I was in Dublin a few days ago, and it was unseasonably warm (as always seems to be the case when I’m there – I reckon all the talk about bad weather is just a trick so they can keep the beautiful scenery to themselves).
Work was threatening to overwhelm me, and although I wasn’t really up for anything hugely strenuous, I decided that a wander outside would do me good. Especially if it was on the way to a wine shop. Which it was.
Some time ago, I was talking to my friend (also a frequent traveller) about the places we’d visited and which ones we’d liked the most.
It’s no secret that South Carolina has been my favourite destination so far: a combination of weather and scenery made it burrow straight into my heart.
This surprised me at the time, because I didn’t expect to love the USA. And other things have surprised me, too, like how I enjoyed my time in Barcelona but didn’t fall for the city, and how I preferred Malaga even though I didn’t manage to do as much exploring while I was there.
My friend said she’d read that it has something to do with architectural ratios: the ratio of buildings to space between them, the height of the buildings (especially in a city), and how wide the roads are.
At the time, I quite liked this hypothesis, and when I thought about it, it made sense. My favourite parts of London have large houses (generally converted into flats, we’re not all millionnaires), which are set back from fairly wide roads and usually have a bit of space in between them. I also like older buildings, and in between my wide roads and big old houses I like little characterful cobblestoned alleyways.
Not that I’m fussy, or anything.
Dublin, I realised while I was there, fulfils most of my requirements.
I was staying in Ballsbridge, in the Roxford Lodge Hotel, which I highly recommend because it’s reasonably priced and also has jacuzzi baths and good coffee.
Ballsbridge is quite a nice bit of Dublin, and it’s easy to get to the centre and to UCD if you happen to be working there, which I was.
Walking through the streets, I kept stopping to look at the pretty buildings and take pictures of them, and then I realised my friend was right: it’s all about the ratios.
There were lots of beautiful big buildings, like this one. Just looking at it you can see its character and imagine all the people who have lived in it over the years. And I’m a sucker for a turquoise door.
Walking around the city made me remember that sometimes as a kid I’d dreamed of living in a place like this: a house in a city, but one that had a garden and looked a little unkempt. One that definitely had character, but that didn’t give too much away. And one that, when you opened the door, catapulted you into a magical world.
Instead I live in a flat that occasionally tries to catapult me through the floor, but you get what you pay for…
Dublin does ratios correctly. Big buildings with gaps in between them, gardens around them, wide roads in front of them, and a large number of trees.
Noticing the details is a good idea wherever you are, but Dublin has a lot of them. Especially nice little arty ones: paintings strung up around St. Stephen’s Green, little conservatories hiding around the sides of houses, and statues in gardens that just require you to look closer.
What are your favourite cities? Is there a particular houses-to-streets ratio or type of building that makes you fall in love with a place?
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