After spending a week in the wild and scenic countryside of Ireland, we reluctantly turned our tiny road rocket in the direction of Dublin. Though I tend to be more drawn to the rustic and rural areas of any country, I can enjoy a lively city with the best of them.
It was my turn to drive as we headed for Dublin, so I handed off the GPS to Phillip, my sweet husband and trusty travel buddy, and we were soon buzzing along the M6 toward the big city. As we neared the more congested areas, we became a bit distracted by the lovely areas we were passing through and got off track just a bit. Before I knew what was happening, we found ourselves crawling down impossibly narrow streets, hemmed in on all sides by historic buildings and being swarmed by pedestrians. Trying to quickly find a way out, I mistakenly turned the wrong direction down a one-way street and shortly thereafter attempted to drive through a pedestrian-only area.
As I sat fuming in my car and fighting the urge to assault Phillip (in his defense, he really was only trying to be helpful), a kind Irishman came up and knocked on my window. With my face flaming red, I vigorously cranked down the window handle – we were going old school, my friends – to generously accept a tongue-lashing for my driving errors. But like all Irishmen, was very kind. “Ya can’t go through there, Lassie!” he bawled through the window at close range. “You’re gonna have to turn around and go back ta other way!”
It took tremendous willpower not to crawl under the seat in shame, but I managed a polite, “Thanks so much!” and resigned myself to knowing he believed me to be another clueless American tourist. We managed to get to our hotel without any more absurdities, and set out – on foot this time – to see Dublin.
And what a lovely city it is! There are no glistening skyscrapers or honking cabs here, but beautifully historic architecture, charming little pubs, and a serene river flowing through the heart of it all.
We began by trekking around Trinity College, home to the Book of Kells in the stunning Old Library, before heading down famous Grafton Street. This shopping area is one of the best and most well-known in Dublin, full of boutiques and trendy pubs, all humming with upscale visitors. If there is a place to be seen in Dublin, this is it.
For the evening’s entertainment, we headed for the equally well-known but slightly less polished Temple Bar area. Hugging the river for several blocks, these streets are full of novelty shops, authentic pubs, tourists and locals. We walked along the river and the famous Ha’ Penny Bridge on last evening in Ireland, listening to the Irish music and good-natured laughter pouring out of the pubs, and we knew without saying the words that we’d both like to stay indefinitely.
Ireland is such a welcoming and hospitable place, where the locals are genuine and kind. The simplicity and goodness found here are both refreshing and rare, and we were fortunate to have experienced it. As we left for home, our reluctance to board the plane was tempered by the knowledge that we would be back, and likely very soon. Oh yes, very soon, indeed.
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