Friday March 31
In the morning we woke up and stuffed our things in our bags and hopped on a bus to Dublin! This bus was somehow so uncomfortable and I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I eavesdropped on the people behind me who talked about Trump the entire drive. It’s crazy how most people abroad know more about him than I do. I actually learned a thing or two on this drive.
We got off the bus a little ways from our hostel: Jacob’s Inn. We managed to find it after some confusion and it was crazy nice. This place was basically a hotel with shared rooms which was great because we paid a lot more for this hostel than any others since we waited until the week before to book it – oops! The room wasn’t ready for us quite yet so we locked our bags up in a crate and then went out to find lunch before our walking tour. I remember it being a little bit colder and windier than it was earlier so we went back to get jackets.
There was a café near the meeting point for the tour we stopped here to get a salad and I had a delicious Mediterranean couscous salad. Not the food that you would typically get in Dublin but that is going to be the theme of this trip haha.
The tour guide was named John and he was giving one of his first tours – he was really good though because he used to be a teacher. It still wasn’t the most interesting tour in the world but I think we were cranky because it was colder than we thought it would be. He chose to focus on music because a lot of musicians came out of Dublin – I learned about Rory Gallagher – the best guitarist in the world according to John and many other guitarists. It is weird because I had never heard of this guy before…
At this point I was starting to feel sick. It could have been all of the stress, lack of sleep, physical exhaustion and being in a new city every other day… but I blame the girl in our room in Edinburgh who was “gonna fight strep throat herself”. My throat hurt like crazy, I lost my voice, had a headache, and there was mucous coming out everywhere. I really wasn’t in the mood to do anything but I didn’t want to hold Jordan back! So, we went to a really good salad place called “Chopped” and got some health food before heading back to the hostel to rest awhile. After sitting in bed and meeting our only other roommate, a guy named Jordan conveniently, I rallied and we walked down the street to a bar that had live music.
We each got a cider and watched the man sing for awhile. There was an older Irish man who was dressed like a stereotypical fisherman who was picking up ladies left and right and had them dance with him in front of everyone – he just loved to dance and was having a great time! Unfortunately, I was not so we headed home so I could get a good nights rest and feel better in the morning.
Saturday April 1
This turned out to be one of the worst nights ever! I couldn’t sleep because I was in so much pain it felt like I was dying… and when I woke up the guy in our room, who we determined to be kind of a weirdo, asked, “which one of you guys sounds like a bear when they sleep?” obviously referring to my snoring since I was so congested.
National Museum of Ireland
We were planning on going to a museum that the tour guide told us about (it was free) and our new friend Jordan the clinger went along with us because he was traveling alone and didn’t have any money. We ate free breakfast at the hostel and moved our stuff to the locker room again since we were going to switch rooms (not because of the clinger, but since we booked the rooms so last minute we couldn’t get the same one). After all of this, we had quite a late start and tried to find the museum. It took awhile to find, but it was really cool! There was some really old gold from 2000 BC. To put that into perspective, Rome was founded in 753 BC. Many things in Ireland had been perfectly preserved in bogs so there was a canoe dating from 2500 BC and a series of “bog bodies”. These bodies were really creepy because they were incredibly old but were preserved extremely well – well enough that some still had hair. I didn’t take any pictures because I feel like that would be frowned upon, but it is worth a google search.
After the museum we had an awkward lunch with the clinger because he really didn’t have any money and kept talking about his money that was “coming in” on Monday – so right now his only money was in paypal? He watched us eat and tried to find a place that would take paypal online. Anyways, the food was great! This place was like an Irish spinoff of Chipotle, it had a very similar menu and store but the livestock was all Irish. When we decided to go into the Trinity College library our friend Jordan decided it was time to go home.
Trinity College Library
You had to pay to go see this famous library but it was worth it! Before getting to the long room, there was a museum that contained the Book of Kells – a really beautiful illustrated bible from over 1000 years ago. Funny thing about the library is there is controversy over its resemblance to the Jedi archives in Episode II – it is almost an exact replica! The library itself was really cool because it smelled like old books and with good reason: there are around 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. It also had Ireland’s oldest harp.
After the library, we had some down time before our scheduled time at the Guinness Storehouse so we swung by St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the way. It was really beautiful and was surrounded by a green garden. The sun had just come out so I bought an ice cream cone from an ice cream truck and we watched these hilarious dogs playing. A girl had walked in with three identical dogs all on the same leash and she let them free and threw some huge balls around and they went wild for them. We probably watched these dogs for too long because now we were in a hurry to the Guinness factory.
On our walk there, the sky opened up and it poured on us. The walk was a lot longer than expected and by the time we got there it looked like we had stepped out of the shower. Neither of us were wearing raincoats so when we got there we had to wring out our down coats. Thankfully there was a lady at a stop light who let us stand under her umbrella for a second and she said, “one of the best investments you can make in Dublin is an umbrella!”.
Guinness factory tour
We got there just in time for our tour and it was completely packed! Good thing this place was absolutely huge. The tour itself was self-lead after the initial introduction. The best part was the tasting at the end and we were able to pour our own glass of Guinness! There was a 360 degree bar on the rooftop that we were able to drink it in and enjoy a view of Dublin. Since we had one of the last tours of the day they eventually kicked us out of the bar and we had to chug the rest of our beers and head downstairs. We spent awhile in the gift shop because they had a bunch of cute stuff – I eventually settled on not getting anything because I didn’t have any money or room in my luggage but looking back I wish I would have gotten a cute shirt!
We got really lost walking back to the center of the city and found ourselves walking through some very residential areas which was cool. We also couldn’t decide what to eat for dinner so we settled on a cute looking Cuban tapas place. The squeezed us in on a small table and it made me thankful again for traveling with only one other person – it made everything so much easier! We got some delicious fried goat cheese with eggplant, or “aubergines” we asked the waiter what that was and he goes, “I think in America you call those eggplant?”. It is funny because in Italy the word for eggplant is melanzana and we are always confused because they translate it on English menus to aubergine as well. Everything makes sense now! We had some subpar paella but I don’t know what else I expected haha.
On the way home we walked through the main bar area downtown and watched all the drunk people. We stopped in some convenience stores to see if they had any chocolate or pseudofed but only Jordan got lucky with the chocolate. Initially we had wanted to go on the bar crawl with our hostel, but I really wasn’t feeling up to it and that revealed the one downside of traveling only two people… since I wasn’t able to do something that forced Jordan to do it alone and she wasn’t feeling up to that either. So, we had a semi-early night to pack up our things before a long day of travel home.
The day was stress-free, but it was long. We had some time in the morning to walk around and find food before heading to the airport for an afternoon flight. This is when we discovered again the power of grocery store salad bars – they rocked! Jordan satisfied her sweet tooth with a decadent doughnut and I finally went to a real pharmacy and got some pseudafed and pain killers, this pharmacist rocked btw.
We had an hour or so connection in Brussels Charleroi airport before flying back to Pisa because we ended up saving about 100 bucks doing it this way. When we got home to Pisa that night, the one bus service to Florence was full so we had to wait for the next one and that was the only hiccup.
Overall, missing that full bus was the worst travel problem we had all of spring break so I think we did pretty well! I was really proud of how the whole thing went together because we had worked really hard planning the trip. Booking a flight here, a hostel there, and some bus connections in between, the trip slowly came together in the preceding months but it was a huge success! I wrote this grease-stained itinerary that we stuck to more or less and all of our flights totaled up to less than $150! That proves that with the power of Ryanair it is very affordable to travel Europe. Jordan also proved to be a really good travel companion because we both had similar style. We were able to rally in the early mornings even though we were tired, but we also both appreciated some downtime getting tea or on a sunny bench as a reward – never pass up a good looking bench in the sun!
By the end of over a week of nonstop traveling, Jordan and I both were really excited to go home. Florence was starting to feel like home to us and we were missing it! We arrived back to our home away from home around midnight and it felt nice to be walking in familiar territory again.