Breaking Dawn in Dublin

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.

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  • Sabrina
    April 9, 2012

    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.

    • Leah Travels
      April 9, 2012

      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!

  • Kieu
    April 9, 2012

    Kudos for driving in Ireland! Sounds like my kind of first day.

    • Leah Travels
      April 9, 2012

      Thank you! I’m not sure if it’s crazy, stupid, or brave. Perhaps a combo of all three.

  • Fiona
    April 9, 2012

    Great intro to Dublin Leah!! Sorry about the lack of street signs- even confusing for locals sometimes!!:)

    • Leah Travels
      April 9, 2012

      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!

  • lola dimarco
    April 10, 2012

    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! 🙂

  • Will - Gap Daemon
    April 10, 2012

    Cool statue of Phil Lynott! Got a lot of love for Thin Lizzy. Cool reading about your experiences in Dublin too!

    • Leah Travels
      April 10, 2012

      I’ve heard several people comment on how much they love him. I guess I need to check him out. He must be pretty cool to have a statue on Grafton Street.

  • Edna
    April 13, 2012

    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!

    • Leah Travels
      April 13, 2012

      Me too! I love getting up early and watching a city come to life. It’s really a special time. Thanks for reading.

  • Erik
    April 13, 2012

    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.

    • Leah Travels
      April 14, 2012

      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.

  • Amanda
    May 18, 2012

    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.

    • Leah Travels
      May 18, 2012

      Absolutely, Amanda. Even wandering late at night is nice, although not necessarily as safe. The feeling is worth getting up early for.

  • Anita Mac
    December 26, 2012

    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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