We landed in Ireland at the break of dawn, it was beautiful, but the plane ride was terrible. Tonya (one of my classmates) and I spent most of the flight getting to know each other, because neither of us could get comfortable enough to sleep. It felt like the flight attendants were waking everyone up every ten minutes anyways; to hand out everything from drinks and food to hot towels and sleeping masks. On top of all of that, they kept the cabin lights on most of the night, and the guy in front of me leaned his seat all the way back, until he was – quite literally – in my lap. That alone made it a very long and difficult ride. Tonya, being a rather tiny human being, was kind enough to curl up in a ball and offer me some of her leg room.
After landing, everyone wanted nothing more than to head to the hotel, shower, put on some fresh clothes, and pass out, but Laure (our professor) and Tom (our tour guide) made sure that we stuck to the schedule and began touring instead. At that point, Adam and I had only slept about five hours since Sunday evening, and it was now Wednesday. You can do the math on that one.
Tired and cranky, Tom took us to the Kilmainham Gaol prison, a place where both de Valera and Charles Stewart Parnell both did time, it was also the location of the outrageous 1916 Easter Rising rebel executions. I walked through the prison, haunted and excited; pausing occasionally to wonder how many great men had stood where I was standing. The size and complexity of the prison amazed me, along with the logic behind the design of it all. It was genius yet disturbing how they planned the place out; making sure that nothing anyone or anything did went unseen by the guards.
After the tour of the prison, we drove around Dublin and grabbed lunch at Temple Bar (the happening, pub-filled, area of town). Once we ate, we walked over to Trinity College and visited the Book of Kells. The book itself is strikingly beautiful, but I was much more interested in the grand library upstairs, that’s filled with antique books and artifacts.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral was our next stop. A very beautiful and holy ground, I am not religious, and certainly not Catholic, but I loved looking at the architecture, sculptures, and stained-glass windows that adorned the place. Catholics really don’t spare any expense when it comes to their house of worship. Sadly, I spent a large deal of our time there waiting in line for the bathroom, which was impressively small by the way.
Following the Cathedral tour, we finally went to the hotel; at that point, everyone was walking around like zombies, except instead of brains we really just wanted to sleep in peace. Of course, we had to check in and eat dinner first though. I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious the dinner the hotel prepared for us was. Not only did they work around everyone’s allergies, but they also prepared an excellent vegetarian meal for me (traditional pasta, vegetable spring rolls, and cheesecake).
Finally, after eating, we were dismissed to go to our rooms, take hot showers, and sleep in actual beds. It was a fantastic first day in Dublin, but I wish I would have been less tires and more alert to enjoy it.