Back From Bleargh!

After several days of absence from blogging, I’m making a triumphant (or at least a basic) return to my platform of heralding. Be prepared for a super-sized edition.

The last any of you heard I wasn’t feeling very well, which unfortunately spread itself out into a nasty virus that I won’t go into too much detail with. Obviously I didn’t accomplish much in those couple of days other than to find how accommodating and convenient the Park Avenue Medical Centre of Sandymount is, though I did end up missing our ninth and tenth group tours of Dublin (Anders’ of the North Georgian Area and Rob’s of the Four Courts District), as well as two days of classes, Kelsey’s wallet getting stolen by gypsies, and of course the Starliners placing third at the MSHSL State Dance Team Tournament.

Card-Carrying Cult Member since 2005.

By this point I had finally started to feel better and was able to get up and around. This was lucky given the fact that Hitchcock had gotten all of us tickets to a GAA double-header at Croke Park. The GAA is the Gaelic Athletic Association, and is a 32 county organization that promotes indigenous games like hurling and Gaelic football, both of which we got to see. The two matches were separated by a performance by Jedward — an Irish pop duo made up of two twin brothers (John and Edward). The pair originally competed on the television talent show The X Factor, and they’re currently one of the five acts from Ireland that will compete at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. To recap, these two are meant to represent all of Ireland to the rest of Europe in the medium of musical performance.

Yeah. These guys.

Despite the hair, their lip-syncing antics weren’t all bad, especially their cover of Blink-182’s All the Small Things, which we enjoyed much more than any of the Europeans surrounding us.

The first match was hurling, Dublin vs. Tipperary, which Dublin won. Hurling is believed to be the world’s oldest field game, and seems to be a mixture of baseball, lacrosse, and hockey. The players have sticks (called hurleys) that they use to hit and carry the ball back and forth across the pitch. They can also catch the ball, but they can’t run with it for more than four steps, and can’t bounce it to themselves more than twice. To score, the players could either hit the ball through the crossbars above the goal for one point, or into the net for three points.

Did I mention the hurleys can also be used on opponents?

The second match was Gaelic football, Dublin vs. Cork. Dublin also won this game which was a very exciting match. Gaelic football is extremely fast-paced and entertaining, and as far as I could tell is a combination of soccer and rugby. Similar to hurling, the ball can be carried for up to four steps before being bounced no more than twice in a row, or kicked or served to another player. The scoring is the same as hurling with one point for over the crossbar, and three points for into the net.

It's soccer's cooler, older cousin.

After both matches (and Jedward!) I was getting pretty tired, so I headed home and called it a night instead of going out to celebrate Dublin’s wins with the rest of the group.

The next day, Kelsey, Anders, Libby, Danielle, and I finally sat down and figured out our spring break plans for the unstructured block of raw time we’ll have during the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May before coming home. More details on this as it gets closer, but I can promise it’s going to be exciting.

And very well planned.

We also went to see Never Let Me Go with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightly (not to be confused with Never Say Never with Justin Bieber). I had finished reading the book while I was sick and enjoyed it, but I think I might have liked the movie more. I don’t think anyone else really liked it though — it was quite a bit of a downer.

That finally brings us up to today. Kelsey and I went into Dublin in the morning to work on replacing the various cards and IDs she had had in her wallet. We took care of pretty much everything without any real problems, though we agreed that the wallet itself was the biggest loss from the entire fiasco.

Missing.

Once we were done with errands we met up with Libby and Anders, and we headed to the biggest tourist attraction in Dublin that we hadn’t been to yet: the Guinness Storehouse. The self-guided tour is based in one of the historical buildings of the Guinness factory (which was leased out by Arthur Guinness in 1770 for 9,000 years) that’s had major renovations and additions. There are six floors of exhibits and displays, the best of which were the Ingredients and Crafts of Brewing level (which goes step-by-step through the brewing process and includes a taste-test half-pint), and the Advertising Exhibit (which had the development of Guinness icons like the toucan, and the evolution of the labels, glasses, and other merchandise). Of course no trip to the Guinness Storehouse would be complete without a complimentary pint in the Gravity Bar, sitting on top of the building with a 360° view of Dublin.

The best pint you will ever have the privilege of enjoying.

The whole thing was a really fun and interesting experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Ireland. After we pried ourselves out of St. James’s Gate, the four of us enjoyed dinner at Bewley’s and returned home where I now sit recounting the events of the last few days, and thinking longingly of my bed upstairs.

With that, I might just call it a day.

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