My sister was here this week for a mere 4 days, a very American vacation. She needed a change of scenery and was taking advantage of her spring break; I was delighted to have her around if nothing else than to work alongside each other companionably on our matching MacBook laptops. Of the 4 days she was here, 3 of them were completely consumed on my end by my job, but the fourth day (and a Saturday, the one day I week I try not to work too hard) we had set aside to do something fun.
We went to Dublin for the day.
Taking advantage of my near-London location and cheap tickets on Ryanair, we flew into Dublin first thing in the morning, had a great day, and flew back late last night. The idea had started forming in my mind when I returned from Dublin around this time last year; most of my Saturday morning flight back (after 2 nights staying in Dublin) was full of Arsenal supporters with no luggage. I realised that they were just heading over for the match and then back again in the evening. Sports tourism of sorts. This tidbit of information had been in the back of my head for the last 11 months, and a gift voucher from my parents for my recent birthday sealed the deal. Sis and I were going to see what we could do in Dublin in a day. She had never been to Ireland, I had been that one time but had neglected to bring a camera (shocking for a serious amateur photographer!) We had so much fun, and this morning she got up and left for Heathrow, Irish souvenirs in her bag and grinning from ear to ear (although both of us seem to be coming down with colds, which is unfortunate).
We did tourist things that I had not done on my previous (work-related) visit, like the Guinness brewery tour and tasting, and saw the Book of Kells. We wandered around Temple Bar–made all the more exciting by visiting Welsh rugby fans celebrating their team‘s victory against the Irish that afternoon in the Six Nations–and made sure we had a fair comparison to the Guinness by stopping off in a Murphy’s branded pub for a pint. We saw many, many interesting and fun things, and thought in the end that it really was a great city to wander around in for a day. Downtown is not terribly far from the airport, and the downtown is compact and quite walkable.
For lunch, we headed to Parnell street north of the Liffey to find Korean food. We had scoped this out in advance, realizing that being in a major city we were likely to find Korean cuisine. It was not until we were sitting at lunch that we realized we’re developing a real pattern. Two years ago, Sister had to do a work trip to outstate New York, and we had taken advantage of this trip for “sister time,” having me come along on the road trip and amusing myself during her conference and then spending a single night–less than 24 hours total–in NYC. It’s a real point of pride for me that I drove my own car through the Holland tunnel and into Manhattan–I was once a very timid and frightened thing and my post-divorce bravery has included all sorts of adventures. But I digress.
Part of our own adventure there included lunch in Koreatown, Manhattan before departing the next morning. Jump forward a year, to the first time she came to visit me here in my new UK situation, and we spent a day in central London topped off with a fantastic Korean meal. Counting Dublin, we have now three times in the past three years gone to the central district of a major world city for a very short period of time and spent a large fraction of that time seeking out and then eating Korean food. Now it will be something of a challenge to continue this trend, especially with my European address and her moving to Asia in the fall. Where will we go find Korean food next? I should note that we have ordered bibimbap at the restaurants in each of the three cities we’ve been to, so we will soon be able to make comparisons a la the Michelin guides. I should also note that although I love it, I never go out for Korean food without my sister. It’s become our special thing.
My sister and I kept discussing the fact that we loved the novelty of our day trip, and we realized that this was not as crazy as it originally seemed. People in the Bos-Wash do it all the time, and it’s also quite approachable for those of us within short reach of much of Europe. I suspect the returns start to vanish when the flight is more than an hour–Dublin from London fits this category neatly, as does London to many other places that I might try this for in the future. (Of course, my strict friend does not give a person credit for having been to a country or US state that you have not slept in, so the stakes are high… I disagree with his assessment and believe my sis has now seen Dublin and been to Ireland. The passport stamp supports this idea. A flight layover or driving through a state does not count, but a day spent in the city is clearly more valuable than a night in a generic hotel!)
Notes to travelers considering a day trip of this nature:
- Spare no expense to maximize your time in the city visited. Take a taxi into town, not the slow bus. You only have a day.
- Do your homework. Get a good guidebook and maps, know where you will start and what your plan is for moving across the city during the day. (Since the rugby match was at 1 on the east side of town, we started on the west side and worked our way back. All was made easier by the fact that I had been to Dublin once before and had some working knowledge of the local geography.)
- Don’t feel as though you have to keep moving all day. The hour we spent gabbing in the Murphy’s pub was fantastic and it invigorated us to continue our explorations.
- Buy silly souvenirs. You’ve earned it. You’re also likely in a certain income bracket if you are flitting about the world on day trips!
Sister has gone home now, unfortunately quite delayed in her return flight due to weather, but at least they did take off and touch wood she will get home happy and satisfied with her latest European adventure.