Thursday, March 24, 2016

Popping the Cork for St. Patrick's Day

Not long after getting back to Dublin on Sunday afternoon, we had yet another trip to embark on. Given that our two friends both had friends visiting from the United States, we wanted to take a trip to another part of Ireland so that they could experience its beauty. Monday morning, we boarded a train en route to Cork, home of Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. It was about a 3 hour train ride which put us in Cork at about 12pm. We walked to the hostel, threw our bags in our room, and had lunch. Then, we went to the bus station to take a trip out to the Blarney Castle. Honestly, I'm not really sure of the significance of the Blarney Castle other than that it has a stone that you can kiss for good luck. As the website says, "Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate." Regardless, I wouldn't have been able to come back to the United States without saying I had kissed the Blarney Stone.

We climbed to the top of the castle, waited in line for a bit, and then got ready to do the awkward pose to kiss the stone. Who knows why it has to be kissed in such an awkward way but it's just the tradition. Nothing like getting a little mid day back stretch in, that was for sure.

After visiting the castle, we had the opportunity to walk around the surrounding landscape of the castle which included a few gardens, some big rocks and trees to climb on, and an hour loop around a lake. We also found a table and decided to try to recreate the famous painting of Jesus with his disciples at the table.
After having a (luck) filled day at the Blarney Castle, we took a bus back to Cork. We had dinner at an amazingly good gourmet burger place and headed back to the hostel to get ready to go out. We frequented a few bars that night and had ourselves a good old craic, comparing the night life in Cork to that of Dublin which was good but Dublin always has a soft spot in our hearts and therefore you can imagine which we liked more. On Tuesday, we woke up and went into the city to explore a bit, walking around the city centre and checking out some cool churches and we even found a labyrinth.
 Later that night, we took the train back home, arriving in Dublin around 10pm and called it a night in order to rest up for the long awaited day on Thursday....Saint Patrick's Day. As you can imagine, even since I had accepted this study abroad program in Dublin, every time I told someone about it, their response would be "Oh man I bet St. Patrick's Day is gonna be a lot of fun" and man could they have not been more right. We all went out on Wednesday night to one of the best bars in Dublin called DTwo to kick off the Paddy's Day celebrations. After staying out for a while, we finally all went to bed around 3am. A mere 5 hours later, I woke up to the sound of my roommate breaking into my room yelling, "Get up its time to celebrate!". In a hazing but excited mindset, I got out of bed and got ready. I walked into the kitchen to find that my friends had cooked eggs and home fries, a perfect way to start off the day. What wasn't perfect is that I got Iced about 20 minutes later. What this means is that someone hides a bottle (16 oz) of Smirnoff Ice (an alcoholic mixed sugary drink) somewhere and when they trick you into finding it, you have to chug the whole bottle on the spot. Normally, a 16 oz bottle is used; given that it was a special celebration today, my friends decided to Ice me with a FIFTH of Smirnoff Ice that I had to chug on the spot. The irony of the situation is that I had hid a bottle myself and had planned to Ice someone else but someone got me FIRST. Handling all that sugar in my stomach wasn't too pleasant because it was so early in the morning and I had also just eaten a lot of food. AS horrible as it was in the moment, I Iced someone else 10 minutes later and got to enjoy every second of laughing at him try to drink it because I knew what it was like. It was all fun and games and something we could laugh about after the fact. Dressed in all the green I had in my closet, we headed into town at about 11am in order to see the parade which started around 12pm. We had a great time in one pub for about an hour and then went to get lunch at a local fish and chips place.
There was no shortage of green in this pub

Nothing but happy faces on St. Patrick's Day

Inside joke with some of my favorite girls in Dublin
Probably not one of our best ideas but no injuries occurred in the making of this photo
 It was all fun and celebration during the day and then at night it got a bit rowdy so we went home around 10pm. It was definitely a memorable day and one to look back on for years to come. On Friday, we went to the fishing town of Howth for their annual Prawn Festival. I had never had prawns but I really like shrimp so I had high hopes for fresh prawns from the Dublin Bay. The food we ate there was incredible and although it was a bit overcast and rainy, it was a great way to spend a few hours on a Friday and I mean c'mon, whenever food is involved, it's bound to be a good day.


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