I ended up setting up camp in Dublin for a bit before heading on to Galway, and on up to Northern Ireland. I didn't really know what to expect. I hadn't read a lot about Dublin, and really didn't have any expectations coming in. And, after my visit - I can't really say a lot about Dublin, positive or negative. It's a nice city, but a fairly unremarkable one.
Very, very few of the city's buildings are over five stories in height, which makes the entire place feel much smaller than it actually is. It has a nice system of old and new bridges over the river Liffey, which runs through the center of town. And, as all good European cities, Dublin sports plenty of nice side streets to get lost in. But to be honest, it left me a little empty. After being in London for a couple weeks, Dublin is a little anti-climactic. Plus, as you might expect in Ireland, it rained pretty much all the time.
On Monday, I grabbed a map and walked the city for a while. I ended up covering the majority of Dublin's center in about five hours, which I though was pretty good. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely cool things to see - many old, old churches, some early Georgian architecture, tons of little hole-in-the-wall pubs, etc.
A trip to Dublin wouldn't be complete without passing by the Jameson Irish Whiskey distillery, and of course, the infamous Guinness Brewery. The brewery was indeed impressive. Unlike some other breweries which have turned their original buildings into museums and moved their actual operations outside of town, Guinness still does all it's brewing right in the heart of Dublin. I passed by huge brick buildings labeled "Vat 8" or "Vat 12," large, glossy black wooden gates with gold lettering, old brick archways and worn cobblestone streets. I'm definitely not a huge fan of Guinness, but it was pretty cool to be there.
I also walked through the trendy Temple Bar area, home to the core of Dublin's nightlife, as well as through the courtyard of Dublin Castle, which was hosting a set of sand sculptors. Not sure what the occasion was, but they were pretty good.
In the center of Dublin stands an absolutely massive gleaming metal spire. Apparently the source of some controversy (as is all progressive architecture), it's a landmark that's hard to miss, and one that's starting to become the default icon of the city.
My visit was highlighted by the chance to catch up with a couple of lovely ladies from the Antarctica trip. Back in March, during my little voyage to the White Continent, I met a ton of cool people, including a set of girls from Ireland. Four months and half a world later, Fiona and Shirley met me out for a drink on Tuesday night. We headed to a couple of authentic Irish bars, where I of course partook in the requisite pint of Guinness. It was great to catch up with the girls, and to talk about our trip to Antarctica.
In summary, Dublin was a good place to set up home base from, but not a city I'd add to my list of must-see's. Not to say that it's a bad place, because it definitely has its charming qualities. It's just that after seeing so many cities, there are others that I might be willing to spend a bit more time in.