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Whatever you think Dublin is like, you're probably wrong
Dublin in General
Member Name: Walli10
Dublin in General
Date: 14/06/01, updated on 14/06/01 (177 review reads)
Disadvantages: Not cheap and very busy
... unless of course you live there or something. For those of us who have never been, or went many moons ago, modern Dublin comes as a bit of a shock. And for that reason, I begin with a disclamer: it's about 18 months since I visited Dublin and this is a very fast changing city, so some things may by now be completely different. Having said that, given that attractions like the Book of Kells have lasted about 800 years, I don't think a few months here or there will make that much difference.
My first impressions of Dublin on arrival were that it was both a lot smaller and a lot busier than I had expected. This is a boom town: thanks largely to the peace process Ireland now has the fastest growing economy in Europe and it shows, in everything from the buzz around the bars and clubs to the endless traffic jams as streets built for horses and carts struggle to cope with the ever-increasing numbers of Dubliners who can now afford smart cars. There's no doubt it has atmosphere, but it's one of optimisim and excitement rather than the laid-back langour normally associated with Ireland.
There, are of course, still oases of calm, of which the world-famous Trinity College Dublin is my personal favourite. This is an elegant university with beautiful and peaceful grounds, surrounded by imposing but gracious buildings. History fans will appreciate both the fact that literary luminaries like Pepys studied here, and the superb exhibition that houses the Book of Kells, an ancient copy of the bible dating from early Celtish times that has somehow survived intact, foiling the best attempts of viking raiders, Protestant destruction and several fires. The book itself is almost an anticlimax after the exhibition, which explains the strange and beautiful illustrations very well indeed and puts the book thoroughly in its religious, artistic and historical context - much more interesting than it sounds, tho' being a historian I'm biased.
For a more up-to-date Dublin, head to the Temple Bar area where dublin's bright young things congregate to show off to each other and pay over the odds for mediocre drinks. Without wishing to sound patronising, someone used to big city life may be a little underwhelmed, but the exuberance of local drinkers more than makes up for that.
There are a number of other places worth a look, including the fantastically kitsch Guinness Brewery, an entirely calculated attempt to cash in on international fascination with Ireland's top drink, and which includes a hilariously pompous retrospective of it's own "groundbreaking" advertising campaigns. The entrance price is steep even though you get a half pint of the black stuff at the end and this place is best avoided by those who hate the irish-theme-pub mentality of shamrocks, leprechauns and silly accents all over the place. Fans of kitsch like me will love it.
Top tips if you do visit: get a hotel near the centre, it'll save you a lot of hassle, not least in that you'll be able to walk home at night. I was told by several people that this was not advisable if you are staying a little way out: Dublin has a definite crime problem, probably linked to its serious drug problem, not a side of the city that sits well with the fun-loving capital the promoters like to project. You can of course take a taxi, but the queues are massive after closing time (we waited an hour two nights in a row) and not necessarily nice places to hang around. Also be aware, girls especially, that when the Irish drink they really drink, and walking around on your own late on a Fri or Sat night may well lead to trouble.