The second entry in a series of installments from the travel diary of my journey through the Emerald Isle.
I awoke from my nap, however reluctantly, and slowly opened my eyes. Thankfully the room was dark, save for the soft light spilling from the television, which played a rerun of “Friends”. I was also grateful that the room was relatively silent; but for the low hum of the air conditioner, the faint sound of hotel patrons heading off to dinner, and the television sitcom’s chatter. It took a second, but as soon as I realized where I was, I shot up in bed—we were in Dublin!
Famished, Joanna and I scoured the Radisson Blu’s room service menu and finally settled on tomato soup and ham sandwiches—hardly glamorous, but we were far too hungry to care. After eating we showered, and in the midst of getting ready realized Joanna’s hair straightener didn’t work, so we made a last minute panicked dash to the nearest Tesco for a new one. Finally dressed and ready to go, we made our way to the front desk and had the concierge call us a taxi so we could finally make our way into town.
During the entire ride I sat with my face pressed up to the window, drinking in all the passing sights. There were the colourful Georgian doors; the wide, brightly lit expanse of O’Connell Street with its soaring Spire; towering historical monuments; elaborate bridges that crossed the River Liffey; and streets littered with hundreds of pedestrians. Our taxi driver dropped us off on Grafton Street at the late twentieth century statue of Molly Malone and we walked off toward Temple Bar singing: “In Dublin’s fair city…”
Temple Bar, located on the south bank of the River Liffey, is known as the cultural quarter of Dublin and boasts a lively nightlife popular amongst locals and tourists alike; and was therefore the obvious choice of where to kick off our night. The air was alive with an electric fervor as groups of people traipsed down the charming cobblestoned street lined with clubs, pubs and restaurants. The distinct scents of pub fare, cologne and tobacco smoke all mingled to create their own unique intoxicating aroma, while the delightful sounds of laughter, chatter and music all wove into a single tune.
Our first stop was the Temple Bar Pub, which was painted a bright candy apple red and was literally bursting with people. We entered the pub as a live band brazenly played out the chords to a popular rock song. Bopping along to the music, we made our way through the throng of cheerfully friendly pub goers, and just before reaching the bar I was grabbed by a man, thrown into a quick jig and nearly kissed smack dab on the lips! Joanna and I turned to each other and roared with laughter! Finally at the bar, we waited ever so patiently for our turn to be served, until some kind soul took pity on us and explained that there was no way we’d ever get a drink that way! After utilizing our new lesson of simply shouting our order at the bartender, we indulged in a couple of rich, velvety pints of Guinness.
Next, we headed to the equally crowded Quay’s Bar, also in Temple Bar, where we were instantly flanked by some sociable pub goers. My new friend was an Irishman named Tom, claiming to hail from County Armagh. He proved to be quite entertaining: singing, dancing and regaling me with his best Sasquatch impression. Joanna was charmed by the likes of an Italian who upon learning her name exclaimed that it was obvious that they were just made for each other as his name was Giovanni and hers Joanna! After enjoying a few more pints, we bid farewell to our new friends and found ourselves at Busker’s Bar on Fleet Street where we met a sweet Irish girl named Annie who, after having gone to school in the U.S., shared Joanna’s love of hockey and was more than obliged to tell us where we could catch Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins.
Riding on the exciting prospect of watching the hockey game, Joanna, oblivious to the fact that Dublin was still unfamiliar to us, was convinced she would have no problem finding Captain America’s. At some point near Trinity College, sense struck and Joanna stopped a random passerby and asked if he could point us in the right direction. Our newfound friend Pavel, an affable Russian, decided to forgo directions and instead became our own personal tour guide for the remainder of the evening.
As Pavel guided us across the sparkling Liffey we ran into a jersey-clad group of Vancouver Canuck fans who were off to their hotel room to watch the hockey game as well. After a quick chat we said our goodbyes and continued on our way, eventually finding ourselves back on Grafton Street—which just past the bronzed Molly Malone is strictly for pedestrians. Grafton Street is known as Dublin’s main shopping district and therefore is always bustling with people. Aside from shoppers the boutique lined street can be found dotted with a variety of street buskers, such as: musicians, stilt-walkers, artists and magicians. Even with the shop doors closed, the brick laid street still proved to be full of life and activity with friends gathered wondering where to go next, musicians strumming out to people as they passed and bicycle drawn taxi carts riding stiletto clad girls to their next destination. We finally found Captain America’s, but unfortunately for us it was in the midst of closing and was therefore not showing the hockey game.
Not letting this get us down, we followed Pavel as he led us on to Lafayette, a contemporary café bar on Westmoreland Street where he treated us to some candy flavoured shots that we washed down with more Guinness. After Lafayette we stumbled our way over to Twentyone, a club/lounge on D’Olier Street, where I have a vague recollection of dancing the night away. After that, the rest of the night is a bit of blur—a mélange of pubs, pints, new friends and the air electric with: spontaneity, the candy coated novelty of a new town and a night full of endless possibilities!