The first thing I learned from my over zealous cab driver in Dublin was that “It is a mortal sin to touch another man’s pint.” Bad luck they say. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Irish know a thing or two about luck. Well let’s just say I must’ve touched another man’s pint because the night before my flight I was very much lacking the luck of the Irish, Sevillanos, Americans, you name it. Being abroad on a college budget allows us to have experiences unlike any other. For those of you who have flown Ryanair, you probably know the direction this story is headed in. Everyone lucky enough to have never flown with this less than glorious aircraft, let me fill you in. Ryanair is the cheapest of the cheap and for us abroad kids at the very bottom of Spain it is the only way to get around. However, they like to find any way possible to charge you, bag looks a little big? 100 Euros. Forgot to print out your ticket? 75 Euros. I like to think of it as a game, like Monopoly (I was always bad at Monopoly). Unfortunately, I ended up in that pesky jail spot and realized the night before my flight that I did not have a spot on the plane. Lesson number two, NEVER I repeat NEVER use the website eDreams. Two of my friends here abroad have had their credit card numbers stolen after booking with them and apparently they send out confirmation emails that are not real confirmation emails. After a 3 hour long phone call back and forth between eDreams and Ryanair (in spanish) they generously told me, “No tienes un billete.” “You don’t have a ticket.” Guay hombres, guay. So after weighing my options and realizing that I already had booked everything for the weekend, I brought out my credit card with a heavy hand and bought yet another ticket. I was going to Ireland whether they liked it or not.
I frequently refer to my life as a struggle between my half Asian and half Irish side. Asian half wants to stay in and study a few more hours while the Irish half wants to go out and drink. My mom likes to remind me that she thinks the only Irish I have in me is my freckles, temper, and liver. I can’t say I disagree. I clearly take after my Filipino side in looks, but escaped the famous asian drinking glow (thanks mom!), but I wanted to discover that little leprechaun within me! My first impression of Ireland was from my hilarious taxi driver. He gave me a full history lesson on Dublin and told joke after joke in our 45 minute cab ride. He pointed out the different places I should visit and taught me some Irish slang. For example, when someone refers to a pub and says “The crack is good in there!” it is not what you think. He seemed to really enjoy my initial reaction to that comment and then explained that it means “The environment is fun in there!” Good to know. He went on to tell me a story about a group of four women between the ages of 70 and 80 from Manhattan, New York. It was their very first time out of the city and decided to do a “girls” trip to Ireland. When he went to get into his driver seat one of the old ladies was already sitting there. She was so confused why it was on the opposite side of the car and the 3 women in the back started laughing so hard that one of their dentures fell out. He had to pull over and help her find them under the seat which she then popped right back into her mouth (remind me never to get old). He frequently referred to their president as a leprechaun since he is so short and also told me a story about Obama originally being from Ireland. First time I heard that one, but I just smiled and nodded along. Once my very informative cab ride was over, he dropped me off at the Temple Bar. He said he could already tell I was Irish since I was going to the pubs straight from the plane and with my bag on my back! Temple Bar is not actually a bar, but is a very touristy/college run street of pubs. It used to be called Temple Bahr. Temple being the families last name and Bahr meaning owner, but eventually they just changed it for simplicity I suppose. Also, do not get Temple Bar confused with THE Temple bar, two different things, clearly. With the help of some extremely friendly Irish women, I was able to find my friend who was on the earlier flight to Dublin. I couldn’t believe we actually found each other since we both did not have phones and this was our first time being in this country. Her blonde hair and very Irish looking skin did not help me distinguish her from all the other blonde hair blue eyed Irish folk. Fortunately, we were staying with her 6’5 red head friend from home. Whenever, we were lost, we just looked up and found him. For those of you from Santa Clara, he was kind of like the light at the top of Swig.
We stayed in his dorm at the University of Dublin. He even gave Michele and me his bed! What a gent. I am convinced there’s no one nicer than the Irish. We spent the night going from pub to pub and then decided to head back since we wanted to wake up at 9:00 am to go to mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. So as we rolled out of bed around 11:00 am the next day I decided it was the thought that counted, right? Instead of some holy bread and wine, we went to have a greasy traditional Irish breakfast. It was incredible. Thank god I am not studying abroad here because I would eat myself into a coma. This breakfast consisted of eggs, garlic potatoes, sausage, black pudding (pigs blood), bacon, and some tomatoes for the health conscious. I ate every bite. Obviously, we all knew exactly where we wanted to head to next, the Guinness Storehouse. I did pass St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the way there though and took a quick stop to explore Trinity college. Cultured.
Once at the Guinness Storehouse (not factory!) we met up with Michele’s best friend and her dad. This was the best decision we made all day and that says a lot considering how amazing that breakfast was. Her dad is the head of sales for Guinness (or something like that) in the states and we all got to skip every line and go in for 5 Euros instead of the usual 17 Euros and he treated us all to drinks and a private tour. It was quite the experience. We had originally planned to only stay there for an hour and then to go see some of the green parts of Ireland, but before we knew it we had spent the entire day there. It was a blast. We had our first authentic Guinness’s in the Sky bar and then became certified Guinness pourers! I also learned some fun facts about this place. For example, when Arthur Guinness signed the lease for the land, he signed it for 9,000 years at 45 Euros per year. Talk about a deal. Also, the beer is not black, but a deep burgundy. Besides that, I don’t really remember much and decided to just enjoy my beers.
When we finally made our way out (after a pricey stop at the gift store) we went to a traditional pub for some Irish stew. They had live music playing and it was the perfect meal to compensate for the freezing weather. The 85 degree days in Sevilla have left me very unprepared for the rest of Europe. That night we went to the pubs in Temple Bar again and then out to the clubs. When I pictured Ireland, I did not imagine a club scene. My pub wardrobe severely lacked what was needed for this, but we went out anyway (and were let in). We had two choices, go back to the dorm a little early and catch a few hours of sleep or we could stay out until our 7 AM flights the next day. We chose the latter. We went back to the dorms, grabbed our bags, and it was time for the airport. I was suddenly very thankful I was not in club wear. After a few quick purchases in the airport, a Dublin magnet for my host family’s collection and an overpriced Claddagh ring for myself, I was on my way back home to Sevilla.
So even though things started out rocky, in the end I found my luck in Ireland, but more importantly, I found this leprechaun. Enjoy.