Wandering the Emerald Isle

Leaving Liverpool was good for a number of reasons but one of the most prominent was because I was going to Dublin and not only that, I was getting the ferry!

It doesn’t sound like a big deal to some but I’ve always considered navigating myself onto a ferry as a mans job and I wanted to ensure I did it right. I remember when my parents took us to the Isle of Wight as boys, it was all down to my Dad to get us and the car onto the ferry. I only saw men working the docks and it was quite fascinating at the time, as it was all so different to what ‘land life’ was like. I really believed that you had to know what you were doing or you’d just drive straight into the water.

My ferry was scheduled to depart at 3am and I stayed up reading and writing, while waiting to make my way to the docks and do my best to drive my little Fiesta (and somewhat bigger suitcase) onboard and not drive into the River Mersey. I’m happy to say that not only did I do it, I did it with ease! I feel like this was a rite of passage and I earned myself a man coin in doing so. So it came as quite the disappointment that while all the truck drivers and other men of the vessel were sat in the bar area watching the football, that my man coin was revoked due to me sitting at the back of the bar, filing my nails. At least I feel safe in the knowledge that I looked my best, as they prized the coin from my soft manicured hands.

Arriving into Dublin, I was excited as I had always wanted to visit. I am quite taken by the Irish accent that I had even let my mind wander and thought what it would be like to live there, just to enjoy listening to the people speak every day. It was probably this loose lead on my mind that allowed the fact to escape me that The Republic of Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. Driving round seeing the speed limit in KPM instead of MPH surprised me, as did the fact that they used the Euro instead of the Pound. For someone who has travelled quite extensively, I was glad no one knew of my foolishness about this subject. Until now.

Each time I get to a city, I just start walking. The best way for me to truly get a feel for the place is to wander and absorb. I don’t go to any of the touristy areas initially, I just wander and get myself lost. It’s during this time that my creative juices start flowing and I start structuring my next blog or think about how I can make my meager travel budget stretch as far beyond a year as I would like it to. All I could think is that I really enjoyed Dublin but I think I liked my expectations of the place slightly more. That is until I left and considered the trip as a whole and can happily say that I now look back on that part of my journey with fondness.

dublin-cathedral

Token Cathedral shot

I absolutely have no qualms with the place and I really enjoyed my time there but I think this trip has helped me to step away from my stereotypes of these locations and realign my expectations. My stereotypes of Ireland were vast and the reality of the place didn’t quite match up. So just in case you were all thinking the same as me then a quick note to you all – there are no leprechauns in Dublin. at least none that choose to present themselves to me.

Dublin is definitely a working class city. It has no airs or graces. It has been built on a tumultuous past and it was built to be practical, without much thought to its architecture or layout. If they need more housing, then so long as the plans are practical and affordable, they build. However it does have a great deal of (lucky) charm and the people of Ireland are some of the friendliest you’ll ever meet.

Speaking of which, I caught up with my friend and ex-Adecco colleague Kate, for a few beers on the first night and enjoyed having a familiar face to reminisce with. We had a great laugh and it was good to see a more upmarket part of town, where it seems they have shown some architectural thought in appearance and style and it helped me settle more and appreciate a different vibe to the city.

However never one to sit still for long, the following day I was off in the car to take in the delights of Kilkenny and my friend Siobhan, who lives nearby. Kilkenny is what I wanted my stereotypical Ireland to be. It was quaint, it was effortlessly breathtaking and has an even friendlier bunch of locals you could hope to meet. My time with Siobhan was a blast and a non-stop laughfest. We took in the castle (I’m still mad keen for a castle) and the super Irish surroundings. Even my sandwich was shaped like a shamrock!

My sandwich, Kilkenny and it’s castle. 

Heading back to Dublin, I decided it was Friday night and I wanted to see what the nightlife had to offer this thirty something wanderer. This isn’t aways easy when travelling alone, as whoever you approach to talk to at the bar can  drive you into the boredom zone or take you entirely out of your comfort zone. The latter is exactly what happened to me.

At Pantibar (which was a place recommended I start my night out) I turned and said hello to the person next to me at the bar. He responded in his Australian accent and a conversation was started. After a few drinks with him and his partner, I asked if they were going to The George after this, which was also recommended to me. As it turns out, Dublin Leather Pride wasn’t being held at The George! So considering I’m travelling to experience new things and I’m often up for the craic, I went with them to Dublin Leather Pride, not wearing a stitch… of leather and it was such a fun night. Such a welcoming community of people and I got to meet Mr Leather Spain, Belgium and Austria who were all there to see who was crowned Mr Leather Ireland. It was all very surreal but extremely funny and as much as I am open to a bit of gaelic, I decided to bow out early and make my way back to the hostel to try and get a decent nights sleep. I never did get to see who won Ireland’s leather sash.

leather

With Mr Leather Spain

Ireland was super fun. I really enjoyed the people, the honesty of the country and being a tourist in a place which is just naturally charming, warm and fun. In Dublin, I explored the streets, I joined the throngs of people at St Stephen’s Square, Trinity College and at the Guinness Storehouse and stared awkwardly at the astoundingly tall Millenium Needle, which was unveiled 3 years afer the millenium. And I have to say I am thoroughly looking forward to returning to Ireland again and seeing what else this delightful part of Europe has to offer.

Guinness Storehouse

However after feeling a little worse for wear after my random and fun night out with the leather crew and then having to head back to blighty on the ferry, I felt a lot like this chair I saw at Dublin Castle.

old-and-delicate

Totally worth it though.

For the full album of my Dublin trip, you can find them on my Facebook travel page. Search Wandergrin, like the page and they’ll all be there.

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