I’d finally arrived at Dublin but the problem now was that it was 7am and I could not access my room till 3pm. Luckily I had done my research and my hostel was not only a short walk behind the bus station (Busaras), but it also had secure lock up facilities for storing your gear with an additional charge of 2 Euros. So rucksack packed away I could start to explore Dublin.
One of the first things I noticed along with the large number of Spanish and American tourists was the price of things. Expect to pay over London rates on many many things especially beer. No point in asking for bitter here as its all ale or Guinness. Saying that there are plenty of free things to do with free walking tours available from your hostels and quite a few great parks. Phoenix park is a huge park which you find by following the north bank of the river west until you come to the entrance on the right. I only had time to explore a small part of this park as I only really had one full day in Dublin and you could use that in this park alone. There is another smaller park called St Stephens Green in the centre of Dublin which is very popular with tourists and locals alike. When I walked through I saw people juggling and at the bandstand even couples dancing to jazz and waltzes. A lovely place to pass a hot sunny afternoon.
For beer lovers who like a loud and exciting night life try the Temple Bar area. Famous for its pubs and lively atmosphere. Be warned it is very expensive. For those who know me they won’t be surprised to find I avoided these bars like the plague, although it is still worth walking through for the atmosphere. Instead I continued through and went south down Great George st. This has more quiet traditional bars where you will meet more of the locals then tourists for a more realistic view of Dublin. Some good bars with better prices.
For a decent beer, lunch and a lot better bar I discovered The Millennium bar on the road as you approach Phoenix park. A traditional pub with the best prices I found. I got a pot of coffee (enough for 2 mugs) and a delicious toasted ham and cheese sandwich for 4-5 Euros. The landlord was excellent and the service was good. Would of liked to of spent more time here.
I also tried the free walking tour leaving from my hostel, with Daniel from Illinois and George from Mexico who were both staying at the hostel. The idea behind these tours is that although they are free you are expected to tip them, but only what you think its worth. No matter how big or small the tip they are really grateful and as long as your happy they are happy. I have done these tours before and although this was very informative and the guide would quite happily chat away in between stops I found it a little dry for my tastes. It is however a good way to get to know the city and find your way about.
Armed with a map from the tourist information and my walking boots I did my own tour and one of the best sights (in my opinion) was the Grand canal. It was peaceful and quiet and part of a cycle route and I could not understand why there were not more people there. I joined it near St Stephens Green and followed it all the way back to the River Liffey. There were people painting, a few cyclists overhanging willow, birds and lock gates and peace and quiet. It eventually becomes the Grand Canal docklands which is an up market built up area with apartments and shops and cafe’s.
I eventually reached the river Liffey and followed it back to my hostel passing the Samuel Becket bridge. This amazing bridge I am sure is designed to look just like the Irish harp. On a point of interest I got told that the Irish government complained about the Guinness harp looking like the national Irish symbol and not wanting Ireland to be associated with the demon drink (being a good Catholic country) so Guinness agreed to change it and simply turned it to face the other way.
Dublin. Would I go back. I’m not sure. There is definitely things in Dublin I have yet to see or do but the prices for someone on a budget just put me off, but who knows Dublin. Maybe I will be back.