One of the joys I’ve found while studying abroad has been meeting up with friends from home. Although getting to know the IES Abroad and Irish students has been so fun, the few times I’ve been able to meet up with folks from my home college/hometown have been precious. It is always a welcome reminder of home, plus, how cool is it to just casually meet up with your best friend for a weekend in Europe?
This past weekend, I got to do just that. One of my very best friends from Fort Worth who is studying in Italy came to visit me, and I honestly can’t recommend being in this situation enough. It was amazing to show her around my new favorite city. Not only did she get to see Dublin for the very first time, but I got to wander through parts of it that I’ve ignored and view it from a new perspective. We had such a good time, I thought I would share my method for introducing a tourist to Dublin the right way - in just a day, at a slow pace, and avoiding the most touristy attractions. So, here are my tips for showing a friend around Dublin on a nice, easy, autumn Saturday!
1. Take them out for an Irish breakfast.
You just have to do it. And in my case, you especially have to do it when neither you nor your friend like Guinness but you’re eager to enjoy some traditional Irish cuisine. Payton and I started our morning in a cozy cafe in Temple Bar for a full Irish breakfast. An Irish breakfast, basically the same as an English breakfast, contains varying combinations of beans, fried eggs, bacon, sausage, black and white pudding, toast or soda bread, potatoes in some form, and sometimes tomatoes and mushrooms. When I first got to Ireland, I didn’t think I would enjoy such savory foods in the morning, but now, I think I might bring the beans for breakfast tradition back home with me! Just maybe not the pudding…
2. Explain that Temple Bar is Not a Pub
Temple Bar is, in fact, an area of Dublin where all the American tourists go. It’s crowded, overpriced, and raucous, but I had to take Payton through it at least once, even if only for the Instagram opportunity. Temple Bar does contain a pub called the Temple Bar which is looking particularly caption-worthy at the moment, as it’s all decked out for the holidays.
3. Wander into Trinity College on Open Day
I planned for Payton and me to take a casual walk through the gorgeous Trinity College campus and maybe pop into its stunning library for a bit, but our plans were interrupted by Open Day, which when potential students visit the university and register for courses. Although this meant the campus was crawling with high school seniors, it also meant that many of the buildings which are usually closed to the public were open for us to explore. While we were sad the line for the library was too long for us to handle, we enjoyed wandering the beautiful halls and picturing ourselves studying in the very same place where Oscar Wilde once sassed his contemporaries.
4. Hit Up All of the Best Parks and Maybe a Museum!
Inspired by our musings of Wilde in his natural habitat, Payton and I took off for Merrion Square to pay him a visit. Well, his statue at least. This monument in the Georgian area of Dublin is one of my favorite historical landmarks, maybe ever. There’s just something so nonchalant and so very Oscar Wilde about his slump on the rock, it’s as though he’s looking down at all of the passersby with mild disgust for all eternity. From this spot in Merrion Square, you can also see Wilde’s apartment just across the road.
Once we had sufficiently caught up with Oscar, we stumbled upon the National Museum of Natural History, which I had not visited before. It is essentially a taxidermy zoo, full of exotic (dead) animals from all around the world. It sounds morbid, but it was actually a great way to spend an afternoon! Plus, I technically got to see a few animals I had never seen in person before, like a panda and a three-toed sloth. Once we’d had enough of dead animals, we ran into some live ones at St. Stephen’s Green, which was swarming with seagulls, ducks, and swans, and painted in beautiful fall colors.
5. Make a Quick Shopping Trip
Hey, I was in need of a new dress, and Payton wanted to see the shops. What more can I say.
6. Stop for Tea and Scones at Ireland’s Most Fancy Bakery
Well, that’s what Queen of Tarts is to me, anyway. This little tea room and bakery is one of my favorite places to grab a treat in Dublin, and it’s a frequent after-class pick-me-up for many of my classmates. Payton and I met up with a few of her friends from her home college there and enjoyed scrumptious scones served with yummy Irish butter (it’s just better than the American kind!), whipped cream, and raspberry jam, as well as tea from a fancy cup, of course. It was a marvelous little tea party.
7. Finally, Hit Up Grafton Street
Grafton Street at Christmastime is the perfect place to take in pub culture and the Christmas spirit all at once. The shop displays are lit up and decked out with dazzling festive scenes, bright sparkling lights hover overhead, and even the buskers on the sidewalk sound just a little more magical this time of year. I absolutely love it. Plus, the lively pubs in the area are even more welcoming with their magnificent decor. It’s something you just can’t miss.
If any of you are planning a trip to Dublin soon, I hope these little tips will make your trip a little easier. If not, I hope this gave you an idea of how much fun it was for me to introduce one of my very best friends to my city. What a special day it was!
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<p>Hey there! My name is Caroline Norton, and I am a junior at Texas Christian University with a huge passion for theatre! My favorite sweet snack is frosted circus animal cookies, I have never been to Ireland before, and I kind of believe I am a 40-year-old woman trapped inside a 19-year-old's body. I love to bring stories to life whenever I can whether it be through acting, writing, singing, or any other form of artistic expression, and nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfillment than creating something artistic for others to enjoy.</p>