Thursday, April 5, 2012

St. Pattys Day Dublin

You might think that given the reputation and grandeur of St. Patricks day celebrations that take place in the US, that clearly the same should go for where the Irish people actually are. I'm gonna have to report that there is only partial truth to that notion.

The parades and glamor in the US for this holiday far surpass most of the celebrations in Ireland. Chicago actually dyes the river green. I told that to a few Irish people I met, they were pretty surprised that they go that far.

The thing is, there actually is a pretty big celebration in Dublin. There is a big parade on Saturday. A poorly attended public ceilidh dance on Friday, a music festival, and some other official events throughout the weekend. But as one Irish girl on the bus told me, the holiday is not only more of a revelation outside Ireland, but even in Dublin it is built and fueled by tourists. I have to say,  I haven't been surrounded by so many Americans since I was home last, and this place was mobbed. And mostly the annoying kind and in large groups: frat guys, sorority girls, (lincoln park/wrigleyville/snob hill types) and old groups of old guy college football retiree's looking to get sloshed and claim their sliver of Irish-ness from like 8 generations ago. You know, the type that think sitting in a secure 5-star resort compound drinking a margarita in Cancun qualifies as being in Mexico.

So after quickly resigning to the fact that I was a contributor to the foreign invasion of Dublin for this great holiday, I was able to begin to fully enjoy it's loveliness. Dublin is a great city. This was my second time around. The live music constantly playing in all the pubs is one of my favorite things about it, and it makes for a great way to pass the time while the drizzly days persist. The Guinness here also has a taste unto it's own, from the recipe to the way they pour it and set up the pipes that deliver the beer.

I went with Mark & Dennis and we stayed at their friends place, Laura and Natalie. They study at Trinity College and the neighborhood they live in is about a 10 minute bus ride from the center. They live with a really nice Irish lady in her 40s. She was definitely a key factor later in the trip.

Saturday is the big celebration day, so we went out to the parade in the morning. Initially we  grabbed a nice spot near Christ Church right at the front, at least an hour before the parade. However, I went off to meet Luiz, who I met a bunch of times in Rio de Janeiro as he is Brian's best friend, so I lost my spot. Hence, during the parade I only saw the tips of a few costumes :) It was a great atmosphere though, with many families and kids dressed up. I especially understood this perspective as described Luiz, as he is used to parades in Rio where everyone is drunk and overly-festive, which doesn't lend to well to bringing a baby out in a stroller.

After the parade, Laura and Natalie took us to Dublin's oldest pub, the Brazen Head, to meet some of their classmates. Dennis and I met a group of Australians so we spent some hours talking to them. After traveling so much lately, I've realized Aussies, like the British, are plagues around the world. You can find them in the smallest of the world's armpits. They go everywhere, and compared to the 30% of Americans which have passports, at least 80 or 90 percent of them do. Luckily, in my experience, Aussies tend to have great senses of humor (low-brow, if you know what I mean), so I get along grand with them.

Later we checked out the temple bar area, Dublin's old quarter, which is filled with narrow streets, shops, and pubs. It was mobbed. We went to some club which was nothing to write home about (except when some 7 foot body building Hulk Hogan like Irish girl whose heavy Irish accent was ridiculously incomprehensible tried to hug me and thus nearly crushed me, that was funny), then we had some late-night Iranian food, which was perfect as they had special food for the Iranian New Years. Dennis made friends with the bouncer, who actually asked him if he was Iranian, as he remembered a few key Farsi phrases Setareh taught him.

Before leaving on Sunday, it was another new experience. One of the girls had an epileptic seizure during breakfast, buckling at the knees and knocking her head on the counter and door on the way down. Luckily we were all there to help, and the landlord called the ambulance quickly. She couldn't even remember where she was 30 minutes after the seizure, it was quite scary. Fortunately, she was fully recovered by the next day. On the bright side, I certainly have a better idea of what to do in the future if I see someone have an epileptic seizure.

(photos taken by friends)

Temple Bar Area

Luiz & his cousin Fernanda. That fake beard is something else.

That's dennis for you.

Strolling around in our three stooge hats. (The Canadian has the Irish mountie hat, of course, hehe)

The parade.
Checking out Trinity College, and drizzling.

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