Madeline Messina is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Advertising major and a French and Francophone Studies minor at the University of Florida, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Madeline talks about using the DART to see sites surrounding Dublin, and why the most memorable ones were free.
One of the most alluring aspects of Ireland is it’s wild, rugged, untamed natural landscape. In Dublin, it is easy to forget about the untouched countryside when swallowed by the mass of pubs, hotels and shops. I love Dublin. I feel such an energy in the city. But it doesn’t compare to the feeling of complete freedom when walking through the emerald hillside.
This past weekend I used my DART card to travel to different areas in County Dublin. The first location we visited was the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens. It cost us 6€.
Next, we saw Powerscourt waterfall for 7€ plus a 30€ return taxi ride split between four people, as there were no busses running between the estate and waterfall.
Of course, both sites were beautiful. But, knowing what I know now, would I have spent the money to go there in the first place? No. Because, what I found to be truly spectacular that day was what we didn’t pay for. Ireland’s natural beauty; free for anyone to behold. On the way to Powerscourt we stumbled across an incredible view of the mountains. It was completely free, no taxi necessary, as the Dublin bus took us straight there.
In the same area, we ran into two beautiful horses. Interacting with these majestic creatures is by far one of my favorite things I have done in Ireland. The horses had such gentle demeanors and were very people-friendly. I have never felt such a genuine connection to an animal or to the land until that point. That experience deepened my love for Ireland tenfold. And it didn’t cost a single penny.
The next day was a very similar structure. I ended up paying for something I didn’t enjoy nearly as much as what I had done for free. We started the day with Malahide castle, taking a guided tour for 9€.
The castle was pretty and the tour was informative. However, we could see the castle from the outside for free, and the indoor tour, while interesting, was very short. The real magic of the day, as you probably have guessed, happened after the guided tour.
Using our complementary DART pass again, we rode the rail to Howth, a small fishing village just outside Dublin city centre. There is incredible beauty to be found at Howth. In the village center, you can see the whole town on the picturesque hillside. Seals brush up against the harbor and seagulls soar over the sea and perch on the docked sail boats.
From the edge of the village, you can see a lighthouse, several small islands, and boats sailing the expanse of the ocean. If you walk up the hill through the residential area, you can find perfect hiking trails. My friends and I stumbled upon stairs down to the coast of a cliffside, and since we were feeling adventurous, we decided to traverse the rocky path. What we found was a beautiful (and slightly precarious) hike over mossy stones, through marshes and ponds, and around deep caves. The shore ebbed and flowed over the algae-covered jagged rocks as we jumped from stone to stone.
Climbing up the stairs after our cliffside walk, we noticed a mountain in the distance that had people climbing on it, so we headed straight over there. After a half an hour of walking towards the mountain, we finally found it. We climbed all the way to the top, and had a great feeling of accomplishment when we saw what an unbelievable view we had been rewarded with.
We could see all of Howth and its surrounding islands, you guessed it, for free. Ireland has so much to offer to the traveler on a budget. It’s not all guided tours and museums. Sure, you can see Ireland that way, but you can’t live Ireland that way. There’s so much to experience here, it would be a shame to only see it behind plexiglass. Go and explore Ireland off the beaten path, you’d be surprised what you can find!
Madeline's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.