The city was bustling with residents, tourists and myself taking in every corner of Dublin. While the day started with an eventful walking tour of The Liberties area in Dublin; adventures were lurking within the alleys.
Many students were jet-lagged, arriving in Dublin that morning, and were rushed out the doors of our hotel for a long two-hour walk through the historic The Liberties. Once back to the heated hotel, it was time for me to change into my best party frock and hit the streets.
With my handy companion and guide, Dan, we had a list of must-see bars, pubs, and restaurants. Our first adventure was to make our way to Dublin’s shopping scene, Grafton Street. In the heart of what looked like the square of Grafton Street was a street performer. Dressed in a leopard-tight wet-suit-looking thing, he gestured at gawkers to attempt to limbo under the unstable bar placed on wine bottles and poles. It was quite a scene when a drunk couple attempted and unfortunately knocked the entire display down.
On the top of our “to-do list” was purchasing a cheap pay-as-you-go phone. The cheap Samsung phone that Veraphone supplied was good enough for Dan and I, so we had finished our class assignment for the evening. Time to go on our adventure around Dublin’s pubs.
The first pub we hit first was Kehoe’s. Nestled down an alley off Grafton Street, the outside was an image any tourist would conjure of an authentic Irish pub. A hanging neon sign read “Kehoe’s Pub and Restaurant.” Already jam-packed with people, yet not even four o’clock in the afternoon, Dan and I made our way up to the second floor to see if we could find more seats and someone to serve us.
We were lucky enough to find Joe, the bartender, referring me to a dark Smithwick pint. Dan and I sat at the end of the bar, drinking our pints and watching a rugby match. Slowly the room began to fill up and a man from New York, John, who had just moved to Ireland for a job opportunity, sat next to us. As he drank his Guinness, John explained the logistics of New York sports teams with Dan who had lived in New York most of his life til recently. Our Kehoe’s adventure died as my Smithwick came to the end of my pint glass. We said good-bye to John and Joe; making our way to a new adventure in Dublin.
Next on our list was 37 Dawson Street. From the outside I could tell this place was fancy. Joe, the bartender, told us we should go here for cocktails. So, like Joe advised, I ordered an apple-tini and Dan a whiskey. On the wall across from us was a skinned zebra and human anatomy charts. The atmosphere was straight out of a Downton Abby episode and left me wondering if I was in the proper clothes to be dining at a place like this. Our waiter, though I couldn’t make out his name, was very kind but moderately young; he looked to be in his early 20s. When our check came, Dan and I wondered what the proper policy was for tipping in Dublin. While it was rude and probably not the best person to ask, we asked our waiter. He said it really depends on the guest to decide how much to tip. He said unlike in America with a common courtesy of tipping at least 10 to 20 percent, in Dublin a lot of time people do not tip at all. I decided to tip him two Euros.
With two strong drinks in me, it was time for some food. Right next to 37 Dawson Street is a French restaurant Cafe en Seine. It has a relatively cheap deal for two, so Dan ordered Irish sausages and I ordered fish and chips. With cheering going on around us for the rugby matching on the large flat screen TV, Dan and I split the two meals and casually talked about the similarities in watching sports at restaurants in America and Dublin. The atmosphere was very casual yet sophisticated, with decor and seating arrangements straight out of Paris. With food in my system and excitement for more, I checked my wallet and decided to track on.
Our final destination was Whelan’s, a pub and music venue. Dan and I decided not to pay the ten euro for the wristband to go to all the stages, but found that The Radioactive Gradma was playing right next to where we were sitting at the bar. With my sweet mixed-berry Bulmers cider, I listened to authentic Irish rock/hardcore music. Clapping and cheering for Radioactive Grandma’s final performance, I met an older bloke sitting next to me but through a peep-hole in the wall that stood between the two of us.
Michael O’Leary lives on the outskirts of Dublin and travels into the city by Dart for a few drinks and laughs in the pubs. This was the first time in ten years he had come back to Whelan’s to hear music and drink a pint of Guinness. Mr. O’Leary joked about how he his deep connections with Chicago. Anyone who knows Chicago history will recognize the last name O’Leary: Catherine and Patrick O’Leary’s cow in 1893 kicked over a lantern in their barn which, supposedly, started the great Chicago Fire. While he swears by the fifth he can’t tell if he is related to Catherine and Patrick, he jokes that he has some bad history with Chicago.
With a few more Bulmers in me, Dan and I call it an eventful night, but not before getting a slice of pizza from Toni’s Diner across from our hotel. We would end our adventure in Dublin by getting the most American piece of food in a New York-style diner with President Obama‘s face plastered on the wall next to the cashier.
It certainly was an eventful first night in Dublin, and it certainly won’t be the last. Till my next adventure, and headache!
- Hello Ireland (katherineiorio.wordpress.com)