Dublin: Museums and Backpacks and Foreigners, Oh My!

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I have spent the last three days in Dublin and I highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to visit to do so.  The city has beautiful architecture and so much history.  Three weeks would not be enough time to really get to know the wonders of this city, and I only allotted myself three days, which was long enough for a flirtation, but not enough for a long term romance.  I could see myself living her someday.  Maybe I should look into pursing a PhD at Trinity College.

I am up to three bags right now, though one is being used to hold my lunch, and with enough maneuvering I could condense my backpack and my purse into one.  A couple of things I brought with me that I could really live without and a couple things that I didn’t think I would need that I really did.  Overall the stuff I didn’t bring would have taken up more space than the stuff I did bring, so I probably would have gone without even if I had decided not to bring it with me.

One thing that I forgot that I really thought I would need, but didn’t have time to order was a three prong electrical converter.  It ended up costing me a little over 7 Euro to pick one up here in Ireland, so it was not a tragedy that I decided not to pick one up at Target before I left.  Another thing I probably should have packed but have been too cheap to buy is an ankle brace.  I managed to sprain my ankle on the first day here and have been walking around on an ankle that by all accounts should be wrapped.  Something worth noting for Americans traveling to Ireland is that you have to talk to a pharmacist to get any medicines in Ireland, so if you don’t like talking to people to get medicine, you will need to bring your Advil, Tylenol and Aleve from home.

The one thing that surprised me about Ireland is how few Irish people I actually met.  This was probably due in part to the fact that I spent most of my time in very touristy areas.  My Spanish has gotten a pretty serious workout as most of the people I have spoken to have been Italian and Brazilian, and Spanish has been our common language (English was also a sort of common language; however, most of time we spoke through a sort of Spanglish.)  It was a little surprising how quickly the Spanish I learned ten years ago came back to me.  By the time I get to Romania I will probably be more comfortable with Spanish than Romanian.

Like most large cities, Dublin has a number of homeless people.  I was approached numerous times by people asking for spare change.  Most Irish people just ignore them and keep walking.  The Irish also tend to ignore people protesting and trying to get them to sign petitions on the street.  It is really just like most cities in that regard.

Ultimately, Dubliners are used to tourists and tend to be patient, even with people who cannot tell a 1 Euro from a 2Euro.  Some may take advantage of your ignorance and I was short changed on my first day, probably because the cashier knew that I didn’t know the difference, but for the most part Dubliners are a little more stoic than Americans, but tend to be friendly and congenial people.

Overall, my impression of Dublin is that it is a beautiful and old city with a lot of history.  It is a lot safer than most US cities and I felt generally safe, although I did keep my backpack locked when I wore it around time.  I was only parted from my backpack twice, one at the National Library, where I needed to put it in a locker in order to go up to the reading room , and once this morning when I went to the pharmacy and the grocery store and it seemed ridiculous to take all my stuff with me.  So now I am off to Cork, and will hopefully write again soon.

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Ryanair

Catchy Fly Ryanair Video

I decided to fly Ryanair when I travel to Europe, but it appears that traveling this carrier will require me to be even smarter about what I bring with me.  It is apparent that they are very strict about their 55cm x 40cm x 20cm luggage limit and it can only weight 10 kg.  Challenge accepted, but I think my laptop may end up staying home…  The backpack I was going to bring with me is 47cm x 36cm x 21cm.  Unfortunately, the extra centimeter in the last dimension might force me to pick up a new bag before I go.  While I enjoy challenges, it seems like maybe I should have been smarter about picking flights.  It is one thing to try and travel with one carry on.  It is another to try and fly on Ryanair.  At least it will be an adventure.

Ireland

In my Web Graphics class we had to create a collage. This made me much more excited for my trip.

I was really excited when I found out that the cheapest flight I could take to Europe would bring me to Dublin.  Since childhood, I have wanted to see Ireland.  This was probably instilled in me by my mom, who sadly has not yet been able to go.  We would look at pictures online and she would tell me stories about how her mom’s family immigrated to the United States from Ireland.  If I ever win the lottery, she is definitely going to travel with me to Ireland.

I’ve had a little bit of trouble deciding where I want to go in Ireland.  Travelling alone is so different from traveling with other people.  I am taking certain precautions in order to be safe as a solo female traveler, but I think I am also suffering from a little bit of guilt.  For me, this trip is the opportunity of a lifetime, but it also one that I am taking alone.  I feel bad if I talk about my trip too much, which is probably good because I have so much that I need to accomplish before I leave.  As far as trip planning goes, I know I want to go to Blarney Castle, Dublin Castle, Killarney, and Trinity College.  I’m sure there are a hundred other things I should see and I’m doing some research to see if it is logistically possible.

The official Irish Tourism website (Discoverireland.com) has been really helpful in planning my trip.  I am staying for no fewer than 3 nights in Dublin, which will shape my trip.  I also am hoping to do something for the summer solstice, maybe see if I can find a Druid celebration or something.  If anyone knows of something exciting to do in or near Dublin on the Summer Solstice, let me know.  I know Cork has a midsummer festival, but it looks like that lasts longer than just June 21st, so I may try to make my way down to Cork on the 22nd or 23rd.

Hope to spend a day trying to trace my ancestry.  I know the National Archives of Ireland and Public Records office of Northern Ireland should be able to help.  I have asked my mom to pass on her genealogy records which will hopefully help my research.  I will also try to hit a number of ancient monuments and the Archaeological Museum in Dublin.  Archaeology is one of my passions and Ireland has a wealth of ancient monuments to keep me busy.  Ultimately, I think the biggest problem with my travels in Ireland is they will be far too short.

Two Weeks

I have two weeks to plan for and the only real criteria is that I have to be able to get from Dublin, Ireland to Brasov, Romania in 14 days on as close to $50 a day as possible.  So far, I have planned on 3 days in Dublin and purchased a plane ticket from Manchester to Budapest on day 10.  When and how I get from Ireland to Manchester is undecided.  As I have never had the opportunity to travel abroad, there are a lot of places I would like to go, but I have found that planning is nearly impossible if I treat this like the only time I will ever get to travel abroad.  I like to believe that this will be the first of many trips to see the world.  For this trip I hope to travel around Ireland, the UK, Romania and the city of Budapest.  So seasoned travelers, what kind of advice do you have for a first time traveler to these places.  What are some places off the beaten path I should see?

I am also struggling to get all of the items on my packing list to fit in my backpack.  The biggest problem seems to be that because I am attending a language program when I get to Romania, I need my laptop, but my laptop is old and bulky.  It severely limits what I can bring.  My ideal packing list is:

Wearing:

  • Jeans
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Shirt
  • Socks
  • Scarf
  • Bra
  • Watch
  • Cardigan (potentially tied around my waist)
Clothes:

  • Short Dress
  • Long Dress
  • 2 pair dress socks
  • 2 pair underwear
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Shorts
  • Sleep shirt
  • Swimsuit
  • Swimmers Towel
Night Pack for Hostel

  • Reading Light
  • Eye mask
  • Ear  plugs
  • Slumber Sack
Misc:

  • Laptop with Charger
  • Cellphone with European charger
  • Headphones
  • 8 pack of AA batteries
  • 1 pair of earplugs
  • Camera
  • Journal
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Contacts
  • Water bottle
  • (I should also get a electricity converter)
Toiletries:

  • Hair elastics
  • Soap
  • Conditioner
  • Insect Repellent
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Nail clippers
  • Contact solution
  • Sunscreen
  • Lotion stick
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Brush
Medicine Bag

  • Migraine Prescript
  • Antibiotics
  • Allergy Pills
  • Nose Spray

Travel Documents

  • Plane Tickets
  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • International Student ID
  • Shot Records
  • Photo Copy of Passport

If you see anything on this list that is particularly expendable, let me know.  This is actually around half the items that were on my original packing list, so I guess I have made a great improvement.  Now I just need to figure out how to get everything I need and nothing more to Europe.

Wanderlust

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Adventures

I’ve never been content to just stay in one place for too long.  It seems to me that the world is such a big place, we must be meant to see it.  In a sense, I haven’t traveled as widely as many people. I have never left the United States, but I have lived in Idaho, Indiana and Massachusetts and had adventures in states from coast to coast.  In just about a month, I will be leaving for what I hope to be my biggest adventure yet: Romania.  In embarking on this adventure; however, I have decided to make things interesting.  I will only be packing one bag, a 19.5 by 14.5 by 8.25 inch backpack.  This will be a huge challenge for me because usually I am the woman with the maximum amount of luggage allowed.  I hope that by packing light I will be able to embrace different opportunities and have adventures that I may have otherwise not been able to embrace.  Before I leave, I will post what made the cut and what didn’t.  The other catch is that I’m a graduate student, so I will be travelling with little money and will be attending language training.  I envision this as one part travel log, one part photo log, and one part adventure.  I hope that this blog not only encourages me to have more adventures, but encourages you to as well.  To have an adventure, you don’t even have to leave your city, town or village.  You just have to let yourself experience what the world has to offer.