I think it’s a fool’s errand to try and paint traveling as always peachy keen. Sure, you’ve planned every possible aspect of your trip. It’s the early summer in the Northern Hemisphere so you’ve obviously planned for a lot of outdoor activities. You check the weather of your upcoming destination and it’s way warmer than where you are, so you consequently pack more summer clothes than you probably should have. You are doing all of this because you are attending a music festival in lovely Dublin, Ireland. You get there, with your plans already memorised in your head, and it starts to rain. I mean, it’s raining cats and dogs. I mean, it’s flooding.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t Ireland infamous for all the rain? Isn’t that why it’s so GREEN? Yeah, well, I didn’t think it was going to be raining 24/7 in June.
You can’t control the weather (you probably knew that), but you CAN work around it and therefore embrace it (bear with me for a moment). So, here are my 6 steps to handling a music festival weekend in Dublin on the rainiest weekend in the history of rain.
Step 1: Pub It Up
I mean, is there really a better activity than pub crawling? Years ago my study abroad director took the group to a really great pub and I was determined to take Victor there myself. It’s called the Hairy Lemon and it is so adorably Irish, yet not at the same time. It is a really quirky place, but also feels as Irish as ever.
The Hairy Lemon is named after a very unlikely character. Here is the story of the Hairy Lemon:
Hairy Lemon was one of the most famous of all Dublin characters and more than likely got his name from his odd appearance. His face was lemon shaped with the complexion of his skin akin to that particular fruit and stubble of hair resembling that which grows on a gooseberry. Hairy was to be seen roaming the streets catching stray dogs for the police during the nineteen forties. He died in the fifties.
We opted to have lunch here. They have lots of great options for meat-lovers. Inevitably there are some great Irish dishes available, like Beef and Guinness Pie, Irish Stew, and Bacon and Cabbage. There’s fish, pasta, and burgers too. There’s also Thai food because why wouldn’t that make sense? I’ve come to learn that many pubs in the UK and Ireland are Thai restaurants. Go figure.
I was quite limited, but I had the Goats Cheese Salad. It soon became a funny tradition because everywhere I went in Dublin there was this exact same salad. Is goat cheese a very popular fad at the moment? It definitely seemed like it. Victor got one of the pies, and we both got some Guinness. For dessert I got something that I remember getting so many years ago: Guinness Chocolate Mousse. It is Guinness infused chocolate mousse–need I say more?
In the evening we pub hopped through the downtown area (with on and off rain). It is really not too bad if you have an umbrella, but I wouldn’t stay out walking for long. When it rains in Ireland, it RAINS.
Step 2: Go to Jail
Another incredible thing I wanted to visit again for the sake of Victor was the Kilmainham Gaol. It is one of favourite ‘attractions’ in Dublin. It carries with it a lot of emotion and history, and you cannot help but connect with such a heartbreaking story. The jail (gaol) represents a lot of things for Ireland. To many it is a sacred place, a place of tragedy, hope, and resistance.
For those of you who perhaps are not informed on Irish history, many of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were jailed and executed by the British here. The Easter Rising was the independence movement of Ireland, seeking to end British rule.
Step 3: Drink Guinness All Day
Okay, maybe not all day, but heading to the Guinness Factory is a great way to spend a rainy day. Reminiscent of a theme park, the Guinness Factory pulls out all its gizmos and gadgets to put on a fantastic show. Everything is interactive and larger than life.
Learning how to pour a glass of Guinness is a pretty neat adventure in itself. I am proud to say I poured by glass of Guinness with ease and somewhere there is a hilarious video of me pouring it with a face saying ‘hm, not bad’. Inevitably it poured the entire stay, so we took our time in this ginormous museum/theme park/factory/who knows what to call it.
Step 4: Go to the Indoor Concert
Before this trip, I had just finished my first year of university and I had just gotten back from a girls trip to Mallorca. I slept in my flat and the very next morning flew off to Dublin with Victor. Our main purpose for the trip was the Bulmers Forbidden Fruit Festival. We actually were not there to do the whole shindig. We mainly wanted to see Bon Iver, the final act of the festival. After spending the day exploring (indoor) attractions in Dublin, we headed to the festival in the pouring rain.
And, as luck would have it, Flying Lotus was playing in the covered tent! Huzzah! Flying Lotus put on a great show. Not only is his music epic, but so are his visual effects.
And just like I decided to go to the indoor concert… half of that step is not going to the outdoor one. Bon Iver was playing on the outdoor stage and it was raining cats and dogs. I was also shivering because the temperature had dropped and I was soaked. We bought pretty much all the Bon Iver merchandise we could. I got a t-shirt and a beanie hat. It was definitely better, but at some point we just had to call it quits. I heard Bon Iver in the distance thank everyone for standing in the rain. We lasted about 30 minutes before it all became too much. Sometimes you just need to cut your losses and move on.
Step 5: Get Cultured
When I first visited Dublin in 2014, it was a bit chaotic. It was St Patrick’s Day and the whole day was turned upside down. Our programme director ended up not making it on the bus with us from Belfast to Dublin. Even more distressing was the fact that only me and my friend Rosie made it on the bus! We traveled alone to Dublin with no knowledge of where to go and how to get around. We also had no idea how our other study abroad buddies were going to find us in the chaos of green all around. Once things calmed down, we started making a plan. There was actually only one thing I wanted to do that day which was see the Book of Kells because it is free to visit on St. Patrick’s Day! Needless to say, that did not happen, but when I visited Dublin this time around, I made sure to make it my priority.
It was incredible to see. One of the folios on display was Folio 202v The Temptation of Christ. You are not allowed to take photos, but here’s a photo from wikipedia so you can see what sort of page you might be able to see!
Of course the Book of Kells is within the gorgeous Trinity College Library. Can I have one of these when I grow up?
The sun actually came out for a couple hours at this point so we got to explore the rest of Trinity College. It is a beautiful campus and it was interesting watching all the prospective students and their parents going on tours. Brings back memories of when I was doing the exact same thing back in the US.
Victor and I did not want to spend too much time in museums since our stay was so short, but there was one thing I needed to show him: the Bog Bodies. The National Museum of Ireland has a couple branches and the right one is the Archaeology branch. The Bog Bodies are a part of an exhibit titled Kingship and Sacrifice. It is about the Iron Age and the ‘stars’ of the show are these human remans that were preserved in bogs. This may not be for the faint of heart, but it is absolutely incredible. YOU ARE FOREWARNED.
We moved to something a bit more lighthearted: St Patrick’s Cathedral. I figured that it is kind of important as St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. It is interesting because I’ve always thought of St. Patrick as a Catholic Saint, but no he is important in many strings of Christianity. In fact, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland–an Anglican church! One of the most famous dean’s of the church was Jonathon Swift–Gulliver’s Travels anyone?
Step 6: Wait for the Sun to Come Out
If you’re lucky enough, and you’re staying multiple days, the sun will come out eventually. It cannot rain forever. This rang true for us, as our final morning in Dublin woke us up with sunshine all around.
I immediately planned for all outdoor activities to take advantage of this good fortune. We headed to Merrion Square, the of the Oscar Wilde statue, and St. Stephen’s Green. Both areas were luminous and so green. We walked around for hours warming up and watching all of Dublin come alive in such sunny weather. It is truly amazing what some sunshine can do for people.
We ended our trip with one last visit to a pub, but not just any pub: the oldest pub in Ireland! The Brazen Head has been around since 1198! Are you reading that right?! Yes! You can just imagine how many people have gone through this pub. All the writers, revolutionaries, and regular folk like you and me. And of course I had a pint of Guinness.
And that summarises my trip to Dublin! I had a great time despite the uncooperative weather conditions. Up next: back to talking about Cairo!