Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First Impressions of Dublin

We arrived in Dublin at 8pm on a Friday night. The taxi driver who took us the short distance from bus to hostel recommended seeing the Book of Kells, History Museum and Grafton Street on top of our plans for the Guinness Brewery, Kilmainham Gaol and National Museum of Archaeology. When he stopped outside our hostel, I was immediately in love with Dublin.

The street was wide and steep - well, steep for Dublin, which is basically flat. Either side and right to the end, tall red brick buildings lined up tightly together, ivy clinging to window frames and wrought iron banisters reaching into the depths of the pavement for basement level apartments. It was everything I imagined Dublin to be, although more spread out. The imposing buildings leaned precariously overhead, if only figuratively due to their size.

The door to number 42 was huge, far bigger than any door should have to be. It was almost disappointing when we were let in and the door didn't supply us with a heavy creak and instead swung open to reveal a brightly lit reception area. We left our bags in the biggest dorm room I've ever seen, staking claim on our beds in the process. With a quick look at the two big lounges, we took little time in heading out to explore.

Down our street and to the right a few hundred metres we hit O'Connell Street - Dublin City's main road. First impressions - awestruck. The road is a beautiful open expanse of cobblestone, wider than any road we have at home and yet the same number of lanes. Footpaths melt into street which then melts into a huge centre strip full of trees and statues before the process repeats in reverse and you find yourself at the other side. The effect is awesome, it seems silly to throw so much praise on a road, but as far as roads go it's a great one. As the first impression of the city it makes you feel like anything's possible, the world is your oyster - just like you should feel when you set foot on new ground.

The only downside was that occasionally the melting effect worked a little too well when you found yourself stepping out onto the road unknowingly and having to pull yourself back again. If I was pushed to find another downside, it would be that after our week in Athlone, Dublin wasn't Irish enough. It was a beautiful city, but nothing jumped out to say 'Hi, you're in Ireland' like it had in Athlone. At least not on that first night.

We wandered on down O'Connell Street looking for something to stop us, and as many of you know by now, it was Eddie Rocket's that did it. Drawn in to the Irish-American Diner by my love for everything 1950's, we fell in love with Dublin for the second time in one night. When we eventually settled into bed for the night, we did so with full bellies, a little overwhelmed but very much looking forward to exploring what more Dublin had to offer.

Penelope_nz's Dublin photoset Penelope_nz's Dublin photoset