Saturday, March 28, 2015

Week 1 In Dublin: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Americans

My knight in shining armor! Dublin
Greetings! It's been such a long time since I posted anything, but I've been moving all around Dublin bouncing from hostel to hostel while I find somewhere permanent to live. 
As I muddle through my second week of being an expat, I thought I would update you on some of my experiences and let you know what I've been up share some pictures!

Week 1
So, I arrived on St. Patrick's Day, which may or may not have been the wisest choice since the buses were delayed/rerouted and the streets clogged with people. I honestly didn't have that great a day, lugging my suitcase to my first hostel (Abigail's Hostel on Aston, it's a great place by the way!) I passed out on the couch in the lounge while I was waiting to check in to my room...and slept through the parade! As in, the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin. Out cold, I was. 

Anyway, after I came to, it's been all go-go-go. I'm getting used to some Irish/European things, like the euro, and I'm getting a better sense of direction (aided at times by Google Maps).  Also, I've been moving around hostels quite a bit (thanks to the apartment search not going as well as I'd like) so I'm getting to know the city, the landmarks, the good parts, the bad parts, etc. 

I've stayed at 3 hostels so far: Abigail's on Aston Quay (pronounce "Key"), Abraham's Hostel on Gardinier Street, and Barnacles in Temple Bar. All have been highly satisfactory, each one offering up your basic hostel amenities (free breakfast, OK beds, wi-fi). 

Abigail's is great because it had a wonderful lounge/common room/kitchen. The rooms were spacious and the location is great. There's a Super-Valu right next door, which is where I discovered my newest obsession: Bourbon Biscuits. Seriously. Google them. These little chocolate biscuits are addictive. 

My second hostel was Abraham's Hostel, which, situated in a less-classy neighborhood, is still a great place. I felt like this place was the real "hostel experience." Tucked into all floors of a renovated building, you wind your way throughout to get to your room and to the breakfast room, which can wind up being a fun adventure when you lose your way! It was in Abraham's where I met Jessica, a really fun girl from Oregon solo-backpacking through Europe and stopping in Ireland for a few days. She and I instantly hit it off and within a few hours we were off to Temple Bar to re-visit one of my favorite pubs!

Stephen James, live at The Old Storehouse
This brings me to Stephen James. If you go to Dublin, you need to go to the Old Storehouse on Crown Alley in Temple Bar and hear him play. He's great, and I don't say that about just anyone. I first heard him play at the Old Storehouse my first time in Dublin in 2012, my friends and I bought his CD and I've had it playing on my computer ever since. He's a unique artist, playing both Irish folk tunes ("Wild Rover", being my favorite) with his own unique cover of contemporary favorites (like "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran) and older classics ("Brown Eyed Girl" among others. 

Over the next few days, Jessica and I wandered around Dublin. We found ourselves at Dublin Castle, which is where I found my knight in shining armor (I named him Henry) and took some really great photos. 

To take a really intensive tour of Dublin Castle, you have to pay for admission, but even without admission you can wander around the courtyard and the gift shop, and don't forget to take your selfie with Henry!

Jessica and I also went on (part of) a walking tour of the city, which was really educational, giving us a good background into the history of the city and some bits of culture that might be missed otherwise. Our guide even gave a glimpse into what real Irish, or Gaelic, sounds like...and let me tell you, it is not phonetic!

Next, I took Jessica St. Stephen's Green. As you know per a previous post, this is my favorite place in all of Dublin. The first few days in Dublin were spent here, sitting on a bench, reading Maeve Binchy's "Scarlet Feather," which takes place in Dublin and mentions St. Stephens.  I'm not going to lie, my first few days in Dublin were rough, just getting settled in, but after I went to St. Stephen's Green, I started to believe that everything was truly going to be okay, and that everything would work out. And I think it had a similar effect on Jessica, who hadn't been a fan of Dublin when she arrived. A little stroll through St. Stephen's and everything is okay, that's the power of the place, and that's why I go so often. So, if you're in Dublin, you might see me sitting on a bench, I'll be reading a Maeve Binchy book. 

Sadly (for me, not for her) Jessica departed for Scotland and I moved to Barnacle's Hostel in Temple Bar, which, if you want a great location, you can't get better than right there. It is literally a 30 second walk to THE Temple Bar, and a minute walk to The Old Storehouse. In Barnacles I met the three nicest Canadian girls, all backpacking around Europe for a few months. They were great fun, making me feel really comfortable and not making a huge ruckus when they came in at night (it's hard enough to sleep in hostels without your roommates coming in like the Huns attacking). I really loved getting to know them, and I was just a little bit jealous of them having friends to travel with (having just said goodbye to Jessica a few days before).  We're all friends on Facebook now, and I can't wait to follow them on their travels!

On the Working Holiday business side of things, it took nearly 7 hours sitting at the Guarda Office but I officially have my work authorization! And I've started the process to get a PPS number (for taxes) and should get one within a few days. Slowly but surely I'm making it!

On the downside, I still have not found a place to live permanently, though I am looking like crazy. I have lost one umbrella (I replaced it for 5 euro at Penney's), one wheel has fallen off my suitcase, which means I'm basically dragging my belongings behind me (I may be looking for a cheap replacement here soon if I have to move to many more places). On the bright side, my legs are becoming super ripped with all this walking and dragging suitcases around. 

I did have one encounter with the "Ugly Americans," as I call them, at my firs hostel. A group of American girls on St. Patrick's Day. They came equipped dressed in green, complete with faces painted with shamrocks and their own individual bottles of Smirnoff. They showed little remorse when one of them sat on my cereal bowl at breakfast and smashed it onto the floor.

This brings me to an issue I've noticed that I want to point out, and this applies to my American readers, don't be THAT American traveler, please. Yes, Ireland has a history of drinking and having a good time, but, that being said, there is more to Ireland than beer and the pubs. Ireland is full of wonderful people, full of amazing architecture and stunning sights. It's alright to go out and have a good time, but I notice the more I'm here that it's the Americans, in all their loud and neon-colored-clothing glory, that are the loud ones, the ones breaking things. So don't be like that. Appreciate Ireland, all 100% of it, and respect it. 

That's all for now, thanks for being so patient! Hopefully by my next post I will have a place to live and some more exciting news!

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook at and on Twitter @calleysofalley. 

At the Disney Store on Grafton Street

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