I know it’s a bit blasphemous as a traveler to admit you don’t quite fancy a place, so prepare the tar and feathers: When I went to Dublin the first time, I didn’t quite fancy it.
Don’t get me wrong—the accents are nice and you can find some pretty weird stuff in the tourist shops. But the city itself lacks some flavor at first glance. The skyline is pretty basic (aside from the [relatively] new spike they’ve stuck on the O’Connell Street), the architecture a little so-so. Meh.
It wasn’t until I started getting to know the city that I saw past my initial poor impression. By the end of my second visit, I left in love with Dublin.
What did I discover along the way? Read on to find out.
1. Trinity College Library
My primary objective during my first visit to Dublin was to see Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells. I have long fangirled the Book of Kells in ways people do not generally fangirl illuminated manuscripts. But then, I am a nerd.
For anyone curious, the Book of Kells is a famous manuscript of the Gospels thought to have been crafted in Columban. It’s believed to have been created around the year 800, and is a masterpiece of art, with intricate designs that simply boggle the mind. The pigments (inks) used in it come from around the world—including lapis lazuli from mines in Afghanistan. It is a beautiful book that survived the Vikings, was lost to history, and then mysteriously reappeared at Trinity College.
(If you want to be inspired, the fantastical movie Secret of Kells is a gorgeous animated film loosely based off the story of the book’s creation.)