MAY 11 - 12
My trip started out on an interesting note. You could take it as good or bad luck and since I'm overwhelmingly optimistic and my destination was Ireland, I figured it could only be good luck that my flight boarded, closed its doors, and then didn't take off. The pilot announced through the speaker that there was a "problem with TSA," which is definitely not something you want to hear on an international flight.
The delay sparked a conversation with the couple sitting next to me. The man told me he's originally from South America and moved to the states just a few years ago. The woman, who appeared to be his wife, was excited to be heading to Paris, France, the two's final destination. We weren't really headed anywhere because the plane still wasn't moving.
Finally, after an hour and a half the plane took off after TSA didn't approve online boarding passes for that flight. So the passengers with online boarding passes had to print out new passes and go through security again. The whole thing had taken so long that I knew it was impossible for me to make my connection flight from Iceland to Dublin. Luckily, all the connecting flights were delayed so I made it to Dublin and so did my luggage.
In an effort to save money, I was determined to take the bus as opposed to a taxi. I knew I was supposed to take the 747 but had no idea where that was. I wandered around what felt like every square inch of the airport until I started walking on the highway in a bus lane. I didn't know that it was a bus lane until a bus came and generously honked instead of running me over because I had no idea that I was wheeling my suitcase in the actual road.
Thank goodness I quickly discovered that Irish people are incredibly kind and very helpful. I was directed to the 747 bus that took me right across the river from where I was staying. My nerves were settled a bit and I was in the moment. I was here, in Dublin, about to experience life in a whole new way. I truly had no idea the adventures that were ahead of me.
When I met up with Martin, my Airbnb host, I was pleasantly surprised by how polite he was. He took my bags and made me walk on the inside of the sidewalk. Chivalry, in a non-romantic kind of way, is really awesome. His English isn't the best and he's from Argentina but either way, he was my first friend in Dublin and a good one at that.
He lives on the top floor of his building with a terrace overlooking the city. I'm telling you, the view is unreal. I couldn't have lucked out with a better place to stay. I'm within walking distance of everything I could imagine and in a quiet, safe neighborhood.
I put my bags away and immediately headed out to explore. My 20-minute walk led me to the city's center area called Temple Bar. I was filming a lot of b-roll so when I heard live music, I knew which way I would go. I stumbled upon a local band called "Keywest" and they were fantastic. They had an indie pop kind of feel to them which is right up my alley.
I decided I should probably grab a bite to eat, considering it had been almost 24 hours since the last time I had anything. I also knew I had to drink a beer, ASAP. I chose a restaurant called Gourmet Burger Kitchen because they had outside seating and were close to the live music. The vibe felt right. I was meant to eat there.
About 30 minutes into my solo dinner, which was not awkward at all, I noticed the table in front of me sat four, twenty-something girls who didn't have Irish accents. "They must be American," I thought. So I asked them where they were from.
They were from Canada, also known as my favorite place in the world. I have no idea why, but I've always loved Canada. Needless to say, we hit it off and spent the next three hours learning about each other, our cultures, our stories, and what led us to Dublin. They each had such a unique point-of-view and experience. We pretty much became best friends in those moments and as we left to go our separate ways, agreed to hang out again before we all left the city.
It was about 8:30pm when I left and the sun was still up. I didn't realized how far north Ireland was, but the sun stays out until about 9:30-10pm. It's incredible! It gave me enough time to film a really beautiful sunset in the city.
I came back to the Airbnb and video chatted with a few friends to tell them about my day and how interesting it had been. Day one was done and couldn't have been more perfect if I had planned it myself.
I woke up feeling completely exhausted and refreshed at the same time. I think my body was tired but my soul was renewed. The world is a really scary place until you actually live in it. I had been in Dublin, alone, for less than 24 hours and wasn't afraid at all. "Be safe" was a phrase I had heard and read a lot up until that point and it made me fear the thought of traveling alone. But it isn't scary at all. In fact, I think it's something everyone should experience.
Nonetheless, I found a cute little coffee shop across the street from my apartment and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and stocked up on water for the week. My wandering that morning led me to the Dublin Castle where I met two friends from Brazil. They had an Irish flag and I thought they would be perfect for some b-roll so I asked if I could film them for a minute. We got to talking and they were really interesting. There's a lot of South Americans in Dublin - a lot. They offered to take a photo of me with their flag, which I accepted of course.
I shot a lot of footage and headed out towards the Christ Church Cathedral. It is an absolutely astounding church. I didn't spend too much time there and I don't really know why.
Later that afternoon, I had a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. Yes, it was unbelievable. I like to think of it as a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory for adults. Also, I kind of hate beer. But not there. I poured my own from the tap and it was perfect. The different floors all offer something unique and special - one is the marketing floor, hosting all the Guinness ads of years passed, another is the ingredients floor. The top floor is an overview of the city where you can enjoy your perfectly poured pint of Guinness and look at Dublin from a bird's-eye view.
I obviously had to take a photo so I asked the young girl holding a camera. She was with her parents and agreed to take my photo. We got to talking and she's a photojournalist in New York. She graduated from college the same year as I did and is really miserable at her current job. I explained a bit of my story to her and that I was filming this documentary for people just like her. She was so interested in it and expressed that this was exactly what she needed. I felt like I really helped her, but she has no idea how much she helped me.
I had been feeling pretty apathetic about this film. I'm not an expert videographer, producer, or editor. It's a passion that would be great to turn into a career, but I have a long way to go. I had been questioning if this film was worth all the time, energy, and money I've put into it or if I should just forget about it and enjoy my trip without the hassle of carrying a camera and tripod with me everywhere I go. She reminded me that it's worth it. There's people who care - who need this documentary. I just have to find them.
I left Guinness inspired. This trip had been full of right place at the right time moments and it had only been 24 hours! I knew there was something I had to film, so I headed to The Temple Bar. (If you watch my film, you'll know what footage I collected there. I don't want to spoil it so I will leave out the details.)
It had been a long day and I had walked nearly 11 miles, so I went back to the apartment to call it a night and get some rest. Until my phone rang. It was my new Canadian friends and they wanted to go out, and I couldn't say no. So I headed out to the bars, which are 18+ by the way, and my night took the most incredible turn.
We met up at a bar called Fitzgerald's and I ran into a bachelor party from London, England. After explaining what I was doing here, I exchanged numbers with my new friend Lewis, the cousin of the groom, and he offered to show me and Lauren around when we get to London. I know... right place, right time. I can also cross "kiss a stranger" off my bucket list.
The next bar we went to was called Fitzsimon's, not to be confused with the previous bar Fitzgerald's, and we may have snuck downstairs to the club part of the bar. Bars stay open forever in Dublin and at 3:00am I realized that I'm used to last call taking place 30 minutes ago. I wasn't even tired and I was having the best time with friends who didn't feel like strangers I had met the day before.
I reached out to Martin, my Airbnb host, knowing he was working until 4:00am. He sent me his location, and conveniently enough, was 450 meters away from the bar I was at. I met him when he got off work and we walked back to the apartment together. About halfway through our trip back, I realized something interesting - it was 4:30 in the morning and the sun was coming up. You could clearly see the sky turning the light blue it gets when there's light. It was insane. I was walking home as the sun was coming up. And with that thought, I ended the night (or morning, I suppose).
After my crazy night, I slept in. I mean, really slept in. It was probably also a little jet lag but I was in bed until around 1:00pm Ireland time. I finally made it out of the apartment around 2:00 and started to wander around. I really had no idea where I was going, but I was going a way I had never gone before and assumed I would find something I hadn't seen yet. And I did.
I stumbled upon Trinity College that sits on the most beautiful campus I have ever seen. It was picture perfect, or in my case, motion picture perfect. I stayed on campus for a bit to soak it all in. There were people everywhere, tourists and students alike. I headed out and headed towards the direction of St. Stephen's Green.
It's the Dublin version of Central Park. There were people everywhere and it was in fact green. For being such a crowded place, there was something very relaxing about it all. After filming for a minute, I sat on a bench to people watch. I met a man named Patrick who comes to the park every single day to feed the pigeons. He hates the tourists, he told me, they take away the attention of the pigeons. He says they know him and some come straight to him every day. I know what you're thinking, but he really didn't seem crazy, just a creature of habit.
It didn't take long before I told Patrick that I love wearing hats - seriously, I'm obsessed - and he told me that there was a hat shop not far from where we were sitting. So I made my way into the St. Stephen's Shopping Center and took a look around.
When I finished up, I wanted to take a different route home and had convinced myself I was a Dublin expert and knew exactly where to go. I couldn't be more wrong. I ended up in a neighborhood that I probably shouldn't have been walking around in. It was still daylight, but something told me I was walking in the opposite direction of the apartment. So I quickly turned around and headed the other way.
It wasn't long after that I found myself outside the gates of St. Patrick's Cathedral. There was a beautiful green area and people were reading, eating, and playing outside. There's really nothing like seeing that many people enjoy spending time outside just being - no rush, no place to be, no thing to do, just living in the moment.
I found my way back to the apartment and started to edit my footage. Five hours later and I have a solid 5 minutes of edited footage that is waiting to be organized and set to music. More on that later.
I woke up and was ready to explore on my final day in the city. I headed out and knew that I wanted to go to the edge of the city by the harbor. After going to school in Charleston, South Carolina and living (even if for a short time) in DC, there was something I loved - water. The port is beautiful and the walkway bridges are really neat.
I spent time walking around for a while and then headed inside the CHQ to grab a cup of coffee. I ended up being talked into a hot chocolate and am convinced it was the best cup of hot chocolate I've ever had in my life. I sat in the shop for a while before making my way back outside. It was a bit chilly, but thankfully no rain. I was actually surprised it hadn't rained a single drop since I had been there. They say it usually rains every day. Maybe I was lucky or this was all meant to be, I'll never really know.
When I got back to the apartment, Martin was ready for his interview. He'll be in the documentary and you'll get to know him a bit better then. But he's awesome and such a gentleman! I was so lucky to have the opportunity to meet him and stay in his apartment.
It was time to pack and get ready for the next adventure.
See you in Lisbon. Slainte,