Flying to Dublin from Manchester can be as cheap as £8 one way, so naturally I had to go before leaving England. Initially the plan was to go with three of my friends, but when we sat down to book our tickets the return was £80+. In the end, I had to go on my own or not to go at all. After my year abroad I spent a month travelling alone (mostly) and I actually loved it for better parts of the trip, but that was now a year since and I found myself hesitating to go on my own, even for only two nights. It is so easy to make plans about doing a thing, but if you don’t find company it’s almost easier to let those plans fall through. I waited longer than I should have to book the flight, because I kept hoping I’d find someone to go with. I entertained the thought of just skipping Dublin and spend the time packing up my room instead. But I went, and it reminded me that travelling alone can be really great.
People are so adventurous these days that wherever you go you will always find other people who travel alone, or you find pairs that love to meet people – isn’t that half the reason why we travel anyway? Couchsurfing and hostels are excellent ways to find friends, and I was lucky enough to hit it off with some girls in my shared dorm room as soon as I arrived. I came in late, and asked what one would do at 9pm in Dublin. Naturally the answer I got was: drink! So I went for a drink with a girl from Australia, and she booked herself into a walking tour I was doing the next day.
The following day we did the sightseeing. The tour (click for link) was of the Southern part of Dublin, and our guide Peter had amazing stories and cool information. Our favourite Dublin trivia was that companies like Guinness and Jamerson’s actually paid for restoration of many of the churches – how great is that? The more the Irish drink, the nicer their churches are. We stopped for an Irish coffee the warm our chests as the air was cool. After the tour we went to the Leprechaun Museum, which was one of the funnest museums I’ve ever been to. I had expected a collection of leprechauns, instead we were taken on a tour through fairy hills, told stories around campfires, walked a rainbow to seek for the treasure at the end. Dubliners give the impression of being carefree; that in the end of the day they put struggles behind and just have a great time. Running around pretending to be leprechauns was a good reminder to always let the child in you out. And I had the best time in a place probably designed with children in mind. We ended the day at an Irish pub with the most massive portion of food I have ever been served. The traditional Irish stew was delicious, but the plate was so full that even after I had eaten twice the amount of my normal dinner you could barely tell that I had touched it. But oh was it good!
The following day I was flying out around 6pm, so I only had the morning and afternoon. Two Canadian girls from my dorm had warmly suggested a peninsula only 30 minutes outside of Dublin on the train. The best thing about hostels, in my opinion, is to meet other travellers and to get their advice and opinion of the place. They had mentioned some beautiful walks, so I was not hard to ask. The Dart (train) was easy to find, and took me straight to Howth for a very nice price. I arrived at a gorgeous little sea side city, a port crowded with sailboats and a little market selling food from Hungary, Spain, Ireland and an assortment of different cakes, cupcakes, smoothies, popcorn or anything else that you may feel a craving for. I picked up a map and set out to find a lighthouse I had seen in my research. There was a cliff trail that took me around the outer edge of the peninsula. The ground was covered in ferns, giving it a really Irish glow, and somewhere it felt like walking through a little tunnel as they grew so close to the trail. Here and there where the ground grew too rocky and steep for ferns, little flowers grew. It was still, despite clearly being a popular spot for walks, and it was beautiful. The sky cleared up and the sun warmed enough to take my jacket off. I turned around a little bend and found that the trail went in a half circle where the cliff indented, and across the open space I saw hundreds of white birds flocking the cliffside. A group of five sailboats sailed past in perfect formation. It took about an hour to cross to the other side of the peninsula where the lighthouse lay on the edge of a out-stick. The city of Dublin lay in a haze across the bay, and it looked so small compared to other large cities. It suited Dublin, I think, because it felt a little small to me, nice and cozy and familiar already. It took no time at all, really, to fall in love with Dublin. From the lighthouse I cut across the peninsula back to Howth, where I got some food from the Hungarian stand at the market and a oreo cupcake, and I sat and ate it on a bench in a park with my audio book on my ear thinking that Ireland would be a really cool place to live.