Happiness and a Pint Glass
Dublin is like that song you’re not sure you like. It’s not a top 40 hit or a karaoke staple. It’s the song they bury on an album and play in the middle of a set. But if you listen enough, the lyrics catch your attention and the melody sticks. Suddenly you realize you love this song. It catches you and doesn’t let go.
Dublin is like that.
On my first visit, I saw a string of tourist attractions - the Guinness and Jameson breweries, City Hall, the Leprechaun Museum. I couldn’t shake the feeling these sights were a poor reflection of their surroundings. They seemed halfhearted and fake.
But then I visited again and had no time for tours or sight seeing. On a misty afternoon, I wandered the streets and absorbed the collection of modern and historic architecture. I drank tea in Dublin’s most historic hotel, the Shelbourne; walked through St. Stephen’s Green. I realized it’s not until you walk along the cobblestones and delve into lesser-known neighborhoods, that the city comes to life. Then you meet the characters, the jovial bank tellers and sunny cafe staff. All of these people talk to you. They want to know who you are and where you’ve come from. If you’re lost, they immediately stop what they’re doing to help you. I had one bus driver pull over and give me elaborate walking directions to my hotel. In New York City, where I live, people don’t even see you and bus drivers are just as likely to yell at you for making them late.
At first, I was confused by all this happiness. Ireland is a wet and dreary place with a hard-spun history. When you visit Berlin, you can feel the guilt and oppression in the air – why not here? I asked a local why everyone in Ireland is so nice, why they seem eager to hear your story. He said, it’s the only country with no class system. It struck me as true. You could be visiting royalty, a rock star or a country’s prime minister and the barman will strike up a conversation with you just the same as he would his next-door neighbor.
So it might be raining in Dublin, but you can be sure you’ll have a friendly pint or two in just about any place you walk into.