My So-Called Life
Well, folks, I made it to Dublin! True to form, it has rained every day since I arrived (although it’s not CT or Baltimore rain – it’s more of just a constant, sometimes sideways, drizzle) – and true to what everyone says, it’s beautiful. Green everywhere! I’m going to attempt to tell everything that happened (including my four trips to the Carphone Warehouse – wait for it), so bear with my poor memory & slightly overloaded mind…
We arrived on Monday (after taking off on Sunday…no night time for us poor travelers) around 9 am. My suitemate, Sarah, accidentally left a folder of personal info on the plane, so after making it through the airport easily (no questions at customs, yay!) we waited for her for a while…eventually we left, and she ended up beating us to the hotel. Funny how things work out…they found her folder after we had all departed the airport, and shipped them to UCD for her, thank goodness. We stayed in the Mount Clare Hotel, operated by the O’Callaghan Hotels chain; Sarah and I were on the third floor. It was about a 10 minute walk from Grafton, which is one of the principal shopping streets in the city – it’s entirely pedestrian, except in the morning, when trucks are allowed to drive down it and deliver goods to the stores (Sarah and I discovered this on our 8:15 am adventure on Wednesday). It has pharmacies and grocery stores and clothing stores and numerous phone stores – I guess it’s time for the great phone fiasco to begin.
After napping on Monday, nearly the whole IFSA group met up to go to Grafton Street and figure out phones. Most of the group bought little dinky pre-pay phones, but I’m a technology freak and completely unwilling to give up my Blackberry, so I decided to simply purchase an Irish SIM card & utilize a popular free-texting plan for 30 euros. Unfortunately, I forgot to unlock my phone first, so I couldn’t set up the plan when I bought the card – I had to go back to my room and get internet access to find out how to unlock the phone. Internet access was another bondoogle, but after visiting the front desk 3 times (the girls behind the desk were not the sharpest tacks in the box…) I finally got connected to the worlds slowest internet service. Slightly frustrating…finally got my phone unlocked, and put in the SIM card, and thought I was close to finished. NOT! It turns out that the number that the Carphone Warehouse told me to call to activate my phone was wrong…so I went back the next day. They called in and activated my phone for me – and again I thought, all done! Funny jokes…Irish networks don’t like me, whoopsies. The number they told me to text to activate the free texting/internet plan was the wrong one…so I went back the next day. A nice guy working there attempted to fix the problem by calling Meteor (my network) for me, but I had forgotten my PIN number in the hotel, so we (Sarah graciously came with me) went back a FINAL time yesterday at 8:15….or we tried to. As it turns out, Dublin is a 9-5 city…so at 8:15 nearly everything was closed. After waiting endlessly, I got in and got everything worked out. Then I tried to use the internet, because I wanted to make sure the free internet service had started before texting (I don’t like spending money unnecessarily) – and the internet didn’t work!! I called in today and found out that, because I have a blackberry, I have to pay 9.99 euro for internet because it has to be connected to a certain network. So whatever – 9.99 euro was deducted from the 30 I originally paid (and have used none of), and now I can use my free texting and not-so-free internet.
WOO-HOO PHONE ISSUES ARE COMPLETE. (Hopefully….crossing all my fingers & toes).
So our time in Dublin city centre was used for things other than phone issues, I promise. Our group went on a Viking Splash Tour at 5 pm the first day, which was really informative and amusing (the driver was hysterical); however, it was also a teensy bit colder than we expected, and raining. It might have been better had we waited for another day, but it was fun overall. Afterwards, we ate at Wagamama – really good pan-Asian food, but also really loud, because our group of around 28 was all together. A bunch of people went out to pubs, and Sarah, Molly, and I attempted to follow – but failed. We got lost when the rest of the group (who were walking ahead of us) rounded a corner and disappeared…so we ended up going to a pharmacy for a hairdryer, and the grocery store (where Molly got delicious-looking biscuits) instead! (An interesting first night, at least…)
The second day started out with Sarah and I heading to Grafton Street around 9 am for the second trip to Carphone Warehouse…we then had a bunch of meetings at the IFSA Butler office. A welcome talk, a talk from Garda Paul about safety, a talk by Enda Carroll from UCD about expectations for the university, and a talk from Dr. Tim Conway, the Resident Director of IFSA’s Ireland office. After all those meetings (snore…whoopsies. I did try to stay awake, I swear), we had lunch at The Exchequer, and then walked over to The Guinness Storehouse for a self-guided tour. The Storehouse was definitely interesting, and I will be going again when I am not dead-on-my-feet, and can enjoy it fully….Sarah & I took a cab home (the 30-45 minute walk was not appealing at that point), and then (after some downtime) headed off to Dunnes (after the third stop at the Carphone Warehouse…), a super-store with soo much stuff in it that I was in Heaven for a minute there…22 people from our overall group met up at 7 in the hotel to attempt to find a place for dinner, which ended up being Bewley’s Oriental Cafe – somehow, with no prior notice that we would be showing up asking for food, they had a room that fit all of us set and ready for use! It was pretty good food – 4 of the 6 people, including myself, at my table got individual Margarita pizzas – and didn’t cost us too much…but the Euro to Dollar conversion in my head keeps making me cringe. After dinner, the 6 of us at my table headed to O’donoghue’s Pub for my first drink in Dublin woo-hoo. One drink later, it was bed time…still trying to catch up on my lost night of sleep (damn airplane).
Ok, even I’m getting tired of all of this insanity. I’ll try to finish my epic saga tomorrow…wish me luck!