coffins and touch them! There is a soldier mummy who, if you touch his index finger, will supposedly pass on good luck to you. That off-the-path stop was my favorite.
Fish and chips, a Guinness at Dublinâ€™s oldest pub, and a pub crawl that night basically finished up our time in Dublin. Some Irish guys on the pub crawl were telling us that because Ireland hasnâ€™t had much immigration over the centuries, the culture is still pretty homogenous and thatâ€™s why it has the feeling of being a big family. All of the people we met were great and the attitude (at least for that weekend) was that everyone should have a good time. Definitely a holiday worth celebrating at its source.
The next day we had an afternoon flight, so I took a train to a little coastal city called Malahide to see Ireland in a little different light. There are small beaches lining a harbor that is filled with small colorful sailboats. I hung out for a while on the beach even though it was much too cool for sunbathing or swimming.
Back to the airport and on the plane home. The short time we were there, the late booking, and the high cost of partying and entertainment added up quickly to cost me over 200 euros per day, counting the flights and accommodation, but it was a worthwhile splurge.
Dublin was great for me because it was just a really relaxed atmosphere, we could talk with anybody, order familiar food and have a great idea of where to have fun in the city. Although it is a big place, the central area was easy to navigate on foot and all of the main sites of the city can be seen in 2 or 3 days at a leisurely pace.