48 hours in Dublin (or how I caught up on my sleep)
My time in Dublin was too short — made shorter by the fact that I spent most of my first day in Ireland sacked out in my hotel room. Honestly, I tried to get out of bed at least twice, but, sometimes, you just have to let your body catch up with your best intentions.
I arrived at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday morning on the United Airlines red-eye flight out of Dulles International. I didn’t sleep a wink on the flight, which is why I crashed so hard once I got to my room.
Unlike Leopold Bloom, James Joyce’s protagonist in his novel Ulysses, I didn’t wander nearly as far in my one full day in Dublin. An epic journey it was not. I barely took any photos. I ignored my alarm clock on Thursday and Friday mornings to get up before sunrise. It seems that during the actual time I was out of bed, there was usually a pint of Guinness in my hand.
While I didn’t get a lot done, I did learn a few things about Dublin:
- Temple Bar isn’t just a bar, it’s a touristy district of shops, restaurants and pubs along the south bank of the River Liffey.
- Guinness really does taste better in Ireland.
- You can walk all over the city but sometimes the best meal is actually right in the lobby of your hotel. The pan-fried plaice and chunky chips with truffle parmesan aioli at The Exchange Restaurant in the Westin were excellent.
Other than that, I hesitate to make any broad generalizations from my brief time in Ireland. Forty-eight hours, even when you’re fully alert, is not enough time to draw conclusions. If it were, I might surmise that people in Dublin walk really, really fast; they love oil with their food, which is often pan-fried fish; they really love their pubs and are, by and large, very friendly.
While some of that may actually be true, one of the great dangers of traveling is relying too heavily on preconceived stereotypes.
Every Dubliner I met was friendly, cheerful and more than willing to give me advice on things to do and see. This fits nicely with the notion that people in Ireland are the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet. Now, while there are a lot of wonderful, friendly people in Ireland, you shouldn’t let it give you a false sense of security. Our cab driver to the airport was extremely friendly but that didn’t stop him from trying to add 3 euros to our fixed fare.
View of Dublin from the Gravity Bar / Photo by Joe Newman
The one touristy thing I did while I was in Dublin was visit the Guinness Storehouse, which is on the land that Arthur Guinness originally leased in 1759 for his St. James’ Gate Brewery. That lease, by the way, is set to expire in 8,748 years.
As far as brewery tours go, I’ve seen better. Mostly, I thought the experience was rather blah. Let’s face it, most of the adults who go on the tour are spending 15 euros to have a cold Guinness at the Gravity Bar on the top floor of the Storehouse. Worth it? If you are into views of a rather bleak, nondescript skyline while sipping a cold, frothy stout, this might be for you.
Let’s not under state the value of drinking a Guinness at ground zero, however. It has long been held that Guinness doesn’t travel well and, thus, tastes much better in Dublin than it does abroad. Having now tasted Guinness on both sides of the pond, I can unequivocally say that this is true.
And seeing as how you’re never going to drink a Guinness that has traveled a shorter distance to your pint glass than the one poured for you in the Gravity Bar, that can be reasoned to be worth the price of admission, alone.
While I walked along the River Liffey, strolled through St. Stephen’s Green and wandered around Trinity College, my lasting memory of Dublin will be sitting in the Ginger Man pub downing glasses of Guinness. The “glass” is a unit of measurement that is half of a pint. The bartender, of course, called us lightweights, though in a very friendly manner. In our defense, the glasses added up to several pints by the time the night was done.
We left Dublin for London at 11 a.m. on Friday morning, about the time I was fully recovered from my jet lag. My take on the city of Joyce and Beckett? I fear, I failed Dublin, more than it failed me. Next time, I will fail better.