Yesterday I woke up to a man about 2 feet from me coughing in the bunk next to mine...and my first thought was, how fun! I'm in Ireland. It was already 9...after loosing an entire night on the flight, I guess I was in catch up mode. Breakfast was SO European...toast, butter, jam, corn flakes, muesli, coffee or tea... brought me back to my growing up years in Belgium. I met a couple french guys during breakfast, which was fantastique! J'ai eu la chance de practique mon francais. =) Um...for those of you who don't parle francais...look it up! So the two of them, plus our new friend Nozomi, a Japanese gal I lovingly named "fashion show" (she has a soundtrack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CQZDiko2xg) for the amount of accessories and makeup she applied to go with us to to the Dublin Castle, took off to see the sights. We stumbled upon a tour group in the chapel by the castle where I learned about the independence of Ireland. Apparently one of the provoking actions of England in 1916 was to dress up it's prisoners as "black and tans"(police) and ship them off to Ireland (Australia must have no longer been accepting criminals). When these voices of the law started performing executions at random, the Irish people got pissed and on Easter started a revolution that eventually kicked these notorious villans, along with the viceroys (ruling men that the kings and queens of England left behind for when they could not be there) and every other English scoundrel that did not aprove of their newfound freedom in 1920.
So the castle use to have 15 meter thick walls, motes, bridges and the whole deal. It was never invaded, but it did explode...because it was a storehouse for gunpowder, and when a fire started near there the Irish solution was to try to put it out through a series of other fires. It didn't work, but the prince at the time wrote a letter saying that it wasn't a big loss anyway because it was so ugly, and with that got the funds approved to rebuilt on top of the remains what we have today. The original castle's mote was apparently pretty nasty. In fact they called it Dubh Linn (meaning "black pool"). Ok last couple fun facts...Dublin was originally settled by Vikings, and they are the ones responsible for the red hair that is actually Scandinavian trait, NOT an Irish one (this includes folk from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland--I learned this on facebook thanks to Cerrie Gleason the red, and Savanah Crafton the actress)...typical Irish is far more Spanish-like with their features. So the castle and different areas of Dublin flooded a couple years ago, so they started doing to excavating around the castle...and lo and behold not only did they find the remains of the old castle, but they found a ton of Viking stuff as well.
The lack of playmates has definitely been a little troubling...Chelsea is sick and when she is not sick she is working. Fortunately it is Ireland, and all you have to do to make friends is to walk into a bar. And they'll buy you a drink. Or 3. I'm not kidding.
More things I noticed:
-Girls wear tights...of all types and with everything...especially shorts. I've been having bows/butterflies/flowers-all-over-my-legs envy since I got here
-There are pubs that don't have TV's here...it's awesome
-A guy told me today that when he is in an airport in the states all he has to do to find Aer Lingus is look around and see where all the ugly people are headed...as he put it, it's a literary culture, not a visual one
-The Irish are undeniably very happy
-The bike stations that I mentioned in my previous post are a bitch...definitely not designed for tourists...in fact they discriminate...but if you stand at a machine for long enough and get frustrated enough you may attract a tall redhead named George who may pay for your 2euro bike pass himself (not thinking about the potential 150e fee if I loose or decapitate the bike) and he might offer to show me where the park is and then offer to let me tag along his friend's free guided tour. His friend's guided tour may stop by a drug store where the claim to fame is that there is an entire passage describing it in James Joyce's Ulysses. The guided tour may also be the friend's entire Irish family in for the day to visit, and they may stop by a pub mid tour and start ordering Guinness and watching rugby, and that may be the end of the tour after all.
-The Irish cancer society is funded by second hand stores in Ireland...but these stores have no brochures or websites to direct you to finding out more
-Trinity College is quite snobby, which at 10,000 euros minimum a semester for a EU res is understandable
-There are skeletons that still have skin and red curly hair in the National Archeology Museum of Dublin
-Most Irish last names mean something and these meanings can be found on bookmarks that one can buy for 2.5 euros at the gift shop of the National Museum of Dublin
-The buildings here are beautiful
-There are 44 parliaments for 4 million people in Ireland--and it has some of the highest paid city/national employees of any first world country (part of the reason for the financial situation the country is in)
-40,000 people left Ireland last year to look for work elsewhere
-The IMF arriving here/taking over is the most significant thing since the founding of the nation in 1920
-Most of the people at the pubs drink approximately at twice the speed I do
-The nation is bankrupt, but cannot print off more money like the US does since they use the Euro
-They have 4 times the national debt here that we do (and we have 75 times the number of people)
-The Irish people however, have a lot of money in the bank, despite how screwed the government is
-Ireland is the best place to have a passport if you want to be a spy since they haven't invaded anyone and pissed them off since they have been a nation and therefore you can travel anywhere if you have one.
-Scarves go for about 40euros here in the gift shop (um...sorry Matt?), and the guy at the James Joyce drug store bought the last 2 pairs of cuff links that came through
-Despite waking up this morning to a naked couple in the bunk above me, I like it here. If it happens tomorrow, however, I'm turning whoever it is in and they can suffer the consequences of that kind of behavior 2 feet from my head...even if I was asleep.
And with that, I'm going back out to the pubs.
Cheers...and good luck!