This is a multi-part blog post series about traveling in Dublin, Ireland.
4 THINGS YOU MUST DO
- Buy a Leap Card.
- Get a coffee.
- Go for a run.
- 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.
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.
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.
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”).
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."
Now that you've done all of that...you're probably hungry and ready to eat!