Our arrival into Dublin was uneventful, for the most part. Usually you expect to hear horror stories about international travel, but our team luckily escaped any and all shenanigans.
It all began at 4am for me on May 31, a Tuesday morning in Seattle. Three of my teammates for USAAI would also be flying out of Seattle to get to Newark, where we would meet the rest of our team. Kelsey McKinnis, Jocelyn Riordan, Lindsay Layland (all University of Puget Sound players), and myself sat together on the flight from Seattle to Newark. We slept most of the way, and there were no small children on our flight. Score.
We arrived in Newark, NJ approximately four hours before our flight to Dublin. After getting a bite for lunch, we walked around the airport checking out the shops and talking anxiously about getting to Ireland. Our excitement was obvious; most passersby who saw us talking so animatedly gave us a smile and a nod, as if to say they knew we were about to embark on an experience of a lifetime.
After a gate change—apparently this is normal, so it does not fall under the “shenanigan” category—we made it to our Dublin flight and finally met all of our teammates: Shayla from Tennessee, Janice from Chicago, Ashley from DC, Latrina from Evergreen State, and Brittany from Florida. Quickly after meeting one another we boarded our plane to Dublin. The Seattle crew got stuck in the back of the plane—by the bathrooms—together, but despite having people always waiting impatiently next to your seat to relieve themselves, it was a quiet and pleasant flight.
The only rough part, however, occurred when our program coordinators—Darrell and Quinton (Q)—informed us that we would not be taking any type of nap at all once we got to the hotel. Already delirious from being awake for more than 15 hours, our mood went from relief to dread. “Don’t worry, girls, you’ll thank us tomorrow when you’re no longer jet-lagged, we promise,” they reassured us.
Set for the day’s agenda was a quick check in to the hotel, shower, then a bus ride to downtown Dublin, food and drink (for those wishing to do so), followed by a “Hop-on Hop-off” city bus tour, back to the hotel, dinner, then bed. Our shower woke most of us up, and for the most part we were refreshed enough to be able to muster some excitement for the bus tour; we all decided that the motto for the trip would be “You only live once!” and that we could take none of the things planned for us for granted.
Before getting on the bus tour, we walked around the pedestrian-only side streets of downtown Dublin for about an hour and had some lunch. I convinced some of the team to have a Guinness with me, and we found Dublin’s Smallest Pub, a well-known tourist attraction within the city, in which to do so! Down some red velvet spiral stairs, we found ourselves in a well-lit, traditionally decorated pub that was, in fact, the smallest bar I’d ever been in. They had a food menu, as well, so we bought some Guinness and sandwiches or soup and had a great time chatting up the bartender about the Irish culture and language. We learned the following things:
How are yeh’s? is an everyday Irish greeting. Acceptable responses include grand, deadly buzz (really great), great, fine thanks, or shite (shit).
The drinking age is 18, but most start much earlier in their teens.
Many Irish don’t actually like Guinness, but prefer lighter beers. Most bars in Ireland have Budweiser on tap; even the non-touristy ones.
Almost everyone smokes cigarettes. Everywhere. All the time. The bartender didn’t know why.
After lunch and Guinness, we set out for our bus tour, which turned out to be somewhat of a failure. After going in a few circles trying to find where the first stop was located and finally getting on the bus, we were only able to stay awake for the first half of it. Soon enough, the motion of the bus, the sing-song cadence of the tour guide’s voice and the beautiful sun on our faces beat us into submission; sleep came all too easily. The tour finished, we got back onto the bus back to the hotel and slept most of the way there—about 30 minutes. Dinner would be only an hour and a half after our return, so falling into a deep sleep immediately was ill-advised, we were told.
To say the least, dinner was miserable. Good food, but we were all so tired that we didn’t have the energy to fully appreciate what were putting into our mouths; most of us sleep-walked back to our rooms and fell asleep for the night.
Day 2 began in a rush. Janice, my roommate, had smartly brought an alarm clock for us to use, but we had un-smartly set the clock itself for the wrong time before we went to bed—obviously being up for 30+ hours is unhealthy for a reason—and in turn our alarm for waking up did not happen at the right time. The clock said 7:20am. We were to have eaten breakfast and ready by 8:25. I was just about to get up and take a shower when the phone rang. It was Q.
“Hey, are you guys coming, or what?”
“Q, it’s only 7:20! Are you crazy?”
“No, uh, actually…it’s 8:20. You guys got about a minute to get down here.”
“Oh. Well. We’ll be down in a minute, then.” Click.
Chaos ensued. I roughly woke Janice, rushed an explanation out of my mouth that I’m sure made no sense at all while simultaneously trying to get dressed and brush my teeth. In the end we made it, but we almost missed the bus with the team all because we were too delirious to do the correct math for the time change. Super embarrassing.
This time on the bus tour, we were awake and energized. Q and Darrell scheduled us to go check out the Book of Kells —an ancient copy of the four Gospels of the New Testament— at Trinity College. Written in Latin and meticulously decorated, it is largely known as Ireland’s greatest national treasure. It was truly an amazing experience to be able to see the actual book up close; the artwork and calligraphy is breathtaking. Seeing Latin written that way was inspiring; maybe I should take a Latin class someday! In addition to the Book of Kells exhibit, we went to into Trinity College’s Long Room, an absolutely beautiful facility that has huge historical significance. We were able to walk through the current exhibit, which featured the School of Medicine. Seeing how much the pioneering doctors studied and figured out without today’s advancements in technology was fascinating; I couldn’t imagine taking my biology and anatomy classes without computers and other technology, and they investigated and figured out (for the most part) human anatomy with just their hands and brains. What a great experience!
After our scheduled stop, Darrell and Q cut us loose in downtown Dublin, telling us to go do whatever we wanted but to be back at the bus for the hotel at 2:05pm. We stayed mostly in groups of 3-5, some of us doing the bus tour again while others stayed on foot. Kelsey, Jocelyn, Lindsay, Ashley and I hopped back on the bus and picked out a few stops we missed the day before, during our nap. We went to the following:
Dublin City Hall
Christ Church Cathedral
We took pictures at all these places, but due to our time constraint we couldn’t partake in the hour-long guided tour of the jail, something I was especially excited about. We have two more days in Dublin at the end of our trip, so we’ve informed Darrell and Q that we would be doing that again. And the zoo, which was also skipped because of time.
We barely made it back downtown in time, but we ran from the tour bus to the city bus and caught up with the rest of the crew and headed back to the hotel; it was game day! We were to take on the Oblate Doubling Dynamos, a club team made up various-aged women. It was a physical game. In the beginning we struggled, as we’d never been on the court with each other before, plus Lindsay forgot her jersey and had to wear a neon-yellow one; kind of threw us all off! Just kidding. I just had to get that part in there because she was really embarrassed…and it was hilarious. Despite the struggles we had figuring out one another, we also had to adjust to the refereeing. Apparently the Irish love the NBA and watch it as often as possible, and it shows. Travel calls on their side were sparse, yet our feet seemed to be a little too happy.
In the end we gutted out a win. The Dynamos had made us some post-game sandwiches, so we hung around with them for about 20 minutes after the game, eating and chatting with each other. Cole slaw, ham, and cheese on wheat or ham and butter on white. They also made us “biscuits” (cookies) and brought us some soda. How nice of them!
So far the experience has been amazing. Our days are full, but we’re savoring every experience and doing our best to document all of it with photos.