Program Semester and Year
When visiting a new city, I naturally seek out and visit places that are often frequented by other travelers. While sometimes overpriced, crowded, and cheesy, “tourist” spots tend to provide a glimpse into a location’s historical and cultural significance. However, when I arrived in Dublin, I was told by many people that “real Dubliners” avoid the tourist traps at all costs. Wanting desperately to feel like a local, I loyally followed this strategy for nearly 7 weeks.
My local Dubliner facade was destroyed this past weekend when my friend from another Lewis & Clark study abroad program came to visit. Wanting to make the most of her short time in Dublin, she had a long list of requests, most of them falling under the “tourist trap” category. Reluctantly, I embarked on the quintessential Dublin weekend.
Our first stop of the day was the Irish Whiskey Museum. This quirky museum takes you back in time, telling the story of Irish whiskey by leading you through different historically themed rooms. At the end of the tour, we sampled 4 different types of Irish whiskey. The tour guide explained each sample in detail, pointing out the flavors we were supposed to taste, such as banana and pear. They all tasted the same to me. While I didn’t gain an appreciation of Irish Whiskey as a beverage, I gained an appreciation for the important historical and cultural impact it has had on the country.
We then made our way over to Trinity College to visit the famous Book of Kells and Old Library exhibition. This exhibit displays one of the world’s most famous medieval texts, a beautifully decorated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. My favorite part of the exhibition was the Long Room, the main chamber of the Old Library which contains over 200,000 of the libraries oldest books.
After our educationally enriching experience at Trinity, we embarked on our final, equally important, tourist destination- the Guinness Storehouse. As I have been enjoying Guinness throughout my stay, I felt it was appropriate to pay homage to my new favorite drink. Upon entering the Storehouse, we were ushered through a series of lines, and I couldn’t help noticing the commercialized nature of the storehouse. I immediately felt as though I were one of the children in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This feeling was heightened as we passed a water fountain that looked suspiciously like the chocolate fountain Augustus Gloop fell into. I continued through the rest of the museum feeling both disconcerted and curious. Finally, we reached the top floor where I handed off my golden ticket and received my perfect pint.
As I sipped my drink, I took in the gorgeous views the top floor offered. Enclosed by windows, I had a 360-degree view of Dublin where I was able to identify so many places I’ve visited since I arrived. While avoiding places plagued by tourists and exploring the city on my own has taught me so much, playing tourist has also lead to unique experiences such as having top-notch views and learning about the history of Ireland’s most culturally significant traditions. For the rest of this semester, I plan on combining these two perspectives in order to make the most of my time here.