Skipping School for St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 15, 2010.
I was supposed to fly back to Rome at 2 in the afternoon on Monday but on Saturday I asked myself how many times do I have the opportunity to be in Dublin for St. Padd'y day and bumped my flight back to Wednesday for €35. Not bad.
At noon, the parade started promptly with the Irish military marching by me. The rest of the parade didn’t come so fast, and I waited around for 20 or 30 minutes before I saw the next floats. I have never seen such an eclectic random mix of anything in my life: dancing pieces of grass, prancing ants, giant Harleys, flag throwers, mambo dancers, really scary-looking monsters, and mad scientists with boiling pots of unknown liquids. I left an hour later without seeing a truly Irish participant. Stephen told me the parades in New York and Boston are more Irish than the one you’ll see in Dublin.
I was really anticipating the Irish activities to follow later that night so I wasn’t too bummed. But first, I wanted to check out an advertised party on the other side of town. I was going to head over with some friends from Notre Dame studying in Dublin for the semester who I met up with randomly while watching the parade but quickly lost in the crowds. Never saw them again. After an hour en route, I came across this huge block party on the other side of St. Stephen’s Green where cultural music was blasting in Gaelic.
At first there was plenty of room, then by the time I left, it was packed. There were moshing teenagers up close to the stage and little girls farther back putting their Irish step-dancing skills on display. It’s the cutest thing ever to watch two of them go around in circles with their heads bobbing in syncopated rhythms, laughing and spinning up a storm. I was standing up on a raised area with small trees just enjoying the scene and pack after pack of freebie chewy candy. When I had my fill of both I made my way back to the hotel to rest up for what was sure to be a long night ahead of me.
Stephen told me to meet him and Vicki across town for dinner, but I slept through it in my nap and did without a meal that night. Not to worry, Guinness is like a loaf of rye bread.
To the poor student, drinking in Dublin is not a particularly affordable activity as you may have guessed by my thievery the previous day. So I bought a small bottle of vodka at a convenience store before the real party started that night. And I brought it into the dance bar where the party was. After a legitimately paid-for pint, I got a cranberry with ice and headed to the dude’s bathroom with the vodka in my jacket. I returned with a suspicious-looking pink drink in my Guinness pint glass and got back to the business of socializing. Twenty minutes later I saw some interesting flailing of arms and swirling of colors so I headed towards it. I met a group of French girls teaching French to Ryanair flight attendants. So I started dancing with them, green beanie with white foam horns and all. I ended up crashing on their couch at their house 20 minutes outside of Dublin later that night. I don’t really know why but that’s just what happened.
When I woke up, three French girls had already gone to work, and another just told me what bus to take to get back to the center of town. I went back to the hotel where I was staying with Stephen and Vicki. Unfortunately, they had already left for Derry when I showed up. So I took a nap, showered, then checked out of the hotel to wander Dublin for the rest of the day. I went to a really interesting “History of the Irish Military: Domestic and Foreign Service” exhibit at the National Museum. I had a lunch of salami and cheese on a baguette, and then went over to St. Stephen’s Green to take a nap.
I called the French girls after five and took the bus back out for some dinner. We compared musical tastes over dinner sharing iPods and I tried to teach them the Soulja Boy dance. I’ll be the first to tell you I’m terrible at it. But seeing these girls made me feel a bit better. We had a simple salad and pasta dinner. I was planning to detox that night until one of them busted out a bottle of anise and I couldn’t say no. I just love how it turns from clear to cloudy once you drop some ice into it. Some chemist needs to explain that to me some day. Once it got late, and I was tired, I dismissed myself, cleared off my plate, and went back to the couch. Meeting these girls was clutch because once I got home to Rome the next day, I had €16 in my pocket and I had slept for the last two night for free at their place, and with Stephen the previous four. I don’t know how I could have worked it any other way.
I definitely have WSA to thank for my exceptional experience in Amsterdam. One would think 4 days isn't enough to tour a city but WSA facilitated an optimum weekend full of sightseeing and fun. Amsterdam may have a notorious reputation for its lax drug and sex culture but there’s so much more to the city. Luckily, our tour guide, Arthur, native to the Netherlands, steered us away from the tourist traps and showed us around his beloved city, highlighting all of its gems. I'd definitely like to try other WSA trips in the future. It's hassle free traveling with an awesome itinerary - nice that the tour guides are flexible with the schedule and willing to cater the itinerary to the group's interest! Highly recommend WSA to any student with only a weekend to see a city.Lauren Wallender, Elon University ~ Fall 2014
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