** Quick Note: This trip was taken in 2007, photographed with an 8 megapixel point and shoot camera, and written from the perspective of a 22 year old who had never blogged before. Enjoy a teensy bit of Dublin & Howth :) **
On Backpacking In Europe: In the months prior to taking this trip, I did some serious planning. I spent weeks in the cafe at Barnes and Noble reading and taking notes on every city I wanted to visit. I looked at all of the pictures, made a list of all of the “top sights to see” in each city, wrote down key phrases in each language, and even figured out all of the exchange rates. Those who know me in “real life” know that I can sometimes exhibit OCD-like characteristics when it comes to making a plan. I am the girl who used to have a timeline written out in a journal for the way my life was supposed to play out. I love charts and checklists. I have been adding to my list of “things-to-do-before-I-die” long before there was a movie-inspired name for such lists.
However, as much as I like a good plan, those who have travelled with me know that I never stick to an itinerary. Traveling would be boring if you knew exactly what you were going to see, and trips would be severely limited if you weren’t up for changing them when another opportunity rolled around. There were places on my itinerary that we never got close to seeing and places that I hadn’t come across in my research that became some of my favorite stops. And as much as I wanted to maximize every minute of those two months, there were afternoons that I needed to sit in a little cafe or pub and just stop, breathe and soak it in.
Dublin was the first stop on this trip. We had originally planned to fly into London, but flights into Dublin were significantly cheaper and it also allowed us to start as far north as we planned to visit and work our way south. I would suggest a route like this for anyone who is planning a trip for the time of year that we did (September- November). If you are moving North it just gets too cold- for me at least. Since this trip, I have learned that when you land in Europe you must keep yourself awake until that evening. No naps. But on this trip we didn’t follow that all-important rule. We took a nap when we landed and woke up about two hours later to wander the city and find fish and chips and Guinness. (I would recommend a rewrite to that song… I could easily give up the vinegar and trade it for a pint.)
We walked around the general vicinity of our hostel: Globetrotters Inn (not one of my recommended stays) taking pictures and basking in the knowledge that our highly anticipated trip had actually begun. The next morning we had a full Irish breakfast at Cafe Kylmore and went out to Trinity College where we watched a tennis match on a grass court for a bit.
Then we crossed the Liffey River and headed over to St. Stephen’s Green. We walked through the park, stopped for tea and then hopped on the Dart (public transport system) and took it all the way North to a little fishing village called Howth, which we heard had the best hiking in the Dublin area. This is an example of something that wasn’t on my list but I am so glad we decided to do.
We had originally been planning on going to the National History Museum and the Dublin Castle that afternoon, but the hike was recommended, and became one of the highlights of our trip. You will get amazing views of the Howth harbor from the cliffs behind it as you hike up the mountain. There is also a gorgeous lighthouse that made for some incredible pictures. It’s a long hike, and I remember Matt saying, “If there is not a bar at the top of this hill, I am turning around and going home.” Luckily for him, it’s Ireland, and you can find a pub just about anywhere (including the top of the hill in Howth).
Another area we enjoyed was Temple Bar, which is a long cobbled street full of restaurants, pubs and cute shops. If you start at Christ Church Cathedral and walk to the Bank of Ireland you will get to take in this whole district.
We didn’t have nearly enough time in Dublin, partly because we knew that we would be coming back at the end of our trip, and partly because we just didn’t know to properly allot enough time. We learned as we continued not to book anything in advance in case you decide you need an extra day here or there. I know this stresses some people out to no end, but luckily Matt and I were both comfortable doing things somewhat spontaneously.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.