My final Euro-trip!

Well I guess the title is pretty self-explanatory. A few weeks ago, two friends and I hopped over to Dublin for the weekend. When we planned this, we were quite caught up in the excitement of what was spring break, so we didn’t really think about the amount of time our final exams would consume. And unfortunately just a few days leading up to our trip I became sick where my tonsils became so large I could hardly swallow. I went to the doctor on that Wednesday before only for her to tell me that there was nothing she could do. So naturally it got worse so I rushed in on Friday morning just hours before we had to get to the airport. When the doctor looked at my tonsils and she heard I was going to Dublin, she advised me not to go because if they got any bigger I would be hospitalized and I would be paying a fortune because Ireland does not have universal healthcare. So, if that wasn’t enough to scare me.. Naturally however I still went because I didn’t want nearly $200 to go to waste. And as I expected, I didn’t actually end up in the hospital. I just stayed in both nights and went to bed early because what fun is drinking when you can’t even swallow? Thankfully the medicine kicked in fast so I was at least able to enjoy during the day.

What made matters worse was on Friday, we took National Express to the airport. It was supposed to take an hour and a half, and we were planning to have a little over an hour to catch our flight. Well, our bus ended up taking two and a half hours to get to the airport so we had 15 minutes to get through security and to our gate. We made it through security with 5 minutes to spare. I still don’t know how we made it, and thankfully our plane had been delayed about 10 minutes, but we arrived at our gate nearly about to collapse from exhaustion.

So, our first morning we decided what we wanted to do over breakfast. As we were talking, a guy who was alone came up to us and asked to sit with us. We figured why not, he looked pretty normal. We decided to go on the free walking tour (it was our last one!) and our new friend wanted to come along. We learned that he just got out of the military and was doing a trip around Europe by himself just because. It was actually pretty brave, planning what you are going to do and which country you are going to day by day. So after talking to him, we decided he was a pretty cool guy so we invited him to join us for the rest of the day. Also joining us on the tour was a guy from France who seemed to have the same idea of traveling Europe by himself. This kid however, was much less courteous because while we waited for the tour to start, it began to dump rain, and he decided to grab my umbrella and protect himself while I was getting soaked (while still being sick). He would get slightly annoyed when I pulled it away even though clearly he wasn’t invited under my umbrella. Bless his heart, he was very kind, but he just wasn’t someone we wanted to spend the rest of our day with. After devising a plan to escape, he told us he had other plans so we thankfully continued on our way.

Aside from our new “friends,” on the tour we got a quick overview of the city. We saw a majority of the main tourist attractions, including Trinity College, which had an arch that we dared not to go under because it was a legend that you would do poorly on your exams if you did walk through, Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, and the infamous Temple Bar which housed the restaurant and hotel owned by Bono.

Dublin had a lot of quirks and it was definitely a fun city, but I was certainly let down when there seemed to be a lack of Irish culture. We may have gone to the wrong parts, but I didn’t get that same feeling I’ve gotten from the other cities I’ve been to. However, I still enjoyed myself because later on our first day we went to the Guinness Brewery! It was a lot of fun to see how popular and how core the Guinness brand is to the city. I also thoroughly enjoyed my free pint!

Later that night I decided to go to bed early while my friends stayed up with our new friend. The next morning I was told the story of what happened that previous night. The three of them were sitting in the lounge hanging out, when all of a sudden our new friend stated “I am going to go use the bathroom.” Some 45 minutes later, he finally came back and then asked “Have you ever just trusted a fart a little too much?” This guy defecated in his pants. He proclaimed that he “had a good streak going there.” This stranger who we had just met that morning was telling my friends how he pooped his pants right in front of them.

So aside from all these stranger encounters we had, on Sunday, we decided to go to one of Dublin’s most famous prisons: Kilmainham Gaol. This jail housed thousands of Irish politicians and others who were influential in the development of what we know as Ireland today. It was strangely eerie to hear stories about brothers who were in the jail cells but didn’t know each other were there, and about a couple who got married just days before the husband was executed. I think this housed some of Dublin’s most important history as many were jailed and executed fighting for what they believed in.

Overall I had a good weekend with friends, but I definitely learned that I want to return to various other parts of Ireland to get a real taste of the Irish culture.

And now as I am smack in the middle of my final exams period, I am trying to enjoy what little time I have left as I am now down to the single digits countdown. It feels so bittersweet for my time to be ending here, but I am excited to see what this summer has in store for me. Traveling Europe has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I am so glad I was able to experience it with the wonderful friends I’ve made here.

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