Getting into the Dublin Stride

Coming from a university in Waco, TX, it’s wonderful to experience life in a city that doesn’t require having a car to get around. The public transport system in Dublin, particularly around University College Dublin, is very robust—there are buses almost every 10 minutes from campus to the city centre. But in my opinion, the best way to explore Dublin is on foot. Walking is a great way to get some fresh air, it gives you complete freedom to explore parts of town you wouldn’t see on public transport, and (best of all for a master’s student attempting to save as much money as possible for traveling around Ireland and the U.K.) it doesn’t cost €2.50 to walk somewhere.

Sometimes, exploration can result in unintended consequences. On my first weekend, wandering around the shoreline closest to UCD seemed like an excellent idea until I realized that the edges of Dublin harbour are closer to a marsh than a beach. I am partly embarrassed and partly proud that I only abandoned my goal of getting as close to the water’s edge as possible after almost losing a shoe wading across a knee-high stream.

Now that I’ve lived in Dublin for almost two months, I’ve become much more familiar with the layout of the city. But as I discovered the weekend before last, my partial knowledge of Dublin geography doesn’t always prevent me from making the mistakes of a clueless tourist.

When two friends on a Baylor study abroad program came and visited Dublin, I offered to take them to Phoenix Park, which I had only been able to visit once before. Once we had walked around the north-eastern edge of the park for about half an hour, we came to a gated entrance which I thought would be a shortcut into the park. When one of my friends tried to open the gate, however, two security guards came out of a nearby building and informed us that this was not a park entrance but the gate to the president’s house. After apologizing with an American accent that was perhaps exaggerated, I quickly left the premises with my friends. It took an additional half hour of walking for us to find out that the viewing area for the president’s house was on the opposite side from where we had tried to enter.

Despite these mishaps, I can honestly say that seeing the sights of Dublin has been the highlight of my initial time in Ireland. Walking atop the beautiful Howth cliffs, strolling along Grafton Street, exploring the Wicklow mountains, and jogging along the Dún Laoghaire coast are experiences that have come to life from the Eyewitness Ireland book I bought in the spring—and I’m so thankful that despite a global pandemic, I’ve already been able to see so much of such a beautiful place.

P.S. The food in Dublin is amazing as well. I have to give credit to Amelia for introducing me to the vegan garlic bread pizzas at Pacino’s during one of our on-foot excursions into the city. Not a combination I expected at a pub in downtown Dublin, but a very tasty one nonetheless.

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