Sarah from Belgium moved to Dublin in November to start a new job in Sandyford on the south side of the city. She decided to book a homestay for the first month so she could get settle in and get used to her new surroundings. She stayed with Homestay host Gity in Sandyford for €900 per month.
Homestay is not like being at a bed and breakfast place or a guest house: it's like being part of a family. My daughter Sarah needed somewhere to stay for a few weeks while starting a new job and getting to know Dublin, so I booked a room for her via Homestay. Gity, her hostess, has proved very kind and helpful, almost like a mother - which is what you need as a young person just arrived in a strange city and not yet knowing anyone. I accompanied Sarah for the first week.
Sandyford is edge-of-the-city office land, but is connected to the city centre by an excellent tram service (the 'Luas'). There's a Luas stop just five minutes' walk from Gity's front door. There's also a surprisingly large and busy shopping mall, with all the chains and brands you could wish for, at Dundrum - just a few tram stops from Sandyford.
To get to know downtown Dublin we went on a guided walking tour, which was brilliant: very informative and amusing. Dublin is not a huge city, and you can cover all the main sights and places of interest on foot.
We checked out Trinity College - the famous old university - and its Harry-Potter-like library, where you can see the rare and beautiful Book of Kells, dating back to the early middle ages. Also the national Museum, with its fabulous collection of prehistoric gold artefacts. The Temple Bar area is quaint and very touristy, with lots of crowded pubs, but the drinks there are ridiculously expensive. Best avoid!
Sarah and a friend in the old library at Trinity College
Sarah and I also took a DART (Dublin Area rapid Transit) train up the coast to the northern end of Dublin Bay, where we enjoyed a stroll around Howth. It's a pleasant little seaside town with a fishing harbour and a yachting marina.
And we rented a car to take a day trip south of Dublin - across the wild and scenic Wicklow Mountains to the ancient monastic centre at Glendalough (a lovely quiet spot by a lake) and from there down to the coast at Arklow. The weather was pretty terrible that day, so we spent an hour or two relaxing in the sauna and steam room at the Arklow Bay Hotel fitness centre. We can thoroughly recommend it!
What to see in Dublin depends on what interests you, but I would certainly recommend a walking tour to get an overview of the history, the culture and the layout of the city on your first day there. One other thing I loved was stopping off at Bewley's - a beautiful old restaurant/coffee house in Grafton Street - to sit in the warmth of their log fire and enjoy their absolutely delicious cooked breakfast.
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This is a place that brings back so many memories. We used to hang out and meet friends here all the time and i remember my mom buying me a huge full Irish and cream buns here whenever she visited. This place was shut for many years so imagine my delight to see it open again and crammed with people! #bewleysorientalcafe #dublineats #dublin #unlistedcities
I greatly enjoyed my action-packed week in Dublin, certainly different from my daily life in Brussels. By the time I left I had taken the tram to and from Sandyford so many times that I'd almost learnt by heart the names of the stops along the line! In English, at any rate: in Irish they are a bit harder... Mind you, comparing the two - and looking at all those bilingual signs in public places - is a fun way to learn some Irish words. But how to pronounce them?! Don't ask me.
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