st. patrick’s day the irish way

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is one of those quintessential college study abroad experiences. Throughout my time in Europe, it has unequivocally been one of my favorite weekends. Sydney and I flew into Edinburgh, Scotland to visit James before all heading to Dublin together. James’s parents actually met in Edinburgh when his dad studied abroad there during college. The city itself is gorgeous and caters well to a college-aged crowd – there’s an abundance of pubs and breweries and good eats. We met up with a crew of Cal kids, one of whom was traveling post-graduation, and ate dinner at a swanky Indian restaurant called Dishoom. While we only spent a night in Scotland, I think we got a pretty comprehensive tour of the city and overview of day-to-day student life.

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We hit the ground running as soon as we landed in Ireland–the Dublin airport itself was already buzzing with St. Patrick’s day excitement and energy after our early morning arrival. We spent the day bar hopping, from Temple Bar to Busters and back, while getting our IDs scrutinized despite the 18-year-old drinking age. Somehow all of us made it to the same place at the same time and BOY was it a crazy reunion. The thrill of being surrounded by so many of your friends after spending a substantial amount of time apart is overwhelming and almost indescribable. My friend, Tati, started sobbing as soon as she realized that we’d miraculously all ended up together. Cheers to friendships that transcend continents and people that feel like home.

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The following day was just as action-packed: we started off bright and early with a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. After the night (and day) of debauchery that I’m sure many people engaged in for the holiday festivities, I was surprised (and impressed) by the number of people out and about at the early hours of the morning. The Guinness Storehouse happens to be the most popular tourist attraction in Ireland, and for good reason. Not only is Guinness the only beer that I’ve ever tasted that I legitimately enjoy, but it also has a wealth of history and the backing of a prideful nation. The process for brewing Guinness is far more elaborate than I would have anticipated, and I’ve since learned that the exported versions are (unfortunately) slightly modified.

The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s second most popular tourist attraction, are located on the westmost coast of the island (the furthest point west of all of Europe) and getting there is almost as worth the trip as the actual attraction. Our tour guide and bus driver was a jolly and portly man named, Finton, who sang for the full duration of our 3-hour drive (roundtrip). As luck would have it, we chose a clear day for optimal cliff viewing–the tours that embarked on previous mornings unfortunately encountered thick walls of fog. Had we been faced with that same predicament, at least the drive is incredibly lush, green, and scenic.

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Somewhat surprisingly, Ireland had the best Mexican food that Sydney and I had yet encountered. Unsurprisingly, we went three times. Over the course of the weekend, I consumed no less than five burritos. I’m talking Chipotle-style but better. I haven’t seen that large a variety of hot sauces since leaving California. Incredibly grateful for that small taste of home.

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