Dublin is truly one of the most fascinating cities of the world. The juxtaposition of old and new make for a one eclectic experience. It exceeded all of my expectations and quickly became one of my top cities to visit.
Before I planned my vacation to Dublin, I did quite a bit of research. I wanted to know what to expect, as I had never travelled so far away from home.
But, what I realized is that no matter how much homework you do on a place, there really is nothing like actually visiting it for yourself. That being said, I thought it would be good idea to compile a list of things travellers should be prepared for if they are going to head to this beautiful city.
1. Stay Somewhere Central
I don’t like crowds. So, when planning my trip, I decided to stay somewhere off the beaten path. I ended up at the Clayton Hotel on Charlemont Street. The hotel had everything I needed, except it wasn’t very centrally located. If you were in a taxi, it didn’t take long to get to the action, but it still wasn’t outside my door. In the end, I regretted that because I ended up taking taxis everywhere and that quickly added up. Even though O’Connell Street, Grafton Street and the Temple Bar area are a bit congested, that really is where all the action is. I spotted a lot of nice hotels that I would try when I return to Dublin. So, my advice is, save a few bucks and stay somewhere central.
2. The Weather
Dublin’s weather is unpredictable. Visit and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I visited in September and learned a valuable lesson. Before you head out, I don’t care how sunny it is, do not leave without a sweater, scarf, weatherproof boots and an umbrella. Trust me. The weather is nuts and it loves to play games. Every day I made a conscious decision to pack a backpack with all of my items. You won’t regret it.
I love driving wherever I go, but unfortunately, in Europe most of the car rentals are manual, and I don’t know how to operate them. There are a few rental places that have automatic cars, but they are extremely expensive, at least the ones I saw. So, I decided to simply walk or take taxis everywhere. In Dublin, you won’t have a problem finding taxis. The city has more taxis than people, it seems. They’re very easy to spot as they all have the green taxi stickers on the outside of the vehicle. Most of the taxi drivers were extremely friendly and gave good tips on places to visit. But, before you decide to rely solely on taxis, here’s one thing you must know: not every taxi accepts credit cards. You absolutely need to make sure you keep a good amount of Euros on you to pay for taxis. If not, you’re going to be screwed. Also, tips are not expected. But, if your driver was excellent and super friendly, don’t be shy about giving him a nice tip. He’ll appreciate it, I’m sure.
Remember when I said taxi drivers give good tips on places to visit? Well, the very first driver who picked me up from the Dublin airport saw me gawking at an H&M store and quickly told me to about a store called Penneys. He told me that they had amazing clothes at really affordable prices. Well, silly me. I didn’t listen. Instead, I went to all of the usual American brand stores. Towards the end of my trip while in Foot Locker looking for plain white socks (they didn’t have any) a salesman told me to go a block down to Penneys. That’s when I remembered what the taxi driver had told me. I walked inside of Penneys and was completely blown away. They had everything I wanted under one roof. I felt like an absolute fool. Plus, the prices were amazing. I regretted not listening. So, please, before going anywhere else, go to Penneys first. You won’t regret it.
5. Don’t Expect The Brands You’re Used To
One of the biggest shocks for me was just how few American food products I found in Dublin. I am a big snacker, so I was hoping to find the regular chips, drinks and cookies I was accustomed to. Walk around Dublin and you’re sure to find a Centra or a Spar on most corners. They are well-stocked convenience stores that are similar to a 7-11 stores in the US. Even though they had many items, they were lacking a lot of the familiar brands I am used to. Even when I did come across the Fanta sodas or the occasional Snapple drinks, they tasted strange. I don’t know how to describe it, but they did not taste the same.
Before going to Dublin, I thought I would be among the few black people in the crowd. I was very wrong. Dublin is a bustling city with a diverse crowd. I saw a lot of young, black people, as well as Indians and other Asian people. It’s funny because every time I passed black women they would look at me with a slightly surprised look. Maybe they were shocked to see another black woman, too. Who knows. We also ran into several black taxi drivers, but they were from Africa. But, make no mistake, the majority of Dublin is made up of white Irish people. According to the stats, non-nationals only account for 21 percent.
7. Charging Up
Before my trip, I was running around like a chicken without its head looking for a European charger. I couldn’t find one in Nassau, so I had to get one from the U.S. As soon as I touched down in Dublin, I realized that I went through the extra trouble for nothing. That’s because you can find a European charger almost everywhere. Most convenience stores sell them for a decent price, so you don’t need to worry if you can’t find one or forgot it in your drawer. You’ll be fine.
8. The Cuisine
I usually enjoy trying new foods, but I have to admit, I didn’t like the traditional food in Dublin. The Irish eat a lot of stews and foods with potatoes. I suppose I have a more Americanized palate. So, after sampling different foods, I decided to stick with what I knew. While in the city, I did enjoy a few Indian restaurants and a couple pubs. There was also a wonderful restaurant called The Landmark. I had a very tasty shepherd’s pie there. While in Dublin, I also went to a movie theatre, as well as comedy club and while there, I tried the nachos. They were not good. That’s mostly because the nachos that they use are like the younger, less accomplished version of Doritos. Also be prepared for the brown bread that Irish restaurants seem to love to serve. The bread tastes good. But overall my experience was a hit or miss with the food.
9. Homelessness Is A Problem
Another thing travellers need to be prepared for is Dublin’s homeless problem. It’s nowhere on the level of California, but it is pretty bad. It was actually a very sad situation. I saw young women and men all throughout the city humbly asking for help. It’s very difficult for me to pass someone and not help them, but after a while, you run out of money. I remember being in the Temple Bar area and a young woman was on the floor in the rain with her eyes closed. I offered to buy her something to eat, but she refused. She said she had just eaten. Instead, she asked for a Coke soda. It was so cold and wet outside. I felt guilty about going back to my warm hotel. It’s just very sad. So, just be prepared.