Once again I find myself updating this before departing for another adventure across Europe. I must say, I never thought I'd take the phrase "backpacking across Europe" quite so literally.
Thursday the 17th was St. Patrick's Day, and I spent it in Dublin watching the parade and touring the Guinness Factory. Besides the parade on the 4th of July in Washington, D.C. last summer, this was probably the most crowded and loudest parade I've ever been too. It was based off of the novel called "Brilliant" by Roddy Doyle. The costumes were vibrant and beautiful, the music was great and company was even better. We met people from all over; Italy, Spain, New York and California to name a few. We had to take an early bus into town (it left UL at 6:50 a.m.) but it was definitely worth it beating the crowd and finding a place in line to watch the parade. We walked around for a little while once we arrived, grabbed breakfast and did the touristy things. The parade started at about half 11 and went on until about 2 p.m. The time flew by with all of the activity and excitement going on around us.
After the parade, our group took a tour of the Guinness Factory, which was absolutely packed! Our tour company, Paddywagon, was a bit disorganized, but we all made it inside together and began our walk around the brewery. It was really neat to see how it was all made, but I think it would have been much more enjoyable had there not been a million people inside. Definitely the wrong day to partake on this little journey. We got our free Guinness at the end and the view from the top was amazing. You could see all of Dublin, it was so neat!
Our tour was over at about 5 p.m., and about half the group stayed in Dublin for the night while the rest headed back to UL for the weekend. I was lucky enough to get to stay in town and meet up with my parents friends for the weekend. I got to be shown around Dublin by true natives, and it was a fabulous weekend. Definitely one I won't soon forget! I stayed with my parents friends the Kearney's and their daughter Roisin on Thursday night, and they made an absolutely delicious dinner and took me Céilí Dancing. I had never been before, and it quite an interesting experience. It looks so much easier than it actually is! We tried about 4 different dances and each one was a little bit different. Some were more fun than others, but once you got the rhythm going (which for me wasn't until the end of the song!) it was a lot easier.
On Friday morning, Roisin had a meeting at her college, TCD (Trinity College Dublin). This is a huge tourist attraction so she was nice enough to take me along so I could tour the campus. What an absolutely beautiful place to go to school. All of Dublin was packed with tourists all weekend, so getting around anywhere proved to be a bit of a challenge. It was so nice to have my own personal tour guides all weekend long!
After visiting TCD, Roisin took me all around the rest of the city. We did some shopping, grabbed the best cup of hot chocolate I've ever had and walked through a beautiful park. The weather has been absolutely amazing the past 2 weeks. Sunshine and mid 50s! I don't know how I'm getting so lucky, but I am loving it. While we were walking through the streets, we stumbled upon the "The National Leprechaun Museum" and just had to go check it out. It was absolutely hilarious, and I'm so glad we went inside. They had a "Giant's Room" where everything was 5 times your size, a tunnel where you got smaller and smaller the farther you walked (so you felt as short as a Leprechaun) and there was a pot of gold room where we were told stories about the dangers of stealing a Leprechaun's gold. It was such a fun way to spend a few hours of the day.
We met up for dinner with the Kearney's at a great Italian restaurant before heading out for an evening of literature and music at the new convention center. The program started at half 7 (which, in Ireland time, means 8 p.m. because the Irish never start anything on time!). It was a really interesting and enjoyable program. There were traditional readings and music for the duration of the night, and a few famous authors read excerpts from poems and novels, while other musicians played some great tunes. The whole performance ran very long so it was about 12:15 a.m. by the time Mr. Kearney had dropped me off at my next stop, Eamon Kelly's house. Needless to say I was ready for some rest before another great day of touring Dublin.
Saturday morning Eamon's wonderful daughters took me into town and we went to the Saturday morning market. They showed me the famous Temple Bar and a bunch of other really neat shops and sites of the town, like the Customs House (built by the British, I was reminded) and the Government Building.
Saturday night was a HUGE night in Ireland because Britain played Ireland in rugby. Need I explain more? Eamon got tickets to go to the game, and it was such an incredible experience. We went out for drinks at a local rugby club that Mr. Kelly is a member of and then we headed inside to the stadium. Not only did Ireland win, they absolutely creamed England 24 to 8. Oh what a game it was. Ireland was definitely in a great mood on Saturday night to say the least. That was the first rugby match I've been too and from what I'm told (and saw) it was certainly the one to be at. What I liked about rugby compared to American football was that it was only 80 minutes and the clock never stopped. In American football, the game itself is only 60 minutes but it winds up taking about 3.5 hours because of all of the penalties and stopping of the clock. Rugby was such a fast moving and interesting game.
After the game we met Mrs. Kelly at a hotel nearby for drinks before heading off to dinner. I got fish and chips for the second time since I've been here and it was delicious. Everyone was in such a fantastic mood from the big win that everywhere you went was packed and full of people celebrating. I think Ireland beating England is kind of like when the Eagles beating the Cowboys :-)
On Sunday morning Mrs. Kelly made a traditional Irish breakfast that was delicious. Gerry Geoghegan, a friend of my parents and the Kelly's, came over for brunch as well and it was great to see him again. I really enjoyed all of their company and I loved being able to experience Dublin "the right way." After being sent back to UL with homemade brown bread and scones (yumm!) I boarded the 1 p.m. bus and returned back to campus at about 4:30. Gosh, why can't Limerick have an airport again? That is literally my only complaint about where I am at school. But I digress...I spent the rest of Sunday unpacking and doing some work and then headed over to my friend's for dinner to catch up on their weekends.
Monday morning I had my economics class, which I won't even rant about here because it's not worth the time or energy. I can't wait for that one to be over! Afterwards my journalism group met to organize our pitch for class. Basically we were all split up into groups of 6-7 people and were responsible for pitching the professor and a current magazine editor our idea. Whichever group won would be the "head team" and then from there we will all be writing feature stories for the magazine and it will be published at the end of the semester. It was pretty neat and I really enjoyed the assignment. I'm lucky to have such a good group of people to work with! In the afternoon I had my geoscience class and then spent the remainder of the day doing work and some reading. I figured out my class schedule for next semester (which I'm NOT looking forward too! ugh) and began to organize my notes so I can start studying for my final exams here. Work is beginning to pile up, as it always does near the end of the semester. There are only 3 more full weeks of classes and then Easter Break, followed by Reading week and then two weeks of exams. Where has the time gone? So crazy...
On Tuesday I had my Folklore class from 11am-3pm. I decided afterwards that, for a change, I would cook dinner for my friends on Tuesday night. I know, shocking. I can't cook for my life, but I wanted to give it a try! I took the bus into town to gather all of the ingredients for one of my favorite dishes, Taco Pie. I had to search high and low (okay,fine, only 2 places) to find all of the ingredients for the dish. I also did a little shopping in town which was exciting! They were having a great sale at Penny's so I grabbed a few new springy items because my wardrobe here is almost entirely winter sweaters and cardigans. It was beyond beautiful outside today! But anyway, I got to the bus stop, and as I was getting onto the bus, my shopping bag broke. A very nice lady (who I know was laughing at me on the inside) had an extra bag so it all worked out okay thankfully. I got to my friends house with my arms full of food, drinks and my new items of clothes! I started cooking and what I thought was going to be an absolute disaster turned out fantastically! Between the differences in measurements and cooking time/degrees, I was really nervous. Even though it was not as good as when my mom makes it, I was pleasantly surprised and so were my friends. As you can see, they didn't like it at all :-)
I only had one class today which was great because it was another gorgeous day outside. We decided to have a picnic outside the library! Such a fun and random mid-week thing to do. This week is election week for student government so people have been campaigning non-stop all week. Positive: you get free candy whenever you agree to vote for someone. Negative: they ring your doorbell at 11 p.m. at night. Alas, tomorrow is voting day so no more late doorbells! Thank goodness.
Well, I am off to Barcelona in about 6 hours so time for a little bit of shut eye. Of course, I always have the 3.5 ride to the airport to look forward too. It should be a great time and I'll fill you in when I get back Sunday.
Adios mis amigas,