Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day
After the wild ride that was Oktoberfest Fest, how could I not sign on with the same crew to take on St. Patrick’s day in Dublin, Ireland? That’s right, I couldn’t.
Since we booked our transit a little late in the game, we ended up taking the train from London to Dublin rather than flying because it was actually cheaper. Four hours from London to Holyhead, and then another two hours on the ferry to the port of Dublin.
Tip for technique: Don’t wear nice high heels on a 6 hour transit day trekking your way through train stations and ferry terminals. Seriously, I’m still having problems with one of my ankles from that trip.
Our first night, like moths to a flame, we inevitably found ourselves at Temple Bar. Great music, alcohol, and more Canadians than I’ve seen in one place since Canada Day. If you are looking for an authentic, Irish experience, then Temple Bar is really not the place to go. I’m not knocking it, it’s awesome, but it is a tourist spot. We partied until the early hours, got some directions back to the hostel from a statue of James Joyce on the way home, and caught a couple hours of rest before getting up to do it all again.
Day two was an exploring Dublin day. We did a walking tour with our group–Trinity College, the Temple Bar district in day light, a few other historical sites of importance.
We explored the Guinness Store house, which is part museum, part brewery tour, part bar, and part acid trip. I expected something far more like the other brewery/winery tours that I’ve been on in the past. What is really worth doing is the learning to pour a Guinness tutorial. Pour it and then drink your efforts!
Before another night out on the town, we did a supplies run for the next day. We had been advised to buy our green accessories once we arrived in Dublin, which is good advice if you’re trying to travel light. I don’t think we spent more money going for this option, though in some ways I wish I had just done all that before I left. Mostly just so I was more organized rather than making a game time decision about my look. There was one other thing I wish I had known before we arrived, and that is that you cannot drink on the street in Dublin. Well, at least you cannot do that at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. I’ve gotten used to life in London, where as long as you are not disorderly no one cares if you open a can on the street. We had bought a bunch of drinks that we couldn’t actually drink until later in hostel. I will not condone breaking the law here, I will simply say that carrying a travel mug of “coffee” is a great idea. It get’s cold out there people.
We managed to last through most of the parade the next day. Pushing crowds, cold weather, and it quite literally rained on our parade. We would spend the balance of the day in various pubs and bars. A great way to avoid the bad weather. The night ended with a stumble home and a local cop’s suggestion that we needed water and some sleep.
The next day we would catch the train to Belfast mid day. Though I was in Dublin for three days, there isn’t much I could tell you about the city. Writing this post has made me reflect on how little I truly spent getting to know the city. Though I had a good time, I think going to Dublin just for St. Patrick’s day does the city a serious disservice. I want to go back and do Dublin again at a different pace. To use it as a launch pad for other places in Ireland as well. I know there is so much more to the city than green everything and beer.
If you are going to go to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, here are some things you should know:
- Be prepared for bad weather: Don’t forget it’s still winter there. It can be really cold and really rainy. Warm layers and waterproofs are very important to keeping you comfortable while you are out exploring the city.
- Bring comfortable shoes: If you are going to the parade you will be standing for hours in the same spot. You will also do a fair amount of walking on cobblestones in the city. You need sturdy, comfortable, and waterproof shoes. Don’t cheap out, your feet will thank you for it.
- Choose your hotel carefully: The hostel we stayed in (not my choice) was the worst hostel I have ever stayed in bar none. The best places will be booked up early, so it’s worth planning in advance so that you get the kind of accommodation that will best suite you.
- Get to the parade route early: We thought we were getting there really early, and we were still at the back of the crowd. I saw most of the parade through other people’s phones because I honestly could not see past the people themselves. This will mean you’re standing for a long time though. Being there early does present a few of it’s own problems though–you will be standing in the cold for longer, and bathroom facilities are hard to come by along the parade route. Plan accordingly for both.
- Drinking culture: We were quite surprised by the fact we were not allowed to drink on the street. There were people who were being turned away by the police while on their way to the parade route. Always be respectful of local drinking rules and in all cases don’t drink until you become disorderly. You will want to carry ID with you as well, with that many tourists in the pubs, they will be checking.
- Get outside of the Temple Bar area: Temple Bar is fun, and you should definitely go there at least once. But there are other bars and pubs in the city. Some of the best times I had were in the less crowded bars outside the district.
- Have fun: no matter where you stay or where you go to drink, in all cases just have fun. There is great music, great food, and great drinks to be had in this city so go enjoy it. Meet people, no matter where they’re from. If nothing else, it will be a story to tell when you get home.