When most people think of college spring break, they envision hot places—bikinis, Mexico beaches, a girls-gone-wild situation. At the very least, the ideal spring break is a hot-weather getaway to an exotic locale. The vision wasn’t much different here at Arcadia in Rome—most students flocked towards the beaches of Greece or the humid breezes of Spain in the Spring. As for myself (ever the soldier that marches to the beat of my own drum) I went north to the cold, the rainy, the ever-emerald isle, Ireland!
A large part of my interest in Ireland came from one of my writing heroes, James Joyce, who was famously Irish and famously from Dublin, where we spent the bulk of our time. So naturally, when encountering not only the homeland but the home city of my favorite author, I went a little nuts. I went to the James Joyce center, sought out Ulysses-themed graffiti, bought a piece of art with Joyce’s cartoon face on it, and walked halfway across the city to take prom-style photos with the life-size statue of Joyce on O’Connell Street. The nerd crescendo of the weekend came in the form of a literary pub crawl, in which two struggling Irish actors led us around the old drinking spots of Joyce, Wilde, Beckett, and Shaw (among others). The evening combined both my desperate love of literary trivia and my genuine fear of experiencing rowdy Dublin nightlife sans elderly tour guide—overall, a win-win.
The next morning, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and not at all hung over, we explored Dublin. At the Guinness factory, one of Dublin’s most popular tourist attractions, we indulged our thirst (mind the pun) for experience. It’s a museum I would most definitely recommend to people of any age, regardless of whether or not you drink. Despite being entirely about beer, the museum was fun, interactive, and full of various flashing lights to entertain those with short attention spans. The price of your ticket includes a pint of Guinness at the end of the tour, which is where things got tricky for me. Now, I’ve already told you I went on a pub crawl (albeit a nerdy one) so we all know I’m not exactly opposed to a drink, but I will say I’m not a beer person. And as it turns out—despite Guinness’s claims to being “more than just a beer”—I’m not a Guinness person either. I’m gonna shoot it to you straight here: Guinness tastes like pungent stale socks with an aftertaste of sharp vomit. And its thick. Thick as in I wasn’t sure whether I should swallow it or try to chew it a little first. Honestly, anyone who says they enjoy Guinness is getting cut out of my life immediately—they’re either lying to themselves or they have terrible taste in beverages, and either way I don’t have the time or energy to deal with that level of toxicity in my relationships.
In our final days in Ireland, we thought it was necessary to explore some of Ireland’s world-famous countryside. The wilderness of Ireland has played host to some of the greatest fantasy and historical film sets, including Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and The Princess Bride. We ended up making a pilgrimage to Wicklow, Ireland, which is the place where Hillary Swank first meets the love of her life in P.S. I Love You, as well as where most of Braveheart was filmed. There’s an incredible sense of quiet in the countryside of Ireland, almost to the point that it felt like nature was quieting itself for my benefit. The only audible noise other than the sound of my wet socks slushing in my tennis shoes was of raindrops hitting the forest floor. It almost sounded like the sounds of little leprechaun feet running just ahead of me, echoing around the empty pathways. After visiting Ireland, I can definitely see why so many Irish legends contain fairies and forest sprites—even the way the moss clumped at the base of the trees made wonder if a leprechaun was about to jump out and start attacking my ankles.
Spring Break wrapped itself up with me standing in what some may consider Wicklow’s most picturesque lake, but what I would call Ireland’s largest mud puddle. Socks absolutely soaked, jacket the state of a dishwasher rag, rain blowing directly into my open eyes while I attempted to pose for a picture—dreadfully uncomfortable, but with a smile very genuine.