This weekend I went to Dublin with three of my friends from Queen’s. We had an awesome time! On Friday morning Ana, Ashley, Andrew and I took a bus from Belfast to Dublin (2 hour drive) and it only cost 20 pounds each! We stayed in a hostel for 35 Euros for two nights. I have never stayed in a hostel before, and I was quite wary about it. I imagined a large room crammed with old beds and too many people. What I actually experienced was nothing of the sort. The hostel was called Jacob’s Inn and was literally a five minute walk from the bus station. It was clean, spacious and even served breakfast in the morning. (Although “breakfast” only consisted of cornflakes and toast.) Our “bedroom” was an eight person room, with four sets of bunk beds and a bathroom to share between everyone. We were assigned our four beds and were anxious to meet the other four people sharing our room.
Friday afternoon: We dropped our bags and spent the rest of the afternoon getting our bearings about us in Dublin and walking around the shopping end of town. We went out to eat dinner at a restaurant/bar called O’Shea’s which was nice and cheap, and also delicious! I love how the Irish do not rush customers through their meal. Actually, the waiter hardly pays any attention to you. We spent almost two and a half hours eating dinner, talking and relaxing. Using a map of Dublin, we planned what sites we wanted to explore on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday night: The Temple Bar district is a really popular part of Dublin for socializing and going out to bars and restaurants. I think the cobblestone streets and numerous old bars with big Irish flags hanging outside add ambiance to the scene. We ended up going to the actual Temple Bar and it was so much fun. There was a live band singing a combination of traditional Irish songs and popular songs like Coldplay, and the entire bar seemed to still be celebrating Arthur Guinness Day (which was the day before!).
Saturday: Waking up at 8:30am and showering was a bit of an ordeal in the hostel as everyone scrambled to use the single bathroom. We met the rest of our hostel roomies who were friendly. There was an Australian guy; a weird guy from California; a shy Spanish woman moving to Dublin and waiting until her apartment was ready; and a guy who didn’t speak to anybody. I definitely was intrigued to meet other people who stay in hostels and was surprised at how brave some people are to travel by themselves and be totally comfortable with it. I prefer to travel with friends and to have company and to share my memories with! By 10am we were all ready to go out. Rather than taking a bus tour, we decided to do our own walking tour of Dublin and explore exactly the historical and tourist things that we wanted to see and be able to stop and take breaks when we wanted. The weather was great! The sun was shining and it wasn’t too chilly. We walked everywhere! We saw O’Connell Street, City Hall, Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin Castle, Powers Court, the Molly Malone statue, the Ha’Penny Bridge and lots more. Ana read to us from her tourist guide book of Ireland the historical facts about each place we went to, so it was very informative. We didn’t get back to the hostel until 6pm and we were all exhausted!
Sunday: We had another early wake up at 9am, so that we could head over to the Guinness factory. Everyone in our hostel room seemed to wake up at the same time and needed to shower. It was a bit tricky to get ourselves organized and out the door quickly like we had planned. Most people were packing up to check out by 11am just like us. There was a fee of two Euros to buy a locker for the day so we could leave our luggage safely and continue to explore Dublin, so we locked up our stuff and went on our way. We took the tram to avoid a half hour walk to the Guinness factory and managed to get to the Guinness factory by 12:30pm and then spent two hours there. The actual smell of the brewery is noticeable from the street! Ana and I went back to the city center to walk around while Ashley and Andrew stayed at the Guinness factory enjoying the Gravity Bar at the top of the storehouse, which is made entirely of glass so you can see out over Dublin and enjoy a Guinness at the same time. We all agreed to meet at the hostel at 5pm to collect our luggage and head over the bus station to catch the bus back to Belfast at 6pm. The bus station was chaotic and it was a struggle for all of us to squeeze onto the 6pm bus back home because there were crowds of people also heading home to Belfast after the All Ireland Hurling match that was on earlier in the day. There was a lot of traffic on the drive back to Belfast and we arrived to the Great Victoria Street station at 9pm, extremely tired!
I really enjoyed my trip to Dublin with my friends! We did so much in such a short amount of time and even survived staying in a hostel. I feel more confident about staying in hostels now and in the future will not be as worried. In reality, a hostel is a cheap and smart way for students to travel and take care of their most basic needs, like showering and sleeping.