I’m lucky enough to say that I got to spend my 21st birthday in Dublin, Ireland. Though 21 isn’t the huge landmark that it is back in the states, it was still an endlessly lovely day.
We started out by eating at my absolute favorite spot here in Dublin: Happy Food. Nestled in an alley off Camden Street, it boasts a menu of completely vegan food, the already hip ambiance made even cooler by the adjoining yoga studio in the back. Eating at Happy Food always puts me in a good mood, more than living up to its name. We ate leisurely, sipping at our quintessentially green smoothies and munching on our plates filled with tofu in all its various forms. The sun called to us, this past weekend having been filled with exceptionally beautiful weather, and we decided to spend the rest of the day outdoors.
Next stop for the day was Phoenix Park. This veritable oasis at the edge of the city center has quickly become my favorite spot in Dublin. Whenever I find myself with a few spare hours I wander over to the park, the one-hour trek worth it every minute of the way. Boasting an impressive 7 km² area, and claiming the title of the largest enclosed park in Europe, Phoenix Park brings you to some sort of in-between land, miles of rolling green fields in the middle of the largest city in Ireland. You can wander for hours in there, finding forests and fields, children playing and geese squawking. It is a beautiful spot for people watching and writing, two of my favorite activities.
But what makes this place truly special for me is one of its fellow patrons: the deer. They wander freely in here, any visitor being able to find dozens of them throughout the park. I love all animals, but deer have a special place in my heart. To share this space with them makes this pilgrimage even more special to me.
And so I decided it would make it my perfect day in Dublin if we could go to this park. We packed our bags to the brim with blankets and books and snacks, setting up camp at the top of a hill. Lots of other people had the same idea, the hill speckled with people like bunches of daisies. We listened to music, napped in the sun, and altogether soaked up the beauty and peace of mind that this place always brings.
With the sun hanging low and my face splashed with a new patch of freckles, we walked back home. Next up that night was dinner, and we opted for Kokoro Ramen Bar, a restaurant I’d crossed by on Grafton many times and always wanted to go into. The vibe in there was, again, endlessly cool, the lighting low and the rooms filled with modern Japanese décor. We got, of course, ramen, and I opted for a glass of Prosecco to make my mom proud.
At the end of the day, I could barely even believe that I had spent my birthday nearly 4,000 miles away from home. It was a day filled with amazing people in a beautiful city that I can genuinely say feels like home. I felt indescribably lucky all throughout the day to be able to say that I spent my 21st birthday in Dublin, Ireland, and it gave me perspective on how amazing of a journey I am on. My birthday was a cause for celebration, but it’s also a bit bittersweet; it means that I’m about one month away from leaving Ireland and heading back to the states. I want to grasp every day like I did on my birthday, filling it with things that really make me remember why I love Dublin so much. I won’t be able to stroll to my favorite park or restaurant for much longer; it’s becoming more and more apparent that I really can’t take even one minute for granted in this place that I love so much.
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<p>I am a junior English major at Illinois Wesleyan University studying in Dublin, Ireland. I love the rain, which is a good thing, since it never stops here. You can find me sitting in a café reading Sylvia Plath in my down time, as any good English major would. Poetry, the sea, and finding the best ice cream in any given location are just a few of my passions.</p>