Cozy Boy Travels to Dublin08 Aug 2017
These notes are transcribed from my travel journal along with photos I took and memories that came back as I wrote. There also some more random thoughts inside.
For context, I travelled to Europe with my four boys, members of The Squad, who had graduated the year previous. Their names are Jordan, Phillip, Andrew Barbon, as well as myself, Andrew McCann. We had originally planned to go to Southeast Asia but changed our minds and decided on Europe. On this tour, we decided to make our major stops in Dublin, London, Amsterdam, and Nice, along with other stops along the way. Here is the story of how we started our journey in Dublin.
July 29th and July 30th, 2016
We left London for Pearson Airport in Toronto around 6pm. I was the last one to be picked up; I remember having a fresh haircut and I was wearing my new anklet and Google t-shirt. We arrived alongside a lot of Olympians leaving for the Rio Olympics and I did not recognize one athlete. The final Tim Horton’s made me realize how much I was going to miss the coffee I brewed back home. Honestly Tim Horton’s coffee is totally fine and who likes coffee anyways and why are these people complaining?
We were headed towards Dublin, the first stop on our European tour to celebrate the squad’s graduation from post-secondary school. Oh yeah we totally deserved it! Our plane left around midnight and we arrived around 10am Dublin time. I never really thought about the time difference - it always confused me. We figure we didn’t get any sleep that night on the plane, but the boys were strong and trudged on. It was a cloudy day and I felt it was about 20 degrees out there. These cats drive on the other side of the road and let me tell you it’s confusing. I’ve written down in my journal that it was sunny after 4pm. After wandering the city for a bit, self-guided, it felt like Dublin was a mix of Halifax and Quebec City. Everyone dresses so well and has the most beautiful hair and eyes. Definitely an older, British-influenced style and oh boy was it clean and crisp.
We walked up and down the main streets and saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral where my boy performed his first baptism. We also saw Dublinia, the River Liffy, and Temple Bar. I ate bangers and mash at Mercantile which was overpriced but delicious. I also had a Guinness and damn is it way better in Ireland. For the rest of my time in Ireland I only drank Guinness and I felt at home. After lunch we went back to St. Stephen’s Green - we wandered from there and got lost. Dublin is very walkable but still way bigger than anything we are used to. I wrote in my journal that we actually got lost in the bars and clubs, but I don’t actually think we went out the first night since we were so tired. We bought a huge pizza and drank some beers at our house and then went to bed early.
July 31st - Dublin After a Strong Sleep
Jordan and I slept on the tiniest pull-out couch and we were the two biggest boys. Our apartment was pretty damn small, but cozy and located somewhere on South Circular Road. After 48 hours of next to no sleep and no coffee, we woke up from a desperate sleep. My journal says we played Euchre the night before.
The day before we bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off tour bus and we headed to the first stop. Before we got there we stopped for breakfast at this cafe that was on the way downtown - I got a breakfast sandwich, coffee (americano) and talked with Leo. Apparently Leo was a local to Dublin and a regular at this cafe. I don’t remember and didn’t write down what we might have talked about. We took the bus to the Gaol at Kilmainham and met our first stranger, Eric, from Cinncinati. He was a young accountant who was going to go on a trip with his girlfriend, but they broke up just before their trip so he came and travelled by himself. We also met up with him at the Jameson Distillery tasting and tour. Man, Jameson is killer - I don’t drink much whisky but if I would it’s gonna be Jameson.
There were some killer thrift stores in Dublin, most of which you pay by weight. I packed super light and didn’t really have room in my bag so I didn’t buy anything. I made pasta for the boys tonight so we could save money for drinking tonight. During dinner Phil and I drank white wine and also crushed a couple beers. We rushed down to Temple Bar and stopped in Fitzsimons first to drink. I think we drank at least four big pints each - I was definitely feeling it. There was a birthday party that was all wearing cool shirts and they told us they were celebrating Sick Shirt Sundays which is genius. Phil and I danced to some live music. We couldn’t really move around in the actual Temple Bar so we walked home and ate some peanut butter toast - I think Andrew fit a jar of peanut butter into his pack. We experienced sun, clouds, and rain today in Dublin.
August 1st - Cliffs of Moher via Limerick
We woke up very early at 6am after our hard night of drinking. I made eggs for breakfast and at this time in my life I was on a scrambled eggs kick. We headed aimlessly towards ‘Suffolk and Molly Malone’. As I read my journal now I forget if we knew where this was or not - I remember knowing Molly Malone referred to a statue. I also remember sneaking into the washroom at a Starbucks because they required a purchase to enter. We had a very repetitive and informative tour guide, Finton; he reminded me of a real leprechaun but he had brown hair. We drove from O’Connell to Dunratty to see the Dunratty Castle which was gorgeous. Then we went to Doolin which is a town near the Cliffs of Moher. Seven hundred feet cliffs, with a great view of the Atlantic Ocean. Let me tell you, I couldn’t see Nova Scotia, but I did see a couple boats. Kinematics equations reveal that it would take about 6.6 seconds to fall to the water.
We hiked around and climbed up this castle which some old player used to live in, right along the cliffs. Irish cows love the wind and drizzle that come off the ocean and I love the Irish cows. We headed back to Doolin where I had this overrated chowder that came with some killer sweet pumpernickel bread. I think the bread was heavier than the chowder. We went back to Dublin through Boston and Hollywood, which Finton claimed were named before the American counterparts. We also passed through Fanore which was the surf capital of Ireland. I love playing in the water when there are big waves but the deep ocean water scares the hell out of me. Lastly we went to the ‘baby cliffs of Moher’ and to Kinvara to see the Dunguaire Castle. Back near our apartment I ate at Bar BQ Tonight which was this amazing Afghani hole in the wall. They made my meal from scratch which was pretty wild for what seemed like take-out spot. I had their version of lamb korma. For awhile I used to call myself the Korma King in my head when I would eat Indian food because I loved the sweetness of that almond sauce. Me and the boys in the restaurant talked about Dublin and Canada.
This was our first truly rainy day. I got soaked at the Cliffs and was so excited to change into dry clothes when I got back home. We went down to Hogan’s, a pub in the St. George area, a little bit more off the beaten tourist path. It was cheaper and seemed more authentic. If I recall correctly, these guys on the street invited us to this ‘awesome club’ which turned out to be a gay bar.
I wrote in my journal here some thoughts: they don’t brew coffee, but make americanos. The barista knew what brewed coffee was but said people rarely drank coffee like that. There are A LOT of wild mini ponies in the Irish countryside - or maybe they are on farms - but they are out there.
August 2nd - Hiking the City of Dublin
Andrew Barbon and I woke up early to walk to Aviva Stadium and back. It was too far to walk on the previous days’ schedule. It took us awhile but we finally arrived at the giant stadium that seats 60k+. Can you imagine? I really wanted to see this. We walked around it and then figured we could sneak in - we did, by ducking under some gates and acting like we knew where we were going. We got down to the field and they were mowing the lawn and it was gorgeous. Very green, like the rest of Ireland. We also got on to the Landsdowne Wanderers practice pitch to explore some more and take some photos from outside. Once we got back to the apartment to pick up the boys we headed to the Guinness factory for our tour. Andrew and I walked through the financial district and I definitely saw some of the nicest suitwear I’ve ever seen.
We learned a lot about hops, malt, roasted barley, and beer esters, as well as the history. I wouldn’t skip this tour. On top of Dublin we drank a pint of Guinness and could see all of the city’s glory covered in grey clouds. We trekked down to Trinity College and had some students tour us around; we saw the Book of Kells and Long Library. I was so hyped up to be in an old university. Apparently my Gold Medal would net me first in line at graduation, free tuition, residence, and food for life as long as I wanted to study there. Maybe some other time. We went to the Chester Beatty Library which was an amazing library open to the public. This cat Beatty collected all of these books himself! We went to dinner at Crackbird which was delicious but I wanted something more authentic, although Finton did recommend it. Bring your student cards with you as you’ll save a lot of money.
Dublin - What’s The Good Word Here?
This city grew on me slowly. I wasn’t in love at first but started to feel the Irish in my bones as I spent more time here. Although distant, I felt a connection here - especially to fresh Guinness.
The people are friendly and polite but they are reserved aside from the few I met while drunk downtown. They are way cooler than Canadian people - everyone from infants to seniors are just so so so cool. Their fashion isn’t way ahead of ours, but they execute it much better - clean and simple and smart.
Dublin is very walkable, but some of the major tourist attractions are far from each other so consider transit. I would go to a hostel closer to the downtown core over a cheap AirBnB next time. The city could be travelled cheaply, but honestly we did not travel it that way. Next time I go I want more local stuff. There are so many good-looking hole in the wall spots I wish I stopped in. Coffee scene seemed dull but I didn’t explore too hard. I wrote that one could likely survive on fifteen Euros a day if you’re smart and cook breakfast/lunch sometimes. Everything was about the same price as Canada, but in Euros, not CAD. Go to St. George and walk into a pub over going to Temple Bar.
Get out into the country - I wish I did this more - and see all the dancing cows and beautiful green grass. It is way more amazing than I imagined. I think three days is a good amount of time for Dublin.