When I die Dublin will be written in my heart. James Joyce
About an hour and a half before landing in Dublin the flight attendants started coming around with the food. We sat up and squinted at each other; raising our window shade bit by bit, peeking out the window at the sunlight and putting our trays down. That breakfast tasted like the most wonderful thing I’d ever eaten. The orange juice had been frozen so it was like an OJ slush – so refreshing after trying to sleep sitting up for five hours. We ate our breakfast and watched out the window for Ireland. The flight attendants had come around with custom forms for Ireland the night before and we filled them out. I was so happy to have my travel packet with me and organized since the form asked for where we would be staying. After a while we were low enough to see ocean – incredible. Then we started seeing ferry boats. And then finally- the colors of Ireland. Creamy sand and the most beautiful variety of greens and blues I’ve ever seen in my life. We started getting really excited at this point and wide awake.
The plane landed and very quickly we were off it and into the Dublin airport. I remember thinking that it was very clean and very open. We stepped aside near a huge window and got ourselves together making sure we had everything before going through customs. We stopped for a moment to admire the green Aer Lingus planes and then got in line for customs. The signs were very easy to follow – Gaelic on top and English underneath. The line moved quickly and soon enough we were getting our first passport stamp!!
Since we already had our luggage we went right out to the front of the airport. We weren’t sure how tired we would be or how hard it would be to find the correct bus and understand the stops well enough to reach our B&B so a taxi seemed our best choice. They were all lined up in the front of the airport with people filing in. Our driver was very friendly. He asked us where we were from and about our trip and gave us some bits of advice. Being on the opposite side of the road doing all opposite things was like riding an amusement park ride. I think we both felt a bit nauseous from the long plane ride and the taxi movements. (I’m pretty sure we both stayed somewhat nauseous the whole trip from excitement)
We got to our B&B O’Neill’s Victorian Townhouse in about 20 minutes – the cab ride was 25 euros. When we walked up to the building it took us a bit to find the door and then walk up three flights of stairs. The manager of the pub came to let us in, just handing us a key and going back to his work. We were really surprised that there was no paperwork to fill out – He didn’t even need to see our passport.
We were very pleased with this B&B. (We were in the corner room on the third floor) It was clean and quiet and just about a ten minute walk into the city center. We felt very safe here and the room was comfortable. When we got in we noticed all the windows were open and looked about to see that there was no air conditioning. We didn’t have air conditioning in any of our rooms until London! It was much more comfortable than I would have imagined and sleeping with the windows open is not something I could ever do at home because of my allergies. The bathroom at O’Neill’s was very large and I liked that it had its own window. The shower was small but set up like most American showers- however the drain didn’t work properly so for every minute of washing I had to turn the water off to let it drain down. Another cool thing- unless we were in a very updated bathroom the sinks had a hot and a cold knob. To get warm you have to mix the water in the basin. I tried turning the hot on just a wee bit to see if I could get warm; but nope, don’t try that.
We sat in the room for a few minutes to acclimate ourselves. For a bit there it really felt like we had been on a giant spaceship and been whipped to another planet. We sat on the bed and I kept checking the time to see if it was late enough to send “We Made It!” texts to family. Chris played around with the maps on his phone and we watched people outside our window for a bit. Eventually it felt like when you are a kid and you finally get to the beach and have to wait for your parents to be ready- like you can already feel your feet moving towards the sand. That is how it felt. So out we went.
Our first order of business was to find O’Neills Pub (not to be confused with our B&B) and get something to eat. We had planned on our first meal being a full Irish breakfast but because our plane was delayed it was really lunch time. We headed out onto the streets of Dublin trying to take our time and see everything but also very excited and moving with the crowd of people walking on the sidewalks. Dublin streets are fairly busy and we found ourselves people watching quite a bit – Everywhere I looked was Ron Weasley’s dad! Chris and I both noticed how well dressed they were and I think we both wanted to go buy some new clothes. The men were wearing really well made suits. The Irish are beautiful people and I wish we had had more time to just sit and watch them. The men over 60 all had on the same uniform of slacks, a button up shirt, cardigan, tweed jacket and tweet hat.
We found the pub, got settled and realized that there is a buffet type area where you can choose your food or order. We decided to split the fish and chips- really no other possible food we would eat at that time. The fish and chips came with mushy peas. This is a food I’ve always wanted to try so while Chris really enjoyed his Guinness I was digging into those mushy peas. Mushy peas are peas that are soaked overnight with baking soda and then blended with some variety of cream, sugar, butter and spices. These had some mint in them. They were delicious. We tried to take our time – it was obvious we were American from the speed that we ate our food. We both made an effort to slow down; admiring the people sitting very close to us in other booths and tables- mostly working people who were there for what seemed to me a very long lunch.
After we ate we began strolling through Dublin and checking out some of the shops. We were having a very pleasant time walking the streets when I looked over and saw one of my top Dublin destinations – Ulysses Rare Books (also known as Cathach Books). This bookshop has early editions and other hard to find books and also a large section of maps. This is probably one of the top places I would like to go back to from our entire trip. We spent a while looking through the books and maps but I was too excited to see more of Dublin to stay for the hours the store really needs. I would also need to ship home some of those maps!!
We also really enjoyed going into the markets and grocery stores. We found the food all over Ireland and the UK to be of extremely high quality and very fresh. Everything looked tasty and we oohed and ahhed over the packaged veggies and fruits and different kinds of sweets that we can’t get in the US.
Isn’t this painting gorgeous??
While we were walking we were very appreciative of the signs on the road telling us which way to watch for traffic. These were in all the cities around Ireland and the UK and I really needed them. In Dublin the walking traffic sign played a little tune for you to let you know it was your turn to walk.
We spent an hour or so in the afternoon in Saint Stephen’s Green Park and had a wonderful and relaxing time walking around and really felt like we were on ‘vacation’ for the first time. It started to rain here and there and we were able to duck under trees until it passed. Earlier that day we were in a shop that sold mini umbrellas and Chris asked if I wanted to get one and I said No, I don’t want to carry it around. So each time we saw a place selling umbrellas it became a joke between us not to get one. So we went the whole trip without one.
We both felt a bit tired around 3pm but we walked through it and were fine. Jet lag mostly felt like allergies to me at this point and we were too excited to feel tired. We had really wondered about jet lag before our trip and had heard that the excitement would help and it really did. We didn’t have anything planned for dinner so we just stopped at a place that looked good called Mercantile. The menu was out on the street and the place looked cozy so went in. Chris had Shepard’s pie and I had mussels. They were both great. I ordered a diet coke and they brought it in a glass bottle – you have to ask for ice in Europe and most of the time they would bring me only a couple of cubes. It wasn’t until our last days in Paris that I realized I had quit asking for ice. 🙂
After dinner we decided to try out the bus. We knew it was 1.60 euros to ride the bus and we had 0 change so we stopped into a little corner shop and got some bottled water and chocolate and asked for change for the bus. (We were dehydrated the entire trip and seriously could not get enough water. We stocked up on it anytime we could. But that is a topic for another post.) The bus stops were scattered everywhere so we didn’t have to walk far to find one that would take us to the Guinness Factory. Even though it was closed we still wanted to see it and enjoy the walk back to our B&B.
This was our first time on a bus and it was exactly like the Harry Potter scene in Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry catches a bus ride. We were very high up, the bus started moving before we had sat down and we were driving on the wrong side of the road. I think the fact that we were slightly jet lagged really added to the effect. If you don’t know that scene you can watch it on YouTube here: Harry’s Bus Ride
From there we walked back to our hotel, took showers and reviewed what we would be doing the next day. This became a routine for us and I think really helped me be able to relax and go to sleep. We were in bed around 9pm and I think I was asleep before Chris turned out his light. A very successful first day in beautiful Ireland.