Being newbie backpackers and having Dublin as our first stop, we went the very basic route by making a Guinness Storehouse tour our first big activity. Luckily we did, otherwise we wouldn’t have met Rubin from Chicago! He became our first friend abroad and would later lead us to the best night we had during this portion of our trip.
Fast forward to the next day. I started feeling a cold coming on and had a little emotional episode during breakfast over feeling insecure about looking like a tourist (told you it would come back up). Needless to say, big time travel was getting the better of me, but I couldn’t allow it. After a pep talk from Aedan, I put on a smile, brushed off my shoulders, and off we went to start our day exploring Temple Bar and taking a tour of Dublin Castle.
During the aimless city wandering that followed, we happened upon a huge restaurant named O’Neill’s. Having been frequent patrons at a pub called O’Neill’s in our Connecticut hometown, when we spotted this one in Dublin, we knew we had to go in. Rubin met up with us here and we all hung out and talked for hours!
Now, while we did a lot of touristy things during our short first stop in Dublin, the most fun experience turned out to be when Rubin took us to a favorite bar of his called Gypsy Rose.
This Rock & Blues bar was a spot that Aedan and I would’ve never thought to step foot in on our own. The very narrow bar area with live music was attached to a tattoo parlor, and both sides of the establishment were filled with people looking like they’d stepped out of a scene from Sons of Anarchy. It was fantastic! The clientele reminded me of the country bar I worked at during college in Colorado, except instead of two-steppin’ cowboys, they were rock lovin’ biker dudes.
Even though I felt sick as a dog, I pulled up a barstool, faced the stage and sat with our belongings. Aedan and Rubin roamed around by the bar while I happily swayed along to the music from my seat, drinking water and people watching.
I was so pleasantly surprised by how incredibly kind and welcoming the people in this bar were. I sat in a spot surrounded by a stag (bachelor) party full of Irish bikers. I assumed I’d be invisible being that I was a plainly dressed ethnic girl sitting alone with a cup of water amongst busty blondes with cool tattoos and high heels. I was proven wrong fairly quickly when I began to receive compliments from people left and right. It was in this moment that I began to feel less like a tourist and more like I was getting the travel experience I craved. The ice broke between me and the locals and I instantly fell in love with the Irish!
The social butterfly in me eventually forgot how sick she felt and spread her wings. By the end of the night, I’d become best friends with an old, bald, bearded Irish man named George aka “Sweeper” who named himself as my protector and seat saver whenever I needed to get up and move around.
Connecting with people is what makes an experience stand out and it is my favorite part of traveling. I am so grateful to Rubin for showing us this bar, the gentlemen of the stag party for being extremely sweet in the way they approached me and held interesting conversations, and Sweeper for being my spunky little guardian angel in disguise.
Side note: I would like to say that, in addition to meeting Rubin at the Guinness Storehouse, we also met two lovely ladies, Bethany and Mariana. Unfortunately, despite plans to meet up again in London, we weren’t able to make it happen. But you two are awesome and I’m so happy to have met you! ❤