Girls in Ireland, Part II: Night Out on the Town

First things first, internet people–Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope it’s dripping with hearts, love, chocolate, flowers and all that jazz. And if it isn’t, don’t despair–count yourself one of many who like spending the day eating too much chocolate and trying NOT to think about what those “happy couples” are doing with their day. Now, enough of that “holiday” nonsense and on to what you really want–the next installment of my trip to Dublin!

Woke up bright and early on the top bunk in a room with 16 beds, total. Had a quick breakfast of toast and tea, rented a towel for 5 euro (3 of which I’d get back so long as I didn’t decide to run off with the world’s thinnest towel) and went to investigate the shower situation. One thing I don’t recommend when staying in a hostel is forgetting to pack your shower shoes. Didn’t wear my contacts in the shower to avoid looking at whatever I may or may not have been standing barefoot in. Thankfully, Mount Eccles Court was quite clean, and I probably didn’t contract anything awful. I pressed the single button and learned what that meant at last–lukewarm water that only lasted about 30 seconds after you let go of said button. After an awkward shower with one hand pressed on the button while the other hand tried to get my hair some sort of clean, I got dressed and prepared for a day out on the town with my lovely ladies Gina and Shannon (Lesley and Cassie, the rest of our intrepid crew, had a bus tour scheduled for the day).

We trekked off to the National Gallery to look at some gorgeous art, popped in to several shops, including a few of your typical tourist stops, and had lunch in a cute little cafe. Gina and I had delicious vegetable soup and homemade brown bread, and I had the joy of savoring a Diet Coke right out of the can.

 From there, we moved on to the National Library to check out an exhibit on W.B. Yeats, where we had the joy of seeing some of his original manuscripts and a case of his various high school awards. I got stars in my eyes and imagined my Power of the Pen trophies sitting behind glass one day. It’s not exactly likely I’ll be as well known as Yeats, but it’s good to have dreams, right?

After that, we did some more wandering and just generally trying to get used to the layout of the city, stopped in for a snack of tea and scones (naturally) and headed back to our hostel to relax and wait for Cassie and Lesley to return so we could all hit the food hall for dinner.

Chinese buffet at the food hall for dinner–tolerable and cheap, words I’m using more and more as I continue my travels. From there, we split up–Gina and Cassie headed back to the hostel for a night in and Lesley Shannon and I embarked on what would become a great pub adventure. Did a lot of searching for a place that fit our requirements–not too crowded, not too empty, preferably live music, and not too touristy. We were on this trek for a while, but finally ducked in to a little place called The Celt, where we found a table and I found out I like Smirnoff Ice. Asked a local to take our picture, which resulted in Shannon’s getting chatted up by him for a while while Lesley and I cracked up laughing because he was easily a good ten years our senior.

We moved on from there to check out a place we’d seen earlier, Madigan’s, because they’d had a sign out about live music. Sat at the bar, where Shannon treated us to a round of Bailey’s and I discovered there were TWO alcoholic drinks I liked (things are getting a little dangerous, aren’t they?). The bartender was about the nicest person I’d ever met (though, this is a hard thing to bestow in Dublin, where EVERYONE seems to be nice) and treated us to some free waters (not so easy to come by in Europe) with black currant juice added. The live music began, the singer called a great deal of attention to us, referring to us collectively as “Indiana” and asking us how “Mr.Jones” was doing–a joke that took us a minute to understand. This, naturally, drew the attention of some locals and we got “interviewed” by and Irish boy–we were a little skeptical because, though he DID have notebook and pen, he asked us what our ideal first date was and about our favorite “chattel lines,” which after some explanation we learned was the Irish equivalent of a “pick up line.” About an hour later as we got up to leave, said group of local boys invited us to have a drink with them, and naturally we accepted. Thus ensued a long night of us getting to know some real Irish boys and enjoying the singing and general atmosphere of the pub. We headed back to the hostel while celebrating our night of successful travel experiences, ready to catch entirely too few hours of sleep before our last full day in Dublin would begin.

Ireland, The "Friendliest Country", Part One

Hello internet people! Some of you are aware that I am an official Harlaxton blogger this semester. As it just so happens, this week’s post is mine–so the comprehensive, witty, and scholarly detail of my trip to Dublin will be appearing there on Thursday. To tide me over, though, I figured I’d give the detailed, rambling, probably sarcastic account of my days in Dublin over the course of the next three days. We spent three days there, I’ll spend three days telling the tale. Seems fair.

To begin, I have now flown (and survived) three times. I’ve discovered I quite like take-off but I still hate landing. I’ve also discovered that for five girls of 20 (and my 19) years, we are pretty amazing at planning travel. We managed to choose a nice, no frills airline (by name of Ryanair, I recommend it), book a really nice hostel, get ourselves to and from the airport using public transport (trains and buses), and find said hostel upon arrival without incident.

We bravely navigated the city streets, including the slightly shady area about which locals made a hilarious face, and found ourselves in a nice, clean facility by the name of Mount Eccles Court. I recommend it if you ever stay in Dublin, because even though the streets nearby are shady, the hostel itself is secure, clean, has friendly service, and is excellently priced. Additionally, the receptionist the first night was both attractive and helpful in recommending where we should eat dinner–both glorious things for tired girls who’d been traveling all day.

Dinner, at the recommendation of said attractive reception-guy, was at a nice pub called The Oval, where we sat down to a nice meal served to us by, you guessed it, ANOTHER ATTRACTIVE IRISH GUY. He was every bit as friendly as our receptionist and spent a lot of the time chatting to us about life in America and being generally friendly and glorious. You know, the way men ought to behave in the presence of lovely young ladies. After so much attention, I am now convinced my singleness does not in fact result from some horrible fatal flaw in myself, because clearly I am not terrifyingly unapproachable as I previously feared, and I have just enough confidence to skip happily past Valentine’s Day without a hitch. Ireland–it’s the secret cure for your lonely heart.

Anyway, returning to what actually matters, I had seafood chowder and brown bread; both delicious. Also downed my first half-pint of Guinness, of which I wasn’t a huge fan. Lesley and Gina had some delicious pear cider, and Shannon had a lighter beer, all of which I naturally tasted. The amount of calories in said meal were probably alarming, but it was a CELEBRATION as it was Lesley’s birthday. She even had the luxury of finding a squid in her seafood chowder, which she dubbed her “birthday squid.” Our waiter informed us that Ireland is the “friendliest country,” and I have to say my experience has led me to agree with him in at least so far as to call Dublin the “friendliest city,” because every shop or restaurant you went in to, you were likely to have a nice conversation with the owner or employee.

All in all a glorious first night, as we trudged back to our hostel for a bit of relaxation and then collapsed happily into bed for the evening, refreshing ourselves for the next day’s adventure, about which you will learn TOMORROW.