After this trip I learned many things about myself and my travel habits. Most important – I need time. Jumping from site to site doesn’t work for me. Additionally, I need to research. Traveling with my abroad group was so informative. All the professors, especially Elena, knew so much about the various cathedrals and streets of Toledo, Cordoba, Seville and Granada. Going somewhere without doing the pre-work that it deserves just takes away from the experience.
That said, Dublin was a very interesting experience. Part of me felt like it traveled back to America. Similar brands in stores and mannerisms on the streets. The weather resembled Boston’s and I had the option of ordering Tazo tea in some of the cafés. My traveling companion found the interactions between children and their parents most different than what we see often in America. In the first pub we went to, two boys sat talking politics and sports while their fathers listened with an honest interest in what their kids were saying. (I’m talking like 10 or 11 years old.) Later during our trip we noticed a little girl who could barely peek her head over the table eating with a fork and knife. Granted, her mother was guiding her but it was still a slightly unnatural sight for me.
Probably what I would tell any traveler visiting Dublin is stay outside of the city. Almost anywhere near the shore is beautiful. Granted the ride into Dublin can be a bit pricey for a student, but I value nature a lot more than I initially thought and being near the beach surrounded by green hills was easily the most cathartic experience I’ve felt since arriving in Europe. Spain’s known for a lot of beautiful nature, but Madrid has only a few parks that are currently all barren, understandably. At least now I know what to look for when I need my fix of nature.