Once again friends I am posting late, and once again I’m trying to cram far too much information into one post. But! on the upside, there’s pretty pictures (think of it like a magazine, who really reads the articles anyways?)
[DISCLAIMER: I actually started writing this in October. Then tried again in November. And it is now December. Needless to say, I have some catching up to do. Please pardon the jumps. Also, any time i say “# of weeks ago”, it’s probably wrong]
Now I’m sure you all want to know about my lovely few weeks with LSD. But you’ll have to get through this next bit first (think of it this way: we’re getting all the boring interim business out of the way):
A New Perspective: My Week in Project Frustration
Two weeks ago we spent the week in directing and editing, working on our Third Project, which was supposed to be this whole big collaboration with the Ethics students from the New Europe program from our school.
Well, there seemed to be some miscommunication between their program and ours, because when we arrived to the meeting Monday night, we were expecting them to have a subject prepared for us. That’s how Glenn had pitched it (in the little details he gave us). They had been doing research, and had people lined up for us to interview so we could make a short documentary outlining the side of the ethical argument that our partners were supposed to be researching.
Except they really only had vague ideas, because no one had told any of us that this was the plan until only a short time before the meeting where this plan was supposed to be executed.
Regardless, we were still grouped up, assigned to a group of Ethics students, and given tasks to complete during Tuesday’s day-long pre-production session: find an interviewee, think of a sequence to film along with their interview, and line everything up.
Then Wednesday we went out to shoot. We were assigned to the group that was dealing with the “anti-refugee” aspect of the debate over Europe’s refugee crisis. An opinion that was, well, to be honest a rather daunting idea at first.
We were set up to interview a host mom of one of the New Europe kids. And I expected her to be incredibly racist, conservative, and well-off.
We did interview her, she was rather well-off (their house is massive), and she seemed rather conservative. And she certainly said some things that could come across as quite racist. But it was very interesting to hear where she was coming from; she didn’t hate the refugees, she wanted to help them as much as anyone else. But she had legitimate fears and concerns for the long-time effects of such a large influx of people, and she had an understandable fear of the Syrian conflict following the refugees to Germany. I didn’t agree, but it was still interesting.
Editing on Thursday was a nightmare. Because we were all exhausted, it took forever to import and log the footage, I hadn’t eaten breakfast because I had been trying to figure out a way to fix my computer (I hate El Capitan. Let’s leave it at that.), and none of the B-roll we shot felt applicable to the more emotional portion of the interview which we planned on using.
We ended up using Antonio’s B-roll, and contrasting his images of refugees and their families with our subject’s words of concern, in an effort to create a sort of ambiguity rather than choose a side. We later found out that the assignment was to choose a side, which was awkward. But oh well.
Swingsets in Classrooms and Copying Famous People: My Week in Studio Experience
The week after that, our cinematography professor Jens (a.k.a. Thor) came back, along with a truck-load of lighting, camera, and electrical equipment. Monday morning we all filed into the big studio at AIB to find a full set prepared (3 walls of flats, complete with a window, and a little scene set up with a couch and a piano and whatnot).
It was an odd, yet very fun week. the first day was 75-80% lectures on stuff we had already heard, but I edited pictures, so it was fine.
Then we got to do some hands-on work. For the next few days, we did pretty much the same thing. We were split into two different groups; one group sat down with Jens and learned about various technical things (light meters, monitor calibration, various camera settings, etc.) during which time there was always one person swinging on the swing that hangs from the ceiling in that classroom (those genius architects man, they know what’s up). The other half of the class was then given a still from a famous movie or TV show, which we were then asked to recreate (a.k.a. clone all the lighting and framing as closely as possible) using the rented studio equipment.
Climbing the Kölner Dom
At the end of that week, we hopped on a train and headed to Cologne (on one of the coldest, foggiest days of the semester), because we had an appointment to climb to the top of the Kölner Dom, or, in English, the Cologne Cathedral. A climb that consists of 533 steps.
Mauriz had told me about this climb months before, and I was 90% sure that if I actually went I wouldn’t survive it. But the views were supposed to be stunning, and it was an experience I couldn’t pass up.
Thankfully though, we technically only climbed 200 (although, those 200 felt like death. The staircase is so narrow that you have to kind of turn sideways, and the steps are old so they’re steep, and they’re old stone so they’re worn and kinda slippery, especially in the rain. And it’s a curved staircase, with no windows, so you’re kinda just climbing up and up and up this winding tunnel, sometimes with just phone flashlights. Which was funny, but insanely dizzying, and seemingly never-ending). Usually you only go up in about groups of 10. Sine there were around 24 or so of us, we were set to go up in 2 or 3 groups. Our first tour guide, however, forgot about us. So we all ended up in one group. And the tour guide had no interest in trying to get all of us up all 533 steps, so we took 200 steps to the lift (with a pit stop inside the cathedral itself), then went to the tower from there. And it was absolutely stunning. Terrifying for most (particularly so for Patricia and Nader), but stunning. And freezing.
And now the good part:
If you haven’t guessed yet, I didn’t actually do LSD. No. That clever acronym (thank you Sydney Stuart), stands for the series of back-to-back-to-back weekend trips I took to some of my (now) most favorite places on the planet, with some of my new favorite people.
On October 9th, as soon as we got out of class, Kelcey, Alex and I rushed to the Bus stop, hopped on the one with “Flughafen” on it, and headed to the Cologne-Bonn airport. Infinite (Kelcey’s favorite K-Pop band) was coming to Europe, and of course, she had to go. So, naturally, Alex and I tagged along. How could we not?
We hadn’t done much planning, we figured we could handle that when we got there. WRONG.
Our flight was slightly delayed, so as soon as we got to the airport Kelcey rushed through passport check and customs to get to her concert, and Alex and I kinda just meandered through, and got ripped off on the exchange rate on the way (euros to pounds SUCKS).
We decided we’d make our way to the Air B&B, and then go find food. Big Mistake. Why? Because getting to the Air B&B was absolutely insane.
We landed at Stansted airport. We were staying in Battersea. And we had absolutely no idea where anything was. We took a train (featuring an absurdly drunk and obnoxious couple) to a tube station, where I felt like a dumb, lost tourist. It was rush hour, and there was literally people in every inch of space in that place. We bought Oyster cards in a tiny kiosk that barely had room for the monstrous backpack I had on my back (something an annoyed british woman who sounded somewhat like Adele had absolutely no problem mentioning), then tried to make our way to the line that would take us to Victoria station.
I though this place would be just another tube station, and the bus we were supposed to catch would be right out front. WRONG. It was a massive train station. And once we finally found our way out, we walked about two blocks in the wrong direction, turned around, walked back, weaseled our way through the masses of people on the streets, and somehow in an insane sea of bus stops, found ours. But it didn’t come for what felt like hours. In the amount of time we waited, two other bus lines came, at least twice each.
After the bus, we walked a block or so to our air b&b, dropped off our stuff, then set out on a mission to find food. We took an Uber to Picadilly circus, where we wandered around in search of a drugstore for my monstrous leg ache and Alex’s and my growing colds (everyone was sick, everyone). After that, we found an indian restaurant. Because I refused to go to London without getting Indian food.
We wandered around Picadilly for a bit, met up with Kelcey, and decided to catch a cab home, because we were all exhausted.
The next day, we hopped on a stereotypical hop-on/hop-off bus tour. We had mapped out the day, and thought we had the perfect plan to see everything. WRONG.
We got off to see the horse guards, then got off again and took a long detour to see Westminster Abbey (which I don’t regret, despite the fact that it kinda derailed our day). Kelcey left to get high tea with her friend who’s studying in London, and Alex and I explored the Abbey in awe. It was actually really great.
Then we figured we’d hop on the bus, go to the tour, catch the boat on the Thames back up to Westminster, and catch the bus going back towards Kensington to see the palace and Hyde park before going to Camden for our pub crawl. Great plan, right???
Well we got on the wrong bus, and ended up in Hyde park instead of at the Tower. Which was kind of fine, because Hyde park was gorgeous, and we got to see Buckingham palace. And we figured hey, the tower would be cool at night, so let’s see the other stuff during the daytime.
So we got on the bus a little later and headed back toward the tower. (in the process we walked in some sort of massive circle, because I’m terrible at reading maps). Problem was, we had no idea that the tower closed at 5:30. And we go there at 5. The line itself would have taken us 45 minutes, and the tour usually takes 2-3 hours. The honest clerks refused to sell us tickets, knowing that we wouldn’t get to see anything. I’m thankful for that, because, like EVERYTHING else in london, the tickets were absurdly overpriced. But I’m still very bitter about it. Because the tower was the one thing I knew I wanted to see. And we couldn’t. Because for whatever reason, everything cool in London opens late and closes early. And we couldn’t go back the next day either, because we had to be at Gatwick by noon to catch our flight, and nothing opens until 10am in London. So. Damn. Bitter.
But anyways. The day was saved by some seriously amazing fish and chips. Like, I hate fish, and tarter sauce. And that was one of my favorite meals this entire semester.
After that, we headed to Camden for something Alex had been talking about when we first planned London, and something I was looking forward to crossing off my “Things you’d think Kayla would never do” list: the Camden Pub Crawl.
4-5 bars, a club and a half, a free shot at every bar, and discounts on the rest of the drinks. Needless to say, the night turned fun despite my bitterness about the tower.
I gave away most of my free shots (not down for vodka shots that day, though I did try sours shots. Weird. Yet good), and capitalized on the discounted pints of beer. We met a group of girls from the states who were studying in brussels, and we actually met two girls (one from the states, one from I don’t remember where) who were studying film as well. They were all pretty cool. We danced, we laughed, we drank, and a nice man named Aliks bought me a drink. ‘Twas a fun night.
After the final club (some sort of converted horse barn where I was fighting off sleep while Alex was exploring the different stalls, one of which included fire-breathing strippers), we hopped in an uber and headed home. And we may or may not have both fallen asleep on the way there. . . Kelcey still laughs at us about how dumb that was.
The next day, Alex and I were determined to get up early and take advantage of the fact that our bus tickets were 2 days for the price of one, meaning we could use it to get around the city on Sunday as well. We got up and got out of the apartment by 7:30, and made our way to the bus, which we rode toward Kensington Palace. What I didn’t know was that that, like EVERYTHING else in London, didn’t open until 10. But it was still pretty. And from there we walked to Notting Hill and the Portobello Market. Nothing was open of course, but it was still a cute area to look around.
From there we rushed to the airport (which actually wasn’t necessary, because we ended up getting there almost 2 hours early. But I was paranoid). We got into Gatwick, and immediately set out to find two of the things that Alex and I had said we wouldn’t be content without: A cornish pasty (thank you Alex for wanting one and inspiring me to try it), and a full english breakfast (when in England. . . ). We were almost certain we weren’t going to find an English breakfast at 11am in the airport, so we settled for some cornish pasties from a stand before security. I thought I’d just try it, since Alex had been talking about them. And that was the best decisions I had ever made. Granted, there’s probably better places to get it than the airport, but it was like the better, more amazing version of chicken pot pie, but with beef stew inside instead, and in a more portable, nice, calzone-like package. Absolutely delicious.
After that, we wandered around trying to kill time, and eventually decided to split an English breakfast when we finally found a place that served it past 11.
And there went the last of our money. Because as great as it was, London was absurdly expensive. I think I left that place with twopence. Not exaggerating.
After that we hopped on a plane, and landed in Bonn early enough for a relaxing afternoon of laundry and Netflix.
Now, on to the next weekend trip, the ‘S’ in LSD.
Before I had even set foot in Europe I knew that one place a was absolutely dying to go was Croatia. When the group set up a google doc to figure out where everyone wanted to go so we could go in groups and coordinate, it looked like I was the only one who wanted to go. But as it turned out, Katy was about as determined as I was to go. We searched and searched for good flights, looked up info on different cities to go to, and eventually landed on Split, a beautiful city on the Adriatic coast, the flights to which happened to be slightly cheaper than Dubrovnik. We asked if anyone else wanted to tag along, and Amanda said yes. It also turned out that Olivia, bless her soul, had fought for us to get an extra 3-day weekend in October. Which worked out perfectly for our Croatian adventure plans.
Friday, October 16th, at 6am, we all met at the Hauptbahnhof to get on a train heading for the Frankfurt Airport. From there, we caught a direct flight to Split. Which has the tiniest airport I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s about the size of the check-in area in one terminal of the Sacramento airport.
From there, the owner of our Air B&B picked us up and drove us to Split. He asked us if we had any plans, and Katy and I mentioned something that, as Game of Thrones fans, we definitely wanted to see: Klis fortress. This old, somewhat ruined fortress was the sight of the slave rebellion in the city walls of Meereen. He drove us up to it, and we stopped to check the hours and the view (stunning), then headed to our Air B&B. Which was SO NICE.
We had a newly furnished apartment, with cable, to ourselves. It was like a little mini vacation, which was much-needed.
After settling in for a bit, we decided to wander into town to check it out, exchange our money (SUCH a refreshing exchange rate compared to pounds), then went to find food and a beach.
On the way into town, we walked through this backstreet lined with these houses that gave me an impression that Croatia is some sort of weird mixture of Greek and Russian culture. That’s probably not accurate, but that’s really the only way I can describe the architecture. I was trying to take pictures of the house (all of which turned out terrible), when this man stopped me and asked me to take a picture of him. It was a marvelous moment. I hadn’t even been in Croatia more than a few hours, and I already knew it was going to be great.
After that, we got these pastries called Böreks (I think), checked out some of the vendor stalls near Diocletian’s palace, and then set out to find a beach. And that we did. And I learned something.
Croatia (or, at least, Split) doesn’t have swimming pools like we do. Or, if they do, they’re entirely unnecessary. Why? Because the ocean is their swimming pool. Literally.
Most of the beaches that we found were like coves, with deep blue, practically clear, gorgeous, Adriatic water. And they weren’t like beaches in the states, where the sand just kinda tapers off into the water. Some of them did that. But most of them literally just looked like swimming pools with walls made of rocks, that opened up to the sea. There were rock steps, and rails, and diving boards just leading straight into the ocean.
And you could tell how it influenced their lifestyle. The beaches weren’t filled with young people (granted, I’m sure it’s packed during the summer); instead, we saw people of all ages enjoying a nice evening swim after a busy day. There was even an old man, who had to have been 60 or 70, who we saw swimming along the coast. I probably couldn’t even swim that far, and here’s this old guy just doing it to relax at the end of the day. The water wasn’t even that warm, and no one cared.
The other funny thing was the water smelled different. It almost smelled like freshwater, and it didn’t have all the disgusting garbage that the Pacific has in most parts of Southern California.
We walked along the water until we found a bar, and got ourselves some wine, because why not.
After that we went back to the apartment, and Katie and Amanda showed me the wonderful world of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
The next day, we all got up and got ready at an alarmingly efficient rate, grabbed breakfast from a pastry shop at the corner, and then hopped in the car with our Air B&B owner’s sister, who was kind enough to offer us a ride to our first stop of the gorgeously sunny day: Klis fortress.
Since it was the off season, we had this massive fortress almost to ourselves, and we spent about an hour exploring its random rooms and corners. and the view was stunning.
After that, we headed down into town to explore for a bit. The main city center is contained within what used the be the walls of Diocletian’s palace, which we wandered through aimlessly until we ended up at the bell tower. Which we decided to climb, because why not. The stairs were creepily steep, but it was well worth it.
We met a rather attractive boy at the top, who happened to be from Maui, and was also a filmmaker (more of a sports videographer really). His story was kind of insane. He’d been traveling basically for the past 6 months, and had spent the month prior in Portugal, after spending a month in Iceland, and several weeks in France. He was just wandering about, taking videos of sports, and living his life that way. It was a little annoying, i was kind of jealous, not going to lie. Then again, I’d rather win an oscar than film sports. . . . (not that I have yet, so I guess I shouldn’t talk).
After that we did some more walking around, found some gifts for friends in the vendor stalls that line the city walls, saw some cats (I’m considering starting a side blog called “the Cats of Croatia”, because there were so damn many of them).
We then decided to check out the beaches on the other side of the main port, and grabbed some snacks on the way. I don’t even know what they were called, but they were these delicious, sugar-coated dough-balls.
So we walked along the coast, till we finally hit a point where it just turned into mostly cliffs. Then we found a spot on the water to watch the sunset. It was a ledge where you could walk out and set your feet into the water, and it was perfect.
After that, we walked back into town and decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner while we were still in a place where the conversion rate was more than in our favor. We went to a restaurant that the owner of our Air B&B recommended, and it was amazing (I tried white truffle sauce for the first time, and my life will never be the same).
Afterwards, we once again went home and watched It’s Always Sunny, like a proper, relaxing vacation.
The next day, we woke up, packed a bit, and headed to the beach for breakfast (We had some seriously weird-looking omelettes). We didn’t have to be to the airport until 3ish, so we figured we’d do some more exploring, and headed back into the city center after we finished eating and the slightly rainy weather let up.
There, we found something we had spent an absurd amount of time looking for the day prior: a street where they had filmed another part of the slave rebellion in Game of Thrones.
Turns out we had walked past it the day before and not even realized. So, anti-climactic, but cool.
After that, we went into the palace basements, which was suuuper cool. It’s the last remaining structure that most closely resembles the original layout of Diocletian’s Palace, and they’re all under the city center. I felt like I was breathing mold in the whole time, but it was still cool. And it was yet another place where they supposedly filmed Game of Thrones (Apparently GoT just loves Croatia).
From there, we headed back to the Air B&B, grabbed our stuff, and headed for the airport (which was insanely tiny). We caught a tiny plane to Munich, where we waited a couple of hours (ate some food, called our parents, checked out the stores, met some other people from America), before hopping on a plane to Dusseldorf, and then catching a train back to the Bonn Hauptbahnhof. Needless to say, it was a long ride home. We didn’t actually get in until after midnight. By the time I reached the U-bahn, the last train was scheduled to be leaving. I went down the moving walkway, and the train was just sitting there (which practically never happens), with all the doors open. I walked on it, and discovered it was completely empty.
I had an entire subway train, completely to myself. Quite possibly one of the weirdest feelings ever. But then one other dude showed up with his bike. So it wasn’t actually empty anymore. But still. When the train left, we were the only ones on it.
Anyways. NEXT STOP! The D in LSD, to finish up the acronym.
Another place that Kelcey and I both insisted on going was Ireland, and about a month prior, Nader found some INCREDIBLY cheap flights, that fit perfectly into our schedule (so long as we got them to let us out of school early, which, they did, so it was fine). Originally, a large portion of the class had planned on going. But in the end, a group of six of us booked a flight and hostel all together, (Myself, Kelcey, Alex, Nader, Eddie, and Sydney), and then Kim and Allie joined in as well and found an Air B&B. So we were all set to go to Ireland.
Well, Dublin. Which, as one of my documentary subjects (an Irishman) pointed out, is an entirely different beast than the rest of Ireland.
A cool city, but definitely not overflowing with Irish culture, and far different from what you’d expect. It was very relaxed. The people were cool, mellow, stuff was busy but not insanely so like London. It was nice.
We got there in the evening-ish, and then took a 45 minute bus ride (the duration of which we spent standing) to our hostel, checked in, dropped off our stuff, and set out to find some food. People were hangry. It was dangerous.
We went to a nearby area of London called Temple Bar, which, as we’d find out the next day, was designed and merchandised for tourists. Hence, the insane prices and large number of pubs. But, it was still pretty cool, so I’d say it was a successful tourist trap, and more worth it than most.
We found a pub that had good reviews for quality food that wasn’t completely out of our price range, and we stood outside waiting until Kim and Allie showed up. There was a crowd gathering outside to listen to the band that was playing, so we thought we’d check it out. And they were awesome. Metalish-rock with an electric violin, played by a guy with a dreadlock-man-bun. It was great.
We also found a dog, someone’s pet, just wandering around in search for attention. She was friendly, and adorable.
After a bit we decided to wait inside at the bar until Kim and Allie arrived, and until our table was ready (the place was packed). IT was a bit of a wait, but it wasn’t too bad. I got a pint of Smithwick’s (DELICIOUS).
Once we sat down, I ordered a massive, delicious, magical burger. Irish beef, with a fried egg, and god knows what else. Messiest thing ever. Most delicious thing ever (or at least up there in the list). And Sydney let me try some of her mussels, which I surprisingly liked.
Everyone was stuffed, and everyone was completely satisfied. That place was a great decision.
After that, we decided to walk around and explore for a bit, to see what else was in the area. It was mostly bars and clubs. We stopped at the Temple Bar Pub, and went in for some drinks. I tasted some of Nader’s Jameson (delicious), and we ran into some extremely drunk dudes from Split, who were ecstatic to meet someone who had at least been to where they were from. One of them was also so drunk that he almost burnt my face with his cigarette. Oops.
After a while, it got stuffy, and hot, some people started passing out, so we stepped outside, and eventually decided to call it a night.
So most of us, a bit exhausted from the day, decided to head back to bed. But Sydney and Kim stayed out and had a marvelous night, which we heard about the next morning. (marvelous, minus Kim getting locked out of the Air B&B because Allie sleeps like a rock. It was funny to us, but not so much to Kim).
The next day, much like our other trips in Europe, we took a free walking tour. It was cool, and we got to see a fair amount, but I learned that unlike other cities, Dublin really doesn’t have that many landmarks. There’s cool things to visit, like Museums, distilleries, libraries, but landmarks are a bit sparse, save the pyre. Which apparently no one really understands.
Our tour guide was pretty cool, he kind of said whatever was on his mind, which was entertaining, and he kind of took the tour whichever direction he felt like, which made it pretty low-key.
He also told us two things that would come very much in handy: 1) The nearest area for us to see the Irish countryside was Howth, a small town with some pretty seacliffs and hikes. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take the day trip with the nature walks and folktales, but we did find out it was an easy morning trip via public transportation. And 2) the same company that offered the free tour, also offered a rather inexpensive pub crawl, which most of us gladly signed up for.
After the tour, we headed to something that I had booked tickets for almost as soon as we booked our flights: the Guinness Storehouse.
I knew I had to go there, Kelcey knew she had to go there, so we were going, and that was that. We even left the tour early just to make sure we had enough time at the museum. And through booking ahead, we managed to skip the long lines and go straight in (best decision ever).
Something that I didn’t know until this weekend when Greg (Professor Ruzzin) mentioned it, was that the storehouse itself is shaped like a pint glass. And it’s not just a factory you tour. It’s a whole experience. And you can start anywhere you want.
Kelcey and the hungry people started with food (her dad specifically instructed her to try the bread), almost all of which has Guinness in the recipe in some form or another. The rest of us dispersed ourselves. A group of people sped through the tour, and Alex, Eddie, and I kind of meandered our way through. They walk you through the process from start to finish, giving you history bits along the way. You get to touch the barley, smell the hops, see the water. They even keep a sample of the yeast used from the past year in order to produce the next year’s product, which has been done (supposedly) since Guinness first started (meaning the current yeast strain is descended from the one Arthur guinness used). And Arthur Guinness was a smart man. He signed a seemingly insane 9,000 year lease on the St. James’s gate property (the location of the storehouse), ensuring he would only ever have to pay $49 a year, and it would stay in his family basically forever.
Anyways. After going through the process of how it’s made, you can go through floors that talk about the history of the barrels used before kegs, you can see all of Guinness’s advertising campaign designs from the beginning to now, and then there’s the tasting floor. Where you go in and learn a) what gives it its flavor, and b) how to drink it properly. Honestly a bit dramatic, but fun either way. And then you can get a free pint of guinness from a couple of places. 1) you can just get it from this one room where they pour it for you, 2) you can learn how to pour the perfect pint at the “guinness academy” or whatever, or if you pay more you can go through the connoisseur experience and taste a bunch of different varieties of Guinness. But that’s expensive. So we opted for the final option: the sky bar. On the very top floor of the storehouse, there’s a bar with a panoramic view of Dublin. And it’s gorgeous, and awesome.
Oh! Also, we ate lunch before that. I had stew made with guinness (pretty tasty), and chocolate mousse that was also made with Guinness (absolutely amazing). And I was incredibly stuffed. Irish food was far more hardy than I expected.
After that, I must have spent almost an hour in the merchandise store. You’d think everything would be overpriced, but it’s surprisingly not. Which is also a bit of a trap, because it makes you want to buy everything.
But anyways. We got our souvenirs, then decided to head back to the hostel for a nap. After all, we had a pub crawl to go to.
Some people left early to get food, others were still full from the lunch at the storehouse, so we all decided to meet up at the first bar, where they gave us wrist bands (which I am still currently wearing. Partly because I can’t bring myself to take it off, but also partly because I’m curious how long I can wear it for), that are good for the rest of the year. Meaning if I went to Dublin, right now, and showed up at that bar with my wrist band, I could go on the pub crawl again for free. How awesome is that?
Anyways. The first bar was kind of interesting. It had a fast food stand in the back room, and it was in an apartment building. As if someone had turned what was, probably, at some point, a super nice, massive apartment, into a trendy, kinda hipster bar where you can’t really see anything except the light of the logos on the tap handles at the bar. It was buy one get one free, so naturally, most of us got a pint of guinness and a pint of cider, and made our own black velvets (thank you very much to James Joyce Irish Pub for changing our lives). After that, we split up. Kelcey, Eddie, and Allie had decided they didn’t want to go on the pub crawl, so they were gonna meet us at one of the last pubs, O’neill’s (we’d been told earlier it was a great place for traditional irish music and dancing). They split off, and Nader, Alex, Kim, Sydney and I headed to the next bar on the list. Which, to be honest, was a bit of a drag. They didn’t really want us getting rowdy up in the normal bar, so they put us in a separate, club-like room, where our pub crawl was the only people there. And they played super weird music. But they did give us a free shout of that sour stuff I like. And it was fun to watch Kim and Sydney dance. Thankfully we didn’t stay long.
The next bar was much more fun, and by far my favorite. If I remember correctly I believe it was called the Mezz. And it was packed, and loud, and awesome. There was some dude playing covers of songs we all know on a guitar, and there was a hilarious bachelor party that dressed up as sailors, while the groom was dressed as the Little Mermaid. They looked great. And I took my very first shot of tequila (for free, might I add. Thank you pub crawl) with an Australian man named Peter, who was in town for the Rugby cup. He insisted that we do it proper, limes and salt and whatnot (which I’m thankful for). And it was actually delicious. I thought I would despise tequila. But I love it. And then they gave us the beer that came with the shot of tequila, which wasn’t half bad either (though not free). We sang along, we danced a bit, we chatted with people around us, it was great. And Kim taught me how to make friends. . . ahahaha.
She introduced me to some people from the states who were with our group (including a dude wearing an awesome cookie monster hoodie), they were cool. And she managed to get us talking with a band that was going to play at the bar later that night. A boy band, of sorts. Or a man band. I really don’t know what they call themselves. We became pretty good friends with them if I do say so myself. And I must say, Irish men: top of the line. They’re hilarious, most of them have beards, they love to drink and to sing, and they’re damn attractive. We spoke with a man named Dan, who might as well have been a model, and his friend Craig. Or Greg. It was incredibly loud in there. Either way, Kim wandered off, as did Dan, and I ended up talking to Craig. ‘Twas a good time.
Despite the drink offers and him trying to convince us to stay, eventually my friends and I had to get going with the rest of the group, who at one point had already left without us. So we did some goodbye-ing and then headed out, and ended up running into Kelcey and Allie outside.
I was practically on top of the world at that point. I skipped my way around the corner to catch up with the big group, and we made our way to O’neill’s, where we found Eddie. The music was great, I gave someone else my free shot of jaeger (I discovered I cannot stand black licorice flavored anything), and got me my first glass of Bailey’s. Absolutely delicious, and I will never go back. O’neill’s also looked amazing. It was fresh, and clean, and yet it has this rustic, tavern-like feel. It felt small, but it was a winding, maze-of-a-place. Filled to the brim with laughing, chatting, happy people listening to some damn good folk music. And it was a great time.
After that, we made our way to our final destination: Badbob’s. A place that Sydney and Kim, though they couldn’t remember the name, had been raving about from the night before. It was insane. I’m not sure if it was a bar or a club. But there were two floors, and on the stairs going up there was this badass chick killing it on the saxophone, while dancing up and down the stairs in high heels. Incredible. We went up to the bar and got our free shot, which I was told was basically like tequila, but from Argentina, or Brazil or something. It was nothing like tequila. It was black licorice flavored, and it was absolutely disgusting (this would be when I learned that I hated that stuff). So of course, I decided to wash it down with a shot of actual tequila. And a beer.
And then the dancing began. The absolutely insane, mosh-pit of dancing, and sweaty people, and random couples making out, and this one guy constantly trying to get with girls from our pub crawl and constantly striking out. And Kim killing it and making friends as always.
It was stressful and hot at times, but it was insanely fun.
Eventually the night wound down, and we decided we should head home. Or they decided. Because I was not ready for the night to end. I was practically frolicking along the sidewalk. I don’t even know how I had that much energy.
Alex, Nader, and I hung out around the River Liffey for a bit, then headed back toward the hostel and went to bed.
The next day, I was determined to get up early enough for an Irish breakfast. We all got up, packed up, and while the rest of the crew went downstairs for the free toast, Kelcey and I headed to a bar down the street that also doubled as a restaurant(ish).
I had had one Irish breakfast before (thanks to one of my very nice interview subjects), but this was my first one in Ireland. And it was delicious. one of the best sausages I have ever had. It was everything I had hoped for. And it came complete with entertainment:
As we were enjoying our breakfast, this group of 4-6 guys stumbles into the bar, cheering, ready to request their drinks, and the owner or waitress or whoever comes out and says, “Sorry boys, it’s Sunday, we’re not open until 12.” They were upset, and voiced it. Apparently they had taken a $100 cab just to get there (I call B*llsh*t). We just want drinks, they said. This is a bar, isn’t it, they said. We come here all the time, they said. The woman told them she didn’t care, it’s Sunday, they know the rules (this was 9am, mind you), if they wanted a drink they would have to go down the street to the early house down the street (which I recently looked up. Apparently, while most bars can’t start serving until 10:30am, these bars can start serving at 7am. there’s 15 of them. Because the city needs 15 bars where you can start drinking with the sunrise). They grumbled and complained, and she continued to shut them down, but they filed out without causing any sort of big trouble. It was hilarious for me and Kelcey though. Irish drinking culture is fantastic.
After that, we headed back, dropped our bags off in the luggage storage room, and started the long walk toward the bus that would take us to Howth. And I mean loooong walk. Not as long as some distances we had walked before, but it was far further of a walk than the man had made it sound.
We finally made it to the bus stop (despite a bit of butting heads on the way), to find a massive crowd awaiting the first bus. The only people of our group that made it on that bus were Allie and Eddie, because getting on was basically a sea of elbows and people desperate to see some sights. Including grumpy elderly people. They’ve got some sharp elbows, I’m tellin’ you.
The rest of us made it onto the next bus, and made the 20-30 minute trip out to Howth. We got there, met up with Eddie and Allie, and walked up the hill to the top of the cliffs.
It was absolutely stunning.
And slightly terrifying (at least for Nader). It was also windy. Very, very, very windy. Which made it feel colder than it probably was. But oh well. we walked down one side of the trail, then walked through a little track in the bushes to a small opening on the edge of the cliff where, if you were careful, you could sit on the edge and dangle your feet (I chose not to partake in this activity).
We meandered about, checking where the trail led (it took a while, because the cliff was a little more up and down than we thought). Some people walked out toward the lighthouse, so I was going to follow them. Nader tagged along.
But I never made it there. Why? Because I got side tracked by a trail leading into the bushes, which led to a little muddy staircase, which led to a larger rock staircase, that wound it’s way down to the beach below. And by “wound its way”, I mean practically dropped. At first, I thought it’d be a bad idea. There was no way I was in shape enough to climb back up. Nader also didn’t think we had enough time.
But I said to hell with it. Before I left America, I promised to challenge myself. And here was a challenge: do something you know you’ll never have the chance to do again (and probably wouldn’t do at home), and don’t worry about the after. Just worry about the now.
So I left Nader up at the top, and began the climb down. Which, I’ll admit, was a bit scary. The mud was slippery, there was nothing to hold onto, and a fair amount of the steps were tall enough that I had to sit down on one and sort of slide/hop onto the one below it. Then when you reach the bottom the stairs don’t really go to the beach, they sort of just stop in the hard-to-navigate pile of rocks that have flat surfaces (which don’t get along very well with muddy boots). But I somehow made it down, and I found Kim and Allie on the beach.
And I was immediately so glad that I had made the trek down. Because it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
I took a ton of pictures, waved to Kelcey and Nader up at the top, and then Kim and I stole some rocks from the beach before making the trek back up.
I honestly thought I was going to die. It was steep, and slippery, and it was as awful as I thought it would be. And it seemed twice as far going up as it did coming down.
But eventually we made it to the top, and we all headed back over the hill toward the bus (with me dragging incredibly far behind everyone because I’m pathetic. But thankfully Allie was generous and shared her water with me. Lifesaver).
We hopped on the bus, headed back into Dublin, stopped at the hostel to pick up our bags, and then headed out to the airport via another bus.
I was sad to leave, and I was also exhausted. But I had a long night of packing ahead of me when I got home to Bonn, because the next morning we were off on yet another trip. But I’ll save that for later.