Dublin! Sorry for taking so long to post. I had a 4000-word history paper due today that has been eating my brain and I’ve only had time to do things on the internet since I finished. Anyway, Ireland was phenomenal. Even more cold and rainy than London, of course, but nothing to deter hardcore sightseeing and the like. I went with my friend Nic who is visiting me in London. A short recap of events:
We flew in Thursday night. By the time we had made it through customs and to the hostel, I was near passing out from hunger, so we just grabbed dinner and then chilled at the pub across the street from the hostel. Very homey feel, apparently very traditionally Irish.
Friday was the big sightseeing day. We hit the old library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church, the River Liffey and Dublin Castle, among other things. We couldn’t go inside Dublin Castle because of something to do with the Ireland being in charge of the EU right now, which was a little annoying, but I still had lots of fun. Also there’s this really awkward thing in the churches where they put the very commercial-looking gift shops right in the middle of the church itself, surrounded by stained glass and sculptures and anything. I understand that it’s a tourist attraction and there’s no real other way to put it, but still. Then we went to Irish dancing which was largely just a bunch of really awkward tourists failing at line dancing. Plus a brief section on Irish clog-dancing and step-dancing, which I really want to learn.
That night, we went on the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, which almost deserves its own theatre review post. It’s a combination of Dublin city tour and site-specific walking theatre event, led by two actors who take you around the city and give you an extremely detailed and fascinating history of the famous Irish writers (Joyce, Wilde, Beckett, etc) and their relationship with various places in the city, both pubs and other, as you pass by them. They also perform several pieces of actual theatre, including the opening of Waiting for Godot and a scene from The Risen People. The acting was fantastic, and periodically when it gets too cold to stay outside, you get to go into the pubs that Joyce wrote about in Ulysses and order a pint. I would recommend this tour to anyone, whether you’re interested in the pubs at all or not. Highlight of the trip.
Saturday morning it was significantly more touristy when we went out. We went to the carnival, saw a crew race between Trinity and University College Dublin, and then got on a bus to Belfast. Things I learned on that bus trip: there is zero border control between Northern and Southern Ireland, and the Irish countryside is beautiful and full of sheep. We only went up to Belfast for one evening to visit an old friend of Nic’s, and didn’t see much more than their City Hall and the inside of a pub, but I learned a ton about the political climate of Northern Ireland right now, where you can casually mention the latest bombing yesterday, and say you want to move out before the next riot season. I was amazed. They claimed that most people living there didn’t really care about the independence issue and just wanted to get on with their lives, but that doesn’t protect them from the extremism that seems to pervade the entire city.
And then Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day. We spent a full three hours watching the parade, which had the most insane things in it. Most of my photos are from the parade, so take a look; I’m sure you’ll be just as baffled by it all as I was. We then went and saw a few places we hadn’t gotten to yet, including Trinity College, I went on an absurd carnival ride of doom and then we headed to the first of a long series of extremely packed pubs. It was St. Patrick’s Day, after all. And because we legitimately could not find a single hostel with an open space for that night, we just didn’t go home. Flew back to London early Monday morning, which would have worked perfectly except then the flight took off about 45 minutes late and I had to go straight from the airport to my lecture. I did make it in time, though, barely.
I’m so glad I had a chance to go, and I had a ton of fun seeing everything and being a hopefully not too obnoxious tourist. We did avoid wearing green the entire trip. Enjoy the pictures, there are a rather absurd amount of them.