I don’t want to say that awaking in Ireland for the first time was life-changing, but it kind of was. I mean, isn’t every day you wake up a little life-changing? Maybe I’m over-sentimentalizing it. Anyway, it wasn’t life-changing to the degree that I’m going to run to student services when I get back to Columbia and change my major, but life-changing in the way that I think I finally understand what jet lag is. Not to talk a lot about jet lag again, but I woke up around midnight thinking it was time to get up and get moovin’ and groovin’ for the day… but it certainly wasn’t. I did fall back asleep, and caught about 6 more hours before I was actually ready to take on the day.
I’m glad I grabbed those extra hours, because it was a day full of exploring, walking, and what they call “Alcohol Tourism” here in Dublin. The legal drinking age here is 18, and being 20, that puts me well over the line of “legal.” There’s a lot I’d like to say about that, but let’s keep it short and sweet.
We started off with a huge Irish breakfast at Camden Court, which was absolutely delicious and filling. Including the best porridge I’ve had in my life (yeah, all 20 years of it). Most of the class went to Howth, but a small group of us stayed back, and an even smaller group (about five or so), went to the Guinness Storehouse tour. The self-guided tour walked us through a handful of different exhibits, but probably the most memorable was the last stop: the Gravity Bar. Offering the best view of Dublin yet, we enjoyed a “complimentary” Guinness (my first legal drink ever), with breathtaking views, and great company. I didn’t think I would be a fan of such dark beer, but I found myself enjoying another pint at again later that night.
After the tour, we slowly started to wander back to our hotel, and stopped for another drink. I’m not an alcoholic by any means, but there was something super cool and satisfying about finding a hip, second-floor bar (Butcher’s Bar) with a great pint of hard cider, and enjoying it while talking more about life and college politics with these four other people that — up until yesterday — had basically been strangers.
Fast-forward to a delicious dinner with the group, a great talk with Carl O’Brien (who also helped us get some leads for our stories), and a larger group of us were walking along Grafton Street, looking for something to do.
We found ourselves in a bar that felt pretty hole-in-the-wall, O’Donoghues. I think that at first the group didn’t feel welcome. We had a mini-revelation that Americans are so damn loud, and that was further affirmed in the bar at first. The bartenders seemed frustrated with our volume, with the size of the group, and they started to turn the music up louder and louder, which made us almost leave. But then, we caught wiff that a live show was about to start, and decided to stay.
Eamonn O’Connor hooked up his acoustic guitar, started his mic check, and then started belting out what was the beginning of a fun night full of laughs, music, tasty beer, and getting to know my classmates more. Some highlights of the night was definitely hearing O’Connor cover Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm,” per my request at first. Hearing that song covered by a talented Irish guy, while sipping a Guinness, being here to expand my portfolio and immerse myself neck-deep in a project relating to my major that I am extremely passionate about… it was a full-circle experience, and incredibly moving. “Shelter From the Storm” was a staple on the station I listened to a lot when I was growing up. The station that I got involved with, and basically the reason I ended up at Columbia. Like I said. Full circle, moving experience.
All in all, it ended up being so completely wonderful, and I think a great first full day in Ireland. A bit more social than I was expecting, but I’m beyond excited to get started in on my story. Carl O’Brien gave some great leads, and through a quick google search, I’ve found some interesting tips I’m excited to explore this afternoon. Sure to be another great day! Stay with us…