Day 7 - St. Patrick's Day   

The day we had all been waiting for had finally arrived -- St. Patrick's Day! But we were in for quite a letdown. I've been telling you about how foot-and-mouth disease precautions pretty much made our tour a day-to-day adventure. This day was no different. The famed St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin was cancelled, leaving everyone that might have been otherwise occupied with the parade to descend on St. Patrick's Cathedral and Trinity College like a horde of locusts. So of course, that's where we went too! But it had been planned-the cancellation of the parade had not. St. Pat's Cathedral probably would have been more interesting to me if I was Catholic, so I had to just enjoy the architecture.

Just a little more until the pictures!

There was another element, besides the non-parade, that cast a pall over the days activities. IT WAS COLD. And rainy. I think it actually snowed on us a bit while we were waiting to get into the cathedral. I think I nearly passed out from the cold-to-warm transition when we finally got into the cathedral. And then the rain came as soon as we got inside Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, an extremely old fancy book of the Gospels. Yeah, it was sooooo fun.

I wish I had some decent pictures to show you from this part of the day, but it was quite dull, and I really didn't feel like taking pictures of anything. After Trinity College, we were released to do whatever we wanted for the rest of the day (it was around noon). Somehow I got broken up from my group and wandered around the Dublin City Center by myself for about an hour in the driving rain and freezing wind (at least I had an umbrella). Finally I had enough of the wretched weather, took a bus back to my hotel, and slept the afternoon away. It's really not as pathetic as it sounds: I was pretty wiped out from the last couple days of activities (and drinking), and I needed a refreshing nap before the night came.

When I woke up, I felt determined to go back to the City Center and see what kind of partying was going on for the big holiday night. I didn't know if I'd see any of my tour group friends, but I felt I owed it to myself to get out and see the nightlife in Dublin when I had the chance, despite the potentially nasty weather. But luck was with me, as I ran into my friends, and all of us hopped on the bus and headed towards the Temple Bar, a popular 3 or 4 block area in Dublin with a bunch of bars and clubs.
Here is the real Temple Bar pub. For some reason the whole area around it is named after it. We couldn't get into any of the bars or clubs though because the lines to get in were 20 to 30 feet long. So we just mingled with the throngs of people in the streets.
This is me, really cold, but still having a good time. Thankfully, it hadn't rained on us at this point yet...
But the dry spell wouldn't last for long. Soon the rain came, and it was relentless. I was the only one who had brought an umbrella, so I let one of the girls in our group use it. Finally we decided that it was better to have drinks back at the hotel bar since we weren't really able to get in anywhere. So we wandered around a while trying to find a bus station, and by the time we found it, we were all thoroughly soaked. All the people in the following picture for whom you can make out a clear face were in my group of tour friends.
Surprisingly, this is probably the best picture I have of me on my trip, and it was taken while I was riding on a city bus after I got soaked in the rain!

Upon returning to our hotel, we dried off and went back down to the hotel bar. Most of the people from our tour group were down there, laughing and drinking and having a good time. The guy in the suit in the picture below was actually the other tour's guide! Those guys definitely enjoy a night at the pub. That's me in the picture with my head turned, in case you hadn't recognized me by the hairline alone. ;-) After a couple hours in the bar, I returned to my room and tried to get some sleep to prepare for the long trip home the next day.

   Day 8   

The trip home defined the word "long". It consisted of three, yes three, flights: Dublin to Shannon, Shannon to New York-JFK, and finally JFK to DFW. I thought the jet lag wouldn't be too bad, since I would be turning back the clock the whole time. It was weird leaving Shannon and arriving in New York only an hour later! Of course there was a 5 hour time difference, but by changing the clock that's how it worked out. The flights were all good, and I had some weird/interesting people to talk to. But I sure was glad to be home when I got there. (I had to find out who got kicked off Survivor while I was gone!) And the next day I found out how wrong I was in assuming that the jet lag wouldn't be an issue... I was pretty much dragging for the better part of the week.
Here is a shot of Dublin Airport before I left. It was actually sleeting that morning in Dublin, but it tapered off before we left and I got this fantastic picture.
Here's a nice composition shot of Shannon Airport... I should be a photographer! :-) I don't think this was the exact plane we rode on, but we did fly Aer Lingus between Dublin, Shannon, and JFK.

I hope you've enjoyed these pictures, and that my commentary and anecdotes didn't bore you too bad! This vacation was one of the best times in my life, and despite the problems with foot-and-mouth disease and the often wretched weather, I don't regret going one bit. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I hope to be able to go back again at some point!
Day 6 - Food, Fun, & Beer