Back to Ireland

Oct. 7

“O Jaysus” I heard half a dozen people mutter as our AerLingus flight descended through the bumpy air into the Dublin airport. It was good to be back in one of my favorite cities of Europe. I quickly remembered how kind the Irish people are once I boarded my first bus where they only accept coins and don’t give change. I didn’t have the proper coins with me, and the driver actually reached into his own wallet to help me out and break a fiver. I don’t know of any other city that I’ve been to where the driver would do that. In Paris, NYC, or London I’d be far more likely told to simply get lost.

I made the easy connection into the city center and met up with an old-time friend Stephen McPhilemy who was finishing a summer of 6 weeks guiding Europe Through the Back Door tours through Ireland. I was fortunate enough to tag along with the group for dinner, and enjoy a night out on the town trying to steer clear of the tourist rut that is Temple Bar. The dinner was absolutely deluxe, and it has been interesting to watch the standards of my father’s tour business rise with his age. I remember when a pic nic dinner would have been—and was—plenty good enough, but now anytime I bump into an ETBD tour, I enjoy a delicious 3-course meal. The meal actually enlarges my backpacker-sized stomach to the point where I’m hungry for the entire following week until it shrinks back down to the right size.

On Monday, Stephen and I made our way up to his hometown of Derry to visit his hostel and to see his Shebeen. Among the terrorist threats in Europe, Derry has had its own share unfortunately. There has been two bombings in as many months here over the summer. And one of them involved an unlucky taxi driver that was told at gunpoint to drive the newly placed bomb in his trunk to the front gate of the police station and leave it there.

As an Irish Catholic myself, it is unfortunate to see the good message of the well-meaning Republican Irish perverted into the actions of a splinter cell of the recently-quieted IRA. At the same time though, it is a refreshing jolt to keep things in perspective and remember that car bombings don’t only happen in the deserts of the Eastern Hemisphere. And I think it’s important not to forget about being vigilant in our own back yard and continue promoting causes via peaceful methods rather than violence and destruction. 


Alex Dornacker, Central College

Happy Backpackers

I had a blast visiting Prague for the first time with WSA. To start, the hostel that WSA booked for the tour was incredible. The entire staff was very helpful, the rooms were nice, and there was a really cool bar downstairs with live music every night. Our tour guide was top notch as well. He was really fun and flexible with whatever our group wanted to do while making sure we saw all of the major sights, good places to eat, as well as the night life! I thought this trip was much easier to book through WSA rather than figure it all out myself and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get the most out of their trip!

Alex Dornacker, Central College ~ Center of Modern Languages, Granada,, Fall 2015

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