At the start of this epic adventure, it had been nine months since the end of my study abroad in London – it’s safe to say that my time living across the pond seemed like a far off dream. With my huge pack on my back and my carry-on strapped to my front, I hopped off the coach with my parents in tow in the center of Dublin, just outside Trinity College. Being that we all had no cell service to look up maps to get us to our hotel, I navigated us to the riverfront and along to the Clarence Hotel. All three of us were a bit giddy, because Bono from U2 owns the hotel – something about being in a rockstar’s hotel felt so special for our first couple of nights into this trip. After successfully leading us through the streets from memory, my time studying abroad began to feel more like reality.
After a quick freshen up (because two flights and little sleep tends to make you feel a bit rough), we ventured out on the town. Our first stop was to the Dublin Castle, not much of a fairytale castle, but certainly stunning in its own way. The gardens directly behind the public entrance make for a nice place to gather your plans for the day while still being immersed in the city. Being Californians, we all had our flip-flops on, because after all it still was the middle of summer – of course, the weather made us look out of place. The rain that started to come down sent us looking for a nook to hide out in and grab some grub.
We found ourselves back in one of my favorite restaurants from my visit there last fall, Porterhouse Pub, to have a late meal and watch the sky blaze bright pink with the sunset. With the advice from our friends back in California, we came across the Brazen Head – Dublin’s oldest pub – for a a delightful end to our first day in Ireland. Soon after, we made our way back alongside the riverfront to the hotel and crashed after a day of travel and touring. The town was alive, since it was a Friday night, but we could barely keep our eyes open any longer when the clock hit midnight.
With the rays of sunshine coming in through our window, we woke up with a cup of coffee on our minds. Thanks to room service, we finally felt awake enough to get moving on our one day of touring around Dublin. Breakfast was found in an alleyway of Temple Bar, Queen of Tarts, a cute little bakery recommended to us by my mom’s all-knowing Rick Steve’s travel book. The day took us to the parks and places I had visited with my friends last fall, although this time around there was sunshine and a bit of heat, instead of the autumn cool winds. The last stop took us to Iveagh Gardens, a beautiful park that appears from the a side street. Last year when I came to this park, we were all tired and exhausted from a day of walking around, and this time was no different. We sat on the benches and relaxed while the locals played fetch with their dogs and enjoyed the crazy sunny day.
While my parents and I came to Ireland together, they were continuing on from Dublin on the last train of the evening to Cork, where they would begin their bike riding tour of southwestern Ireland. However, with three hours until they had to leave for the station, we decided to get on a DART train to Howth, a small peninsula on the northern point of Dublin Bay. Because we just barely missed the train to Howth, we ended up only having about forty minutes to spend in this beautiful seaside town that looks very similar to the Marina district of San Francisco.
From other travel blogs, I’ve heard of the views from the top of Howth, however we just didn’t have an extra hour to walk up the twisty and turny road – so we flagged down a taxi to do the work for us. An older gentleman named Louis was our driver, who was absolutely delighted to take us on a quick tour of Howth, pointing out all the nice homes and views. He parked up on top and told us to hike down the path a bit for the best views of the lighthouse, and of course, he was right. The lighthouse sat delicately on the end of the peninsula, while the ocean winds blew around us. Our journey soon came to an end and we rejoined Louis back at the cab before heading back to the station. It was incredibly special to show my parents around the places that I had traveled on my time abroad, but so amazing to experience something new while back in Dublin.
Just an hour later, my parents were off in a cab to the Heuston train station and I was on my own for the night in Dublin. I had a delicious meal in Bono’s restaurant, Cleaver, before indulging in the most refreshing early night, since I was off to London the very next morning. While I repacked my backpack (because a tidy backpack is much easier to sift through), I felt a bit of beginning of the trip jitters. Maybe it was the jetlag kicking in, or the fact that I was on my own for the first time in a while, but I knew that with the upcoming trip, my confidence for traveling would soon be coming back. The most cathartic way for me to deal with anxiety has always been through writing, because it’s almost like you’re expelling the weird feelings into the journal, to be left there and not bother you anymore.
Whatever the anxiety stemmed from, I was soon exhausted and ready for a restful night before continuing on to London to be reunited with the all the wonderful people I met while studying at Kings College. Looking back five weeks later, I know that anxiety can be healthy at certain points, because without it, I wouldn’t feel the need to challenge myself on adventures like this – to prove that the world, while intimidating at times, is still quite incredible. I know that with each new experience comes times of discomfort, but the days still move on and so did this adventure around the world.