Wanderlust is Real -- Impromptu to Dublin!

Community Highlights Europe Wanderlust is Real -- Impromptu to Dublin!

"Once the travel bug bites, there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life."
--Michael Palin


Oops, I did it.. yet again. Before I get into my spur of the moment hop across the pond, I'd like to apologize to those who were actually frequent readers of my blog. I have failed miserably at updating but that just goes to show you how low-key life has gotten for Old Lady Courtney. To be honest actually, quite a lot has happened! Quick run down, since moving back to the grand ol' USA, I went back to my former employer, Piedmont Airlines (Better known as US Airways.. or the new American Airlines.. or whatever the outside world is considering US right now..) Anyways, I got a big girl job as a Systems Training Coordinator in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte life and the J-O-B has been a huge transition for me and I am loving every minute of it. I do most of my teaching in Charlotte; however, when the opportunity arises, I get to scurry all about the country to different airports to teach our various classes. It's quite a blessing landing this job and of course the chance to once again work for the airline industry has its perks.

So now that we're all caught up and you've got the jist of 2014 Courtney, know that traveling for pleasure isn't near as easy as it is when I was a mere part-time ramp agent. Big girl job has its ups, don't get me wrong, but my instincts to just up and go wherever are a bit few and far between. In fact, I have not been able to get my Euro-fix since I came back from Prague a year and a half ago! Now I know you may be thinking.. 'tear tear, tough life you live, girl' but I'll tell ya.. the lifestyle spoils you rotten. But enough of that. Let me tell you the good stuff.

"The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life." -- Agnes Repplier

I got the bug. That bug that gets into my fingers and reaches for those websites that can get you into trouble. No.. not THOSE websites, silly. I'm talking about the ones that show pictures of beautiful beaches.. or historical landmarks or cheap hostels.. or magnificent bridges and free walking tours. You know what I'm talking about. Those places you've never seen but would love to visit someday. If you know me, I don't like waiting. If I want it done, I want it done now. I want someday to be now. Lets go, lets do this. Here's the thing though. Just to confuse you from the picture above, I was set to go to San Diego, California. Hostel booked, a [vague] itinerary planned, flights looked open (because remember, I 'non-rev', or fly stand-by). I dusted off the good ol' backpackers backpack, packed the essentials the night before. It would be straight from work Friday, Sayonara Charlotte, Hello Sunny California til Monday.

So I'm sitting there at my gate, flights already about 30 minutes delayed. I sit, I read, I'm bored. Lets look at the departure board in the terminal. Hmm, what other flights are leaving right now. Rome FCO.. oh darn, it is leaving right now. Hmm. Dangit, San Diego is delayed another 2 MORE HOURS? No way. Where else can I go? Oh the flight to Dublin leaves soon. I have about 13 minutes to decide. So I mosey a few gates down and ask the gate agents if the flights are still open coming back to Charlotte on Monday. Wide open.. perfect. Oh darn, I packed for 90F weather. I brought no pants! And only one sweatshirt! Oh well, I can buy pants when I get there. Call up the fella to ask what he thinks. His response "I mean, why not?" (they keep telling me he's a keeper and things like that make me believe it). I give the nod to the agents to go ahead and book me. 10 minutes later, I'm on the plane. Friendly piece of advice, friends. It may seem scary, but traveling with your passport can certainly be an advantage! Before the doors are closed, the hostelbookers.com app has me all set up to stay at Spire Hostel for two nights. What the heck did I just do?! Seven hours of behind my eyelids later, we've safely landed in the capital of Republic of Ireland.

108_2450.jpg 108_2462.jpg

I can't even begin to describe the green-ness of Ireland. Its breathtaking and fresh and it makes you want to frolic like a crazy hippie. I was there to see the big city, but those coastlines I flew over.. I will definitely be back to visit. Moving along, its always funny to me when I go through customs. The agents must feel like I'm joking with them or trying to give them a hard time. How long are you staying, Ms. Courtney? Uhh, two days. Hopefully, at least! No, I do not have family or friends here. No, I don't know the address of where I'm staying, I just know how to get there. I think. For some reason, I get the oddest looks. Tehehe.

New airports are always a little intimidating. You don't want to be that annoying tourist because you want to look like you know your travel stuff. But really, we're lost. And we have no Euros on hand. ATMs are helpful of course, but also a little nerve-racking because we didn't tell our bank we were leaving the country. Always take out more than you think you'll need, just in case they put a hold on your account (which we can appreciate, just in case we were actually some nutzo leprechaun trying to steal our pennies). The friendly leprechauns pointed me in the direction of the Dublin Bus for a mere 2.90 Euro bus ride towards the city center, with free WiFi! 20 minutes later, after a quick pit stop at the nearby tourist office for a free map, I found myself at the Spire Hostel's doorstep. Backpack is dropped off in the luggage storage and we're off to buy pants finally! Its already rained then shined, rained then shined about five times in my time on Irish soil, so I found an umbrella a smart investment as well. Dublin has a different kind of "Pennys" which might be even more awesome than our JC"Pennys" here stateside. 6 Euro jeans and a pink polka-dotted umbrella later, I'm on foot all over this city.

108_2466.jpg 108_2467.jpg

For those of you who ever travel to Dublin and intend on staying for two days or less, I have the itinerary for you. Of course, anywhere in that short of stay can seem a bit rushed, but you want to see as much as possible right? Right around the corner from the hostel and my new fav Pennys, is O'Connell Street. Lots of shopping, hustle bustle and TOURISTS. Also, pretty much any American restaurant you'd find anywhere else in Europe is here.. in case you need your Papa John fix. But we want the real deal. That Irish grub! Heading down O'Connell, I crossed the bridge on Westmoreland St. towards Nassau and Dawson St. I took a walk around Trinity College, passed St. Stephen's Green and back up towards Kildare St. where numerous (free) museums are. Down further south along the Grand Canal are most embassies. I love that kind of stuff. I honestly wish I had spent more time in the Trinity area. It is sincerely a beautiful sight to behold. The historical significance is immaculate and is worth a greater visit. Merrion Square houses the history of Oscar Wilde and a direct route back to the river by either Shaw/Moss or Lombard St. Like most other cities I've ventured to, Dublin is home to several bridges leading to various parts of the city. I crossed Butt Bridge (lets be honest, that's awesome) because going towards the seaport, you'll pass the Custom House, Jeanie Johnson Ship, etc. But you don't want to hear all about my wandering during the day, do you? I didn't think so.

I had to backtrack a little bit to go back to a tiny restaurant on Nassau St. called O'Sullivan's, for obvious reasons. Apparently ham and cheddar sammages with tomato soup is a big deal in Dublin because dang if it wasn't on every restaurants menu I saw! By this time, I had music on my mind. Walking through the streets of Dublin, especially as the sun is starting to set, you hear the strummin' of guitars and hornlike sounds of the accordions echoing through the old buildings. I was recommended to the Oliver St. John Gogarty Bar for some authentic Irish tunes. I found this place to be in the Temple Bar district, which naturally was crawling with people from everywhere. Luckily, there was a reason why this bar was so packed out. It was apparently the meeting place for the Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl! Well that just sounded like exactly what I needed to jump into! Thankfully I have no problem talking to complete strangers, so I made friends with two middle-aged couples (surprisingly, most of the crawlers were older folk). It was led by two Irish gentlemen playing a duo. We went to three different venues and were starstruck by the incredible talent beheld in the Irish heritage. I would absolutely recommend this 'crawl' for all ages. It ended around 10:15pm, so plenty of time so go out and explore the other pubs providing their own exceptional music!

I know its touristy, but my old friends were turning in for the night at the end of the crawl.. and I needed to see more! Heading back to Temple Bar, I did some [not literal] crawling of my own. The Old Storehouse Bar and O'Flaughtery's right next to each other had awesome tunes going on, then the Auld Dubliner down the way was poppin' with accordion players as well! It was an awesome experience to see the different musicians in action, whether they were just playing for the tourists or not. No matter the type, I love live music and it showed! I danced with strangers and new friends throughout the night til a ridiculously late hour that I won't even share.. bedtime it was.

108_2527.jpg 108_2532.jpg

But no time to sleep! Up and at 'em early[ish].. doner kebab on the go because lets face it, it was basically a food group in Praha and I miss it, so no judging. Viking/Medieval and Cathedral Districts were on the agenda for the day. Well, of course I didn't know that at the time, but that's what was stumbled upon and that's where I wandered. City Hall, Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, which is INCREDIBLE, St. Audden's, St. Catherine's Church.. all these churches leading to.. the Guinness Brewery! Ironic, right?



The stretch to the brewery seems a little sketch, but don't worry, there's beautiful cream colored beer at the end of the tunnel. A wandering Israeli-gone American was also skeptical about the neighborhood, so we ventured to the Storehouse together, finding intimidating building similar to that of an Irish Alcatraz. The gates of St. James welcomed us finally and we proceeded with the self-guided tour of the storehouse. By far the fanciest tour I've ever been on. As part of the admission, you can pour your own pint of Guinness and get a "certificate" showing you took the "course". Hooray for being a "certified" Guinness craftswoman! It was an awesome experience, but that wasn't the best part. The rooftop bar giving a 360 view over Dublin on a sunny day was the perfect wrap up to the tour.

108_2570.jpg 108_2571.jpg

The true fruit of travel is perhaps the feeling of being nearly everywhere at home."
--Freya Stark

Dinner at some restaurant I don't recall was sensational. I had West Irish Seafood Chowder with a tall Harp. Mmm, delicioso. Then one more Guinness for the novelty and I was waddling back to the hostel.

It is such a blessing to have the ability to up and go on a whim like I did this weekend. Like I've said, its becoming more and more difficult to get away in big girl life. I've said it and I'll say it again forever, travel is essential. I don't care if you're an individual who likes to go off on their own or someone who is more quiet and needs people around.. everyone should have the opportunity to travel. Study abroad, get out of that comfort zone its so easy to fall back into. There is so much out there, its unreal! Enjoy the chances we are given in our generation. I can only hope to be an inspiration to those around me to pick up and go, especially my younger sisters who are seemingly becoming more and more curious of life beyond the Friendly City by the Sea. I understand it can be scary. I know it scares the crap out of my family when I suddenly fly off to a random somewhere. And I'll admit, wondering around alone, you'd be surprised how much people take notice of you. Looking at your map, reading a historical landmark sign, signing up for a pub crawl, sitting at a bar alone.. people notice. And for the most part, they're intrigued. Again, for the most part, I have been very lucky to not come across some weirdos in my travels.. but its comes with traveling smart. People will talk to you, ask questions, inquire about why you're alone and what brought you there. I look at it as a chance to reach out, learn more about them and more about myself and why I do what I do. Besides the fact that I love to go, of course. I like to think that I find home, everywhere.

Til next time, folks. Cheers.

This featured blog entry was written by Courtster from the blog Courtney: A Foreigner to the World.
Read comments or Subscribe

By Courtster

Posted Wed, May 14, 2014 | Ireland | Comments