The main entrance to Dublin airport was crowded with people, as Armin and I zigzagged through the congested throng. New arrivals were checking themselves in, and departing passengers pushed towards the sliding automatic doors with their luggage, eager to clamber onto transport that would take them into the heart of the Irish capital.
Emerging from the building and from the crowds, we both followed the pavement to the left towards the bus terminal. We each carried a backpack, and were able to manoeuvre easily to the ticket machines, before boarding a bus and excitedly climbing the steps to the upper deck. Despite the crowds outside, the bus was relatively empty, and we sat on the front seats which gave commanding views out of the windows. I shrugged my backpack off, then grabbed my baseball cap from my head and began fanning myself. It was a few minutes after 8am, but it was already a warm day. It was the middle of summer, and I could see the sun beating down from a blue, cloudless sky, even at this early hour. I loved the heat, and it reminded me of my life back in Firenze. If there was one thing I missed about Italy, it was the weather.
‘I’m so fucking excited to be here!’ I said, punching a clenched fist into the air, my knuckles narrowly missing the window.
‘Calm down,’ said Armin, laughing.
He sat on the seat across from me, and was rummaging inside his backpack. He withdrew a bottle of water and took a long, thirst-quenching swig.
‘Calm down? Aren’t you excited too? This is amazing! I can’t believe we’re here!’
‘Yeah, I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to visit Dublin.’
Armin looked at his watch. ‘I can’t believe how early it is. This is brilliant. I think we’ll get into the centre of Dublin at about nine. We’ve literally got the whole day ahead of us. Let’s dump our bags at the hotel, then go out for breakfast.’
‘So am I. Then we can just walk around for the rest of the morning and explore the city.’
‘I’m so happy you suggested we come here!’ I said, as the bus began its journey. I was gazing out at the green fields and blue sky as we followed the road towards the city.
‘I’m happy too,’ said Armin. ‘Let’s do a pub crawl tonight. I want to drink in proper pubs with character, where there’s live music playing and everybody’s drinking Guinness.’
I laughed. ‘Do you really think it will be like that? Surely that’s just a cliche.’
‘We’ll see. I hope Dublin still has its own character, and hasn’t become homogenised like a lot of other places.’
‘I don’t want to go to all the touristy spots,’ I said. ‘I hate tourists. There are some famous sights I want to see, but I don’t want to drink where the tourists drink. The pubs will be overpriced.’
‘I think the tourist area is called Temple Bar,’ said Armin. ‘We can have a look around there this afternoon, but I agree, let’s not drink there tonight. I read online that drinks are a bit cheaper north of the river. But I think everywhere will be pricey. It’s Dublin.’