(Garden of Remembrance above)
To preface, I should let you know that part of my therapy for PTSD, depression, and anxiety is to occasionally take a trip for a couple to a few days on my own. This helps to quell my desire for isolation. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I come back somewhat refreshed and ready to once again interact with my loved ones.
This time, I was a bit more ambitious. It seems for my whole life, I’ve wanted to visit Ireland. It sounds strange, I know, but the Emerald Isle has always called to me. Wether it was growing up with my March birthday calendars covered in shamrocks and Leprechauns, my love for nature and greenery, or that, as kids, many of the songs we sang and stories we read were of Irish origin, or all of the above, I can’t really say for sure.
But anyway, I checked prices of flights and hotels through the Expedia.com app, and decided that the week of my birthday was the most affordable time to go. Somehow through anxiety’s tunnel vision I managed to press the “Book Now” button…six LONG months in advance. This gave me plenty of time to get a passport, plan, prep, and just mentally prepare myself (that last part never happened).
I saved myself about $800 and reduced my fight from three legs to two, by driving the 3 1/2 hours to Dallas instead of flying out of Shreveport. I also saved myself about $200 by booking my extended parking at a Super 8 Motel through way.com for $5 a day.
I watched Dublin’s weather for six months to see how it compared to ours in Louisiana. It was surprisingly VERY similar during Autumn and Winter, Until a few days before departure. Ireland was hit by the “Beast from the East.” It looked to be the biggest snowfall there in 30 years. Airports were shut down, flights canceled across the region. All of which were right on par for my luck.
Fortunately, luck was on my side, and my flights were on schedule and I landed in Toronto Canada (Yes, it counts as a check mark by Canada) and at 10:30 pm caught my final leg. After a very short night of zero winks, I got my first glimpses of scattered land.
Cloud cover was thick and I occasionally saw bits of land and patches of snow.
Land was nowhere in sight as we sank into thick clouds for what seemed like forever, as we approached the airport. Then the clouds faded away and there was Dublin. For me, it was surreal. Having dreamt of this all my life and there it was, outlined in the white snow. That wasn’t part of my dream, but I thought, “How many people, get to see a snowy Ireland”? Me!! I was lucky; It was beautiful.
We unloaded on the tarmac, and I consciously bathed myself in the reality of a lifelong dream come true. I was on Irish soil.
Of course, after a couple minutes in Dublin Airport, I got lost. Keep in mind that I can get lost in a convenience store. I tend to get so distracted that I forget to read signs. I wasn’t lost long; it’s really not a huge airport. I eased through customs, where they enjoyed ribbing me for my pronounced “drawl.” (Which was ironic since they were the ones with the accents).
I found the Airlink desk, got my bus pass, which I had scheduled through Expedia, caught the bus, got off near my hotel, and proceeded to get completely and totally lost…again.
At this point, I’d been up for over 24 hours and the walking directions on my phone weren’t making much sense to me. So I wandered around for about an hour pulling my large suitcase, holding a carry-on, and wearing a backpack (y’know, looking like a lost tourist).
Finally, I turned a corner, and there it was, The Castle Hotel.
The Castle Hotel was a matching pair of Georgian Townhouses, in the heart of city center, converted into a hotel full of character and charm, and which boasts two restaurants; The Old Music Shop and the Vaults Restaurant and Bar with live music nightly. The staff at the front desk were very warm and friendly and held my bags for me as I was too early to check in. So, I went exploring the area until I could walk no more and returned to relax in the lobby for a short while until they came and got me.
It was an absolute maze to my room. (Did I mention that I tend to get lost?) Upstairs, through doors, ’round corners, down steps, and back up again.
But, I found it.
I received a cozy room with a double bed, coffe/tea setup, and a wardrobe. The bathroom was tiled from floor to ceiling with a small corner shower. (I’m rather broad and would occasionally knock the shower faucet handle one way or the other, resulting in really hot or really cold moments of panic.)
My room was extremely clean, had everything I needed, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the hotel, food, the bar, and the lovely staff.
After a few minutes rest, I went down to the bar, had my first (of many on this trip) pint of Guinness and took a moment to let it really sink in that I was in a Dublin pub and having a pint while Whiskey in the Jar played in the background.
Having been awake over thirty hours, I went to my room and crashed about 7:00 pm, waking a couple times and hearing faintly, the live music coming from downstairs. “I’ll be there tomorrow night.” I thought, as I crashed again.
Anxious to explore, I woke up early and headed down for the complimentary, full Irish breakfast that’s served daily in The Old Music Shop.
It was served cafeteria style, and when she asked me what I wanted, I told her to load it up. I ate every bite and it was awesome!!!
I had planned out what to do almost every day before I left home. Day 1 was exploring Dublin on foot starting with Trinity College and the Old Library to see the Book of Kells.
The campus was absolutely stunning and the Old Library was breathtaking.
From there, I ambled over to St. Stephens Green enjoying the beautiful architecture that lined every street in the heart of Dublin along the way. The park was quiet and a nice getaway from the crowds at the college and the cars on the streets. (I’ll have to say, the traffic wasn’t as busy/crazy in Dublin as I’d anticipated). I visited a few parks in Dublin, but I believe this was the most picturesque of the ones I saw. It consists of beautiful gardens surrounding a gorgeous pond.
(One of my favorite things about my hotel room was my transom window that stayed open to the outdoors and every morning I’d wake to the sound of seagulls.)
Exiting through one of the gates, I found the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. (An Irish shopping centre is what I’d call a mall) It was really pretty inside and I wandered around and found a coffee. I asked for their most popular, “The Americano” which was quite good.
Guess who I ran into on my way to find some cathedrals…A must-see…Molly Malone!!!
She’s pushing her wheelbarrow loaded with baskets. When you go, take a look inside them.
When I walked up on this next sight, I stood there awhile just taking it all in.
It wasn’t lost on me, before I went in, that I was about to enter, by far, the oldest building I’d ever been in. I can’t describe what I saw inside, so here are some photos.
I had arrived just in time for a guided tour which was very interesting, quite informative, and our charming guide shared loads of historical anecdotes.
Just up the street, I found Christ Church Cathedral. It was just as amazing as the last church, but this one provided access to a fairy-tale-like crypt or what I like to call, catacombs.
From Christ Church, I made my way to Dublin Castle, which I passed up a couple times before I found it. I decided not to take the tour, but the buildings and courtyard were amazing.
I then made what, at this point, felt like a journey, over to the Guinness Storehouse where I saw St James’ Gate,Albert Guiness’ 9,000 year lease, then learned how, and poured the perfect pint of Guinness. (And yes, I got to drink it.) The tour ended on the top floor where there is a panoramic view of the beautiful city of Dublin.
I made my way back over to city center and I managed to drag myself into the National Wax Museum (which was really cool) before returning to the hotel and collapsing on my bed.
A short while later, I had an awesome steak and gravy chips in the bar. Then rested in my room until time for the live music. I can’t say enough good words about the entertainment. It was awesome!! (Over the course of the week, I saw three different uber-talented gentlemen perform, ballads, traditional Irish songs, very funny songs, sing-alongs, and I was kept mesmerized even when I saw the same person twice, as no two shows were the same.) After that, I found my room and crashed again.
My perfect pint and certificate!!! (Well, it WAS perfect…)
Thanks for reading!!! I’ll be back soon with a couple more posts. I had 7 days in country and took 1380 photos, but I’ll try to be as brief as possible each time.
Note: I haven’t been paid or reimbursed for any product, service, or accommodation in this post.
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