When I die DUBLIN will be written in my heart
That is what Mr. James Joyce said about his city and, although I am not Irish, nor did I write anything comparable to “Ulysses” 🙂 I humbly agree with that quote from the bottom of my soul. There are cities in this world that fascinate you as a tourist, that bedazzle you with their many riches or charm you with their flamboyant personalities, and indeed you can indulge in all of that for some time … but, after a while, you start feeling homesick. As beautiful and as grand as they might be, such cities are not always the type of place I would see myself living in, on a daily basis. Well, Dublin is for sure not one of those cities! Indeed its packed full of culture, history and architecture, spoiled with many marvellous things to do and see and yet it is lovely and welcoming to a fault. So much so, that when returning home after a week in Dublin, when asked what my impressions were, I clearly remember saying: “That’s a city I would like to live in”.
Dublin might not always have the best weather, and even if you do see a clear blue sky, don’t bet on it, as it might change in the blink of an eye … and yet, somehow, here you don’t care. The city is so lively, so friendly and so easy going that it literally draws you out from your hotel no matter what. It was one of the few places, where I didn’t even care where I was going, as long as I was out there … anywhere … on those cobbled streets.
At the end of the day, when one thinks of Dublin, the first things that come to mind are probably Trinity College, Temple Bar and … Guinness … so basically … smart things and fun! Now you tell me, how can you go wrong with that?! 🙂
Of course, that’s not to say there are no other sights to see. On the contrary, the city is dotted with dozens of interesting museums, galleries and not to forget the wonderfully well preserved memorial houses of Dublin’s famous writers, but If I were to name my top 3, those would definitely be Christ Church Cathedral, the Dublinia Museum and, of course, Trinity College.
When entering the Cathedral I personally felt overwhelmed. Not by its size, or extremely lavish decorations, as it is a relatively sober building, but by its age. The mere thought of those walls and that space standing proud and tall for a thousand years and looking as if it was all built quite recently is stunning to say the least.
There are no Michelangelos or Da Vincis or Caravaggios to ornate its walls, nor any towering baroque angels to hold its vaults, and yet it doesn’t even really need any of that. Just take your time, slowly walking the aisles, to notice all the intricate carvings of its enclosures, its panellings and its woodwork … dignified and understated for sure … but definitely not simplistic or lacking in real artistic value.
Just across Christ Church Cathedral you can find “Dublinia”. I very rarely speak about “experience” type museums because most often I find them kind of kitchy, far too touristy and a bit too shallow in terms of what they display. I only entered Dublinia because it was so close to the Cathedral, I had just finished visiting, and because I was intrigued by the “Experience Viking and Medieval Dublin” banner. It was one heck of an experience. Not only was it not shallow in what it delivered but it actually gave me a lot of information about the city, its evolution and mostly about life in medieval times and survival in the days of those fearsome Viking raiders, things I really didn’t know about and I was so thrilled to discover. On top of everything, I was expecting a short display of poorly made and sterile wax figures and instead I was treated to quite an extensive collection of intricate and detailed scenes, presented often with a lot of smart humour, even when dealing with some macabre subjects.
It’s a beautiful 10 minutes walk from Dublinia, down Lord Edward’s Street and Dame Street to reach the famous Trinity College, just opposite the historic Houses of Parliament.
You don’t really grasp the real beauty or true vibe of the place from outside, and you might be tempted to skip it. DON’T. Just pass through the massive gate and reach its large inner courtyard and you will understand what all the hype is about with this University.
First of all it was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth the Ist. Yes … that Queen Elizabeth … and she created it as a sister college of Oxford and Cambridge.
Second, its benches gave the world 4 Noble Prize Laureats, Dracula’s father: Bram Stoker and … the one and only: Oscar Wilde.
Third, its library is a sight to behold. Boasting over 5 million books and permanently housing the famous Book of Kells, the Trinity College Library is one of those places where you stop breathing for a second, the moment you enter.
And last but not least, its damn right beautiful! With its elegant eclectic style of old and modern buildings, separated and yet linked to each other by green lawns and perfectly placed gardens, the whole enclosure of the College can very well be a museum, or a park, or a place of study … you name it. It just depends on your mood.
If you want to enjoy the place even more, book yourself on the Student Guided tour. At set intervals, very knowledgeable and very funny students of the College will take you around the University’s grounds, presenting the history, the architecture and the story of the place and will even indulge in sharing some cute moments of their lives as students of the place. The tour will end just at the entrance of the Library, which is, of course, the highlight of Trinity College.
When you’re done exploring the sights that you want, just stroll down the streets. Those red-bricked houses, mixed with so many vibrant colours will definitely lift even the most melancholic of moods
And when the sun fades and the night comes down, it actually feels as if you are yanked into a completely different city. Coming alive from behind the shadows of those historic buildings, a completely modern scene arises, as if its telling you: enough with the visiting … its fun time now! And so, the Irish capital raises to the occasion once again, with its multitude of pubs, restaurants and clubs, Dublin will show that it knows how to party the night away!
Until next time, Happy Lives and Joyful Journeys everyone!
DUBLIN ON GOOGLE MAPS (with highlights of a walking tour in Central Dublin)
Photo gallery of images in this post.