Some Irishmen say Dublin is not a city that reflects the true Irish mentality. "I've lived there for years before, but it's never been a home to me," said one of the Irish ladies I met on the internship. It's definitely got its touristy areas that overcharge and manufacture "authenticity," and these areas can become smokescreens for the actual intimate experience the traveler seeks. I anticipated not liking Dublin for its prices and supposed lack of charm. However, Dublin did not rub the the wrong way at all.
The capital seems to have a lot going for itself. Theaters scatter the city and definitely don't go unnoticed. The local free newspaper detailed cultural events ranging from free music and graffiti festivals outside to basement techno parties. And Dublin appears to attract a large amount of travelers who immediately take on the Irish personable nature upon getting to the little green island.
We arrived in Dublin early in the morning and quickly got to work on intern responsibilities and pressing health issues (Chris had a cough that just wasn't sounding too pretty). I sat in our hostel's common room with my laptop open, firing digital data into the universe. Within the first hour, I met two very interesting people without even trying. Sharing my power cord with a Canadian high school grad led to her recounting why she decided to take a year off to work and live in Ireland. And when the man nearby overheard me explain the details of the World Traveler Internship, we began chatting, and I eventually learned he was a fellow American on an around-the-world trip of his own. Both were incredibly willing to show me what they knew about Dublin and the world of travel.
A group of solo travelers and ourselves decided to make a night of it before the tour started in the morning. We ventured to the pub behind the hostel, which squeezed into the empty space between multiple buildings. And it was here that I tried my first pint of Guinness. I took photos. I told the bartender as if it was a monumentous occasion. I took a sip and sensed the microscopic bubbles flow down my trap. Unfortunately I was still recovering from the flu (still wondering if it was the swine...) and had no functioning taste buds, but I sensed the surprisingly smooth and creamy texture of the classic Irish stout and said, "Hey, not bad at all."
A night out in Dublin sometimes means a night amongst the streets of the Temple Bar area. This is a place I doubt Dubliners frequent, but it provides a large amount of venues for entertainment and debauchery and, most importantly, Guinness consumption. We found a bar with a band and nestled in a nook with the other French, Canadian, German, and American travelers. This was the first time on the trip traveler intermingling felt so organic.
Sometimes I forego the opportunity to submerge in the hostel world or traveler niche when traveling because I'd rather be looking for a gallery where I can chat it up with the owner or a pub where the local bartender has time to tell me the good stuff about where I am and who the locals really are. But there's true merit in speaking to the people you brush your teeth next to. We're all out there feeling like we've got a mission to accomplish, and it helps to hear about others' successes and mishaps. And sharing perceptions of a place can comfort weary bones or stale minds.
I don't think I met a single Dubliner. Maybe the Irish don't find Dublin home-like because its already packed with travelers and foreign workers. Whoever actually resides in the city though makes it an easy, fun place.