Goodness gracious, another few weeks has flown by again! Summer is so diverting... Anyhow, here I am finally sharing with you the last chapter of my adventures abroad in Dublin! To me, this was a perfect destination to spend our final days in Europe. One, because I am more than 50% Irish so it was kind of like going home for me (in an ancestral sort of way) and two, Irish people are just so dang nice. It's amazing the difference between London and Dublin- just a hop, skip, and a plane ride away. The vibes in Dublin were much more relaxed and down to earth than the busy, bustling city of London as we discovered our first night while eating dinner in a local pub that our hosts recommended to us. We literally had a diet of rice cakes and trail mix for the entire day so you can imagine how hungry we were, especially after such a stressful day of traveling (see previous post for more details). Traveling plus hardly having any food all day equates to eating way way too much for dinner. I decided that at least one time I had to try the closest thing possible to traditional pub food as a vegetarian could get- which I happily discovered on the menu at this particular pub called Madigan's. I highly recommend it if your ever in Dublin and you are looking for a gourmet, creative twist to traditional pub food.
Both my friend and I decided that our first day spent in Dublin should be a day trip to the small fishing village of Howth, just to get away from the city atmosphere for a while. We decided to take the longest hike possible around the peninsula, which took us about 3 hours- the scenery was beautiful. It's no wonder why they call it the Emerald Isle.
We spent walking around and goofing off in the Dublin Zoo, which just a 10 minute walk from the place we were staying. We packed a picnic lunch that we ate in the park outside the zoo and then spent three hours getting excited about all the cool animals and just being ridiculously silly.
We spent exploring the city and souvenir shopping. This included walking up and down Grafton Street, checking out the Temple Bar area, walking through the University of Dublin and St. Stephen's Green. I felt it especially necessary to get something special to remember my Irish heritage. Naturally, it took me several hours to find the perfect thing (probably because I'm too picky) but was successful by the end of the day. I am also happy to inform you that Dublin does offer vegetarian, gluten-free, and healthy food options. Not everything is corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes! Turned out that one of our hosts was a vegetarian and recommended an excellent vegetarian restaurant called Cornucopia, right in the middle of the Temple Bar area, imagine that! When we discovered that another restaurant that we were planning to go to the last night in Dublin was closed, we decided just to go back to Cornucopia a second time- know, we're just so adventurous. For our final night in Europe we decided to check out a traditional live music Irish pub called the Cobblestone Bar in the Smithfield neighborhood. There wasn't any better way to spend our last night in Europe sitting in a local bar listening to some traditional Irish music and reflecting on our travels together.
That about wraps things up! The next morning was entirely uneventful- we got to the airport in plenty of time and Hyunjae and I said a bittersweet farewell. It was a very strange feeling to finally get on the plane back to the States and realize that my European adventures were over (for now). I cannot even begin to tell you how impactful this experience was for me- from every single little thing that happened (whether good or bad) I learned an enormous amount about myself, about others, about the world. And that, my friends, is invaluable. And now I will leave you here with a few practical tips that I learned along the way that may be useful to you whenever or if ever you travel abroad.
My top 5 "Travel Takeaways"
- Plan, plan, plan (but not too much!) - Know where you're staying, and how you're getting there. Have ideas of what you would like to do but leave room for spontaneity.
- Airbnb allll the way- It's cheap and you meet some pretty cool people.
- Accept the fact that you cannot know everything that could possibly happen or go wrong, be flexible, be adaptable.
- Acknowledge that traveling is an amazing experience, yet it does come with a lot of stress and prepare for that. I've noticed that people like to romanticize traveling and they leave out all the hard stuff (which I KNOW they went through).
- Remember the 4 e's (that I just made up)- Explore, Experience, Expect the unexpected, and EAT (good food)
And most of all, make sure you stay happy and healthy!