For my entire life I have always dreamed of traveling to Ireland. During my semester abroad, there are plenty of long weekends which equate to being the ideal opportunity to travel within the European countries. I’ve already traveled to Scotland and Paris, and this weekend it was time to take on Dublin, Ireland!
Our Air B and B where we stayed for the weekend was located in the Temple Bar, which is a famous area in Dublin where the streets are lined with pubs and people from all over the world coming to grab a bite to eat, drink pints of Irish beer and dance to live music. On our first night out in Temple Bar we went to two different pubs- the actual Temple Bar and the Dubliner. The Irish bars are friendly, fun and upbeat, and literally everyone in sight drinks Guinness beer which is brewed locally in Dublin.
I immediately fell in love with Dublin because it was not too crowded or touristy, and the city was completely walkable as cute pubs, shops and markets lined the streets. The Irish accents are very thick, I honestly couldn’t differentiate at times if locals were speaking English or Gallic. Another thing about Dublin is people start their days in the pubs early- and by early I mean around 10:30 in the morning. I have learned to enjoyed beer and my favorite drink was the Smithwick’s Blonde Irish crafted ale. Just to clarify, the legal drinking age in Ireland is 18 years old, so all of the students in these pictures are of age.
One of my favorite stops on our trip was to the Christ Church Cathedral Dublin. The guide was sharp, witty and full of a good amount of Irish humor. I was completely engrossed by the history of oppression and triumph Ireland experienced throughout the years and I remain utterly shocked and saddened by the fact the country’s population has yet to fully recover from the potato famine that struck the country many years ago. It is said by locals that Ireland remains to be a prisoner of history and remembers all too much, as England tends to overlook and forget periods of the past. It was actually the wildest church tour I have ever been on, and the guide did an excellent job of divulging the traditions of Ireland through stories and tales of the past. I particularly loved ringing the bells in the Bellvry which date back to 1820 where there are 19 ropes leading to the 19 bells ringing every 15 minutes over the town. We also toured the Crypt and Treasury which hold graves and impressive treasures of the past and mark the tomb of Strongbow.
When I travel, I love to eat and drink my way through cities while making stops at historical landmarks all over the town. Dublin was no exception to this travel protocol of mine, and the Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College proved to be trip highlights.
By far my favorite part of the trip was the Kilmainham Gaol prison tour. We rented bikes and ventured through the city, arriving at the prison gates where the tour engaged us in stories of political prisoners during the years of Ireland’s fight for independence. During the restoration phase, the prison actually served as a movie set in efforts to fund the process. While both a sad and crucial component of Ireland’s history, the prison preserves years of the past, commemorates hardships of Irish tradition and brings the past alive.
The Guinness brewery in Dublin has been in operation for over 255 years and to this day, is the oldest brewery in Ireland. Producing over 3 million pints a day, each one is said to be perfect. I had never actually tried Guinness prior to the tour but surprisingly, I enjoyed the velvety smooth taste of this dark beer. The brewing process runs over the course of 9 days and in the Aroma and Tasting Room I learned the proper way to taste a Guinness. It is all about the smooth inhale and gentle exhale of breath, allowing all of the chocolatey butterscotch scents to overwhelm your senses. The glass is then enjoyed by raising your glass and cheering with the phrase “Slonka.” I then ventured through the Guinness Advertising and Academy wings where I learned all about the advertising and marketing techniques, as well as how to pour the perfect pint.
I completely fell in love with Ireland and already can’t wait to go back in the future. Now I’m back to life in London and unfortunately have two tests tomorrow, but I know with a little bit of Irish luck, I’ll do just fine.