Dublin: An Irish Adventure

The Student Travel Guide

Dublin: The friendliest, most welcoming city I’ve visited, crammed full of endearing Irish charm. And Guinness, lots of Guinness. But being the birth place of that weird burnt flavoured stout is just the tip of what Dublin has to offer, and it is pretty kind on us students too.

ImageThe Ultimate “Hey look at me! I’m a tourist!” Trip
The Hop On Hop Off Sight Seeing Bus: No, it’s not the coolest way to travel, but yes, it will get you where you want to go. It’ll certainly minimise the amount of time you spend emptying the contents of your rucksack to find your overly large tourist map from your “Dublin: Top 10 attractions” guide (remember Joey from Friends getting inside his map trying to explore London?). Its €18 for two days and I was genuinely surprised at how many sights there were to see. It takes you on two different routes, one around the main city and one around the docks, pretty good value for money if you use it as your main form on transport.

And unlike the tours in London, Paris and Rome (yes, I’ve unashamedly done them all) you get a live commentary from every jolly bus driver. I would honestly pay the €18 just for the chance to listen to that charming Irish accent and listen to their self-deprecating jokes. Don’t try and imitate the accent though, it’s just downright awkward.

The “I’m guaranteed to get a free drink” Tourist AttractionImage
Before I left for Dublin, I really thought I would give the legendary Guinness Storehouse a miss. I don’t like Guinness, at all; although I probably wouldn’t run through the crowded streets of Dublin yelling such an obscenity. I really didn’t think this attraction would be for me. But to be honest, there’s a reason it has been voted the top attraction to see in the city time and time again. It’s actually really interesting, it’s well set out and packed with surprising facts along the way. Three hours later and we still hadn’t reached the top floor. From food tasting to the history of the company’s advertising, you get a (literal) taste of what the Guinness brand really is.
Mak
e it to the fifth floor and you’ll get the chance become a master in the art of pouring the drink itself. Being a highly skilled bar assistant at the one and only Kent Union nightclub, Venue (N.B. the previous statement may be an exaggeration of the truth) obviously meant I didn’t need my pint pouring qualification (or rather I couldn’t be bothered to wait in the queue). But I guess if you haven’t had the pleasure of pouring your first pint, spilling it everywhere and carrying around the luscious odour of “Eau de Beer” all night, then it’d be worth a go. I hear you even get a certificate for all your effort (ooh la-di-da).

The pinnacle of the trip though, has to be the seventh floor Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of Dublin. And as promised, every ticket to the storehouse includes a free pint of Guinness or a soft drink if you’re under 18 (or can’t handle your ale like me). All in all, a must see attraction.

The “I’m trying to be all educated and knowledgeable” Tourist Attraction
Perhaps not the happiest hour of my life but a tour around Kilmainham Gaol is my number one attraction and for a student it costs just €2! It felt very much like being in Shawshank Redemption (but as a child, I did want to be an actress, so I guess this is the next best thing). The former prison saw countless leaders of Irish rebellions come and go with many being executed for their crimes. Seeing the cells and the places of execution was really fascinating. Maybe I need to get out more, but I love all the gory historical stuff. The tour guide literally knew everything about the history of the gaol and I’m still in shock that it only cost €2! Definitely worth a visit.

The Stereotypical “AImagect like an Irishman” Night Out
The Irish are renowned for their drinking and dancing, with over 1000 bars and restaurants in Dublin alone. If you want to find the hub of city on any given night, head to Temple Bar, a collection of typically Irish bars and clubs; every single one of them with a live band usually playing some traditional Irish tunes.

And you can guarantee there’ll be a raucous gathering of rather tipsy Irish men and women doing some weird jigging and jumping around in front of the band. I’m reliably informed that this is called “Irish Dancing” (Yeah… sure). Just one tip though, if you’re planning to get a little merry, stick to the beers and ales (probably Guinness to be on the safe side). What were essentially two shots of Malibu and a can of coke cost us over €16! Bloody cheek. But they’re just so humble and friendly, how could you argue with an Irishman?

The “Other bits and bobs I forgot to mention”Image
If you end up at the docks, stop off and have a quick look at the theatre. As I’ve mentioned before, it;s worth seeing if there are any cut price tickets left for that night. €25 to see War Horse for a seat that would cost you upwards of £60 in London. Bargain! Absolutely incredible play if anyone’s interested. (Watch out for a review in the near future).

If it’s shopping you want head to Grafton Street, but (for me) even better, go when the shops are closed and the street en
tertainers come out. There’s a truly amazing atmosphere at night. Or in the day, on the same street, try out afternoon tea at Bewley’s with a view over the shoppers’ hustle and bustle.

And for some more cultural beauty, head to the Phoenix Park to see where the President sleeps at night. Pretty impressive house but no matter how long we waited,he didn’t invite us in for a cuppa. Not as friendly as we first thought then.
Whatever it is you want to do, Dublin probably has it. All I need now is one of those I love Dublin t-shirts and a stuffed leprechaun to cuddle at night. Irish Adventure complete!

The Travelling Student

I actual7781380900_e4cfd159f0_bly like public transport. Coach, train, tube, whatever. It’s travelling without responsibility. I don’t have to pay for fuel or insurance, just my ticket to wherever I want to go. It’s not that I can’t drive. I can (not very well I’ll admit, it’s always a little bit dicey), but I’d prefer to sit by the window with my headphones in, and a book in my hands.

So why is it that everyone else seems to despise it so much?

Well, have you ever tried travelling on a bank holiday or when the entire country has transformed into a bathtub? I most certainly have. Seeing as the next time I travel home, in just a couple of weeks, it will indeed be another bank holiday, I thought I’d prepare myself (and you) by reliving my past travelling nightmares.

Let me take you back to the festive season,  when once upon a time I very sensibly chose to travel home by tube, train AND coach on the day before Christmas Eve, one of the busiest days of the year and when the clouds had decided to cry over every road I wanted to travel on. A two hour journey took me seven and a half hours.

After a delayed start on my first leg of the journey, knight of the tracks, Mr Train Driver felt it necessary to let every other train pass each junction before him. So when I finally got off the train with just five minutes to spare before my coach left, I naively thought I might actually make it. But three flights of stairs, a ridiculously heavy suitcase and my pitiful strength stood between me and Christmas. Thank you to those of you who stood in my way and refused to help the panic-stricken, struggling girl with her present filled suitcase. You are all off my Christmas card list.

Having made it to the top, looking like I’d just fought my way through a herd of buffalo, I managed to get my case stuck in the turn style and then found that my ticket didn’t work. Ever the optimist I convinced myself my coach and everyone on it has their noses pressed against the coach window, banners and balloons in hand, waiting for my arrival. So I ran, in the pouring rain to the coach station which I now realise is not ‘just down the road’. Thanks for that.

I sprinted with all my luggage only to be held up by the most obnoxious Londoners around. Why stroll down the middle of a busy pavement and just meander from side to side. It felt like the ultimate blockbuster movie. Me against the clock, sprinting for the only coach out of the city before a meteor would strike. It was intense. Unlike the movies, I only made it in time to watch my coach pull away and see the meteor hit. I did not live happily ever after. That could be a slight exaggeration of the truth but my mum certainly thought the end of the world had come when I rang her sobbing convinced I would be spending Christmas in Victoria Coach Station.

Tears and tantrums aside, I did eventually make it home. And in hindsight it was an interesting adventure. It’s all part of the fun of public transport. Picking your way across the country, sitting next to someone different every time and getting to eavesdrop on everyone else’s lives is quite an experience – kudos to the mother teaching her four year old son about the best Class A drugs.

So when you travel home for Easter, take my advice. You have three options: walk all the way home (Google informs me this will take 47 hours. Considering I live nearly 150 miles away I think it’s assumed I’m a racehourse), travel in the middle of the night (obnoxious Londoners may have gone home by then) or unlike me, just travel on a day that isn’t a national holiday. Simple.

(Photo by The Department for Culture, Media and Sport)