The knack of the craic in Dublin

When most English people decide to go on holiday, they expect to end up in a destination that’s at least a few degrees latitude closer to the equator than their drizzly island, especially those who call the hectic hustle and bustle of London ‘home’.  What was I doing, therefore, booking a flight to Dublin, a city barely one hour’s flight sideward across the globe?

It was a question I would ask again when I stepped straight into a murky puddle on the airport’s tarmac, before despondently staring upwards at the pregnant grey clouds above.  I reminded myself of the vow I had made to challenge the conception that a holiday should be far, far away, a vow to prove that short haul holidays, as well as breaks in one’s own country, can be just as fulfilling as going far afield.

But this didn’t hold much promise at that moment in time.

Dublin sits in the centre of Ireland’s eastern coast, staring Wales square between the eyes across the Irish Sea, and is a drab place to be in the drizzle.  I arrived at my hotel drenched, wearing soggy shoes that squelched with each new step, along with an overwhelmingly underwhelmed facial expression.  But the receptionist caught me off guard.  ‘How fantastic it is to see you, sir!  Welcome to our wonderful city’, she said in an incomprehensibly thick Irish accent.

I was shown to a room before returning to the lounge where the receptionist sat circling the city’s main sites on a foldout map, blissfully oblivious to the unbearable dampness outside.  Eventually she sensed my bewilderment, placed her pen down and took a deep breath.  ‘There are two sides to Dublin’, she began, ‘there are the buildings, the history and the tourist sites… and then there’s the socialness, the soul, the famous Irish welcome.  Today, I think you need the second one.’

And so I headed out into the dreary grey metropolis, my task: to find a watering hole in which to absorb some of Ireland’s legendary cheer.  I was pessimistic about the whole thing; my travelling philosophy says that time should be spent thinking rather than drinking, seeing the world rather than the bottom of a pint glass.  But I didn’t have much choice.

Several hours later, I awoke in my hotel bed (not a hospital bed, for those skim-readers amongst you…), not entirely certain how I had gotten there, but knowing I had done so begrudgingly, for my evening had been a revelation, filled with wide smiles and new friendships.  The golden shafts spilling across the far wall of the room told me the weather today was much more agreeable, and that I would be able to get on with exploring Dublin.  But my mind was occupied solely with finding some more of that Irish cheer.

I did, of course, wander around Dublin, making sure I ticked off the must-sees such as Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse, but I was at all times conscious of the hour, looking forward to twilight when I could delve into the city’s festive spirit once more.

So, what did I learn from my short trip to Dublin?  1) A holiday doesn’t have to be sunny to be fun; 2) I proved you don’t have to travel far for a refreshing getaway; 3) no trip to Dublin is complete without indulging in a local social.

James Street is CEO of MyDestination.com.

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