The trip was so perfect that I simply cannot fully describe it to anyone. It was a perfect mix of every dream I have ever had about Ireland. The countryside was was breathtaking, the people were some of the kindest folks I have ever met, and the things I saw were unforgettable. Not to mention the great Guinness and days full of laughter. All the pieces alone were amazing, but together they made for the best five days of my life.
Friday, 10 February 2012: I left for Dublin at 6am, Grenoble time and ate a pain au chocolate on my way. The flight was relatively short, but I still napped. I got another stamp in my passport (!) and when the plane landed I almost cried. The weather was perfect. It was 5ºc, bordering on warm with mist. I felt like I could breath again, without my lungs burning from the cold.A double-decker bus took us into the city from the airport and I stared out the window the whole way, like a child. Dublin seemed familiar and strange all at the same time. It was a perfect mix of modern places inside old building on cobblestone streets. It seemed to be the Seattle of Europe but with nicer people. Way nicer people. We found our hostel, met the nice staff, dropped off our stuff and tried to find some food. We got lost, and this woman actually came up to us and asked us if we needed directions. She actually asked us. Then she sent us "just up the hill, to the grocery which has tea and biscuits" and we ate like kings at this Safeway-like grocery store.
After lunch we wandered around the city, simply taking pictures and getting our bearings. We walked for hours. In the evening we ate burritos, fulfilling our lusting for Mexican food. We wandered off to a pub for a pint. A pint in a real Irish pub. The night was spent chatting with Bradley and Annie and Taylor, getting to know each other a little more and just commenting on how grateful we all are to have the experiences we are having both in Dublin and in France.
When we finished our pints we went back to our hostel and met some of our roommates. A nice guy from Missouri named Danny, who lives in Lyon (!) and we invited to join us on our explorations. There was also a nice Australian guy who was in Dublin to watch an Irish Jig competition. We fell asleep while talking.
Saturday, 11 February 2012: We ate our free breakfast that the hostel provides, and then started our exploring. We found a tiny castle/church near our hostel, where an old man was trying to get in through a tiny, leprechaun-sized-door. He fell and I ran to help him, then he almost took me down so Bradley came to the rescue. We got our karma points for the day.We saw the Temple Bar area of Dublin, which reminds me of the Hawthorne area of Portland with tourists. Saw a Starbucks. Finally. Wandered into Trinity College, which was breathtaking and slightly dangerous, with it's cobblestone streets and lush green lawns. Queen Elizabeth I put down all the cobblestones and we all agree that the woman knew what she was doing. Drunk college girl in heels ruining her cobblestone streets? Bitch please.
Bradley, Annie, and Taylor all went into see the Book of Kells, but I didn't have a student ID with me and I wasn't down for paying 10euros. Especially when you only get to see two pages a day and I could read the whole book in the bookstore. Taylor later told us she had a dream about it where she broke into the Library and started flipping all the pages, screaming "two pages my ass!" Which had us in stitches for a good five minutes.
We ate lunch at this Irish dinner which had good stew. It was nowhere near as good as my Grandma's stew (which she is making me as soon as I get back) but it was good. After lunch we stood out on the street, lost. The owner of the diner came out and asked us if we were lost and she told us how to get to the Oscar Wilde statue. She told us to cross the park, turn at two specific pubs and then continue blah, blah, blah. Well we crossed the park (which was beautiful) and then realized that we didn't need to go in the park at all. She just had us go there because she thought it was beautiful. Her directions were so completely Irish that I just started laughing. I love the Irish.
We found Oscar Wilde, after we found a random statue that we thought was him, covered with Irish delinquents smoking weed, and we asked them to move so we could take a photo. When we walked away we discovered the real Oscar Wilde statue. They probably thought we were the stupidest Americans they had ever met.
After Oscar Wilde, we crossed the city of Dublin in one long walk to get to the Guinness Factory. It would be like walking from Alberta Street to Pioneer Square at the end of a long day of walking. It was torture. But then we got to Guinness. The actual building is beautiful and we learned how they make their famous brew, making us appreciate it that much more. We climbed to the top of the building, which has a stunning peripheral view of Dublin, to drink our free pint. It is strong, but really good after you learn how to appreciate it. I now like the stuff Dad!
Sunday, 12 February 2012: The hostel we stayed at has a free walking tour everyday and we decided to go on Sunday. It was really fun. Our tour guide was a nice girl that knew a lot about the city. We saw Dublin Castle, Johnathon Swift's house, learned some Irish fables, Bradley drank an Irish coffee, and I met new people. The tour was great, and I was in awe how everyone in Europe seems to be so patriotic and basically in love with their country. I wish that I felt that way about America. We are still a young country and there is a lot that I am not proud of (slavery, prohibition, Bush Administration, etc.) but I hope that someday I have loyalty for a place like most Europeans have for their country.
After the tour we were exhausted so we went back to the hostel and made some Poor Man's Pasta for dinner. I thought it was awful, but I like cooking so dumping a jar on some overcooked noodles grossed me out a little. We had signed up for a literary pub crawl at 7pm so we ate early and then left.
The pub crawl kicked off at Duke's Pub, were two older men led us in poetry and sonnets by some of the greatest Irish writers including Wilde, Joyce, Swift, etc. We all drank. I think there were like 4 pubs we went too. I think I drank like three beers, and a shot, and I vaguely remember drinking someone else's Guinness and yelling that the answer was Frank Sinatra to a question. I was a little drunk. But I had a great time, surrounded by friends and poetry and history and beer. It was the best pub crawl I've ever done. Okay it was is the only one I've ever done, but it was still good.