I've been in Ireland for a week now and have to say the people are amazingly friendly. Everywhere I go, I seem to be having fascinating conversations with strangers - I love when this happens!
Dublin is a beautiful city with a lot to do, and it's easy to take in. I've spent all of today on foot and it has been fine, although I'm glad to be sitting down now! After living in New York and London, I really appreciate a city that is alive and buzzing but also has a small town feeling to it.
The reason I came here was to take part in Culture Night, a night where cultural institutions open their doors for free to the public and where all types of music, dance, drama, spoken word, food....can be found throughout the city. It was a great atmosphere to be in, and I think every country should start this tradition. I was able to go to Christchurch Cathedral for free which is worth a visit for sure. It is where they filmed the show, The Tudors, and you can see the costumes along with some other cool stuff down in the crypt.
Last night I sang live from Meeting House Square with the rte national concert orchestra, broadcasting live onto the radio. There is something a bit intimidating about singing live on the radio, I think it's the idea that you are reaching a large audience and have no idea how the performance is coming across to those distant people. And with the microphones, every little inaccuracy can potentially be picked up where in a large hall, the distance might hide some imperfections. That said, there was something very calming about the orchestra and I was very pleased that I was not nervous, but just excited.
Actually, it was a great pleasure to sing opera in such a relaxed atmosphere. Being close to the audience, and being able to see them squished into the square while holding a glass of fizz put a lot of things into perspective for me. When we are in these beautifully ornate concert halls and theaters, the audience is often inspired by the grandness of it all to put on their best behavior - sadly, this often means they become rigid. Funny, as restraint and emotional containment are not common ingredients in the making of art itself. Anyways, my point is that it was fantastically liberating to sing to this carefree audience. They were relaxed and having a great time, and I just picked up this vibe and ran with it. What a gift from an audience.
Today I've enjoyed walking around the city, without a map. I'd definitely recommend visiting the Dublin Castle. The only way to go inside is to go on a tour, but it's very inexpensive and well worth seeing. The tour takes you through the palace and into the remains of the original castle underground. The tour was very interesting, and there is a great terrace tea room overlooking a beautiful garden and the city. I had a delicious scone and kombucha out there in the sun.
I went back to Temple Bar area where the performance took place this afternoon. There are so many great restaurants, pubs, and boutiques here, and it seems to be a place to be. There was a nice food market on the weekend, and all types of people and young families seemed to be here.
I finished my day off with a walk through Phoenix Park. Other than one section that was filled with teenagers, this park was stunningly beautiful. Fantastic flowers, trees, fountains and ponds. I recommend a stop here if possible. It's not a huge park, so it's an easy diversion if you're close by.
The only thing I didn't do was the Guiness Storehouse which was recommended by everyone I spoke to. It's ok, because 24 hours in Dublin has convinced me that I must come back for longer next time, so I'll get there eventually.