Intent on saving as much as possible, I caught a local bus for 3.30€ from Dublin airport to O’Connell Street. From the bus I passed a statue of James Joyce, and a very large, very thin cone pole called “The Spire.” I have a few hours before I can check in to my hostel, so I wander around, going to the supposed “Oldest Pub in Ireland.” While the bacon and cabbage I ordered at ‘The Brazen Head’ was delicious, the pub loses a point for not being the oldest pub. Perhaps man should have never been given the gift of Google. I would have been perfectly content beleiving I had gotten a Guinness and some traditional Irish food at the oldest such place in Ireland. ‘The Brazen Head’ is, undeniably, the oldest pub in Dublin, dating back to 1198, so it certainly deserves a point for that. I did learn, however, that Guinness is not my thing. I could not even finish the pint they gave me. In this way it was decided that I would not take the Guinness Storehouse tour, so I saved a few bucks and more than a few calories.
I spent the bulk of the afternoon seeing the Ha’penny bridge, Dublin Castle, and the miscellaneous author statues and plaques that have been installed all over the city. After a nap,I went out for a dinner of Irish Stew and a glass of Bulmer’s cider, which I very much like. Maybe it is my sweet tooth, or just my Nutmeg state predilection for apples, but cider is a great way of drinking without feeling like you’re drinking heavily. In all, I was impressed with Ireland’s food scene. I tend to suffer from what I call a “traveler’s stomach.” I love adventurous food, but it seems like adventurous food in an adventurous locale is tempting fate. At home, I can eat anything or drink as much as I want, but if I do any of that outside the confines of my own country I tend to unload the exotic contents of my stomach into an unfortunate toilet bowl. To deal with this, I generally need ‘rest’ meals—usually something very bland, boring, and (yuck) American—so my stomach can setlle a bit. Ireland is the perfect place for this, and so I presume this is why it gets some flack. Irish food is delicious, it is well made, and it will make you happy. Every meal is like your grandmother’s famous pot roast, both for better and for worse.
It seems that Ireland also has a sweet tooth. Of all the donuts I have seen, the most artful have been in Dublin. One place was advertising a mango-filled donut, and late at night donut shops light up to attract pickled Dubliners. I regret not partaking in the donut delights of the city, but, believe me when I say that the sheer beauty of some of these donut displays is stunning and satisfying in and of itself.
The following morning, I enjoyed the compimentary breakfast of toast, cereal, and juice at Abigails Hostel in Aston Quay, where both bed and breakfast ran me just over $22. I walked a few blocks north to the James Joyce Centre, where a student can gain entry for just 4€. Though small, the interactive exhibit highlighting the parallels between Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey was impressive, and made me consider better ways of preparing and presenting my arguments in English projects. The Centre also had a presentation about the library in Joyce’s time, where the author wrote many of his works.
With another hour or two left before my ferry, I decided to grab some lunch and see just one more museum. I went to “Hanley’s Cornish Pasties,” which offers very savory meat pies, fresh out of the oven. After lunch, I ended up at the Chester Beatty Library, which houses a collection of old religious texts, including the oldest bible fragments aside from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Admission is free, so I quickly skimmed through ancient religious exhibits, wishing I had gotten up just a little earlier so that I could have more time. Their collections include texts from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist faiths from all over the world, and offer a fascinating glimpse into history of not just religion but language and publishing. On my way out I caught good pictures of Dublin Castle and City Hall, the sun having just emerged for a moment at the former. I walked for a few more miles on to the Dublin Port neighborhood and boarded the ferry at Stena Line’s terminal.
The ferry itself is rather impressive. With free wifi, a restaurant, and two floors of lounging space, I was impresed with the level of comfort. They even had a free movie in the movie theater (A Wrinkle in Time, I surfed the net instead), and even a puppet show! The most fun part for me was watching the undulating blue Irish Sea move beneath my porthole window while I killed time.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.