4 Things You Must Do in Dublin, Ireland

This is a multi-part blog post series about traveling in Dublin, Ireland.

4 THINGS YOU MUST DO

  1. Buy a Leap Card.
  2. Get a coffee.
  3. Go for a run.
  4. See a standup comedy show.

(Worried there's no food or alcohol or touristy things in this? You're looking for other parts in this Dublin series, like the 8 Things You Must Eat, 5 Things You Must See, 4 Things You Must Drink, The 1 Thing You Must Buy, and 4 Things You Can Totally Skip. Hey, all that adds up to 25! That's kind of a fun number. Maybe I should call this series "25 Ways to Enjoy Dublin".)

Buy a Leap Card.

   Discovered only on the third day, the Leap Card would have been an indispensable part of the trip and I wish I’d found it sooner. Let me describe the magic: for 10 euro, for 24 hours, you can ride the local trams (called Luas), the long-distance trains (called DART; they get you to suburban towns), and even take it to the airport. The more days you buy, the cheaper it gets. It’s fantastic and comes approximately every 15-30 minutes. A steal at the price, and as long as you don’t mind walking a few blocks to your points of interest, you’ll never need a taxi.

I used my smart purchase of a Leap Card to get to Howth, but more on that later.

Get a coffee. Somewhere. Anywhere.

Subtle, isn't it?

Subtle, isn't it?

   There's nothing better after a run and a shower than a good cup of coffee! Friends who had lived in Dublin 10 years ago told me that cafés and coffee shops were not plentiful in Dublin. Well, 2016 is a great year to be a Dubliner, because there were coffee houses, cafés, and craft roasters everywhere. I remember visiting San Diego and being bitterly disappointed that the coffee scene was so lackluster, and hard to find. A good cup of coffee is never far away in Dublin.

There are the local chains, Coffee Angel and Insomnia Coffee (the latter being a national Irish chain), but also dozens and dozens of unique, independent coffee shops all throughout Dublin. I had a fantastic Americano at Coffee Angel @ Saint Anne Street, a cortado from Insomnia Coffee, pour-overs at Brother Hubbard, a delicious loose-leaf tea and chocolate muffin at Peacock Green, and another Americano at Lemon Crepe + Coffee. The cleanliness, sharp design, international flair and youthful, modern atmosphere of the whole city seems best expressed in the coffee shops of Dublin...plus, most places had fantastic windows at the front for superb people watching. 

Go for a run around the city.

The people-watching opportunities along Grafton Street, north of Saint Stephen's Green, are endless.

The people-watching opportunities along Grafton Street, north of Saint Stephen's Green, are endless.

   There are a huge number of people running and jogging around Dublin- no small accomplishment considering the traffic that can run you over and cobblestone streets that can trip you up. But, the sidewalks are wide enough that as long as you miss the morning rush hour, you can run along the River Liffey, on or off the canals. You'll go through the hyperclean city center near the National Concert Hall and museums; the construction along Trinity College and the new Luas tram line; and further and further into the "suburban" stretches of Dublin, where the graffiti gets bigger and more brightly colored. Rain in Ireland can come at any moment, so the city seems to be built of stately brick homes that blur by, accented only by the pop of eye-catchingly neon doors or the occasional flag.

You'll run by international students, people heading to work, immigrant families, people distributing soup and warm clothes to the homeless, street cleaners, other runners, and tourists. I'd suggest running around Saint Stephen's Green. It's a gorgeous park- especially if there's a bit of morning sun. Swans cut across the lake in the heart of the park and it's so lush and green (with excellently maintained paths) that it's easy to see why the country is also called the Emerald Isle. Then you can run out of the park and into the brick and stone of the city.

See a standup comedy show.

The set of the Project Arts Centre before The Nualas came out. (We weren't allowed to photograph during the performance, unfortunately!)

The set of the Project Arts Centre before The Nualas came out. (We weren't allowed to photograph during the performance, unfortunately!)

   There are a few places that bill themselves as comedy clubs in Dublin, especially around the Temple Bar area, but I ended up luckily walking by the Project Arts Centre; a community-funded arts space that put on a variety of plays and art exhibits for decades. It just so happened that the week I was there was the beginning of a comedy festival! I nabbed some tickets and got great seats to an intimate show that, unfortunately, did not allow photographs. The show was being recorded for later broadcast on RTE-1 (the radio channel) and consisted of two separate acts. The last act was particularly hysterical: a group called The Nualas (pronounced “noo-lahs”).

Here is a photo of the lovely, hilarious trio!

Here is a photo of the lovely, hilarious trio!

Three women who joked, danced, almost fell flat on their face, and sang about all things female and Irish. Although I only found out later one of the Nualas is in fact, American, you would never have known it, and all of their humor was fantastic- and crass. (I wonder if the Irish is where we get it from? Because we didn't get it from the Brits.) 

When one of the Nualas delivered a joke poorly, they redid it after a string of “feck fuck shit fuck cunty cunty cunty fuck!” Why? So, you know, the editors "would know where to start the joke over."

   Brilliant.

Now that you've done all of that...you're probably hungry and ready to eat!

January 2016: Dublin

Dublin, Ireland.

 

It’s a place that loves a good twist of a word. I’ve been to a few countries now- China, Thailand, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, the list goes on -but I can’t remember being somewhere where the people seemed so genuinely friendly.

The people are sweet and the street art is on #fleek

The people are sweet and the street art is on #fleek

“Say one thing to your face and another to your back!” would be the cheerful Irish retort to my claim. And maybe it’s true. But the earnestness I found at every turn was astounding. Every stranger was helpful and in good humor. Once, there was a guy begging outside of a grocery store. I asked him if he was hungry (it's a family tradition to feed panhandlers but avoid giving money). The guy gave a big smile and then waved a sandwich at me. "Saving it for later!" he said.

I can't wait to go back to meet more of these weirdly friendly people. I mean, this is the country of The Troubles, after all, not that we saw even an ounce of negativity. The hospitality and uplifted spirit is reason enough to travel to Dublin.

Oh and also, it's delicious. Everything in Dublin is delicious.

Oh and also, it's delicious. Everything in Dublin is delicious.

But- it doesn’t hurt that it’s a beautiful, cobblestoned-city that is very much alive, with fantastic public transit, vibrant streets, and more alcohol flowing through the city than water in the River Liffey. (I'm such a nerd that public transit is a reason to visit place. It's also the reason I love Istanbul, but more on that another day.) 

So I'll go over some useful stuff, like the 4 Things You Must Do in Dublin. Otherwise, just check out how pretty it was.

This is a map of everywhere I went! Black for hotel, green for drinks, blue for food, and red for activities/sightseeing. I honestly cannot wait to return and have crazy adventures all around the coast!

New Year, New Beginnings

Today was a thoroughly relaxing day. Slept in; cooked while wearing sweatpants and a kimono; I made lots of tea, thanks to the perfect kettle given to me by my cousin, and I listened to TED Talks about Life Hacks while going over my budget.

I get Athena back on Monday, and I want to have a good routine set up for myself. It's been a more relaxed feel at work since returning from the Christmas break. I want to try my best to be healthy and put myself first as much as I can...I still want to do a good job, but I'm realizing that sacrificing my well-being doesn't win me any brownie points, and it just ends up with me having a simmering pot of resentment on the back burner. No good for anyone!

So- my first resolution was to get in shape. (And for me it really means incorporating healthier habits untilt hey become god-damn permanent habits.) I did 20 crunches and went running. 2.5 miles! Usually, with Athena, I'd go straight down 6th St to E where the little park is, but today I went all the way down East Capitol. Fun fact: the sidewalks are MUCH less treacherous the closer you get to government buildings! And there was a pretty fantastic view in front of the Library of Congress.

The city has felt quiet today. People are probably resting. It was nice to listen to Spotify (the running feature is extremely cool) and make lazy loops around the Capitol and Folger Library. I got cheeky and channeled Rocky and ran up and down the Library of Congress steps a few times too, just for that view.

I came home, rested a bit, threw a set of clothes in a bag and went to my friends' place in NOMA. We're playing video games, drinking wine, and eating ice cream. Another New Year's resolution, on point!

According to my goals, tomorrow is a yoga-and-crunches day. It's also the last day for zoo lights, and Athena and the trainer will meet me there. It will be very good to see her. :)

Happy and trying to be healthy and a gorgeous day thinking and doing. YES. Gotta recharge these batteries to take on what I know will be the best year yet.