The second stop during spring break was Dublin. I'd always wanted to visit Ireland in an absent way, lumping it in with my years-long goal of visiting every country at some point in my life, but had never seriously considered going until I was looking at the cities that the Generator had hostels in and realized, "Hey, I could actually go to Ireland!" I had allotted myself about a day and a half there but ended up with less than 36 hours in the country due to issues with RyanAir. So I set out earlier than usual the morning after I arrived (because I had literally just enough time to eat at the hostel and sleep by the time I got there the night before) and went for longer than I usually did, wanting to experience as much of Dublin as I could in one day. I started my morning with a cappuccino at the Generator, wanting a few moments of calm before I began on the journey to discover an unknown city. Afterwards I took the tram a few stops to get myself in a different part of the city and wandered around for an hour or so, observing the culture and architecture around me. It was so strange -- after months in France -- to hear English being spoken all around me, to realize that I could understand the main language of the country.
I stopped at The Mercantile for breakfast and ordered the traditional Irish breakfast (pictured above) which included: "double fried egg, O'Neill's dry cured bacon, Loughnanes pork and leek sausage, clonakilty black pudding, vine cherry tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, cheddar and chive farls, baked beans and ballymaloe relish." It also came with toast and coffee. Now, you should know that I didn't eat the beans (although I did try them!) and that I ate the egg even though I hate eggs like that, where you can taste the egg. It's weird. I know. I liked the black pudding but refuse to find out what was inside because I have a feeling I would change my mind about it.
After that I basically walked until I couldn't anymore and my stomach was grumbling loudly at me. Dublin was grittier than I had expected, obviously more worn than my own city of Angers, but it also made me feel strangely at home because of that fact. I was reminded immensely of Seattle, of how there is beauty and wear always coexisting.
In Seattle there's an unofficial rule that from any street corner you can see a Starbucks on any street in your line of sight. While I had previously seen Starbucks' around Europe and seen how popular they were with the Europeans, nothing compared to the sheer number that exist in Seattle. That is, nothing except for Dublin. I was incredibly surprised to realize that Dublin could rival Seattle for the most Starbucks in a single city (even more than my own city of Austin, which has a fair number to boast.)
I grabbed lunch at the Merchant's Arch Bar and Restaurant where I had a BLT and a small cider and quickly realized that I was the only girl alone in the entire place and also the only person eating food.
After lunch I walked around more, went into shops that looked interesting, asked for recommendations of places to explore from people on the street, watched a few groups of street dancers and performers, went through a couple shopping centers, and just tried to take in everything that was around.
I also spent some time at Trinity College, which was a bit strange. While I was there I thought about how bizarre it must be to be going somewhere for school that is constantly inundated with tourists, who are taking photos and gawking at things that you see every day, that are just a part of your world.
What I was possibly most excited for in Dublin though was the Literary Pub Crawl that I had come across while doing hours of research on things to do in the city, a tiny link on a random page that I was about to close. There was a whole range of people attending: a group of students from Florida and two of their professors there on a class outing, a girl who had been teaching English in France for the past year, a few other people on their own, and a group of elderly women who were there as a 50-year celebration of being best friends since college. We started at the Duke Pub and met the two Irish actors who would be our guides for the evening. They gave literary history lessons on Irish writers and acted out a few scenes. Then we moved to Trinity College for a "cultural note" and some more literary history. The second pub that we visited was O'Neill's, where we had 20 minutes to drink on our own or with other people in the group before we met outside of the Dublin Tourism Center across the street for our second cultural note and another round of acting. Our third pub was The Old Stand where we again had drinking time on our own. Then we walked to the fourth pub for the final cultural note and the last round of drinking. I've been trying for weeks to remember the name of the final pub we visited, but there has been no luck so far. All I remember is that the paintings on the walls were based off of regular patrons at the time.