In 2015, one of my best friends, Brittany, and I backpacked through Europe. We started in Dublin, Ireland and made ourselves East as far as Bosnia Herzegovina. A trillion laughs, more drinks, even more memories, a couple ativan, tylenol and a tonne of debt later, we both returned to Canada to “go to work for the rest of our lives” as my Dad was so keen to jokingly remind us during every skype, FaceTime, and phone call.
Little did everyone realize, I was bit hard by the travel bug and so last year, we, along with a few friends, including my sister, went back for a second kick at the can. We hit up a couple countries that we missed on our first go such as England, France, and Greece. They are some pretty serious countries to miss out on right, and we can’t go having that now can we?!
So…what I’ll do is go through the list of cities we travelled, in order of our own route, and give some suggestions of my personal favorite things to do and experience.
Ireland. Awe, how I love Ireland. The home of Joyce, Wilde and Yeats. I literally bought The Dubliners in Dublin and read it on the streets of Dublin during my visit there last year. How freaking cool is that? To sit in those streets and re-read such a masterpiece. I also purchased The Picture of Dorian Grey, even though I already had a copy…of both…
Anyway, Dublin is like Newfoundland but on crack. I am not sure how else to describe it. The pubs are blocked no matter what time of day you happen to swing by. You literally have to force yourself through the crowds of people to get to the bar to purchase a pint. And everyone is SO freaking happy. Yes, I know, what you’re thinking…Mandy, you’re in a pub for Christ sake of course everyone is happy. But I mean everyone is like extra, extra happy.
The vibe is just unreal.
Also, it can be pouring one second, to full on beautiful the next… remind you of anywhere?
I also went to Galway, and the Aran Islands, but I’ll start today with Dublin! Given that I am from Labrador, I understand when people attempt to put everything under the same geographic umbrella, so I’ll try not to do that. St. John’s doesn’t speak for the whole province of Newfoundland and Labrador, as I am sure Dublin does not for all the Counties in Ireland.
Pubs in Dublin
We went to a tonne of pubs in Temple Bar during our stay. Temple Bar is the famous place to be in Dublin. But be prepared to pay extra for a Guinness, because it is the most, obviously, touristy places of all. I can’t say there was either pub that was a let down. The Guinness Storehouse has an awesome Skybar at the top that overlooks the whole city and is quite amazing.
But the best experience of all the pubs I had was when I went off the beaten path…literally. Basically, I went to a Springsteen concert (alone) as I decided to stay an extra few days in Ireland on my own, and I simply could not, would not pass up seeing The Boss live. When the concert ended, I followed the crowd thinking everyone was heading back towards the famous Temple Bar, but somewhere along the way the crowd started to thin out, I had to pee, (from all the Guinness and Pale Ale I had consumed) and stopped into this little pub on the corner of the street.
WOW. It was like that scene from Titanic when Jack and Rose are dancing with the third-class passengers and the place is on wheels. And EVERYONE was Irish. Which is what one would like to see given they are in Ireland.
So, me being me, I hit up a conversation with a few people next to me, who asked where in the North I was from?
Where in the North?
“You’re from Belfast, yah?”
Haha. No b’y. Newfoundland!
What a fun night, and it was a Sunday! Kris Kristofferson, if you’re reading this, (haha that’s a joke guys) there was nothing in this Sunday that made the body feel alone, let me tell you that right now. So, after I finished a few more pints, I asked the bar matron whether it was safe to walk home. And was advised to get a cab. Being safe is so important. So, if you do stray off the beaten path, ask whoever is around the safest route back to your place.
The bus had stopped running, so cab it I did.
I really wish I could tell you what the name of that place was. It was like I had entered Narnia. From the outside, small bar. But on the inside. Just crazy fun. I am sure there are a tonne of places like that, so just stray off the beaten path when you decide to go!
During my first stay in Dublin we stayed at Barnacles Hostel Dublin which is right in Temple Bar. I would say it’s an excellent choice, based on the location alone. It is a hostel though. I mean, don’t take your significant other there if you’re looking for a romantic getaway. There are a bunch of bunk beds, you can decide if you want to go co-ed, or same sex rooms, and you sleep…well…nevermind, you don’t sleep, you stay out all night having a TYME! The hostel is in a prime location though. You seriously cannot beat it and the service there was phenomenal!
I liked it so much that I’ve since gone back a second and third time.
Here’s a picture of the very first friend I ever made in Europe. Lea (supposed to an accent over that e, but dunno how to do that, sorry girl) is from France, is truly amazing, and she stayed in the same hostel room as us, leaving us a postcard and a beautiful message after her departure. I was either still snoozing, or still out at that time.
Also, Lea (again with that e) paid for me to have that facepainting done. A tonne of people were getting them in the bar and I really wasn’t sure how far I was going to be able to stretch the “borrowed money” I had on hand. Moreover, was so not going to pay 7 Euro for a face painting when 6 was going to get me another beer. But Lea took a sip of her beer and said something to the effect of “fuck it, let’s get this girl a shamrock on her face.”
Go to The Hairy Lemon if you want to have some totes awesome pub food. I honestly can not say enough good about the meal I had there. And of course, again, you can get your fill of Guinness. So fill your boots!
I also really like the O’Hara Pale Ale. I went back and forth between the two, like ya would.