Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe and a Guinness

I'm generally a pretty independent person. Sure, I still rely on my parents quite a bit financially, but in many aspects of the term I have always been pretty independent and self-reliant.

Having said that, never had I considered traveling anywhere solo. I always assumed I would simply go with one or more friends. However, circumstances came up that changed my travel plans, a few times actually, which made it so that traveling solo was my only option in some cases. And after much debating I finally said "to hell with it" and booked myself a flight to Dublin.

Despite my anxiety, I packed up and headed off for a few days all by me lonesome.

And I loved it.

There's something refreshing about touring a brand new city on your own. I know I said this about my solo museum days in London, but it holds even more meaning when going to a new country. And hostels are perfect places for solo travelers to meet and hang out with fellow travelers. You never know who you might meet? I've met some pretty awesome people during my hostel stays.

But enough about solo travel, I'll probably do a/some separate post(s) about that topic later. Now, on to Dublin!

After I arrived, I dropped off my bag and set off for some sight-seeing before nightfall and immediately ended up at Trinity College. I probably could have spent an entire day there just in awe of the beauty. It felt like stepping into a time machine. Normally I wouldn't think to pay for a tour of a university, albeit it was only 10 euro and 5 of the was for the Book of Kells exhibit, but this was completely worth it. You can easily tour the grounds on your own and go in and out of buildings freely. But I think it's worth it to spend a bit to hear from actual students. Plus, you get some inside information and some old facts that you probably can't be bothered to look up. Like stories about pranks that turned into a hated professor being shot and killed by some of his students. You know, the cool stories not in any guide.

It's kind of crazy to think that Trinity was built in 1592, well before the United States came to be, and is still a fully functioning university. It would be really cool to say you go to the same university Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift did. Although Ben & Jerry learned their magnificent ice cream making ways at the Creamery at Penn State, and really that is of equal importance to what Wilde and Swift did. And where would we be without our two favorite men? Anyway, I digress.

Speaking of prominent authors in history, one of my favorite discoveries involves one of my favorite authors of all time: Edgar Allan Poe. After my trip to Trinity, headed to the Chester Beatty Library by the Dubh Linn Gardens behind the Dublin Castle. The library is truly incredible in it's own right, unfortunately no pictures are allowed in most places but I could have spent hours upon hours in the exhibits. (Fun fact: Beatty was actually and American who was born in NYC and went to Columbia). But my discovery came in the gift shop. A beautiful journal whose cover is graced by the original Poe manuscript for a portion of: Tamerlane and Other Poems. Sure it was overpriced at 14 euro but it's so pretty I could cry! I almost didn't even write in it in fear of "ruining it". There were other ones involving Mozart and Michelangelo. It took a while, but I settled on Poe. And now I'm obsessed with it.

And I can't talk about my trip to Dublin without mentioning the Guinness Brewery. Personally, I'm not a huge beer drinker as I much prefer wine and spirits, but I couldn't pass up the tour. I mean come on, a complementary pint?! How could I say no?!

You know you've found the place by the distinct smell of barley and hops. Upon entrance, and walking past the gift shop, you are thrust into not only the methods of making the beer but a view of Irish pride that stems a bit from the proud Guinness family history.

There are many different exhibits but my favorite had to be the Tasting experience. You walk into a bright white room filled with the different aromas and it is explained how to properly drink a Guinness. By examining the distinct dark ruby red color, taking in the aroma, then finally drinking. It didn't hurt that we got a little "extra" Guinness on top of the pint. The afore mentioned Gravity Bar is another highlight. As I enjoyed my pint with others, I got to stare out at the beauty of the city below. Beer has never tasted so good.

Dublin as a whole had a metropolitan feel to it that I really enjoyed. It's a very walkable city although I did get a bit lost when trying to find the Brewery, even with my map. Fortunately, the weather was gorgeous so it wasn't a big deal. Of course I loved the people. Never have I ever heard the word f*** so often and so freely in public. (Except from my own mouth... Just kidding... Kind of...)

Although next time, maybe I'll wait until I've arrived or completed my trip before telling dear old Dad I'm going to a foreign country alone, can't have him worrying ;)

Have you been to Dublin? If so, what was your favorite part?


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