Dublin – My first solo travel experience (Pt 1)

I rolled out of bed 4 hours before my flight time at 4am after a fitful nights sleep, which in hindsight was completely unnecessary and bloody stupid of me considering I was flying to Dublin not Mexico. Nevertheless my regimented nature wouldn’t let me have it any other way and I was almost glad to have a couple hours to fuel up on caffeine in departures and read my latest book ‘A good girls guide to getting lost‘ – Which ironically is the story of a girl who begins her travels in Dublin…and hates it. Filled me with optimism.

The reason for taking a mini break alone was to get a taste for solo travel. To see if I could actually go somewhere by myself and come back in one piece. Where pub crawls are involved this is never a guarantee. For my first Lone Ranger adventure I chose Dublin in Ireland which is just across the pond and still within my comfort zone. Despite this I still felt those same nerves I had when my Mum sent me off to summer camp alone. Totally bricking it.

flying

The plane seemed to descend into an endless mist which failed to let up even on touch down. For once I was glad that I’m not an avid photographer or I would be crying into my Crumpler bag. No amount of skill could make photos look good in weather that sucked that hard.

On the transfer bus into the city a gaggle of rowdy Mancunians piled onto the back seats cackling in unison. I preyed silently to Gods I don’t believe in that they wouldn’t be in my hostel. During the ride I got a call from Shane – the guy that runs the ‘Rural Pub Crawl’ which Trip Advisor told me is the best thing I could ever do in Ireland, possibly even Europe…or the world. He told me that against all odds I was the only person booked on his tour for that evening, which is freakishly unusual for a weekend. Maybe choosing the last weekend in the month to go wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

Having my schedule changed unexpectedly threw me off balance and left me wondering how I would spend my first evening with no mates and no plans.

Oh I forgot to mention that I had been moved from Sky Backpackers hostel to Times Hostel which will furthermore be known as Bleach Hostel for the overpowering smell of bleach which kept me high for the duration of my stay.

times hostel dublin

I was excited to get into my room and meet my roomies who would say “Oh you’re alone, come explore the city with us. What are you doing tonight? The rural pub tour was cancelled? Come out with us!” And we would all hug, have the time of our lives and be friends for life.

The reality of it was that I was met by an empty 8 bed dorm. It was just me, which I found a little odd considering it was the afternoon. I sat in bed reading the 80 leaflets I’d picked up from the tourist office until finally I heard a knock on the door. I bolted up right ready to greet my new friends…

..who turned out to be seven French lads.. ON A STAG DO!

I couldn’t even make it up..

They all looked delighted to see a lone female in their room, they reacted as if someone had paid to put me in there and within the first 10 minutes of meeting they had all managed to take a photo of me, high five each other and ask if I have a boyfriend. The only one that could speak any English made conversation with me and between sentences conversed with the others who all erupted into fits of laughter.  I wished for the rowdy Mancunians to knock on the door and say there had been a mix up with the rooms.

It suddenly dawned on me that my chances of being sexually assaulted had shot up tenfold and I sat there wondering why I didn’t pack a chastity belt should this outrageously unlikely situation ever arise.

I decided before I went on the trip that nothing would dampen my spirits and no matter what I would try to make the best of a bad situation. This was the bad situation. I reminded myself that not all men are total perverts and that they may well be great craic. I’m a bit of a lad myself so a stag do actually sounded quite appealing. They told me I could join them but that was followed by more laughter with winking and creepy leering. That’s all it took to change my mind, I was out the door.

I impulsively hopped on a bus out of town to Kilmainham Gaol. During the ride I got chatting to a lovely Irish local about our lives and what we do. The conversation reassured me about why I had chosen to go it alone, making connections with complete strangers is the best part of the experience. I never would have spoken to her if I was with company.

Kilmainham GaolCreepy Kilmainham Gaol

Doing things like taking tours and exploring the city alone didn’t phase me. When I first moved to London I spent a lot of time just aimlessly wandering around on my own getting to know my new home, fascinated by it I would get lost for hours and take walking tours with the rest of the tourists.

When I finally got back to the hostel I realised my roomies had gone out for the night which is exactly what I had intended to do. With the Rural pub crawl cancelled I was at a bit of a loose end but figured it wouldn’t hurt to go and hang in the common room in a last ditch attempt to find people to party with. When I first sat down I realised that Bleach Hostel was more like shared accommodation. The same people I had seen sitting around on their laptops that morning were still there now surrounded by dirty crockery. I made myself comfortable and waited for the parade of backpackers who would jump to invite me out to Temple Bar.

temple bar Where I pictured myself getting sloshed

This hostel was nothing like Hostel One Home in Prague where everybody seemed up for anything at any given hour of the day. Everybody at Bleach Hostel seemed a little too dormant. Just as I began to resign to sitting on Candy Crush all night a whole group walked through the door, bringing with them a bag of ingredients to make a Sangria punch… these were my kind of people…

<take me to part 2 of this amazing, life-affirming story>

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