Well, it’s been almost a month since I took off on my adventure to the Emerald Isle! I finally have the time to sit down and blog about my trip and all my experiences! Even though I have yet to unpack from the trip, I’ve decided to prolong the inevitable as much as possible. So as to not overwhelm you, I will begin with my Dublin experiences. I’ll save Belfast and Dingle for another blog post!
Day 1 – Travel
The trip began with a very long travel day, as you might imagine. The travel agent broke our group into two flights and my flight was the earlier one so I had to be at the airport at about 10:30 for my flight that left around 12:30. I woke up and got all my stuff together and Boone took me to the airport. We stopped at Starbucks and had one last breakfast together before I left. When I got to the airport, I waited on Meagan before I went through security. Then we had to say our goodbyes. Goodbyes are always difficult. I didn’t cry though! Surprisingly…
Then we were on our way! We finally made it to Chicago and had a 5 hour layover. We got word that the second plane’s flight got delayed to the point where they would miss their flight to Dublin. But we got confirmation from a airline attendant in Knoxville that they would hold our plane to Ireland until flight 2 landed in Chicago. Well, when it was time to board our plane, apparently the people in Chicago and Knoxville did not agree because the airline attendant in Chicago was not going to hold the plane for anyone. So…flight one got on board. While flight two was in the air to Chicago. Dr Batey left a message that they would be taken care of and when flight two landed in Chicago…I’m sure it was a very unexpected and upsetting surprise that they were going to be spending the night in Chicago, rerouted through London the next day, and wouldn’t make it to Dublin until July 2nd.
Meanwhile, on the plane, flight one tries to sleep on the plane. I couldn’t sleep at all. And I got to watch the sun set in America and rise in Ireland. One of my favorite experiences I had the whole trip. Just an interesting thing to be able to say! We landed in Dublin, walked through customs, and began our trip to Trinity College.
Day 2 – First Day in Dublin
When we arrived at Trinity College, we discovered that Meagan and I’s room was not ready quite yet. So Meagan and I dropped our luggage off in the accommodations office and David dropped his luggage off in his room. And we decided to wander around Dublin until our room was ready! There was so much to see and it was so early on Sunday morning so not very much was open. But we walked around until about 1:00pm. (Keep in mind that we have been up for over 24 hours at this point.)
By the time Meagan, David, and I were at Brazen Head eating lunch, we realized how tired we were. Probably because we had some of the best potato and leek soup I’ve ever tasted. It was very warm in our bellies and we were ready for bed. But we decided we were going to power through the day so we didn’t experience as much jet-lag.
After Brazen Head, we headed back to Trinity College to get ready for the Choral Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral. This would be the first time I heard a Choral Evensong performed by a Cathedral choir live so I was very excited about it! Also very exhausted. The evensong was phenomenal. Listening to the Christ Church choir was amazing and awe-inspiring. I wanted to join them and have them teach me their ways! I was also very exhausted and at times found myself nodding off. I tried to play it off like the music had taken over my soul. It probably didn’t work but oh well.
After the Evensong, our group went across the street to have our first Irish dinner! We ate at the Bull and Castle pub and I had Guinness Pie. At this point in the evening, I felt a little loopy and we were laughing at anything and everything. Jet-lag can be hilarious. Especially when you’re with a group that is just as jet-lagged as you are.
After dinner, we went back to Trinity and tried to keep our eyes open for as long as possible. Around 11:00pm, we went to bed and got the best sleep EVER!
Day 3 – Jameson Tour and St Patrick’s Cathedral
The next day, it was pretty easy to wake up. I was surprised. Granted, we didn’t make it down to breakfast until about 9:15 and it ended at 9:30. But we made it to breakfast nonetheless. Dr Batey seemed to find it pretty amusing when we walked into the cafeteria! I guess she didn’t think we would even make it down! We decided that morning that we were going to wait until Ben arrived before we went to visit the Guinness Storehouse so we chose the next-best-thing — the Jameson Distillery.
After we got ready, we headed toward Jameson. We walked everywhere in Ireland and today was no different. Unfortunately, we were following David and he got us lost. Several times.
Once we made it to Jameson, we had about 30 minutes before the tour started. We knew we would be cutting it close to getting back to Trinity on time for our rehearsal, but we had come this far! If we hadn’t gotten lost, we would’ve had more time at Jameson but we decided to go ahead with the tour. The tour was really nice. It was a guided tour around the distillery and at the end you got to try Jameson. Meagan and David Pegel even got to do some taste-testing! They got to try Johnnie Walker Black, Jameson, and Jack Daniels! We thought that was very appropriate and the tour guide asked if anyone was from Tennessee. When we all cheered she said “Well, I guess I can’t say what I usually say about Jack Daniels then!”
After our tour and taste-testing we had to book it back to Trinity College. We walked as fast as we could walk and got back around 1:50 (we were supposed to meet at 2:00 to walk to St Patricks). Meagan and I ran up to our room, grabbed our music and dresses, and walked back down to the court yard. We made it back down to the courtyard right before 2:00pm but we didn’t see David, or any of the other Chamber Singers so we stood in the court yard and waited for a couple of minutes. We soon saw about three other Chamber Singers coming toward us so we wondered if the rest of them were just not back yet. We thought that David would’ve waited on us since he was with us when we got back to Trinity. Around 2:05, we started wondering if the rest of the Singers had left. So we started to walk toward the Cathedral. But then we started worrying that they would be waiting for us in the courtyard and that they would be mad if we weren’t there. So we stood around for about five more minutes and waited for a little while longer.
*pause* Let me just tell you how frustrating it is not being able to get in touch with people because you don’t have cellphone service/access.
Around 2:10pm, we decided to just go ahead and walk toward St Patrick’s Cathedral. And guess who we saw when we walked up to the front of the Cathedral. The rest of the group. Of course. Dr Batey wasn’t very happy with us…and we tried to explain what happened but at the same time, flight 2 had just arrived so it was neither the time, nor place, to try to explain.
We warmed up and got ready for our first choral evensong service. It was a phenomenal experience and we were all very excited (and also very tired!) After the evensong service, Flight 2 got to go to the Bull & Castle to have their first Irish meal and Meagan, David, and I went to have kebabs. Meagan and I decided to go out after dinner to hear some Irish music. We ended up at the Old Storehouse and saw a great duo of Irish musicians. And they ended up singing “Tell My Ma” which was a song that we sung in choir so the big group of Chamber Singers that were also at The Old Storehouse all chimed in during the chorus. It was a great first pub experience!
Day 4 – Slept in until noon, wax museum, The Church Bar, St Patrick’s Cathedral
So remember yesterday when I said that it was easy to get up? Meagan and I had the best of intentions to get up and go exploring. We set our alarms for 8:00am. Snoozed them. Set them again for 9:00am (for breakfast). Snoozed them. Set them again for 10:00am. Snoozed them again. And then turned them off. We woke up at noon. And to tell you the truth, I probably could’ve slept for longer. But I knew that we had to get up! So we reluctantly got up and decided to head toward the Wax Plus Museum.
Needless to say, it was a very interesting experience. I had never been to a wax museum before so when we walked into the first room, I was a little overwhelmed. The two of us walked into the “Writers Room” which was a room full of writers (go figure) and it felt like there were eight of us in the room. I wanted to touch them…because they looked so real. And I kept waiting for them to move. Or blink. But they never did. It was very strange for the most part.
At one point, Meagan and I walked into a room of athletes. I wanted to take a picture of one but there was someone in front of me so I was waiting behind them. I turned around to see where Meagan was and didn’t see her. When I turned back around the person in front of me was still standing there so I started to walk around them to start taking pictures at the other side of the room. As I started around them, I realized…it was a wax figure…
After the Wax + Museum, we had to go back and meet Chamber Singers for our second performance at St Patricks Cathedral. The Evensong went very well and the jet-lag was not as present in this performance. After our Evensong, we decided to head toward a famous bar called The Church Bar. It was apparently a church they turned into a bar.
Unfortunately, there was a pretty large group of us and it was a very busy bar, so it was hard to find seats for all of us. So a smaller group broke off and went to T.P. Smith’s for dinner. Another pub. And more great food.
Day 5 – Fourth of July!, Guinness Storehouse, Horse carriage ride, Christ Church Cathedral
Happy Fourth of July! It was slightly easier to wake up this morning. Meagan and I went down to breakfast and met Ben and David. We decided we wanted to go see the Kilmainham Gaol Jail and the Guinness Storehouse because we had quite a while before we had to be back for our Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral. We got on the tram that ran through Dublin to head toward the jail. I think we accidentally got a free ride because we weren’t sure how to pay for the tram. Oops…
When we arrived at the jail, the next tour wasn’t leaving for another hour so we decided (thanks to Ben) to just take pictures and pretend like we visited and then leave to go to Guinness. That’s what we did…
After we left the jail, we started walking toward Guinness Storehouse. And guess what. We got lost. I know, I know…it’s hard to believe. But we did. So it took us longer to get there than it should’ve. We were supposed to meet Meagan’s roommate Elise at the Storehouse since she was in Ireland visiting her sister. When we got to the Storehouse, we couldn’t find Elise but the guys were ACHING to go through the Storehouse so we told them to just go ahead. We eventually found Elise and Meagan, Elise, and I started through the Storehouse. And when we got to the floor where you got to taste a Guinness, we saw David ALREADY DRINKING A GUINNESS! After I waited a whole year to have a Guinness. After I made a huge deal about having my first Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse with my three best friends. Him and Ben already had their Guinness. I was really angry. But Meagan waited for me to have one so that made it better.
We finally got to the top floor, the Gravity Bar, and had our beers together (Me, Meagan, and Elise because Ben and David are jerks)
After we finished our Guinness, we had to walk to Christ Church Cathedral for our next Evensong service. Since I had one and a half Guinness I was a little bit Guinness-ey. And when we walked outside, David, Meagan, and I saw a line of horse and carriages. I got really excited and decided to pay the 20 euro to take a horse and carriage to rehearsal. It was the best 20 euro I spent the whole trip!
The Evensong we performed this night was our 20th century set where we performed David Pegel’s Magnificat and nunc dimittis. We also sang Ola Gjeilo’s Sanctus. They were all fantastic. It was so much fun. I think that was by far my favorite Choral Evensong that we did. After the Choral Evensong, we went back to Trinity to drop our stuff off and we got ready for the 4th of July evening! The celebrations began. And they lasted for forever. A group of us closed down the Temple Bar at around 2:30am. The bouncer kept having to tell us to leave. Finally, I grab Meagan and tell her it’s time to go. We head back to Trinity and to close out our night. It was a lot of fun and we had a fantastic 4th of July. But I have to say…I definitely missed the fireworks.
Day 6 – Travel to Belfast
We got up the next morning and had to have the busses loaded at around 10:00am. After we loaded the busses we had until around 2:00pm to venture through Dublin one last time. David and Meagan wanted to go see the Book of Kells. I didn’t really want to see it because I didn’t know what it was or why it was important. So I sat outside while they went through.
We didn’t really have much time after they finished the Book of Kells so we walked to St Patricks and started to make our way to Belfast. On our way we stopped at Knowth. Unfortunately, I started feeling really bad while we were waiting for the bus so I didn’t get to go see the tombs. But here’s a picture that David took with my camera!
When we arrived in Belfast, we unloaded our luggage, checked into our rooms, and started down the road to find something to eat. Belfast is a smaller city than Dublin was so there wasn’t as much right next to Queen’s University compared to Trinity College but we found a place called The Botanic Inn and decided to stop to get something to eat. It turned out to be a really great restaurant. I had some of the best chicken curry I’ve ever had there.
After dinner, we headed back to Queen’s and hung out for the rest of the evening. Our adventures in Belfast begin in the next blog post!
Get ready, fellow BFs!