Dublin wasn’t what I expected. Before we arrived, I didn’t have a clear picture in my mind, or a vision of how our trip would be. I didn’t actually know a lot about the place.
But as we boarded the bus from the airport and drove through the city, staring out of the window trying to absorb so many new sights, I felt a pang of disappointment.
The city felt more modern than I anticipated; more industrial; grittier. Driving alongside the river, I took in the busy traffic and the apartment blocks, the factories. I pined for a picturesque view.
Usually I can appreciate the beauty in an urban landscape. I love the hustle and post-industrial vibe of New York, and the shipyards and apartment blocks of Reykjavik. But this wasn’t what I had in mind for Dublin. I think subconsciously I imagined something closer to the charm of Edinburgh; its history and architecture.
But whenever I began to worry that I wouldn’t find anything to love in Ireland’s capital city, it took me completely by surprise. Alongside its modern architecture, Dublin has some truly phenomenal buildings that appear unexpectedly among the busy roads and offices. There’s the National Museum or the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which is housed in a former 17th century hospital, and Kilmainham Gaol, or medieval Christ Church Cathedral. These are buildings whose thick stone walls are soaked in history and stories that define a nation.
And then there’s the Wellington Monument. A striking obelisk that stands tall in Phoenix Park, itself divided by a grand roadway, the kind you would expect to find approaching a historic palace. Wandering around it, I knew little of what the monument stood for, but I could appreciate its scope and symmetry as I wondered about its origins.
When I visited New York, I wanted to experience the urban sprawl of the world’s most iconic city. After countless films and TV shows, I knew what to expect and I wasn’t disappointed.
My trip to Dublin was different, but it made me realise something: expectations might make or break your holiday, but if you can break free of them, you might just open yourself up to something completely unforeseen that will surpass whatever you imagined.