I’ve been in Dublin for two months now, and with a job secured it looks like I’ll be here for a while longer. But ever since I came here, the city’s struck me as odd—so many contradictions and quirks—more than I’ve seen in any other city I’ve visited.
Dublin is a city, but doesn’t feel like one, it feels like a big town instead. There’s a sense of familiarity, of close-knitted community that is perhaps impossible to find in any other capital in the world. Dubliners themselves are a mix of open and friendly townies, always keen to hear a new story and see a new face, and victims of what I call Big City Syndrome—no one looks at you in the eye and just walks on taking care of their own business. At any point of the day you can meet either type of Dubliner.
Dublin has a ‘robust’ public transport system…that no one understands. I felt better about being new in town when I saw locals having trouble figuring out which bus went where. There are buses running through the city all day and it’s not uncommon for people to wait for a specific one even if the two before it had the same overall route. I’ve seen people give up on finding a bus and just take a taxi.
Thankfully, it’s a very walkable city. As long as you’re within walking distance of the city centre, you can get anywhere.
After living in Canada, the postal system in Dublin makes very little sense to me. Unlike other countries with six-letter postal codes, Dublin postal codes are much simpler and depend a lot more on street name and house number than a specific code. There are 24 postal zones in Dublin, Dublin 1 to Dublin 24, with odd numbers north side and even ones for the south, the River Liffey being the line separating them. Funnily enough, the distance between one Dublin zone and another is minimal. At the moment I’m writing this I’m in Dublin 9 and that is about 30 minutes away from the city centre on foot.
For me, as an immigrant and admittedly someone who’s still discovering what he’s capable of, a bit of a late bloomer in that regard at 31 years of age, Dublin has perhaps offered me more chances than any other place in the world to do things and have new experiences.
I didn’t like going out until late at night or going to pubs, as I don’t really drink. I did have a pint of Guinness two weeks ago, but mostly for trying something new. As I did, I spoke to an old Dubliner in the bar and realised the appeal of the Pub. I understood the pub culture of Ireland and why even with hundreds if not thousands of them in the city, they were all packed to the rafters every single night.
People think it’s the drinking and Irish people have a reputation for it. But there’s much more to it. Pubs are about community, about having fun in an amazing and relaxed environment. The drinks are just icebreakers in the end. Pubs are places where everyone is equal, the young man and the old fellow, the big boss and the fresh employee. In a pub everyone’s just another man or woman looking to have a good time.
In the past three weeks I’ve sang—butchered—Irish traditional music, I’ve gone to lectures on famous Irish Writers, met up with fun people I had never met before and even walked home close to midnight. This last bit would scared the hell out of me in the past, but here it’s not a problem. Dublin might feel like a small town but it’s one of the most active cities I’ve ever seen and the streets are full until very late in the evening, even in the middle of the week.
I’ve expanded my tastes since I’ve come here and every week has had a new experiences, something fun to do and something more to learn about myself and the people around me. So when I say this, believe me that it is true: I’m happy I came here.
This place and its people are mental, they’re strange and interesting and it doesn’t take much to have fun. Having said so, Dublin can seem boring at first, like there’s not much to do except go drinking and eating. But when you start looking for trouble and go through the websites for city events you start to see just how much there is to do, especially if you love stories, good music, art, theatre and that beautiful Gaelic.
This is a strange place, but it’s also really fun.
Now I can’t wait to see the rest of the country!