Kelley Blankenship
University of Worcester, England

Wow! What a weekend! Let me just say that the Irish know how to do St. Patrick's Day!

My weekend started off on Friday morning with a very early wake up call to make it to the Worcester train station by 6:59am.  Tamara and I practically walked like zombies through the cool morning air, but we made it just in time to catch our train to Birmingham. After an hour on the train, we made it to the airport! Woohoo! I remember being very excited that we were actually going to Dublin! Ah! Everything ran smoothly with the exception that Tamara almost had to pay £50 because they said her carry on wouldn't fit in the little measuring thing.  Let me just say that Ryanair is a pain-in-the-behind when it comes to your carry on. They're crazy. Anyway, Tamara didn't have to pay because we squished her bag in, but then it was a bit of a struggle to get it back out :)

After a very short 45 minute flight, we landed in Dublin!!! Tamara and I took a bus to the city centre, ate a small lunch and then met up with her friend Chris, who we were staying with for the weekend, and the rest of the day we went exploring around the city... in the pouring rain I might add. Despite the rain, it was so much fun! Dublin is such a nice city and it was totally decked out for St. Patrick's Day, so there was green everywhere!

Saturday morning we all slept in a bit because we had gone to a party the night before at another friend's flat in the city.  Chris made a nice English breakfast that was delicious! We then painted up for the St. Paddy's Day festivities! The first one of the day was the parade! I must say that it was one of the strangest parades that I've ever seen.  There were people on floats saying things like "Dream with your eyes open!!" in really creepy voices, a guy dressed as Dracula, and a giant rhino in a wheelchair....?  Despite some of the strange acts floating down the parade, it was so much fun! We had trouble finding a place to stand and ended up having to walk quite a ways to find a place to stand, but we ended up in a great spot! After the parade we popped in a Japanese restaurant for some lunch and then rode the bus back to our flat for a nice power nap. :)

The real fun began when we decided to make our way back in the city to the area known as The Temple Bar. There is an an actual pub called 'The Temple Bar', but the area carries the same name.  I've never seen so many crazy drunk people in my life.  I've also never seen so much crap on the ground. haha. There were police officers (called Garda in Ireland), but they weren't really doing anything.  We ended up meeting up with a bunch of French people that were friends with Chris and hung out with them for the rest of the night. The plan was to go on a pub crawl, but that wasn't really possible because of the amount of people that were actually in the pubs. We found one pub that we could fit in and stayed there for the rest of the night. It was so much fun!

I think it's safe for me to say that I had one of the BEST WEEKENDS EVER in Dublin! The weekend was so perfect that something was bound to go wrong, right? On Sunday, Tamara and I were scheduled to be on a plane back to Birmingham at 10:50 am. After checking in, going through security, waiting to board, and measuring our bags, I tried to board the plane.  Tamara had just gone through and was about to board the plane. I showed my ticket and the guy told me that "I can't let you on the plane because you don't have a "visa check" stamp. You're probably going to miss this flight." WHATT???

(Earlier that morning when Tamara and I went to check in, I had showed my ticket and passport to the lady at the counter.  Since I am not a citizen of the EU, I have to get a special stamp on my ticket that says they have checked my passport. The lady did not stamp my ticket, and just told us that we could continue to the gate.  I remember thinking that it was strange that she didn't stamp my ticket, but I assumed she knew what she was doing... apparently not.)

So I take off back to the checkin counter and get the lady to stamp my ticket. By the time I went back through the airport (sprinting with a giant pack on my back) they had just closed the gate. I was only 1 or 2 minutes late.  To make a long story short, I ended up having to pay €110 (that's $150) to get a new flight, and the flight didn't even leave until 9:10 pm.... So, I sat in the airport for approximately 12 or 13 hours.  Luckily, I made a nice Irish friend who had a long layover until his bus came.

When it was finally time for me to board my flight, I also made another friend who made my day very special.  Mrs. McDermott, who insists that I tell everyone that she's my new Irish Granny, sat next to me on the flight back.  She was a wonderful lady who brightened my spirits by sharing stories and buying me a bottle of water (she actually wanted me to join her for a glass of wine) and a sandwich.  She was so sweet and told me that I needed to come visit her the next time I come to Ireland! I love meeting new people!

The last fiasco of the day was when I realized that my flight was going to get in too late in Birmingham for me to catch a train or bus back to Worcester.... luckily! Neil (an AMAZING friend) came to rescue me!! He drove all the way from Worcester to pick me up! I owe you big time Neil! Thank you sooo much!

Despite my long Sunday, my weekend was absolutely amazing! I met so many new people and got to experience a great holiday (party). If you are ever thinking about going to Dublin, especially for St. Patrick's Day, I would totally recommend it! The Irish people are extremely friendly and welcoming and Dublin is a lovely city as well!

Check out more pictures on my Facebook page!

"Where ever you go, go with all your heart."

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