From the Dublin Airport, I hop onto a bus that heads into the city. I haven’t been on a double-decker bus like this one since my trip to London in 2014. I climb my way to the top to take advantage of the experience. As the bus turns each corner, I feel as though it is going to tip over. I giggle and smile while others around me seem to be nauseated. It was bizarre being on the other side of the road, as there are only a small number of countries that drive on the left side. I get off the bus and walk a quarter of a mile to my Airbnb, skimming the directions as I walk. Before I know it, I am at the front gate. I settle into my Airbnb for only about thirty minutes before the urge to go out and explore springs up within me.
Just down the street from where I am staying, I find myself at the corner of Talbot and Amiens’ Street, standing under a sign that reads “Grainger’s Cafe.” I walk in and sit down on a surprisingly comfortable bar stool that has lush cushioning. The cafe was not crowded, but of the crowd, I seemed to be the only tourist in evidence. I do my best to pay attention to how others order their Guinness and conclude that there is a particular way. “One Guinness please,” I say to the bartender. It was quite obvious that I was trying too hard to fit in like a local. I’ll admit it, okay?! Next thing I know, a stranger approaches me from behind and says “Excuse me? Hi, do you want to join my girlfriend and I at that table over there?” Pleasantly surprised, I happily agree.
Don and Laura — a lovely couple. I could easily sense that this was going to be an enjoyable evening. In other words, I could already sense a deep connection with them before they opened up their mouths to speak. I felt just as comfortable with them as I would feel with my own family. We spent a good three hours drinking, laughing and conversing over topics such as music, family, traveling and jobs. Don and Laura live in Kildare, a small village just south of Dublin. They decided they wanted to spend their day off in the city, so they took the short train ride over. I don’t blame them. The people here seem to be much more relaxed and down to earth. When not in an office or a classroom, it seems they can leave their worries behind and live in the moment. I feel this is in stark contrast to Americans, who are constantly worried or stressed out, even when they’re with their family and friends. Don and Laura both agreed that the locals in Ireland have much more of a ‘no worries’ mindset. They both exhibited a liveliness that I envied. They were surprised when I told them that I traveled to Dublin alone. Once I saw the amazement on their faces, I continued to tell them about my travels to more exotic places such as Switzerland and Thailand. They looked at each other, as if they had never heard of someone traveling alone like that before. “Mhmm,” I thought to myself. Don got up from his chair and went to the bar. I assumed he was getting himself another drink. I was wrong. He was getting another Guinness for Laura and I – another distinction from American culture. Don didn’t do anything wrong, but generally speaking, I usually get asked if I want another drink. However, I considered this to be a pleasant surprise.
A few more drinks later, Laura musters up the courage to tell me that she feels like we could be soul sisters. She grabs both my hands and gently squeezes them in hers. She hints at me that she would like me to join her on the other side of the table. I head over to her side and we simultaneously take out our phones — we all know what this means. Selfie time! As the alcohol properly absorbs into our systems, our conversations become more meaningful and our giggles become sillier. Healthy adrenaline begins to build up inside me and I think to myself “Moments like this is what I live for.” After reflecting on the day, I head back to my Airbnb and go to sleep with a huge smile on my face.