We were very fortunate to have had Hristos on our team of interns at Dublin International Hostel. He came to us from France and quickly became a part of our family at the hostel in Dublin. We chatted with him about his thoughts on hostelling in Ireland.
What were you doing before you came to Ireland? I actually had no idea that I would come to Ireland in February. I just finished my Erasmus semester studying digital marketing in France, travelling and seeing as much as possible of the country, when I started applying for internships. This one came up and I really liked the idea of working in the field that I really like, on digital, and in tourism, and in a country, which to be honest, I never thought of going there for work. So before I knew it, before taking a break to relax after being an Erasmus student in France, I was already preparing to leave.
What were your expectations of Ireland? Whenever you read about Ireland you wind up reading about Dublin, pubs, fish and chips and of course, Guinness. At the same time, you may discover that Irish people are nice, friendly, always welcoming people. I based my expectations on this at the beginning, before I actually started realizing what great beauties they have out there: Cliffs of Moher, the entire Wild Atlantic Way, the hikes around the mainland and all the great cozy pubs you can find. I expected it to be full of pubs, and it was. I expected them to be friendly, and they were. I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful when you get out of Dublin, so wild and so rugged.
What surprised you about Ireland? Exactly what I mentioned above. I did not expect Ireland to be this beautiful. I love being outdoors, exploring, filming my adventures, trying to see more and more, meet people, talk to them, see what really matters in the country where I am going. Here I was mostly surprised by the amazing sights, which I didn’t know too much about before.
What is your favourite spot in Ireland? I will have to say that by far my favourite spot is the entire area where Cliffs of Moher are. You start from there, head on towards Galway and pass by The Burren. Amazing place, one that makes you think that you are not really in Europe. You are in another world. I was comparing it to Iceland while I was there. Truly an amazing experience at the Cliffs of Moher to sit on a cliff with the ocean below and truly amazing to see how huge The Burren stones are and how big the area is. That was exactly what I wanted to experience here in Ireland.
What tips do you have for visitors to Ireland? It may sound weird, but I will be honest: stay out of Dublin. Yes, it’s a nice city, cozy, lots of pubs and good pints everywhere. But if you want to see what Ireland really is, go out from there, as far as possible, reach the Wild Atlantic Way and see what lies between the West and the East. That is what matters. Dublin is a mix I would say of everything Irish. Everything piled up together. If you leave the city, rent a car or just take a train or bus, you will meet the Irish people you were told about, you will probably see leprechauns and fairies and, most importantly, you will find great pints.
What is your favourite hostel and why? My favourite hostel is Killarney International Hostel, in Killarney, County Kerry. I also wrote a blog post about it and was very impressed because of the simple feeling it has. While Errigal Hostel in the north, in Donegal, looks amazing as well and has perfect rooms, Killarney is even better because of the multitude of activities you can do, from kayaking to cycling to hiking and to swinging through the trees. What is most impressive is that you feel welcome there, and that is important in hostelling.
What is the best thing about hostelling? Again I am connecting one question with the other. Definitely the best thing about hostelling is to make yourself feel at home. If you are not feeling like that, change the hostel. Meet people, talk, go out there. If you close yourself and don’t interact with people, nothing good will come from the whole experience. I know, I am usually the kind of person who slowly connects with people. It’s important to do it. It may seem weird, you may not like being in the room with more people, but slowly you can see that hostelling has a cool vibe to it. Hostelling will never die because people always want to travel and meet each other. No matter what.
What is the most challenging thing about hostelling? The most challenging thing about hostelling: trying to have it your way. I think hostelling teaches us a lot about living together in peace and harmony. If you have your own habits, they might be weird in hostels. People might not like you having the lights on so that you can read a message on your phone (which has a light anyway, so what’s the point?). Learn to leave something from you and to get something from others. Learn to let go of some behaviours and understand others. For me that is important in all my travels, ever since I left home to study abroad. Keep an open mind. It might seem hard, you might hate people because, well, they don’t do something the way you want them to do it. Then they have the same problem as you. Hostelling is challenging because it is a paradox. A cool paradox.
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