Location: Isaac's Hostel, Dublin Ireland
I don't think it's possible to have a smoother, jet-lag free international traveling experience. I left from Chicago O'Hare (ORD) on Wednesday around 7. About thirty minutes behind schedule, mind you, because apparently Air Force One was nearby? (Insert meme: 30 minutes less holiday time in Ireland. THANKS OBAMA.) Once in the air, my seat mate struck up conversation and I was really hoping he'd be a complete bore so I would have no choice but to sleep. He expressed similar concerns, but I sadly informed him that, unfortunately, I'm fascinating. He shared a stick of gum with me and we proceeded to shoot the shit until dinner and then snoozes.
The entire plane, landing, customs, baggage retrieval, etc process was so painless that it doesn't even warrant mention. Really, my bus ride to Chicago was only an hour or so less than my entire trans-Atlantic flight! My new friend, seat mate KC, had even less plans for his solo trip than I and decided to tag along with me to check out the hostel I'd booked. More smooth sailings with check in there. KC decided to stay for a night as well. Rooms weren't ready for a few hours, but we miraculously were just in time for the FREE daily walking tour. Most hostels come equipped with rentable lockers and are a great bargain for securing your large bags while exploring the city. KC and I split a locker (they really are huge here) but I made sure I was in charge of key duties.
Cue three hours of wandering about with our trusty Irishman tour guide, Sean, and another new friend, SC. Sean certainly earned his tips, and we had gathered some solid Irish history knowledge, as well as some ideas for where to explore further.
Dublin's "Spire" in the middle(?) of the city. Great place to meet up if you get seperated, but really it looks like a radio antenna.
Sean, our lovely free tour guide.
Super cool architecture/housing in Dublin.
The thing about traveling abroad to large European cities is to not over think them, or to put them on a pedestal, as it were. As we were finding our way back to the hostel, it dawned on me that Dublin is not really so different from any major American city. Once you check out a map well, find some solid landmarks, familiarize yourself with the transit systems, and just go out and wander about, you'll feel just as comfortable. Yes, we did walk around in a few superfluous loops while trying to find some noms, but that was just as illuminating as any bit of the guided tour.
The rest of the night has been a blur of hotel chilling. Sauna and tablet monopoly. If my next 89 days are this glorious, I'll be just fine with that.