10 Things... Dublin for Beginners
Honestly, I'd probably become a blubbering mess if I was to tell you about all of the incredible, life-changing lessons I've learned over the past 5 1/2 years of living in Dublin. They've been the absolute best of my life.
But, that being said, navigating life in the Big Smoke wasn't always easy. I knew the geography of the city before moving here, and had the basics... but there were definitely a few things I wished I knew earlier. Some of which are deeply personal and philosophical*, others are more practical and can be beneficial to everyone visiting the city.
And as we're entering summer, when a lot of you will be spending time in Dublin for vacations, gigs or sporting events, I figured I'd share my words of wisdom with you all.
(*I've spared you the mushy personal experiences in hopes of avoiding an novel-length post.)
Seriously, my idea of happy hour is the hour before Marks & Spencer closes and they flog their expiring food on marked down prices. Yes, most food shops do this, but is their food as nice as M&S's?! I've actually trained my eye to spot those wonderful yellow labels from yards away. It's the skill I'm most proud of. Avoca and Fallon & Byrne are also go-tos for fancy, beautiful, usually expensive food at marked down prices. But much like everything in life, it's all about finding the right time.
When nature calls...
Ever try to pee while two girls inject heroin in the cubical next to you with the door wide open, like they really don't care who knows? It's really not a comfortable experience. So with that in mind, I'd avoid the bathrooms in Busáras, the city's central bus station. Instead, tinkle in luxury in the gorgeous bathrooms of Brown Thomas. There's usually a queue... but that's fine because it allows you to catch up on Sky News, try out some new perfumes and grab some nicely chilled water from the cooler. Totally worth the three escalators you've to use to get there.
Avoid tourist season
If you have a three hour window to get from one end of Grafton Street to the other, then great, Saturdays in summer are the ideal time to run some errands. If not, avoid the area like the plague during tourist season. The Trinity and Temple Bar areas also tend to be mayhem. Obviously great for the city, and lovely to see... but not ideal when you're in town on the regular and just need to get from A to B quickly.
When the sun shines
That yellow thing in the sky is a rare sight in Ireland, so when it's there, Dubliners make a beeline for the nearest grassy spot- often with a bag of cans in tow. I happen to live right beside one of the city's most popular spot for soaking up the sun, the Grand Canal. This is a super socialable spot. But for quiet reading, I favour green patches interspersed among housing estates around the city. And for something inbetween, you can't beat Stephen's Green.
Not saying "thank you" to the driver as you disembark the bus is frowned upon. Yes, some of the drivers are angry and impolite... but how are they ever going to change if we're not sound to them? Other things to remember when riding the city's bus service is to respect people's urban solitude (ie. don't talk them if they clearly don't want to be talked to). Give up your seat for those more in need. Don't play music without using headphones. And for the love of god, have your change counted out before the bus arrives.
Go beyond Temple Bar
Tourists, there ARE other places to see beyond Temple Bar. And country folk, there ARE other places to see beyond Coppers. If you want to see actual Dubliners in their natural environment, South William Street, Georges Street, Dawson Street and Exchequer Street are all brilliant options for dining and socialising. Not too touristy and you won't just bump into everyone you know from "back home".
Urban living isn't exactly conducive to helping the environment. You're so much more likely to create waste by eating out more often. It's so hard to pass up the temptation of grabbing coffee in your favourite cafe. But fear not! There is a great way to be a friend to the environment, save money AND be caffeinated while you do it. Get yourself a reusable cup and hit up one of the great options on this list of cafes offering discounts for using reusable cups
Lose the judgement
Dublin has a massive problem with homelessness. Tragically, you’ll find it hard to find a doorway some poor soul hasn’t bedded down in by about 11pm. There’s a stigma surrounding homeless people that isn’t justified: that they’re all bad people who did this to themselves. Well unfortunately due to sky-high rents, a mortgage crisis and mass unemployment... it’s very easy for “normal” people to lose their homes in Dublin. And not everyone has someone they can turn to, or has the circumstances you and I might have. So lose the eye rolls, tutting and judgement.
I don't drive... for a reason! Driving in Dublin City Centre is becoming increasingly challenging with more and more areas being closed off to private cars. Parking is hella expensive and difficult to find. Unless having your own car is absolutely necessary, I'd just get the bus or grab a taxi.
Learn the history as you wander
Buildings of historical interest around the city usually have a plaque on them denoting who lived there or what happened. In the city of Joyce, Wilde, Shaw and Yeats, there's always something to see.
For more updates of life in Dublin, follow my goings-on on Instagram and Twitter. I have a bit of an Insta-Stories addictions and love sharing some of the cool cafes, stores and events I visit around town.