Monday, February 15, 2016

Quite an Eventful Week and I Didn't Even Leave Dublin

For most people in Ireland, the GNIB, or the Garda National Immigration Bureau, is the place to get your official card that allows you to stay in Ireland for a certain amount of time. For me, it was the GNI(Best way to waste a beautiful day in Dublin). This place made PennDOT seem like a vacation. It was a long day to say that least and I'm more than excited that it is over and I'm officially allowed to stay in Ireland until June 1st. It was a day that started bright and early at 6:30am before the sunrise. Our appointment said 10am but from hearing about our friends' experiences, it was worthwhile to get there as soon as possible. My roommate, Laurel, and our friend, Erin, caught the 39A Dublin bus at 7:15am. We got off near the GNIB and walked to it only to find that 110 other people had the same idea as us...the line was wrapped around 2 corners...sighs could be heard from all of us....just when we thought we were on top of things, it was still going to be a long day. We finally made it through the line and were handed a number upon entering the GNIB...#112...they said to come back in about 3 hours.
My friends and I walked around the city centre a bit, got some coffee, breakfast, and took our grand old time. We arrived back at the GNIB at about 11am to find out they were only on #47....3 hours had passed and they were only on #47...we were in for more of a ride than we ever thought. We went back towards the city centre to find a spot to set up camp and do school work for a while. Upon hearing from another friend who was there that they were on #91 a few hours later, we went back to the GNIB. We got our paperwork ready and finally I was the first of my friends to go at about 2:30pm. After the lady looked through all of my paper work and I paid the hefty fee of 300 euros (I'd be willing to pitch 320 euros if they added 20 other employees to speed up the wait time haha). From there, they had to process everything which took about 30 min for my friends. Some how, given that I am a white American 21 year old male, I seemed to have posed some threat to the citizens of Ireland because I didn't get my paperwork back for another 2 really GNIB...come on? I thought smiling while the lady was reading my papers would help things go smoother, not substantially worse. Finally I got my little card and that frown turned upside down. After getting in line at 7:30am, I was finally leaving the GNIB office at 5:00pm.
It was sunny for most of the day which is something we haven't seen in what feels like a week but instead I spent my day indoors hoping everything would be processed smoothly....which barely happened. Upon arriving in my apartment, I cooked a great chicken and broccoli stir fry only to be followed by my new best friends Ben&Jerry who let me indulge in some scrumptious Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Back track a week and we're back to Super Bowl 50, where the Broncos and Panthers battled it out in a great matchup. My friends and I went to a well known club in Dublin called Dtwo. They had an outdoor heated area with a 20 ft screen along with numerous other projection screens broadcasting the game. No matter which was you turned, there was a screen which was nice. Carolina failed to show up to play like they had been all season but it was still a fun game to watch. Given that the Super Bowl commercials cost $5 million for 30 seconds and being friends with a lot of marketing majors, the hype for commercials this year was significant. The very first commercial that was played was for Ford although in the car that was driven, the steering wheel was on the right side of the car...from that observation I knew that the commercials were European ones and not Americans...needless to say, we were all pretty bummed out we couldn't watch the American commercials because of all the hype that goes into them. All in all, we ate about 5 baskets of chips (known in America as French fries), enjoyed a lot of brewskies, and  had a great time with fellow Americans and a lot of Irish lads....despite that with the time difference, the game occurred from 11pm-4am so we were all a little...okay maybe a lot....tired the next morning.

When people think of Irish music, what comes to mind is something along the lines of a fiddle, maybe a flute, a guitar, and of course people on their feet singing and dancing to the music. On Tuesday night, I had the fantastic opportunity to experience a three course meal along with an Irish band in small bar like setting for the price of $free.99....yep, that's right...a three course meal for free! The International Student Society at my school, University College Dublin, does a great job of providing free events to students and this was one of them. Not only was the food delicious but the band was a lot of fun and had a great sense of humor. In between songs, one of the band members would tell a tale or explain what the upcoming song was about. Given that I've played piano for about 8 years, I had a lot of fun listening to all of the instruments collaborate together in a non traditional sense since the three instruments were a guitar, a flute and the traditional Irish musical instrument, uilleann pipes. One member of the band would start playing their instrument and soon after, all of the others would join in to form an upbeat rhythm that made you want to tap your foot to the beat. All of the musicians were incredibly talented, so much so that after their concert, I bought a CD of theirs...more or less a souvenir.  Afterwards, we continued the night by going to a pub downtown recommended by fellow UCD Irish students and ended the night with a bang.

On Friday, the only class I had was at 10am and a few other friends were done at 12pm so we decided to make the most of the (unfortunately rainy) day and go to the Dublin Zoo! For an admission of just 13 euros, granted it wasn't a huge zoo, we got to see lions and tigers (and bears oh my!)....unfortunately there weren't actually bears...but there were gorillas and elephants so they can replace the bears. Oh my! was it a fun day though. At heart, I'm still about 12 years old so going to see animals is really what I should be doing all the time...I really just want a spider monkey as a pet honestly. Those things were jumping up and down, over and under bamboo sticks as if gravity wasn't a factor for them. Words on the street is that Jackie Chan learned his moves from them. A very worthwhile day despite it raining to some extent literally the entire time... at this point, we're all just used to rain so it wasn't too big of a deal. And of course going with 4 attractive girls isn't a bad thing :).
If there's one thing Dublin is known for, its pubs and beer drinking. Not only those two but also the fact that the Guinness factory and Jameson Distillery are located in the city as well. And what better way to celebrate being single on Valentines Day than to go with all of my other single friends to a whiskey tour and tasting event. The Jameson Distillery Tour was very informative while also being enjoyable and comical. The tour guide was enthusiastic, humorous, and very personable. At the end of the tour, we got to taste test a bit of Jameson Irish whiskey compared to Jack Daniels Whiskey and Johnnie Walker Whisky. Not to be biased but after tasting the latter and then tasting Jameson, it was a clear winner among us that the Jameson was the smoothest and tasted the best.

And c'mon, who really needs a date on Valentine's Day when you have Jameson...I sure didn't :).


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