Liffey @ night, Dublin New year new capital. I visited Ireland in September. The initial plan was to spend all five days in Dublin (as I did in Rome, Paris, Barcelona, and other major cities) but on the first night, I changed my mind. I was roaming the streets of Dublin. After about one hour I thought “Ok, so that was Dublin. What’s next?” There isn’t really much you can do or see in that town. You have Temple Bar, the nightlife district with a famous bar by the same name, Trinity College, the Guiness Brewery, the Old Jameson Distillery, and a few governmental buildings along River Liffey. If you are a strong walker, you can see all that within just three hours.
On the next morning, I therefore hopped an a bus to Galway where I wanted to change connections and get down to the Cliffs of Moher. I had read that they are crowded and that there are more peaceful yet similarly stunning places but those are out of reach if you are not a driver. Without the option to hire a car, you are not able to get to the farthest corners of Ireland and need to see what’s doable by bus. There are lots of direct bus connections from Dublin to the Cliffs but those organised tours usually don’t leave you much time at the final destination. So I got up super early and after a nearly four hour bus ride had a good three hours at the Cliffs. Had I booked a direct tour, I would have only had about an hour. I was able to also visit Galway and had a nice bus ride through Burren, a karst landscape. The Cliffs are indeed very crowded and I was constantly asking myself how the area must have looked without all the paved ways, walls, and gift shops. The rocks are still impressive. You don’t get to look 200 metres vertically downwards every day. Still, I was contemplating how humans changed and shaped the environment over the last 2500 years. Sometimes, less is more. Does every nice place have to be turned into a cash cow? Galway is a beautiful, quiet little city. Nothing more and nothing less. It reminded me a lot of the good times I had in England in 2003.
The day after was supposed to be rainy so the plan was to stay in Dublin and check out if there’s really nothing more to see. Well, there’s nothing more but at least I managed to take some nice photos.
On the final day before departure, I went up to Belfast. So now I can erase that from the list of capitals that are left to visit as well. I hadn’t really made any plans as to what I’d like to see. The bus ride was very smooth. It was not until I walked downtown that I realised that I was now in Great Britain. It suddenly said “pound” instead of “Euro” everywhere. It was then that I began to remember the dark past of Northern Ireland and all the bloodshed. There are no visible signs of that era left. I didn’t cross any obvious border and Belfast is a vibrant, happy city nowadays. The major selling point is obviously that Titanic was built there. I’m not sure if a sunken ship is really something to celebrate but I’m happy for the city! It was touching to see that a town which I basically only knew from the news in the 90s and a chapter in my English book on the conflict turned into such a beautiful place. It was a happy sunny day and a nice wrap up before I flew back on the next day.
I like Ireland. It seems to be a postive thinking country. You have live music everywhere and people seem to enjoy themselves. On the airport, I purchased a greatest hits record with the music of Luke Kelly, the former lead singer of the Dubliners. I still listen to it. The one song that sticks out is “The town I loved so well” written by Phil Coulter and popularised by Kelly. The “bright brand new day” has finally arrived (although the song is about (London)Derry and not Belfast)! 🙂