It’s been a week since I arrived home from two weeks abroad, and I’ve yet to write about the last leg of the journey: Dublin. Mea culpa. Being thrown back into normal life seems to have thrown me off-kilter slightly, but hopefully a week later I can still properly convey all those wonderful experiences packed into my last days in Ireland.
We only took one full day in Dublin, since we felt the hustle and bustle of a city under construction and 1916-centric tourism might be a bit too far from the relaxing finish we wanted to our two-week holiday (especially after Donegal and Galway). Arriving on Monday afternoon from Galway after a rainy ride on the bus (and, indeed, a rainy week thus far in Ireland, which in September should be expected by anyone vaguely familiar with the Emerald Isle), Camille and I checked into our last Airbnb in Drumcondra, north of Dublin centre, before heading out on foot to Saint Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street.
Following four days of hearty full Irish breakfasts and pub grub on the West Coast, I dove with gusto into the Chinese vegetable stir-fry with tofu and shrimps alongside veggie noodles on our first night in Dublin. Next morning, we parted ways in the city centre after breakfast at Murray’s on O’Connell Street, and I trotted off to the hallowed wooden doors of Trinity College to meet up with another old, dear friend and his wife.
Gary and Jenn welcomed me with open arms to Dublin, and we went on a grand adventure that lasted the entire day. Starting with a visit to the Book of Kells and the Long Room at Trinity so I could pay homage to the biggest research project of my undergraduate degree, we spent the day talking, laughing, and enjoying fantastic company, food, and beer.
Though we did stop in at the fabled Foggy Dew, I didn’t actually touch a single drop of Guinness (*gasp*) whilst in Ireland — and that’s because I kept up in Ireland the trend I’d started in Sweden of drinking beers that aren’t readily available in Canada. I did stick to darker beers though, from amber and brown ales to stouts and porters, and I don’t feel like I really missed out on a “proper” Guinness. Guinness is everywhere in Montreal and my favourite pub serves the best pint of it in the city, so why try comparing when there are so many good ones to try that I won’t get at home?
The final pint on this whirlwind tour of Irish beers was taken at The Black Sheep (61 Capel Street, Dublin Northside), rather late in the evening after a leisurely stroll up and down the Liffey. By the time we hugged goodnight and bid each other farewell at my Airbnb, I’d had a tour of Dublin City that most tourists don’t get. It’s the kind where old friends who are practically family take you off the beaten paths of shopping districts and group tours visiting every historical site so that you can see their city. Sure, you discover and experience new things together (excellent coffee in a boutique café or Mongolian food in the middle of the Temple Bar district, for example, or even a national treasure in Trinity College they haven’t gotten around to seeing yet) but for the most part you’ll circumvent the tourist traps and see a version of the city you won’t get on a bus tour.
But the best part of any trip that involves meeting up with lifelong friends is that not only do you arrive with a strong bond already there, you also leave with that bond reinforced to the point of it being a true bridge — a bridge that can be crossed in both directions, and a bridge that leads to a home on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. I left such a bridge between Montreal and Sweden, and now one between Montreal and Ireland joins it.
How truly wonderful it is to know that for me there’ll always be a road to Dublin that brings me over the Atlantic and the Liffey, right back to Gary and Jenn’s door.