Being that both Saint Patrick’s Day and my birthday fall on the same day, this year I decided to celebrate my 21st in Dublin, Ireland. From March 16th to March 20th I went to Ireland with a few of my roommates. We hopped on a plane right after my night class on Wednesday, March 16th and tried to control our excitement for the busy weekend. With a layover in London and a short flight to Dublin, we were just hours away from the wild land of the Irish.
WHAT AN INTERESTING WEEKEND IT WAS! It should have been a major warning that the weekend was going to be bizarre when we had to sleep on the cold floor of the London Stansted Airport on Wednesday night. Apparently security closes after midnight and the terminals are no longer accessible – lucky us. After a really chilly “snooze” (or lack their of) in England we made it to Dublin. My roommate Marissa and I stayed at the Conrad Dublin, where we were joined by Jenn and her brother for one night, while Shelby stayed at her friend’s apartment in South Dublin. After dropping off our bags and changing into our green clothing, Marissa and I met up with Jenn and her brother to go to the St. Paddy’s day parade. It was really cool to watch the parade and actually be a member of the insanely large crowd. Everyone was wearing festive outfits and had their faces painted. The music was loud, but the excitement of the crowd was louder. After about 45 minutes of the parade, we left to get lunch at a local pub. SPOILER: this is where the weekend goes more downhill.
The pub was super busy (shocker), but we managed to get a table that was served by a speedy waiter with an insane accent. I literally had no idea what he was saying. At all. I ordered a cider and Guinness beef stew, and my roommates ordered hamburgers, fish n’ chips, and some beers. Either something strange was in my food/drink or the environment was brewing something peculiar because a few minutes into the meal I had an allergic reaction. Yup! Bright red and splotchy, swollen eyes, a fever, and some numb hands – the whole nine yards. I felt like I was about to faint. I’ve never been allergic to any food, but my body decided to somehow have a reaction on my birthday, in a foreign country, on that country’s national holiday. “I freaked out my roommates” would be an understatement. Not only was I embarrassingly sick, but I was embarrassed to be sick on my birthday. Let’s just say the rest of my actual birthday consisted of a lot of Benadryl and not a lot of 21st “celebrating”.
Not going out that night wasn’t the end of the world because I had to get up bright and early the next day to go on a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. Still a little hungover from all the medicine (NOT ALCOHOL), I scrambled to Suffolk street to hop on my tour bus with Marissa. For some reason the Cliffs of Moher has been on my “must-see when abroad” list for a while, and it fulfilled my expectations.
From what I could see out of my puffy eyes 😉 , the cliffs were beautiful. The weather could not have been nicer; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It felt great to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin after living in the chilly city of Prague for the past 7 weeks.. After an hour and a half, our bus took us to Doolin where we had lunch at a pub before heading off to walk the Burren. The limestone cliffs of Lisdoonvarna were awesome. After that we headed to Corcomroe Abbey, a 12th century monastery. We drove through Galway bay and stopped in Kinvara to admire the Dunguaire Castle. The castle looked like it came straight from a fairytale! Finally we stopped at Hazel Mountain Chocolate Factory for a quick pit stop before our drive back to Dublin. That night my roommate Marissa and I went to Temple Bar street. We didn’t stay for long because it was overwhelmingly crowded with drunk old men in kilts and wasted college students, but we stayed long enough to make a visit to Gogarty’s and The Temple Bar. The ambiance of the St. Paddy’s nightlife was one for the books.
For my final full day in Dublin I visited the Guinness Storehouse for a brewery tour with Marissa before her plane, followed by a tour of the Jameson Distillery with Shelby. Both were a really cool experience. Guinness is its own culture in Ireland – with a church inside the Storehouse, they practically own the city. While I didn’t pour my own beer, I did get to taste the creamy, famous Irish beverage and buy myself a pair of Guinness socks. I surprisingly learned a lot about whiskey at the Jameson Distillery. It was smaller than the Guinness Storehouse, but equally (if not more) exciting to visit. I could even taste the difference between the Irish, Scottish, and American whiskey samples. I really am growing up, guys! For the rest of the day, my roommate Shelby and I walked around Temple Bar, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Grafton and Suffolk Street, and other neighboring areas of the Dublin city lines. We stopped for some pastries at Queen of Tarts, too. The trip ended with some much needed souvenir shopping. I bought a few postcards and a sweatshirt to remember my birthday weekend. And, yes, I will definitely be remembering that weekend! While it wasn’t what I pictured, Dublin was an adventure. I will be back to celebrate my birthday in Ireland again.