Sunday, October 17, 2021 | Written by Mira
I’ve been told by previous GTL students that you must do a solo trip at least once. While some people go hiking by themselves for the weekend or do a day trip to a neighboring city, I opted to do a trip to Ireland to visit a friend from high school who goes to university in Dublin. The solo part was the actual traveling from point A to point B and back, but I did have someone to stay with, so it was a “semi-solo” travel weekend.
The best part of not having class on Thursday is that it gives me an extra travel day, and in this case, more time to reconnect with my friend in Dublin! However, my 4am wake-up call was not ideal and caused me a lot of stress because when traveling alone, no one is there to hold you accountable to actually wake up that early to catch the bus.
If you’re trying to go to Charles de Gaulle from Metz, you might have to take a bus to Lorraine TGV station and then a train to the airport. This bus from Metz to the Lorraine TGV is located behind the station, and I’m glad I had enough time to find it as I wandered around the Metz train station at 5:45 in the morning. But I found it! The bus was on time, the train was on time, and I made it through the very confusing Parisian airport to get to the gate on time.
My friend in Dublin recommended a few options for me to get from the airport to the city center. I took the Dublin Aircoach to Kildare Street near Saint Stephen’s Park, which had immaculate autumn vibes. After almost getting attacked by a flock of pigeons, I made my way to Beanhive (26 Dawson St, Dublin 2, D02 FY28), a coffeeshop my friend recommended to me. Beanhive claims to have Dublin’s most famous coffee art, and while my latte was pretty standard, their Instagram feed is pretty impressive.
I was off on my own due to my friend having lab all day. I took this opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and do a solo excursion to the west coast of Ireland. After much research into day trips from Dublin and looking at reviews by solo women travelers, I decided to go for it and book an excursion through TripAdvisor. I woke up at 5am, my second early morning in a row, to walk to the pick-up location for the tour to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway.
The Cliffs of Moher may be, without exaggeration, the windiest place I’ve ever been to. The farther up you went, the better the view, but the windier and colder it got. The Cliffs of Moher are one of those places where no picture can do it justice. To one side is the blue Atlantic Ocean that blends into the blue sky (we had great weather, no dark rain clouds!), and to the other side, is the country of Ireland, and you can clearly tell why it’s called the Emerald Isle. After walking up the north side of the trail for the postcard view, I headed back down and started on the southern trail. This part was less accessible, with a steeper incline and overall was more of a hike.
Our next stop was the Burren Walk, a rocky coast that looks like the surface of the moon. I didn’t go all the way to the edge, but it seemed other-worldly. From there, we went to the ruins of an abbey and there was a cute Irish cow on the other side of the stone wall. One really cool thing about Ireland is that there are casually thousand year-old ruins on the side of the road, a sight unimaginable in the relatively young United States. The last stop of the day was Galway, a quaint town on the west coast. After walking around a little by myself, I got a cup of coffee and sat in a park until it was time for the bus to depart.
Once back on the bus, my seat neighbor asked me where I was from. I said I was from the US but studying in France for the semester. He said he wasn’t sure if I was British, which I’ll take as a compliment, especially with an American couple belting the Star-Spangled Banner in front of us (the punishment for being late on the bus was singing your country’s national anthem).
Since I had already been to Dublin before, about 4.5 years ago, my friend wanted to take me to some smaller towns in the Dublin area. We walked across Dublin to the Dart; a train that took us to a small Dublin suburb called Dún Laoghaire, where we walked along the pier to a lighthouse. It was incredibly windy, so we walked back to the city center and found a lunch spot – The Sunshine Café (107 George’s Street Lower, Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, A96 X771, Ireland). This café was the cutest, and they had a beautiful outdoor garden that we would’ve sat at if it were warmer.
From Dún Laoghaire, we made our way back north, stopping in Sandymount, another residential suburb of Dublin. The town square reminded me of Gilmore Girls. My friend told me that they hold festivities in the town square every so often. We grabbed hot chocolate from Strand Fare (4 Seafort Ave, Dublin 4, D04 FC80, Ireland), a “gourmet grocery store,” one of my friend’s favorite places to grab a warm drink. After spending some time relaxing by the beach, we headed back to Dublin city center to her apartment before dinner.
My flight for France was in the early afternoon, which gave us enough time to have brunch before I had to leave. Brother Hubbard (153 Capel St, North City, Dublin, D01 V9V0, Ireland) is a very popular Sunday brunch spot for Dubliners, and it did not disappoint. I had a delicious latte with french toast, as recommended by my friend.
Before I knew it, my weekend with her was over, and I was headed back to the airport. Out of all the travel I’ve done so far, this trip was the most meaningful, as I was able to get outside my comfort zone and reconnect with a friend from high school. It definitely won’t be a trip I’ll forget.