Our trip around Dublin was mercifully light. CIE Tours knew that everyone had a long journey getting to Ireland and used the day to tour around town and make those important adjustments when coming to a different country.
I have to say, when it comes to making adjustments, it’s not that hard to do in a city like Dublin. It’s like meeting a distant cousin you haven’t seen in decades. You’re a little hesitant at first, but then you quickly get comfortable and become fast friends again.
Dublin broke the ice first by showing us the wonderful architecture and artistry around it. There are wonderful ancient, stone cathedrals; classic pubs and storefronts; with modern glass high-rises intermixed for seasoning.
The bridges are one of the more unexpected treasures of Dublin. Unlike in the United States where most bridges are built for function only, Dublin had made it a point to have their bridges show artistic flair as well. While it creates a higher start-up cost, I believe it creates both pride for the residents and another reason for tourists to visit and talk about.
The streets, on the other hand are tight! They are so narrow that when compared to American roads they resemble more of our standard side streets than our boulevards.
Parking is on par with any major city and so are most of the sidewalks; except for the shopping district near Trinity College.
The area around Trinity College has made shopping easy for the students and tourists with wider sidewalks, brightly painted store fronts, and an atmosphere conductive to walking.
While not artsy, the area is art friendly. In fact, if I had to describe the area in a simple tag-line, it would be: Culturally diverse. You have the artists, the historians, the merchants, the pubs, the restaurants, the business, and the government types all mixed together without district segregation. The best part is that even with 15% unemployment, most of the storefronts were rented out and being used. Without a Wal-Mart, Costco, or Super Target to compete against, most stores economically equal and only have to compete with each other. Some might argue that it stifles the free market, but I believe the regulating against such big stores benefits the area by nurturing the small business operator and allows the city to spread part of its economy through multiple players instead of having to deal with a quasi-monopoly.
With all the food, shopping, venues, art, and museums a week spent in Dublin alone would give you a good taste of what Ireland is about. It’s well worth a visit.