Leaving Windsor and ending up in Ireland was definitely a big change. Aside from the fact that there were significantly more people everywhere, there were quite a few big differences between my hometown and Dublin. Here's some of the big things I noticed that were super different!
1. POPULATION - Windsor has a population of less than 250, 000 people while Dublin has over 500, 000 people so it was definitely significantly more busy everywhere. I was astounded walking down the streets of Dublin's city center at just how many people there were. This was the definition of little fish, big pond. Seriously crazy!
2. SECURITY - Being that there were so many people in such a condensed area, there was security everywhere. Police regularly walked the streets while every business I saw had security standing by the door. Everything from clothing stores to fast food restaurants had security posted by the entrance ready to deal with situations should they arise. Despite everything being so hectic, it was nice to see that there was someone to go to if something was wrong.
4. TOURISM - Getting lost was something I became quite accustomed to the first few days I was in Dublin,. It seemed reading a map was not my strong suit so I was regularly asking people for help / directions. At Least 1 in every 3 people was a tourist because they were either lost or had no idea where I was trying to go. It was super easy to spot the tourists as well because they all had their DSLR cameras hanging from their necks, maps open, eyes wide, looking for their next spot. Depending on where I was, there were more tourists than locals! Very different from Windsor, people don't seem to visit here lol
5. DEALING WITH THE CITY'S HOMELESS - There were a great number of homeless people holding signs and shaking cups, no different than Toronto or any other large city. What I was super impressed with was that volunteers regularly set up stations around the city center offering hot drinks, food, and clothes for the city's needy. It was so nice seeing how caring they were, engaging in conversation and providing food and beverages out of their own good will. In Windsor, there are places for the homeless to go but I must admit, seeing stations set up like that throughout the city is not something I've seen here. We could learn something from Dublin!
I'll have more to share as time goes on, I am looking forward to heading back this year because there are so many things I have yet to learn about this beautiful country.
One of the places I spent the most time was the National Gallery of Ireland. It took me atleast 3 hours to make my way through the different eras of Irish art, all of which were astounding and so beautiful to witness. From the paintings themselves, to the frames that enveloped them, there was such a feeling of historical value that was hard to ignore.
I don't consider myself an art connoisseur, but it was hard to deny the beauty of each of the paintings before me. Each painting did such an excellent job of telling a story, critical to Ireland's history. As you make your way through the gallery, you'll find sculptures and paintings indicative of the era, each from an artist who has such a big story to tell. I can't tell you guys how much I was lucky enough to learn about some of Ireland's colourful history just by reading the provided descriptions of the paintings before me.
After I finished, I truly felt inspired to learn more about Ireland. I wanted to learn more about the artists whose paintings I had just spent hours admiring. Much like the museum did, the art gallery inspired my historical interest. I've always had a little interest in history but Dublin brought out this yearning to learn more about the history that moulded the country I was now staying in. Quite an awe inspiring feeling.
The National Gallery of Ireland is open Monday through Saturday, 9:15am - 5:30pm, Thursday, 9:15am to 8:30pm, and Sunday, 11 am to 5:30pm closing only on Good Friday and December 24th - 26th. The Gallery regularly hosts events that you can learn more about through their website. You can also find ways to volunteer, donate, and find more information about some of the artists featured in the gallery.
Be mindful that some of the areas of the Gallery are photography free. There are staff throughout the Gallery that can answer your questions and let you know where you can and cannot take photos.
I insist that you all take the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Ireland if you find yourself on a trip to Dublin. You may not fancy yourself an artsy fartsy type, but it will be hard to deny the awe of the Gallery and the art that is displayed within it.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND
One of the very first places I was lucky enough to visit was Dublin Castle. Located smack dab in the city center, this massive and architecturally stunning building was certainly a sight to behold. Everything about the castle screamed history, walking in and seeing the stone tower, standing in the central courtyard, and walking through the front doors, all gave me this amazing sensation. There's nothing quite like walking into a castle, being transported back throughout a colourful history full of important visits, historical wars, and exciting stories.
Dublin castle served as the seat of English, and later British rule until 1922 with the coming of Irish independence. Throughout its history, the castle has seen its share of ups and downs coinciding with crucial parts of Ireland's history. Originally constructed as a medieval fortress, the castle suffered a major fire in 1684 that severely damaged portions of the castle. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the castle was transformed into a stately palace and was utilized by Viceroys and accommodated stately visitors. Parts of the medieval and viking structures were spared the worst of the fire and are available today for visitors to see.
Some of the famous visitors to the castle include Queen Victoria, John F. Kennedy, Charles Dickens, and Queen Elizabeth. Today, the castle is used for many important purposes including the inauguration of every Irish president since 1938. There are several activities and functions held within the castle as well and it is open to the public aside from days when state activities are occurring. It continues to be one of the most architecturally inspiring parts of Georgian Dublin.
What can you expect to see when visiting Dublin castle? Whether you decide to take a guided or self guided tour, you can expect to some seriously amazing pieces of the castle's history. You can walk through the state rooms that exhibit elegance and prominently display several portraits of important figures in Ireland's history. You can expect to be enveloped in Ireland's fight for independence and stand in awe of some of the architecturally stunning aspects of the inside of the castle.
The self guided tours allow limited access to the castle so I would strongly suggest taking the guided tour. The tour guide has extensive knowledge of the historical importance of the castle and the stories they tell are quite exceptional. I thoroughly enjoyed my guided tour and would strongly recommend it to get the full, historical experience.
Dublin castle is located on Dame street, Dublin 2, right in the center of the city. It's certainly hard to miss! This is a must visit if you're visiting Dublin, worth every penny paid to step back in time and experience some of Ireland's rich history.
General Enquires - 353 1 645 8813
You can also visit their website for details of upcoming events, hours of operation, and other important information. www.dublincastle.ie
The Museum of Decorative Arts took over the Collins Barracks in 1997 when it was decided the building would be transformed into a museum. Prior to this, Collins Barracks was an operational army base for over 200 years playing an incredibly big role in Ireland's colourful history. In fact, the building supposedly holds the record for longest running operational army barracks in history.
Named after celebrated Commander in Chief of the first Irish Free Army Michael Collins, the building has a deeply rooted history in Ireland having operated during some of Ireland's most intense wars and conflicts. The building is separated into 4 squares that are built around a central courtyard named Clarke Square. The building was used to train fearless, obedient, and loyal men whose daily lives were quite strict. Depending on status, you would expect to share a room with up to 6 soldiers and be expected to cook and complete general cleaning duties like cleaning the stables or polishing boots.
The history of the building is displayed throughout with intricately designed ceilings and crown mouldings reminiscent of the time period they were constructed. The museum boasts over 150, 000 artifacts celebrating Ireland's decorative arts along with social, political, and military history. As you make your way through the building, you feel the overwhelming presence of history and can almost put yourself in the position of a soldier stationed there some 200 years prior. There's nothing like the feeling of becoming invested in the history that so proudly displays itself throughout the museum.
You have the option of taking a self guided tour for 7 euros or a guided tour for 10 euros with a tour guide knowledgeable in the history of the building. I went with the guided tour and learned of many of the buildings secrets and some of the most interesting stories that occurred within the building. Most prominently, an escape that occurred was one of the stories that most intrigued me. I strongly suggest taking the guided tour so that you may learn of some of the historically important stories involving the building and some of the people that were housed within it during its history.
On display are several pieces of original and recreated clothing articles, silverware, and weapons that were indicative of their time. There are countless displays of traditional clothing and the stories behind their time period and significance. It was truly astounding seeing some of the original uniforms and reading about what time period they were from. It was also really interesting seeing the progression of their uniforms and weaponry as you explore years of history.
Stepping back into time is an experience that I cannot compare to anything else. The museum is an amazing experience and opportunity to engage and learn a history that is quite colourful and exciting. With every step into a new room full of displays, you are once again taken back and plopped right into history that welcomes you and expects that you will take something away from the experience.
The Museum of Decorative Arts and History is open 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday and 2pm - 5 pm on Sundays. You can contact them by phone at 353 1 677 7444. If you are taking a trip to Dublin I implore you to visit the Museum. I also suggest setting aside a good portion of your day to truly engage in the experience. There are plenty of interactive displays and opportunities to learn that it would be a mistake to hurry through.
First impressions are funny, although we should never rely on a first impression as an indicator of the place you are staying, it's hard to avoid coming to your own conclusions. I think it's perfectly normal to form a first impression about a place, person, or thing, and it can be fun to challenge those impressions as time goes on.
With that being said, I'd like to share with you guys 5 of my first impressions about Dublin. It's important to note, I haven't strayed too far from the center of town, but there's so much action here that I've been able to form a bit of a first impression. Here's my 5 first impressions about Dublin!
Gosh it's been difficult without being able to update the blog! I have having withdrawals from all of you! I wanted to give y'all an update on some of the things I've been doing since I arrived!
I will update you guys when I can and I'll be sharing lots of pics and videos once I get settled into my own place and can set up my computer. I'll try to get back on here and update you guys when I can until then! Make sure you're following me everywhere to see all of my pictures and stay up to date on what's happening with me!
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Take care everyone and cheers from Dublin for now!
Can't believe the time for me to fly out has come so seemingly quickly. I believe I'm mostly ready but at the same time I've got about 100 million checklists started in my head all containing things I still need to do. Who knew planning an International move could be so overwhelming....just kidding...I was pretty much aware this was going to be a big challenge.
I've always liked to challenge myself whether through work, school, or even in my personal life. Challenges are a good way of recognizing our own potential and I'm always trying to become a better version of myself. There's always more to learn or experience and I'm finally taking my own advice as far as leaping into a massive challenge like this one. There's going to be a lot of firsts coming up for me in the next week. I spent a good portion of my life too focused on working and partying and not focused enough on life experience.
I'll be FLYING for the FIRST TIME, staying in a HOSTEL for the FIRST TIME, VISITING ANOTHER COUNTRY ALONE for the FIRST TIME, moving to ANOTHER COUNTRY for the FIRST TIME..etc The list could literally go on and on. I couldn't be more ready to start experiencing these things and really trying to engulf myself in change. I think I've stagnated so long that this sort of a change almost seems unimaginable which makes it all the more exciting.
With all of this being said, make sure WE'RE CONNECTED! I'll have plenty of posts, pictures, and videos coming up. :D
I can hardly believe I'm inching towards less than 3 weeks before I arrive in Dublin! Time has flown especially considering today is my last day of work at both jobs. It's going to be a doozy considering I'll be working from 6 am until 10 pm tonight! Nothing like going out with a bang!
A little update, I've managed to secure a volunteering opportunity with the Vegetarian Society of Ireland which I'm most excited about. I've also secured an interview with one of Ireland's longest operating Vegetarian restaurants, Cornucopia. www.cornucopia.ie/ So I have that to look forward to as well. Securing these opportunities is definitely giving me a little reassurance as far as dropping off in Ireland with absolutely no direction. It's definitely good to know that I've covered a few of my bases.
I've been in touch with a few different people in regards to renting a room and although I've yet to find a place, there's options so I'm not entirely lost. The sooner I can find a place though the better. That would be the biggest piece of this puzzle that I'd like to fit together. Knowing how crazy their rental market is, having a place secured prior to arrival would be a dream come true!
Aside from that, I've got some basic stuff to complete like purchasing luggage tags, making a few copies, and visiting with friends and family for the last time. As we wind down into the final weeks, I'm mostly looking forward to everything being so new. I'm so ready for a change / challenge and this is going to be exactly what I need!
I know I've said this a million times before, but I absolutely love to eat out. Dining out is like, my favourite thing to do. I enjoy the entire experience starting from the initial impression or the first hopeful glance at the menu to the eating and enjoying of amazing food. As much as I love to cook, there's something about tasting someone else's inspiration that is so wonderful.
Considering I'm leaving to Ireland in just over 3 weeks, I decided to pick some of the restaurants I was most looking forward to trying. Check out my list below and learn a little about the places I'm headed!
Opened in 1986, Cornucopia's focus has always been their customers, their experiences, and the fresh and delicious vegetarian menu they provide. They have an award winning menu and offer a creative and delicious (sounding) meal for breakfast or any time of the day.
They're the same age as me so that's reason enough to visit! I love the ambiance of the restaurant and it looks like such a quaint and homey restaurant to dine at.
I'm especially excited to try the zucchini, potato, and leek gratin. It's baked in pepper sauce and goat's cheese. It sounds like like paradise as far as I'm concerned.
Check out their website below!
Image from: www.cornucopia.ie/
Where has the time gone?
Last week I celebrated my going away party with my Healthy Mama's gang and had an absolute blast. I am so grateful for each and every one of them, it was truly a wonderful evening. When I got home from the party it was like reality slapped me in the face, my departure was getting super close. That party was a reminder that my time to depart was getting ever so much closer and I still have a few pre-departure things to take care of.
My hostel is booked. I will be staying at Abigail's Hostel which is very conveniently located in the city center and super close to everything I need to take care of within my first week in Dublin. I've never stayed in a hostel before but I'm hoping that nervousness aside, I'll be able to meet a few people in the same boat as I'll be in. It's definitely going to be an entirely new experience for me totally outside of my comfort zone. That's the fun of it isn't it?
As far as what's left to take care of, mostly clerical things. I need copies of all of my documents, I have a few documents I still need to print off etc. Otherwise, it's just a few last minute shopping items that I need like a raincoat and an additional adapter. I feel pretty confident that I'm on top of everything I need to be doing.
4 weeks y'all. 4 weeks and I'll be arriving in Dublin for what will be the most exciting 2 years of my life. Time flies when you're anticipating something so much!