Irish Arrival: Pretty good 'craic' and yes, there was Guinness

Greetings from my very cute Airbnb room! It's a cozy spot, right on the River Liffey that flows through the city from the Irish Sea. My host, Liam, is super kind, and laid out a very nice assortment of breakfast items for me; I went for the Traditional Irish stone-ground wholewheat bread with some Traditional Irish red currant fruit preserves. I don't know if Liam just purchases Traditional Irish Products for his guests, for an authentic effect, or if people are just generally really into their Traditional Irish Products around here.

The trip over was pretty smooth and my checked luggage arrived with me; it's really a shame that doesn't happen more often. I slept maybe 2 hours on the plane, after watching a terrible Cameron Diaz movie and eating part of my complimentary dinner of Irish beef stew "with veg". I'd bought some sleeping pills with the idea that I could maybe get some real sleep and not be too jet-lagged; but in the end, I was too worried it wouldn't wear-off in time enough for me to be alert and ready for important things like being able to walk myself off the plane.

After I grossly over-tipped my cab driver (I later read that cabbies don't expect tips; THIS IS A GOOD CONCEPT, NORTH AMERICA) and got over the startilization of passenger's side steering wheels and left-side-of-the-road driving, Liam greeted me and gave a brief tour of the place before leaving me to take a nap, which turned out to be a 6-hour hibernation in my room with very effective dark curtains. Woke up feeling much more refreshed; showered; chatted with Liam for a bit, and took off for the city, fully equipped with a map and small travel guide.

The city center is about a half-hour walk from the apartment, which I don't mind at all; it's perfect for seeing all parts of the city, and it's a nice walk along the river. As I set out, it's worth noting that I literally squealed with excitement.

I wandered over to Temple Bar, which isn't a bar but actually the name of a kind of bohemian and arty area, with lots of cafes and pubs and people playing music on the cobblestone streets. I found a little pub and got a bowl of "Auld Dublin Coddle," again something with "traditional" in the description. It was a sort of stew with pork sausage, bacon, onions and potatoes. With brown bread, which seems to be a thing here. And of course, a pint of Guinness. (It's traditional). There was live music by a guy asking for song requests; I asked him to play Galway Girl, which I have to say, is one of my new favorites.

Then I wandered around some more and found the Palace Bar, which my Guide to Temple Bar informed me was perhaps the oldest bar in Dublin, well-preserved in its Victorian decor, and formerly the stomping grounds of old famous writers. It was kind of packed with old men who seemed to have just come from either work or maybe the retirement home. Determined not to be intimidated, I squeezed through to a spot at the bar and ordered a tea beer. I wasn't really intending to "bar hop," but other than eating or shopping, it seemed to be the only thing to do in this part of town.

After awhile, the people my age produced themselves, and I was able to have a "good craic" (a popular colloquialism for "good conversation" or "a good time") with some locals. I even met a girl who works for YouTube, which is super weird considering I never met anyone in the States who worked for a large American conglomerate.

Our Happy Hour turned into a whole evening of hanging out; I was so impressed with my luck, that I'd found some people on my first day! I'd honestly not expected that at all. Irish people are so friendly. They didn't mind talking about politics and sort of spiritedly arguing with each other, and yet they were all old school friends. I found it refreshing that they didn't have this pretense we sometimes have in the States, where talking about ideology in casual situations is off-limits.

The buses unfortunately stop running at "12 half" (12:30) on days that are not Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so I had to take a cab home because I was too cold to walk, even though the weather had been pretty great the whole day. Really pleasant and sunny, 20 degrees C/70 degrees F. At night though, it got pretty chilly, and I was wearing my Birks sandals.

And that's my Day 1 Wrap-up.

Today I'm heading to the museums quarter because GUESS WHAT, it's FREE. I think that museums should always be free. ANOTHER GOOD CONCEPT, NORTH AMERICA.