18 September 2010

September 16

I’m HERE! After a long, nerve-wracking, more than seven-hour flight, we made it to Dublin, Ireland.  Unfortunately, there is a six-hour time difference between here and the Mo.  This basically means that when it should have been 1:00 in the morning, it was really 7:00.  We landed around 8:05ish and I think it’s safe to say that no one got more than two hours of sleep on the plane.  They also served us breakfast and dinner on the flight, but let’s face it…airplane food is sketchy at best and this was not its best.  This tidbit of information is important later on in the story.  Just remember that.  Anyways, we landed and immediately went through a passport and customs check.  Even though there were atleast four lines of attendants checking non-European passports, it still took us an hour and forty-five minutes to clear the check.  Due to our zombie-like attitudes and the fact that the attendants had such awesome Irish accents, no one seemed to really mind the long wait too much.   The funny thing was that I would look at someone that worked at the airport and all of a sudden I would think, “Hey, that guy’s Irish.”  It was kind of bizarre actually.
After we collected all of our bags (I did not bring the most stuff, by the way. Although my backpack is the largest, there are some people who simply have more bags than me. It made me feel better.), we met up with Lauren and Tyler Knight, who have helped plan our two week trip before we actually arrive in London.  They had arranged for a bus to pick us up and take us to our next destination.  Ok, I’m basically from Houston.  I know what aggressive driving is.  But compared to Dublin and I’m sure the rest of Europe, Houston drivers are incredibly sane.  Besides the fact that it was weird watching the driver drive on the wrong side of the road and turn into the wrong lanes on the rode, we would stop literally an inch away from the car in front of us, weave and swerve in and out of traffic, and really go into any lane we want to with the full confidence that the driver next to us would move out of the way.  Since no one honked at us, I’m assuming this is normal behavior.  We rode the bus to Trinity College in the middle of Dublin.  This massive building is incredibly old and a huge tourist attraction, and we get to stay in it.  It’s pretty awesome, but there’s no free wifi. 
By the time we had everything in our rooms, it was around noon and we were supposed to take a walking tour of Dublin.  Thankfully, Lauren figured we were probably hungry so we stopped at a coffee shop and got a snack and some caffeine to wake us up.  After this, we walked to a pub in Dublin called the International Pub.  The pub (which I would like to add was the first official sight-seeing thing I saw at Dublin haha) was the base of our walking tour centered around the Revolution of 1916 when Southern Ireland formed a band of rebels to overthrow British rule right around the time of the potato blight.  Our guide was hilarious, and he as an Irishman had deep respect for the Alamo, which I, of course, appreciated.  He said that even though on paper it looks like the men fighting for Texas at the Alamo lost, they really won.  That battle went on to become a rallying point in the Texas Revolution.  He then continued to say that even though Ireland has never really won any battle (even though they have tried countless times), they still believe in their hearts that they won.  It was pretty funny.  As we continued on the tour though, it got to the point that most of us were dead on our feet.  In all honesty I don’t think I remember anything he said towards the end of the presentation.  He did accuse me of not clapping for him hard enough….that much I do remember haha. 
Next, we were given an hour to do whatever we wanted to do for lunch so a group of us decided to go exploring.  We found Dublin Castle, which has a beautiful church inside of it.  As the exploring continued, we found a “modern” garden and the free Revenue Museum and then proceeded to get lost.  We wandered around the streets of Dublin for a while, half hoping to find our way back and half hoping to just find something to eat.  See, by this time we were all running on less than two hours of sleep and no food since about 7:00 the night before.  We were all rather impressed that we were still coherent, much less participating in walking tours and having energy to explore.  Luckily for us, we used a map to figure out where we were and ended up finding a Noodle Bar to eat at.  Win win win. 
After our hour break, we went to see the Book of Kells, which is a Bible written and illustrated from the 800s.  It was really cool getting to see that bit of history, but the amazing thing was the Long Room.  Do you remember the scene from Beauty and the Beast when the Beast shows Belle the library for the first time?  That’s exactly how I felt.  Oh dear goodness the library was massive.  It was one of the longest rooms I’ve ever seen, and it was covered front to back with shelves of the oldest books at Trinity.  The shelves went all the way to the really high ceiling, and there were dozens of busts of famous philosophers, scientists, and other great minds.  To me, that was the best part.
            After that exhibit, we were given the rest of the day to do what we wanted.  That meant that I wandered around Dublin with Mary, the girl with whom I’m sharing a room, looking for a place with free wifi.  Guess what…they don’t have free wifi anywhere.  What a pain.  But, in the process of wandering we found the next best thing and quite possibly a better thing…a shake bar!  There were so many things to choose from, and it was delicious.  So what did we do after this packed day?  Did we continue to get to know this new city that we are only in for a short time.  Why no we didn’t.  That is because at precisely 7:15 pm, we had all crashed and were in bed.  That’s 1:15 Houston time.  In other words, our bodies couldn’t handle being up more than 30 hours at a time.  Oh jet lag.

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