“Smile and the whole world smiles with you. Cry and you cry alone. It’s an old saying we have here.” These were the first words I heard in that cheerful Irish accent. The man who was stamping my passport found it a nice surprise that I was smiling in my passport picture unlike the hundreds of serious portraits he sees in a day. I think this saying will forever be branded in my mind as a good summary of the feel of Ireland. Friendly, open, and genuine.
Dublin was in a way a nice break from Paris and Rome because I didn’t have a checklist of monuments or museums that I HAD to see. I didn’t have any expectations for Dublin whatsoever. Mostly, I just wanted to see a castle. So we ended up pretty much doing two things in Dublin: shopping during the day and checking out a variety of pubs at night.
The shopping in Dublin put the shopping in Rome and Paris to shame. We walked down Grafton Street, O’Connell Street, and Henry Street. The two main malls are the Jervis Center and ILAC Center; they both have reasonably priced clothes. My favorite store was the giant Forever 21. You might wonder: why would I shop at a store in Europe that I can easily shop at in the U.S.? The answer is that the United States Forever 21 doesn’t carry the same clothes! The huge clothing stores like Forever 21, H&M, and Top Shop cater to the different fashion trends of the countries that they are in. There is even a wide variety within the clothing lines in Europe. The clothes in the Rome H&M were very different from the clothes in the Paris H&M. I think one of the mistakes that I made before coming to Europe was lumping all of European fashion into one category.
The atmosphere of the pubs was precisely what the movies portray it to be. When I got to Dublin, I heard a lot about Temple Bar. I’m embarrassed to say that I originally thought Temple Bar was one pub. It’s not. Temple Bar is referring to an entire area of Dublin, the cultural and nightlife area. Imagine my initial confusion when I was suddenly in a district that had dozens of pubs named “Temple Bar”! Temple Bar is one of the most alive, vibrant places I have ever seen. There are talented street performers left and right and so many different types of people. There were fat potbellied men waving their pints of beer in the air and singing along with the live music. There were men in kilts walking around everywhere. There were lots of redheads, but most weren’t natural. It’s a trend to dye your hair red I guess.
We found one low key pub that we particularly liked and went back to multiple times called Fitzgerald’s. The bartender was very Irish and I think he took offense to a few of our comments. My friend offhandedly said, “I don’t like beer”. He was quick to respond with, “You don’t belong in this country then”. At another point, she mentioned men wearing skirts everywhere and he quickly stopped what he was doing and pointedly corrected her, “They’re kilts. They’re not skirts. They’re kilts”. He made sure she knew the difference before he resumed his work. When we weren’t offending the bartender at Fitzgerald’s, we were watching rugby and trying a pint of Guinness. I’m not a connoisseur of beers but to me it had a very distinct, strong flavor that almost reminded me of coffee.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the Guinness factory. That would have been very interesting to see. I did however visit Trinity College and the Dublin Castle. It was refreshing to see all the green grass after being in gray Norway for so long! We also took a ferry ride down the Liffey River.
Everything was so GREEN!
One of the many huge shopping centers.