Breaking Dawn in Dublin
Leah Walker April 9, 2012

With the sun peeking over the horizon, I flew into Dublin. The modern, bright airport was quiet before 7 am. I swiftly moved through customs and received another prized passport stamp.

Dublin Airport

Strapped down with my bulging backpack and suitcase, I struggled to make it to the Hertz counter. Armed with the keys to a brand new Renault, I was a tad nervous about driving. Ireland requires the purchase of rental insurance, so that added to my trepidation.

I stepped out of the airport into the parking garage and was immediately invigorated by the chill in the air. It was decidedly colder than the 85 degrees I left behind in Houston. I immediately understood why I was able to find such a great deal on my Dublin airfare. With the GPS chirping orders at me, I was thrilled being back in a country with roundabouts. The streets leading to Dublin’s city center were empty, which was probably best for everyone. It was going to take a little time to get used to driving on the left again.

Dublin Park

As I got closer to the city center, the streets became more narrow and even more confusing. Street signs were rare, and I found myself singing U2’s, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Buildings looked as if they came from a Hollywood stage. After all, the only Ireland I knew came from the minds of movie directors. Pubs with names like The Brazen Head  and Sheehan’s were intermingled with tiny shops, statues, and churches. The rising sun cast a golden, warm glow over centuries-old buildings.

Dublin 2

Round and round I went. Slight lefts and veer rights were ordered by the GPS. It was Sunday morning and the city was still in the state of slumber. Although I was running on a mere four hours of sleep, I wasn’t tired. For years I’d dreamt of walking the same streets that James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Jonathan Swift did. bucket listExploring Dublin was #47 on my bucket list; there was no time for sleep.

Grafton Street Dublin 2

The main shopping street of Grafton was all but deserted. I knew it wouldn’t be that way for long. I wanted to get a feel for the city without the distraction of people. I wandered from one end to the other along the brick walkway. There was no need to say “excuse me” or to even watch where I was going. For this brief moment, I had a small piece of Dublin to myself.

The sun slowly rose higher in the sky and brought with it more people. In the distance I heard bells. It was Sunday, a day for church in this decidedly Catholic nation. I wondered what the bells signified. Was it a call to church or simply an indication of the hour? For me, it was a reminder of my limited time in Dublin. I had no time for sleep, but I did have time for an Irish breakfast.

Dublin Irish Breakfast

The early bird may get the worm, but in my case, I got Dublin, black pudding, and a giant mug of coffee.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.


  1. That looks very similar to the breakfast we usually got in and around London. Yummy! Save the black pudding that is – I couldn’t get myself to try that. Way to go for getting off the plane, jetlagged and all, and driving on the left side of the road!! I don’t think I would trust myself to do that.

    1. It is very similar to the English and Scottish breakfasts I’ve had. Maybe someone else could tell the difference, but I couldn’t. I had black pudding and white pudding. The only difference between the two is that the white is made with fat and the black is made with blood. I liked the white better, but it’s not something that I will crave back in Texas. If it’s any consolation, I couldn’t remember the color of my rental car the next morning. I thought it was black. It was silver! I didn’t need to be driving, that’s for sure. HaHa!

    1. Thanks,Fiona. Part of the fun was trying to figure out where we were going, especially after the GPS stopped working. I had to use a good, old-fashioned map, which still proved to be difficult at times. And without street signs, I was able to see stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise. Gotta look at the bright side!

  2. lovely post. i had a great time in Dublin and this brings back the memories. come visit me in Boston sometime…we have roundabouts here in ole New England for you to enjoy! 🙂

  3. I love Dublin in the mornings! So quiet and peaceful; fresh and crisp. Or rather, I just love mornings in cities in general 🙂 Nice shot of an empty Grafton Street!

  4. I love being out and about early in the morning while traveling. There is something cool about having a legendary city almost to yourself. I remember getting up around dawn in Amsterdam- not a soul on the street- a surreal experience.

    1. Cities do take on a different personality depending on the time of day, don’t they? I bet Amsterdam was stunning in the morning. It’s on my bucket list, so maybe I’ll get to see what you saw sooner rather than later.

  5. Don’t you just love wandering around a city in the early morning hours, when you feel like you have it all to yourself? It’s one of my favorite feelings.

  6. There is something special about wandering the empty streets in a new town. That is one of the things I love about jet lag when traveling far and wide….exploring the streets of a new town when it is so quiet and peaceful! There will be time enough for the excitement of the crowds and people…but those first quiet solo hours are special.

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