Like most I bought my plane tickets based on timing and cost. After discussing arrival times with my family in Sweden and deciding that I would stay in Chicago for the first weekend in Nov to say goodbye to some friends I picked the flight that was cheapest and most convenient (also the shortest trip that was not a direct flight). After excitedly forwarding my itinerary to the parents, my aunt in Sweden, and my best friends I got a cute email back from a friend asking what I was going to do in Dublin during my layover.
Now you never want too little time between flights so that you miss your connection but 7.5 hrs is a long time. I began researching what I could do if I left the airport. Note: Dublin airport is a 30min drive from downtown Dublin City. So I found a bus that took you to Dublin or one that took you to a smaller near by town. I hadn’t really decided what to do or if I would even leave the airport but after some encouraging from my neighbor on the plane who told me some no fuss, easy, relaxing places to go I decided to just go for it…4 hours in a new country I had never been to! it is an adventure!
After leaving the airport and easily finding the bus to downtown (aircoach-12€ for round trip), I arrived at Grafton Street (Trinity College stop on the bus). Grafton Street is a famous shopping street and as it was just 10am the stores were beginning to open but there were very few people other than the locals cutting through on their way to downtown. I meandered slowly enjoying the wonderful Christmas window displays (barring the fact it is the first week in November and that the Christmas season is already in full swing is ridiculous, they were very pretty and fun to see) and drooling over all of the amazing shoes in the windows (shoes are my biggest weakness which is difficult because you feel guilty packing more shoes and less underwear when moving around the world ;). I was slowly making my way to St. Stevens Green at the end of Grafton Street which I had been told was really beautiful and very peaceful in the mornings.
Using my powerful deduction skills (i.e., following the local girls with good shoes) I found a cute little local quick coffee shop off the main street with no seating but a long line of locals getting morning commute coffee. With my cappuccino (no foam) I approached St. Stevens Green:
After wandering for while I found a bench overlooking a small pond to sit and relax on:
and a minute later….
INVASION!!! However with no food to share I decided to walk on. I had a wonderful ramble through the park, randomly picking many benches to sit on for a few minutes at time. The best was one I found in the SUN! Warming up from the sun and my coffee, I did some people watching and enjoyed the many shades of green:
After thoroughly chilling my self by staying outside and not moving, in my probably inappropriate sweatshirt (all my winter coats are already in Sweden because I was supposed to move 2 months ago), I decided it was time for more coffee and maybe some internet. I tried to find a local cafe with internet but found a Starbucks first and decided that a Gingerbread latte sounded good. Sitting in the warm cafe with a cranberry orange muffin, I logged on to post the two blog posts: one I had finished just before the cab came in Chicago (and not had time to post) and the one I had written at the O’hare airport.
After this fortification I headed back out into Dublin…I had decided I wasn’t going to try to go to any museums but just get a feel for the city. I started in the direction of the other major downtown bus pick up and just started wandering, letting myself be pulled in what ever direction I felt like. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to get a Christmas ornament (I collect things I can make into Christmas ornaments from the places I travel) and maybe even birthday gifts for two of my best friends with birthdays in November. As I wondered of course I got lost but it didn’t feel that way because I had decided to not pre-decide and therefore there were no “wrong” directions…when it got to after noon I decided to look at the little map I had gotten from the bus company (which was missing lots of streets) and begin moving toward the bus stop more directly while looking for a pub for lunch.
Because where else can you eat in Dublin but a pub?
Sitting in the upstairs window, looking out onto the corner of O’Connel Street, this Victorian Pub was a great find for lunch. The menu was full of traditional cuisine but the fish and chips caught my eye. I have eaten my french fries with lots of salt and mayo since having them this way on the streets of London in 2002.
It was an amazing choice! So yummy even the greens salad with homemade spicy mustard vinaigrette was great. With a glass of cider (I couldn’t bring myself to be up for Guinness which I normally love but didn’t sound exciting in my by this time extremely tired state), I ate slowly, savoring the wonderful food and atmosphere. After I caught myself falling asleep at the table I new it was time to head back to the airport.
A quick stop in few shops on O’Connell Street and I found presents for the birthday girls, my Christmas ornament, and a necklace for myself. As I waited to take the bus back to the airport I watched the line of cabbies across the street try to talk airport bus riders into skipping out on the wait for the bus. After I had waited 13 min for the bus I felt compelled to tell the others that the bus was supposed to come every 15 min and it had already been 13. The nice eastern European couple who’s language I had been trying to place as they talked to each other piped in that they just lied to the cabbies and said they had a return ticket already so as not to get bothered 😉 Less than a minute later the bus arrived and the group who had been debating on taking a cab were grateful for our noisiness 😉
A wonderfully relaxing day in Dublin City and one quick bus ride back to airport and no line at security I was on my way to Sweden!