During a recent trip to Dublin just before Christmas, my sister and I wanted to check out the Christmas lights and do a little bit of last minute shopping. I love the hustle and bustle of cities and Dublin is no exception. The streets were packed with shoppers frantically buying gifts and the crowds of pedestrians were almost impassable. The typically polite and orderly pattern of walking on the left hand side was thrown completely out the window as shoppers pushed in every direction to get to their destinations and buy more stuff. It was a little annoying since we were there to stroll around, but the small cobblestone streets just weren’t big enough for the combined amounts of Dubliners and tourists swarming everywhere.
The fine mist of rain that was falling was not even worth the effort of using an umbrella because the wind was too strong. I noticed many people were wearing hats to protect their heads, but you could spot the Dubliners who didn’t even seem to be bothered by the rain… to them it was “just spitting”!
In my enthusiasm to look fashionable and keep warm, I wore my new furry hat and a bright red cashmere scarf and bundled up with multiple layers under my coat so I could stay outside all day. It turned out to be a very mild December day and I was completely overdressed. First the hat came off, then the scarf got rolled up and shoved into my bag, and finally the coat got unbuttoned. But with the amount of walking around we were doing, I was sweating!
The Powerscourt Centre is a hidden gem right in the midst of everything. We browsed around the boutiques and then stopped for a cup of tea in the central cafe. There was a live singer and pianist performing and there were fairy lights hanging from the ceilings and on every banister. It was such a relaxing atmosphere and it was so nice to get away from the crowds for a moment.
We paid a visit to Christmas Wonderland in the ultra fancy department store, Brown Thomas. Despite the crowds of women fawning over the latest Michael Kors bag and the lines of flustered men trying to pick the right perfume for their girlfriend, I was entranced by each level of the store and the ornate but classy decorations on every possible surface. As the escalator brought me up to the shoe department, the first thing I saw was a beautifully dressed mannequin inside a large globe that looked like snow was falling. My favorite floor was the children’s toys and clothes where there were three large robotic bears. One had skis on and looked like he had just fallen over and was stuck with his feet over his head. Another was fast asleep and even had the stomach rising and falling as if he was really breathing. It was too cute.
It’s not uncommon to see a variety of cultures competing to serve you dinner in Ireland. Obviously the Irish love their traditional shepherd’s pie, stew and champ, but they also enjoy Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican and American foods. In St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, I found an amazingly tasty, Asian fast food place called Tuk Tuk. The food is made to order in front of you and I watched as my sizzling stir fry of vegetables, chicken and spicy curry sauce was poured over basmati rice and carefully placed into a takeaway box for me to enjoy for dinner. It was delicious, very filling and cost only seven euros!
So what is the attraction to Dublin? To the rest of the world Ireland is a small, green island that is renowned and stereotyped for the forecast calling for rain every day. But people love to visit this capital city with its rich history, vibrant nightlife and the fact that it is so welcoming to people from all over the world.
Of course there are many ways to spend a day in Dublin’s fair city from: running around all the tourist spots; doing a pub crawl; shopping on Grafton Street; touring the Guinness Factory; going to a concert at the Aviva stadium or taking a stroll up the river Liffey; but I guess I really liked the simplicity of our unplanned day wandering around the high street and side streets to see what we stumbled across.