Well, I finished my midterms yesterday, which must mean that already my semester abroad is half over. So hard to believe!! I could probably leave now and still have enough stories to tell for years, but I’m excited for the adventures the second half holds and maybe even some warmer spring weather, if I’m lucky!
As I suspected it would, Ireland captured my heart last weekend and is already on my list of places to go back to. Though it absolutely POURED rain all day on Saturday (just imagine the gloomiest Seattle day), we wandered around with the other thousands of tourists who were there for St. Patrick’s Day and saw a lot of the city. I’d love to see some of the country and coast next time, perhaps while listening to some Irish music 🙂
We arrived early on Friday morning and started off our first travel day with a little nap to get some energy. I love naps at home anyway, but the value of naps when traveling cannot be overestimated! Feeling refreshed we headed out to our first stop, which we spotted on the bus ride into town: the Guinness Factory. Ha, I can’t say I drink much Guinness, but it seemed wrong not to go there as a college student on St. Patrick’s weekend, and we weren’t the only ones who thought that either! In the factory you work your way up to the top floor, learning all about the two hundred year history of the greatest beer in the world. At the top you enter the Gravity Bar, where you enjoy your complimentary Guinness and look out over the city. Great view, great beer, great people… what could be better?
The rest of the weekend we wandered to some of Dublin’s highlight places with the mass of other tourists (my favorites were the ones who shamelessly wore their huge green hats around the city). As instructed by my mother, I saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College which was actually very cool. Learning the history and seeing the book were excellent, but actually I really loved walking through the Long Room of the college library with the high dark wood ceiling, all the old books, and the busts of people who have essentially created the academic world as it is today. There were no tables anymore, but I thought that maybe if I could just study in there for an hour or so I’d have some sort of profound enlightenment, surrounded by all that knowledge! I also wandered to Christ Church Cathedral and got there a little before Evensong, so I decided to seek refuge from the rain there for a little while and sat in my soaking wet clothes listening to the choir. It was really peaceful, as long as I didn’t move too much so that I could feel my damp clothes clinging to my body 🙂 On Sunday morning we also headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and toured around inside. Churches and museums are never lacking here!! One of my favorite places was the Temple Bar area, the old part of town along the river, very cute and funky.
Both nights there we found some great Irish pubs, some with locals, some with all tourists, some with Irish music, some with American cover bands. Ha, overall it was just fun to be out with everyone who was enjoying a good weekend. We ran into three other Gonzaga students while we were there, two studying in Paris, one studying in Florence. None of us really knew them, but we all recognized each other, so, of course, we had to say hello! Also, while I was seeing the Book of Kells, a huge group came through and I glanced over to see one of the guys wearing a ‘Shorecrest’ sweatshirt. I figured there was no way it could be Shorecrest High School in Shoreline so I ignored it. But then another guy walked by and on his backpack I saw a tag that said Seattle. So, of course, I had to ask, and sure enough, the entire band from Shorecrest High School was in Dublin that weekend to play in the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Monday. Random!! Randomly meeting people is probably one of the greatest things about traveling so far, whether you talk with people for thirty seconds or go to dinner with them, like I did with the Australians in Chamonix, it’s just fun to share your experiences and laugh together.
Overall, Dublin was a cool place and I could have probably been content just sitting listening to the Irish accents all weekend, but I saw some great things as well! Life in London is still eventful as always. Went to Dickens’s house with my English class and to a lecture by an author we’re reading later in the semester (Hanif Kureishi, who wrote “The Buddha of Suburbia”). Managed to score another free ticket to the play “Days of Significance”, which which puts my show count to about 8 or 9 (I’m starting to lose track). The play was supposed to be a modern version of “Much Ado About Nothing”… it was… interesting, vulgar, but worthwhile, I suppose. When is free theater not worthwhile? I’m taking the day off before I head to Rome tomorrow. I already got a call from Lucas, and our friend Emma from GU, who is studying in Spain and spending Easter with us, saying they made it to Rome today. The hostel is great, the city is alive, and they’re looking forward to meeting me tomorrow!! Can’t wait!!
Don’t worry – I got chocolate in Dublin! Organic white chocolate with raspberries . . . mmm – and I’ll see what I can find in Italy, although the gelato may take over for the chocolate – we’ll see! More adventures to come, much love to all and Happy Easter!