Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Trip Start Feb 07, 2008
Trip End May 08, 2008

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!! I just got back from Dublin, Ireland and boy did I have some Irish fun :) The newspaper there said that St. Patrick's Day weekend is the busiest time of the year for Ireland and I definitely believe it--there were tourists everywhere! Five of us girls from the program, Mackenzie, Katie, Carissa, Sarah, and myself all booked the trip together a couple weeks ago but when we looked at our hostel confirmation we found out that they were trying to charge us double what we though for each night--not cool! So Carissa found this program called "couch surfing"; we all agreed to try it out and this is when I knew we would have an interesting weekend!
We left for Irish country on Thursday afternoon and about 6 hours later we arrived with some directions from our "hosts" and Dublin City awaiting us. We stayed near the city center, O'Connell Street, which was really convenient all weekend, but it turns out that there is a group of young boys called "the hood" that cause trouble and we met them the first night. We were waiting at the apartment to get buzzed upstairs when we got bombarded with eggs!! Yeah, eggs! We were all just so shocked that we just stared at the little boys in amazement (except Sarah, who got a little upset and yelled quite a bit...) My pants got a little, but poor Mackenzie had it the worst and I had to wash her hair as soon as we got upstairs in the bathroom. She took it like a trooper though and we ventured into the living room to meet our hosts Bartek and Soeren, and another couple that was couch surfing there as well, Daniel and Anja from Germany. Couch Surfing is an internet based program where you pay a fee to join, then people around the country offer their homes to you for however long you like for free. The two guys we stayed with seemed to really enjoy having guests and they had fun taking us out and showing us Dublin at it's finest--the nightlife. It still boggles me how they trusted us enough to let us stay on their living room floor all weekend but we did greet them with wine and prepare a tasty meal of chicken and pasta for them.
Thursday night, Bartek and Soeren took us to a little pub down the street for a low key night--it was so cute--everything that you imagine an Irish pub to be! There was a man playing live music and he played "Danny Boy" which is when it finally set in that I was in Ireland. We did some Irish jigs with an older man who insisted on dancing with every single one of us...the Irish seem like very happy folk (either that or very drunk...) A couple locals introduced themselves to our table and we talked to one Irish boxer for quite awhile who insisted that I was "99.9% Irish and that I would make a great Irish wife" I knew I had a little Irish in me, but I guess a little more than I thought???
Friday morning, we woke up and were ready to head to Cork to kiss the Blarney Stone and visit the Blarney castle, but when we got to the train station we were disappointed to find that it was a 65 euro ticket to get there in 2 hours. Sarah and Katie ended up going but Mackenzie, Carissa, and I decided to stay behind and just walk around Dublin for the day. We ventured down O'Connell street and visited some cute shops and gardens in the morning and stopped into a restaurant called Flanigans for lunch. I ordered the Traditional Irish Stew and was excited to feast on real meat and potatoes for the first time in a month!
The Dublin Castle was pretty cool-we didn't go inside because you had to pay and our trusty travel guide book said it wasn't worth it. It was kind of funny to be looking at a castle in the middle of a city, but it was still pretty impressive and I tried to take some cool pictures of it. On our way back to the apartment we actually witnessed a man get hit by a taxi on the street. He wasn't moving very fast and a couple minutes later we heard the ambulance come for him so I guess it was pretty serious! The traffic, like everywhere in Europe was quite crazy and they drive on the opposite side of the road in the U.K. so we had to follow the signs that direct tourists which way to look when crossing the street. The crosswalks also have beeps and sounds that let you know when to cross too-I will miss that sound!
As I said before, we agreed to cook supper for the boys in our couch surfing agreement so we hit up a grocery store and bought supplies for a delicious chicken, pasta, garlic bread, salad, and crème puff meal. They were pretty impressed with our meal so they decided to take us out on the town again on Friday night. It was about a 20 minute walk to a hotel club, and a couple other bars and clubs that we danced our hearts out at. The bars closed around 3am and we headed back to the apartment and danced some more until 5am when we laid out all of the couch cushions on the floor and had a big slumber party. I was the lucky (or unlucky) one who got (or had) to sleep in the chair that night...but we just had to remember...it was free!
We woke up to rainy Dublin, which apparently is the norm in Ireland so we toughened up and trekked down to St. Patrick's Cathedral. We got soaked to the bone even though we all sported our colorful umbrellas but the garden and the church were beautiful as always and well worth the walk. It was kind of sad to walk into a church though, and have the first thing you see be a gift shop that sells big green leprechaun hats and shot glasses. We stopped at a little burger shop on the way home and I thoroughly enjoyed some super nachos that I have been missing something horrible since I've been in Holland. Since it was so soggy, we walked our wet butts back to the apartment again and just hung out with the guys and watched a little Irish rugby for the evening.
Some other friends from our program also came to Dublin for the weekend and randomly we ended up about a block away from each other so we met up and decided to create our own little pub crawl on Saturday night. Sarah was really set on doing a literal pub crawl on her hands and knees but nobody else was up for it besides me, so we got down and dirty in the puddles of Dublin and literally crawled out of the first pub, across the street, and up the stairs to the next pub, which was sadly closed for the night!! So we turned to the next one only to find that it was closed as well!! So our pub crawl wasn't quite as successful and we had hoped, but we had the attention of every person in the Temple Bar district and created quite a spectacle I guess...yet again... stupid Americans...
Sunday was Palm Sunday so we woke up and started walking in hopes of finding a church that would have a service and we got really lucky and walked right up the garden of the Christ Church right when the choir started singing for mass. They gave us really cool palms that were already folded in the shape of a cross and the entire liturgy of the mass was sung by the priest-it was a memorable experience for sure.
On the way home we hit up St. Stephan's Green, a gorgeous park with a couple ponds and fountains and statues scattered around. While walking around we found huge patches of shamrock, and being the stupid Americans that we are got down on our hands and knees and tried to pick it to take it home. Turns out it is a pretty delicate plant and the three leaf clovers didn't handle the trip home very well, but I still got it scrap-booked and I know that at one time it really was a real shamrock in Ireland. The park was a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city-I didn't get to leave Dublin to see the famous Irish countryside so I took this park for all that I could and really enjoyed just strolling through all the foliage, observing all the children and couples doing the same.
Sad to leave before the actual St. Patrick's Day festivities really got into full action, we hailed a taxi van for the airport only to have our flight be delayed and miss our train, get smashed in the doors of the next train, and walk the long path to the dorms with multiple blisters on my feet-a 9 hour trip! It was so worth it though and I had a great time in Ireland-it is someplace that I definitely wouldn't mind revisiting and doing some of the things that I didn't get to the first time. As always, it is nice to be back in Maastricht, have my own room, be able to type out this novel of a blog for you all, and take a nice warm shower. I hope that all of your St. Patty's Day celebrations were a good time and I would definitely recommend spending at least one St. Patrick's Day in Ireland at a pub-great times!!

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lesliebogie on

That's My Sister!
Irish jigs, pub crawls, couch surfing - that's my sister! Sounds like you are having a blast. I'm so glad you are not holding back and experiencing it all. You are going to have so many beautiful pictures to scrapbook - what wonderful memories! Love ya and miss ya! Max says, 'Aaahhh' to you:)

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