Dublin did not start out well. (Spoiler alert: it ends well.) We flew to Dublin with Ryan Air, so that immediately started things badly. Upon arrival at about midnight, I go to retrieve my checked bag only to find it at baggage claim with the front pocket unzipped and my headphones dangling out. My iPod was missing. I racked my brain for any possible explanation, but my iPod is too small to push open the pocket itself, and anything that would have been big enough to push open the pocket, would have fallen out. Also, the headphones do detach from the iPod, but it takes a little force. Really, given the situation and appearance of my suitcase, the only explanation is that my iPod was stolen from my checked bag. Dealing with Ryan Air employees about this situation sure was pleasant and fun.
A little theft could not break my spirit. A good night’s sleep made me ready for Dublin. I loved being in London, but there is something a little generic about all really big cities. Of course there is so much history and things very specific to London, but there is also a big city feel to London. This brought a lot of excitement to it, but Dublin really has it’s own personality.
The first thing in Dublin that I saw was Trinity College. The college campus is beautiful with big gray stone buildings, but the attraction is the library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a decorated old print of the New Testament. The illustrations and calligraphy work have surprisingly retained their color after all these years. The library at Trinity College contains row after row and shelf after shelf of old leather bound books. Each row end has a statue of a famous writer/philosopher. The shelves of books go up really high because the ceiling is a huge wooden arch.
Being in Dublin, it is necessary to make a trip to the Guinness Storehouse. Where would I run into a lot of people I know? Not at Trinity College, not at St. Patrick’s Cathedral…. No… a beer factory. We ended up doing the tour with a group of girls from our program who were also in Dublin at the same time. I also ran into a girl, Rachel, who lived in my dorm last semester and is now studying in London. Really, I am not surprised. I did have a lot of fun at the Guinness Storehouse. You learn about how it is made and the history of Arthur Guinness. He was so confident in his beer that he took a 9,000-year lease out on the property. There are all sorts of quotes written all over the place glorifying Guinness. They are so serious, but they made me laugh. Especially the one written on the inside of a huge barrel that said “There’s poetry in a pint of Guinness.” At the end of the tour, you get a pint of Guinness at the Sky Bar. The Sky Bar overlooks Dublin 365 degrees. It had just stopped raining, so we had a nice view of a rainbow while we sipped our Guinness. I was really tempted to go and find the leprechaun.
The next day, we headed out early for the Wild Wicklow Tour. Monica and her friends who were randomly in the same hostel as us were also on the tour. The tour was hysterical and my favorite part of Dublin. Our tour guide, Steve, made sure we got the WILD Wicklow Tour. He gave us a quick tour of Dublin. He explained that the Liffey River divides Dublin in 2. The North Side is the bad side; the South Side is the posh side. (A lovely old gentleman had explained this to me on the bus ride from the airport. He told me to keep to myself on the North Side). The bus picked us up on the North Side. We passed the Millennium Spire which is a huge metal tower made in 2002. The Irish refer to it as the Stiletto in the Ghetto, and a few other names. Shortly after, we saw a James Joyce statue, the Prat in the Hat. Across the river by Trinity College, there is a statue of Molly Malone, the Tart with the Cart, the Dish with the Fish, the Dolly with the Trolley. Molly was supposedly celibate, but according to Steve, there are other rumors that she was celibate here there and all over town. By the looks of the statue, I would believe the other rumors. The sculptor sure had fun when he made her bust. The next Dublin icon up for teasing: Oscar Wilde. We passed a statue of him sitting on a rock. Therefore, he is the Fag on the Craig. These Irish are feisty and good at rhyming. On our way to our first stop, Steve made us sing some Irish pub songs.
Our first stop was Forty Foot, which is near a tower that Joyce spent some time in. It has a beautiful view of the Irish Sea. People go there everyday to swim. Steve was saying that the men swim in there naked. I thought he was joking until we went down there for a photo op. He wasn’t joking. Old naked men were all over the place. I had to laugh. It was my only defense. Steve said that on Christmas morning, 300 men run into the water wearing nothing but a Santa hat. Well well well…
On the way to Wickow, Steve went around and around a traffic circle until we guessed the correct password. (Potatoes). Whenever he did something crazy, his excuse was “This is the Wild Wicklow Tour.”
We drove all around Wicklow and saw beautiful scenery. All of the hills had snow on them. Wicklow was the backdrop for a lot of films such as Braveheart, PS I Love You, and Leap Year. Wicklow is beautiful, but wet. There are 275 rainy days a year in Wicklow. But, that can not drown the Irish spirits because as Steve said “In order to have rainbows, you have to live with the rain.”
We stopped by a clearing to see the highest waterfall in Ireland. The road that we were driving on was a country road so we saw lots of farms and especially sheep. It is a popular bike route as well. Steve had a bottle of Jameson up front with him and when we passed a few bikers and he pulled over to them, shot glass in hand and shouted “Would you like a Whiskey?” He also offered a farmer in a tractor a whiskey. When the farmer replied that he only drinks beer, Steve wondered aloud ”What is this? Has Ireland gone dry?”
The next stop was a view of Guinness Lake from on top of a huge hill. That’s when the Jameson was brought out and everyone did a shot. When in Ireland….
After a late lunch (for me beer and Irish potato and leek soup) we made it to the final destination of the day was a walking tour of Glendalough. We saw the lakes and St. Kevin’s Monastery. There is a tower there where if a girl runs around it 3 times, she’ll get married in a year. Of course I did it.
After the Wild Wicklow Tour, we relaxed a little in preparation for the pub-crawl that night. Before starting the pub-crawl, I met these guys in my hostel room who were already a few sheets to the wind (It was about 7 o’clock). The conversation went a little like this:
Guy: Do I need to apologize to you?
Me: No, why?
Guy: Were you here last night?
Me: No, I was in a different room.
Guy: Oh ok, could you tell me where those Asian girls went?
The guy’s name was Martin and his friend’s name was Neil. I found out later that Martin had gotten really drunk the night before and was stumbling around the room naked. He had tried to pee on these 2 Asian girls, who were yelling, “Help me! Help me!” Obviously, I had to invite them to the pub-crawl. I honestly didn’t think they would come. I figured they would have something… better to do. But they came! While we were waiting for the tour guide to get to the hostel, this tall blonde joined our group out of nowhere. It turns out the girl, Jo, and Martin have a daughter together. They were great fun. The pub-crawl consisted of me, Kate, Monica and her London friends, and our friend Whale who was also in Dublin for the weekend with her friends. This redheaded ‘murican, Nick, led the tour which was not legitimate at all. I think I have pieced together the story of Nick. He is from St. Louis and moved to LA after high school to “make it”. After 7 years, he went on a tour of Europe and never left Dublin. The tour was a blast just because of the people I was with. It was so fun to be with the people I go out with at Penn State. A good time was had by all.
I woke up the next morning and saw Martin curled in the fetal position at the end of his bed. Jo was whisper-yelling at him “Martin… Where’s Neil?” No one knew were Neil ended up that night. They tried to call him, but Martin and Jo ended up leaving a message on his cell saying that they had to go, but they were leaving his stuff at reception. I wished them a good trip and hungover Martin said “God… why are you so happy???” We never did find out what happened to Neil.
That Sunday was a beautiful sunny Sunday. After some souvenir shopping, Kate and I made it to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We had a really early morning the next day to catch our flight, so we decided to just chill and go to the movies to see Leap Year. I do love Amy Adams, but the movie itself was cheesy. It was just really really cool to see the places that we had visited just the previous day!
The next day we returned to France. Our flight landed in Carcassonne, which is only 1 ½ hours away from Montpellier, but more problematic than you would think. It was announced that our first train was 20 min late, and then it was cancelled, so we had to wait for a long long time to catch a train home. Welcome back!!!