It felt right to end our Irish Adventure the way it began, with a second stop in Dublin. We decided to hit up Dublin twice because we really wanted to see what it was like during St. Patrick's Day AND what it was like the rest of the time. The funny thing is, the only difference I found was that one had the parade, and the other didn’t. There was still an absurd amount of tourists (though Temple Bar was a bit more tame). We spent 2 nights in Dublin before heading to Scotland. This time, we stayed in a hostel, our 4th (and final, thankfully) hostel of the trip (…so far…). The Spire Hostel was located on the north side of the River Liffey, about a block away from where, seemingly, every tour bus in the country congregates. It is, of course, named after The Spire, a giant needle shaped thing that shoots up towards the sky.
What is it for? I have no idea. Why is it important? I also don't know, and to be honest, didn’t really care. I was too busy being distracted by all of the tour groups standing in the middle of the sidewalk and the trash everywhere to really give it much thought.
We arrived early at the hostel, before were we actually allowed to check in, so we dropped our bags off in the luggage closet and wandered around our new neighborhood. We both instantly longed for Ballsbridge, the neighborhood of our first Dublin visit- we liked the quiet residential neighborhood much more than this busy, dirty tourist center. But we reminded ourselves that, because we indulged a bit on our trip around the country, we agreed to stay in a cheaper location for our last couple of nights. Buck up! How bad can it be?
Well it certainly wasn’t as bad as the Salmon Weir was in terms of space. This place was huge- about 5 stories high, with dorm rooms that sleep up to 20 people - yikes! Thankfully, we were booked in the smallest room available, one with 6 beds and private bathroom. Our bunkmates were an interesting range of personalities:
- A Spanish girl who lived and worked at the hostel. She was delightful to chat with and respectful of the shared space. I particularly loved her accent - when we told her about our 10 month trip, she gasped and said, "Oh I'm so yellous!" Ahhh "Barthelona", how I love the way you speak!
- Another Spanish girl who was up early and out late every day. We had little interaction, but when we did speak she asked many questions about how to say things in English.
- An odd man who was slept ALL DAY the day we arrived. We checked in at 2pm and he was asleep. We went out for the day and came back at 7pm and he was asleep. Finally at 9 we decided to go up to the room and he was gone. The next day he heard us speaking English and said, "Oh, anglophiles", in an, almost, disdainful way, as he stared at the floor. He didn't speak much to us, but he did enjoy speaking with our Spanish bunkmates. While he seemed to be older than me, he still giggled when one of them said "I'm easy" when asked if she cared if the window was open. When she asked what he was laughing at, he condescendingly stated "that phrase has a very different meaning in America." Ew. You, sir, give Americans a bad rep. I don't like you.
- The 6th bed was vacant. Woohoo!
So our roommates were a strange bunch, but that was nothing compared to the rest of the people we encountered at The Spire. Apparently our bunkmate who lived there was among a rather large group of Spanish kids that lived and worked there. They mostly wandered around the hostel in a heard, talking very loudly, taking up all the space in the kitchen, and , one guy in particular, would start yelling/singing something in Spanish through the halls in the middle of the night. Jake and I found the to be disrespectful of shared space and unwelcoming. We felt like we were intruding everywhere we went. We felt like we were the party crashers but we had no where else to go. Oh well, it's only for 48 hours. And on the plus side, our bathroom was cleaned once a day; a good sign!
Ok, enough about our hostel. We had 48 hours to explore the rest of Dublin before heading out. So naturally we first went back to all of the areas we loved before, which just so happened to be on the south side of the river. Instead of eating in the same places we already loved, we tried to branch out and have dinner in our new neighborhood. I don't know what it is about Dublin that makes us crave food from other parts of the world (we devoured our burritos on our first stop), but we decided to grab pho for dinner at the nearby Vietnamese restaurant. It. Was. Delicious. And it reminded me of being back in San Francisco on a rainy night. The only things missing were a blue awning outside, lots of beers, and the late hour. We enjoyed our noodle soup slowly before heading back to hang out with our super fun bunkmates. And by that I mean go straight to sleep.
Our highlight of Round 2, though, was our trip to the Guinness Storehouse. Like I said in Kinsale, I never liked Guinness at home, but there is something amazing about a cold Guinness in Ireland - it tastes, simply, perfect. We walked through town to the storehouse, through the ominous clouds and threatening dampness in the air. By the time we arrived, it was raining (surprise!). We took our time in the giant building and enjoyed each section of the museum. We especially enjoyed the tasting experience - we got to smell each of the ingredients through very interesting vaporizers in an all-white room, and taste freshly brewed Guinness before learning how to pour our own perfect pint.
We took our pints with us as we explored the rest of the exhibit, checking out old Guinness commercials and print ads, playing around in the photo booth, and finally taking in the great 360 view from the 17th floor. After we finished our beers, it was time to head out back into the rain.
We took a rainy stroll through Phoenix Park since we're always drawn to big, open, green spaces. I jumped in a few puddles to prove that the rain didn't bother me (which was dumb, because then my feet were soaked, and then it did bother me...). Soon we decided it was time to seek shelter for an early dinner in the oldest pub in Ireland, The Brazen Head. We dried off over more pints and our last authentic Irish meal before heading back to our hostel to pack up.
Our second sweep through Dublin was pretty uneventful, but fun nonetheless! Thanks for the incredible adventure, Ireland! We will definitely be back! On to Scotland!