9-11 January 2015
My first trip of 2014 did not start smoothly. Firstly, there was a problem with my ticket and so I had to call up the airline in a frantic state Friday morning to try and sort it out. When I finally made it to Stansted Airport, I realised that I hadn’t brought a clear bag for my liquids (some of which were over 100ml and had to hit the bottom of the bin) and they weren’t free here- so I had to pay £1 for a plastic ball of four, only to find that, when I got through to Security, they were giving them away for free.
As I was sitting by the gate, I saw people board my plane, before starting to de-board. There was no announcement but I sensed that was not a good sign. After a short while, we were all able to climb on and I settled down in my seat. As the doors locked, one of the flight attendants made an announcement and I heard a different flight number and destination. I was on the wrong plane! How did that even happen?! It didn’t- of course it didn’t. I may do that with tubes (like I had earlier that day) but I think it would take something big to do it with a plane- this wasn’t Home Alone 2.
I was in the air for about an hour and landed slightly after the scheduled time. Since I only had hand luggage, I was out of the airport quickly and a guy at the information desk directed me to the right bus stop. Sadly, the bus wasn’t going to turn up for another half hour and it wasn’t exactly going to be a speedy journey to the city centre. I managed to find another bus that left sooner and went quicker. It was more expensive- €7 instead of €3.something- but it was worth the extra money.
My visit was with two friends from university, one of whom was moving to Dublin for a few months with work. They had already arrived ahead of me, as I was working during the day. The bus dropped me off near Trinity College and I walked down College Green, towards City Hall. As I walked down the road, I could hear the sound of glass breaking and a girl shouting. Far from putting me off, it made me smile- the city was alive and people were enjoying their Friday night. I had never been that fussed about going to Dublin but, as I walked, I was surprised by how lovely the architecture was. I also found myself surrounded by Irish accents- one of my favourite accents ever. I was already realising that I had mentally done the city an injustice.
Eventually, I ran right into them and, after I dropped my bags off and wolfed down some pizza, we set off looking for a bar where we could catch up. After wandering down a couple of little streets in Temple Bar- a buzzy and somewhat touristy area in the city centre- we found the renowned Temple Bar bar. It had a live band, Christmas decorations were still hanging (Dublin in general did not seem to have moved on from Christmas) and it was teeming with people. It was expensive (over €20 for three pints of Heineken- Dublin’s not cheap) but it was worth it. We sat in a partially covered area, under some heaters, for the rest of the night- it was too busy to chat any where else.
The next day we had some practical bits and pieces to do. After a bacon and coffee breakfast in the flat, we set out to move my friend’s car from an overnight car park to her office car park, a bit outside the centre. We got very lost but we got there in the end and got to see a whole other side of Dublin. We hopped in a taxi back, as we didn’t have much time, and ended up at Trinity College- the beautiful university. The architecture was quite stunning and we stopped for a blustery selfie.
We were getting pretty hungry so we wandered the streets for a while, turning this way and that, looking for somewhere to eat. After passing up a lot of pubs, cafes and bakeries, we found a restaurant/cafe called Bewley’s on Grafton Street. It was there I got my Irish beef and Guinness stew, with potatoes, carrots and a couple of thick slices of bread. It was good and had a nice flavour but it wasn’t nearly as rich and gravy-ridden as I had hoped. In fact, I think I preferred the beef and Guinness stew that I’ve had in England. Having said that, it was heavy on the meat, which was cooked nicely, and you have to get down with the local cuisine.
Our next stop was O2 to sort out my friend’s phone but the queue was quite long so we decided to move on and explored the streets, ending up at the National Leprechaun Museum. My friend had been before and said that it was the one thing we needed to see. She could hardly contain her excitement. She made a good call. I’m slightly obsessed with mythology- generally ancient Greek- but I was looking forward to hearing some Irish folklore. It didn’t disappoint; there were a few stories and the place was basically a playground, with a faux rainbow and giant seats for us to sit on and feel like leprechauns. There was also a stuffed leprechaun for us to pose with a leprechaun cut out where we could stick our faces through and pose for photographs.
Leprechauns were followed by beer. We ended up at a gay bar called The George, where we stopped for a drink and a chat. It was about 5pm so it wasn’t packed but there were several people, some good, cheesy music and a friendly atmosphere. It was also cheaper than The Temple Bar- €15.35 for three Heineken. On our way back to the flat, we went via Tesco to pick up stuff to make our fajita dinner. We did a good job, they were delicious and covered in cheese and smoky BBQ seasoning.
That evening we figured we’d go out and try a few bars. We’d heard that Whelan’s was good. It was a 15 minute walk but it meant we could discover a new area and we hoped it would be cheaper than Temple Bar- it turned out to be €16 for our three Heineken. We’d heard that it had live music but it turned out to be more of a gig that you had to pay for that night. It was busy but not as much as The Temple Bar and the atmosphere wasn’t quite the same. Although it did still seem like a good place to be, we only stayed for one and headed back to crash in front of a movie. Conveniently, The Other Boleyn Girl was on the telly and I managed to find a spot on the bed from which I could watch it all cuddled up.
The next morning, my friend and I bid our buddy goodbye and left for the airport bright and early. We had thought to catch the cheap bus but it was a 20 minute wait so we paid €6 and ended up there super early. We found a booth from which to play I Spy before going into the Departure lounge. Once we’d passed through Security, we picked up a meal deal from Boots and stopped for a mocha and a complimentary chocolate from Butlers Chocolates Cafe, before it was finally time to board.
My friend and I had booked our flights and checked in separately but it turned out that fate intervened. I was in seat 26D, she was in 26F and the passenger in between swapped for my aisle seat. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly on the other side. Having left the flat at about 8.20am, I arrived home just after 6pm. Being a Sunday, the trains weren’t running from Stansted and they weren’t running properly from London to my home either.
Being able to flit abroad for the weekend, without having to take days off work, is a big convenience and Dublin was fantastic, so my journey home was not enough to put me off doing it again. Since this weekend was about moving my friend in, exploring and taking it easy, I didn’t do my standard free walking tour and a day trip to filming sites used in Game of Thrones is most certainly on my list for next time.