June 18, 2017: On Grafton Street (right outside of the bar)

I arrived in Dublin ahead of schedule close to five in the morning. The time difference was the first most jarring thing, followed by my complete isolation and inability to use my cellphone now that I was in a new country. I couldn’t let anyone know I had landed until we were in the airport and through customs. By then, Dublin Airport’s free Wi-Fi kicked in, and I let my family know I had arrived.

Customs was incredibly simple, and nothing was as satisfying as getting that stamp on my passport and being sent through the gate to the baggage claim.

I didn’t lose my luggage, which was another mercy. It was my biggest fear that my bag would just go missing (that is my stroke of luck after all), but nothing happened and I was thankfully all right.

Cameron’s plane arrived just minutes after mine, and we met at the baggage claim. Together, we hiked across the outside of the airport, and I definitely stumbled off the escalator and bruised my foot. We found our way to the shuttle and were driven the ten minutes to the Clayton Hotel.

I’d like to say a few words about the hotel. First off, it is absolutely stunning. The interior is classy and fairly formal. As soon as you walk in, there is an Italian pastry and coffee stand, a restaurant, and a bar. It is clean and bright and beautiful. Best of all, though, is the staff. When Cameron and I arrived, he easily was able to change my reservation from one person to two and gave us an incredibly early check-in. We were able to go straight to the room, shower off the plane air, and sleep for a little while. Shout out to them for being awesome, and I definitely recommend if you are staying in Dublin at all.

After our brief nap (after which I felt remarkably well rested), it was time to hit the town. After a surprisingly short and expensive cab ride, Cameron and I found ourselves on Grafton street, taking in the sights and sounds of Ireland. The street performers were wonderful, as were the small cafes and shops.

A photo of me standing on Grafton Street.

We stopped at a little place called Bailey’s off Grafton and had lunch. I ordered a Caesar salad, and it was just about the freshest thing I have ever tasted. We then visited St. Stephen’s Green and enjoyed the peaceful breeziness of the park, walked the bridge over the river Liffey, and of course, visited Temple Bar.

We knew we were in Europe by the colorful and quaint buildings!

That was definitely the highlight of the day. Temple Bar, though a tourist trap by nature, was so much fun. There, I had my first taste of Guinness (not my favorite, but I’m glad I did). As we were sitting, enjoying our pints, a group got up and began to play traditional Irish music. Cameron and I about melted; we both really love Irish music and feel a deep connection to it.

We were approached by a group and asked if they could sit with us. Turns out, two of them were from St. Louis, like me, and knew people I knew from high school and elementary school. We had a great time with them, listening to music and enjoying a slow afternoon.

The last thing we did for the day was stop by Celtic Cookies, a little cookie shop near Temple Bar. I got a Kinder cookie, and it was as amazing as it sounds. We didn’t stop for dinner, electing instead to have snacks in the hotel room and turn in early. It was hard to believe everything we accomplished in just one day.

Dublin is a lovely city, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. The hustle and bustle reminded me of New York City, and I was definitely not as comfortable as I thought I would be. I’m glad I was able to visit and know I will be back by the end of the trip. But my heart was set on Galway, and Dublin just wasn’t quite what I had expected.

We were scheduled to meet the tour group early the next morning back at the airport for more adventures before finally making our way to Galway, where I knew my journey would truly begin.

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