Well, we all know Louisville is full of Irish love – from Irish pubs, to Fighting Irish fans, to one of the biggest St. Patrick’s day blow-outs of all time. However, nothing compares to Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland itself on March 17th.
We began our journey out of Den Haag with a flight to Belfast, and then took a bus to Dublin. Things to keep in mind: Northen Ireland is on Pounds Sterling, and their airport ATM exchange fee is not travel budget friendly – however, it is the fastest way to get cash in your pocket. From the airport to the bus station, we took a taxi with a Dubliner to the bus station. A tip when talking to a Dubliner – never assume what they say is true, if you can understand them. If you CAN understand them, give yourself kudos!
The bus ride was uneventful, and from the station we taxied downtown to find our hostel. Hostels in Dublin on St. Patrick’s day are easily 100 Euro a night for a private, 4 person room, and could be much more if you don’t book in advance. Be prepared, and don’t be afraid to sleep on the floor, the trip is well worth it.
The next morning we took the free Sandeman tour around the city and saw everything from Dublin castle which proudly displayed Themis, the Goddess of Truth/Justice, unmasked and glaring – only in Ireland would a goddess supposedly blindfolded to represent unbiased honesty be waving a sword. We also saw St. Patrick’s cathedral – one of the most beautiful I saw in Europe, made entirely of gorgeous stone and surrounded by the grass that could double as green velvet. The statue of Molly Malone and a trip through Temple Bar – the mercantile and bar district rounded out the tour.
From there we went to the St. Patrick’s day parade, after of course, purchasing green, orange, and white top hats and loads of green beads – always try to blend with the locals. The parade, we found, is always themed around something other than St. Patrick himself. As Dublin was dubbed The City of Science, this year was a nautical, science fiction theme. Sitting on O’Connell street bridge watching the parade was one of the coolest, experiences of the trip not only because the costumes and performers were top-notch, but the people around us were from all over the world, including Louisville!
After the parade we continued our exploration through Temple Bar and the city park finding all sorts of interesting places. Dublin is a very diverse city with everything from a brand new shopping district that reminds you of Rodeo Drive but with riverdance performers on every corner, to some of the oldest pubs in the world, all the way to some of the most exclusive hotels. The city gives a very alive, but charming feeling! Our favorite Temple Bar find was a place called The Mercantile!
The next day we went to Trinity College to wait in line for a siting of the Book of Kells and the historic Phoenix park – I did not expect to see gorgeous palm trees in March. A travel tip when going to see the book, either show up very early in the morning, or book an appointment which cuts your wait time down to about an hour. From there, we took a bus back to Belfast, and flew home.
This was one of my favorite trips the entire 6 months, and I highly recommend visiting the city just once for the biggest, most historic, green party of the year!