Nathan Overlock is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A professional writing and information design major at Cedarville University, he is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Nathan shares his favorite ways to make the most of a sunny day in Dublin!
I arrived in Dublin wearing waterproof boots, canvas pants, and a raincoat that reached all the way to my knees. I swear, I didn’t see a single cloud for my first week here. Of course, my idea of rainy, dreary Dublin did have some truth to it: I’ve spent plenty of days soaked to the core on my way out and around the city. But I was lucky enough to travel to Dublin during, as one friend put it, “about as nice a winter as Ireland’s ever seen.” And, as charming and beautiful as Dublin’s parks, gardens, markets, and canals are on the average cloudy day, you can’t miss the chance to see them in the sun.
So, here’s how to make the most of a sunny day in Dublin!
1. Picnic in a park
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Dublin has some of the most striking public parks in the world. Last week I wrote about a visit to Phoenix Park, with its hills, fields and forestry, historic sites and—I’m not kidding—a herd of 500 free-roaming fallow deer. But if you’re in the city centre and want to take a leisurely stroll or stop for a picnic between other attractions, St. Stephen’s Green is a peaceful escape with winding paths, a swan-filled stream, and a long historical legacy marked by monuments, statues, and plaques throughout the park. My personal favorite picnic spot is Dublin Gardens, alongside Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library, where I like to sit on Sundays with an order of fish and chips and watch the (strictly prohibited) dogs and footballers play in the grass.
Shop the Dublin markets
No matter the day of the week, you’re bound to stumble across some variety of outdoor market or congregation of street vendors in the mornings and early afternoons. The book market in Temple Bar features a constantly changing variety of new and used books and even the occasional rare volume. Less than five minutes away, though, is my personal favorite: the Temple Bar food market, where Dublin locals offer produce and prepared food from around the world every Saturday. Some vendors display fruit, vegetables and canned good while others have full-fledged menus serving Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Irish cuisine.
These, and most of Dublin’s other markets, take place rain or shine, but there’s an extra flurry of activity and bliss when the sun comes out. In these moments, instead of rushing from tent-to-tent keeping their food and goods out of the rain, people meander around, stopping to talk and laugh and enjoy the day.
Take a break at the IFI
If you need a break from all the walking or, like me, are out and about in the dead of winter and just need somewhere to warm up for an hour, pop into the Irish Film Institute for their weekly Archive at Lunchtime. Within sight of the Temple Bar food market, this is the perfect follow-up to a meal from one of the vendors. These free screenings of Irish-produced films from across the last century have a sort of timeless charm to them, despite their dubious production qualities. Their (usually) rustic charm is magnified by the elegant theaters inside the IFI, with their classic feel and old-Hollywood extravagance. Best of all? These 30-90 minute screenings are totally free!
Stroll along the water
Now, Dublin does have several spots for a swim. The 40 foot, famous for playing a key role in James Joyce’s Ulysses, is one of them. But in my opinion, even sunny spring days in Dublin are far too cold for swimming. Instead, sunny days are the perfect time to venture down the Grand Canal into Irish Town, home of another excellent food market, or even all the way past Aviva Stadium to the Irishtown Nature Park, where you’ll find Poolbeg Lighthouse. The bridges along the river Liffey and the walkway to Poolbeg Lighthouse are also among the best places to watch the sun set over Dublin.
Find the music
Just because the sun’s setting, parks and markets are closing, and the afternoon hustle and bustle is settling down doesn't mean your day needs to end. Of course, I shouldn’t have to tell you that, given how famous Dublin’s nightlife is. But the best way, in my opinion, to follow up a beautiful day out in the city is to find a small pub with live music, where locals are bound to still be talking about the weather. Peader Brown’s, just a little ways from Griffith College, has live music three nights a week where the resident musicians lead local players in trad (traditional Irish), ballad and contemporary music sessions. If your timing's right, you might even catch a live band.
Or, if you’re not quite ready to head indoors, amble along Grafton Street or through Temple Bar and you’ll find countless street musicians drawing small crowds with their mix of instrumentals, oldies and traditional music. In fact, the buskers, musicians, and other street performers provide enough entertainment to spend an entire afternoon stopping to watch a man on stilts juggle knives over a crowd here, or listen to a Dubliner put on their best Elvis impersonation there.
My sunny winter in Dublin’s been balanced out by plenty of other unusual weather, like snow (a rarity) and hail. But if you wake up to a free day with the sun shining during your stay here, don’t miss the chance to get out and enjoy it!
Nathan's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.