Sunday, March 31, 2013

Oh Boy, I'm Seeing Green [Or, Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland]

Saint Patrick's Day was originally going to be a very chill, calm, quiet --

Oh, who am I trying to kid?  Saint Patrick's Day was going to be a party.  I just happened to be in Dublin, Ireland.

That's right!  I checked off a big one: spending Saint Patrick's Day in Dublin, Ireland.  And several things were made abundantly clear to me: I will NEVER be able to binge drink like some people I met, multiple pub crawls with Americans and Brazilians are an experience, I should not subside on candies and chips, and I definitely love staying in hostels.

Let's recap.  It starts with my body, still aching from Amsterdam, suddenly saying "Well, crap."  It continues like this: I speak with my professor, stating that I have a plane to catch and could I leave 30 minutes before the end of class.  He then proceeds to say, five minutes before I'm supposed to leave, " Since we have some students who are leaving at four, we'll take a moment of pause, so they can gather their things."

It goes like this: my friend and I leave our class, giddy at the prospect of going to Ireland. We rush to the metro, where we're supposed to meet with another friend.  Amanda, the first friend, starts circling the station, worried that we'll be late, that we'll miss Gabby, that we'll not make it to Ireland.

Gabby, it turns out, is on the other side of the barrier, slowly laughing at us.

We get to the South station, when Amanda spies Sbarro. Nothing can deter her, so we get pizza and head towards the bus.  Instead, we are waylaid by taxi drivers who call out "Habiba" and tell us 13 euros, 30 minutes, much better than the bus.  We take the taxi.

We get there two hours early, our gate not even open.  We end up having a beer as we wait for RyanAir.  Amanda blows off steam once we make it past the security check (something was wrong with her visa, apparently).

This is where I make an explicit statement: RyanAir, as an airline, terrifies me with bright yellow seats, cramped rows, and never-ending advertisements.  It's freezing cold, people don't stop talking (ever) and the lights are always on.  The landing is bumpy and terrifying long, but when people survive unscathed, the flight attendants play trumpet music.

We land on shaky legs. Amanda and Gabby stumble towards a friend's apartment. I stumble towards Isaac's Hostel.  It turns out to be on the North Side.  The bus driver gives me directions, then tells me to be careful.  I make it without incident, and then proceed to pass out.

The next day, I go to join my friends on a free tour of Dublin.  Of course, I forget about the time change coming over, meaning I'm a full hour early.  I indulge in breakfast at Queen of Tarts, a pastry cafe shop that's fairly well known.

The tour is phenomenal.  We laugh at our tour guide's jokes, I learn some dirty Gaelic, and we get a pretty good idea of the town.  Of course, this is in between rain and sunshine, jokes about Irish accents, and a desire to get somewhere warm.  The rest of the afternoon is spent calming down and having some coffee.

Colorful and fantastic!

Oscar Wilde was only one famous person I "saw": there was Mary Malone and Bram Stoker too!

Starbucks in Ireland: Earl Grey tea, marshmallow swizzle, chocolate chili and dark forest cakes.

I meet up with Re (you'll remember her from my last post about Amsterdam).  We end up going to Leo Burdock's: I get fish and chips, she gets chicken tenders and chips.  We sit on the street, drinking cider and getting strange looks from locals.  After that "last supper", I ended up subsisting mostly on crisps (potato chips) and candies in the hostel...

That night, we go on a pub crawl.  When I say "pub crawl", I mean a crawl.  It involves Germans, Australians (who call me "American"), Irish guys and Spanish girls.  It involves drinks at different bars, dancing through streets, and laughing hysterically at the cold air.

I met a few great guys on the pub crawl and kept stealing Sven's hat. 

The next day, Re's left back to the States, her Euo-trip over.  I go to the Guinness Storehouse, walking through run-down streets, watching markets where people sell odds and ends, even groceries.  When the economic crisis in 2008 hit Ireland, it hit HARD.  Banks went under and people are only now starting to see some minor changes in the economy.  The area around the Guinness Storehouse is way outside of the center of town, and really shows the economic difficulties.  Even though it's on the South side, which is supposed to be more affluent, a lot of people were definitely struggling.

But going back to the Guinness Storehouse... It's massive. Huge. Five stories filled with boozy history, beer sampling and experiences, like learning how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.

I got a perfect pint of Guinness.  In case you didn't know, Guinness has a two-step pour.

The wall of history: also known as every Guinness bottle ever.

That night, I go on another pub crawl.  Funny thing about Americans on pub crawls: they're always the loudest. And the ones playing beer pong.  The guides say a few things that are definitely hysterical and true: "When you're upright, you're our problem.  When you're at 45 [degrees], you're sort of our problem. When you're flat, you're NOT our problem."

The next day is Saint Patrick's Day.  Rows of people, one after another, in green and green and more green. Apparently, I don't look like a tourist (even though I was wearing green tights and somebody's green hat): a police officer thinks I'm late for work and ushers me through a gap in the parade! 

Everywhere, people piled onto monuments, on top of electrical boxes, and on balconies.

I laughed at the random Disney characters mixed in with Saint Patrick's Day balloons.

The parade was a tad disappointing because I expected it to be like Macy's Thanksgiving... Not even close. But it was fun and a great time, even though I saw four fights and people get arrested.  

My trip ended like this: stumbling into a taxi at 3:30 am, getting to the airport and having a full Irish breakfast, with three cups of coffee, before I wait at the gate.  I watch four guys stretch out, asleep in sleeping bags, before I close my eyes.  

I end up in Brussels, torn between being awake and annoyed, while I go to class.

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