We had Domino’s and I visited a cyber cafe on that first night just outside of Dublin, the one for about the millionth time and the other for the very first. It was funny because we were trying to decide what to eat, and there were so many options, but the students knew they had seen a Domino’s when we were driving up on the bus, so they were determined to find it again. That led to a wild trip where they swore we were being stalked, and where we doubled back on ourselves a couple of times before finding the most over-priced pizza ever, and yes, they still had the Noid up on their signs. Raise your hand if you remember that guy. Anyway, then the debate began whether or not we wanted to pay so much for something we could have just gotten at home. I was of course starving by then and said we should go for it, which we eventually did, but we only got two pizzas and fought over who got more than one slice. That was a fun discussion.
After dinner, most of the crew finally turned in, but I was still high off my trip into the city earlier and I couldn’t settle down. I checked with my troops and “tucked them in,” then left a chaperone in charge while I went for a little walk around the area by myself. Don’t worry. I didn’t get lost again, well, not that time anyway. On my walk I encountered a little place that catered to those who were cyber friendly. Or something like that. I’m not quite sure how it advertized itself, but I did know that there were tons of young people in there, typing away. They were playing role play games like World of Warcraft (don’t ask how I knew what it was), and typing emails, and doing all manner of other internet related activities when I entered, but I had only one thing on my mind: getting a Facebook account.
You see, on the first day in Ireland most students had either a cell phone or a camera that they used to document the trip. You can imagine how many photographs were taken as a whole from the 55 students and 10+ chaperones who were with us on the journey. And one phrase I heard more than any other when a picture was taken that had multiple people in it was, “tag me in that.” I of course had no clue what “tagging” was, and I kept trying to wrap my brain around it the more they said it. Then when we were in the ruins the day before I finally asked one of the students from another school what tagging was. She laughed at me and explained that tagging was the Facebook expression for making sure people were identified in the photos where they were featured. That way you could look at every photo with you in it at the click of a mouse.
So, I went into that cyber cafe with that purpose in mind, to get me one of those Facebook accounts so I could be tagged in all the photos that I didn’t take myself but that had me in them anyway. It sounded cool. Little did I know then how huge Facebook would become in my life. All because of a few pictures. It took me ages to set up a profile, though, to figure out all the nuances of Facebook, but I finally did, and the next time one of the kids said to tag them in a photo, I said, “tag me too,” and they all looked at me like I had grown a second head. But I did end up getting tagged in photos, like the two above, thank you very much.
After settling back in at the apartment I discovered something else amazing. The kitchen sported a combination washer/dryer, something I had never seen before in my life. It was amazing that one machine the size of a standard dryer could handle both things. Of course it was a little less amazing when I found out that it took a minimum of five hours to accomplish the feat. What was up with that? But I wasn’t looking a gift horse in the mouth. I was using it. And it turns out that our apartment was the only one to have such a contraption, so every one of my students wanted to do laundry in my place that next day. As we were touring Dublin it wasn’t convenient to do any but I got one of their loads in and that one student was pleased. Hey, I did my best.
Then we were off to my second favorite city in the known world. As glorious as it had been the night before, it was even more amazing in the daylight. We got into the city early, riding our bus there and getting a tour along the way. It was phenomenal to hear all of the wonderful history of the city, some things I hadn’t known before. One of the highlights was when we were riding through a neighborhood and there were so many colorful doors there. Our tour guide explained that the doors were such bright colors to distinguish the houses from each other since they all looked so similar. And most houses had slim garages next to them, which he also explained had originally been paths to the horse stalls for the people’s wagons “back in the day.” Some of the houses still sported those alleys, which was rather cool.
We had lunch at a fancy place in the city all together as a group, which was nice because we rarely got to do things as a whole group outside of the tour itself. Then we saw a fancy statue of James Joyce, visited Dublin Castle, and were left to explore by ourselves. I brought my group to the Temple Bar district because it is one of my favorites and most of the kids bought souvenirs there. Myself, I bought two CDs, which is what I count as souvenirs. The trick, though, is to buy CDs that I can’t get elsewhere, or would have a hard time getting elsewhere, as well as CDs that are culturally relevant to wherever I am. I ended up with an Aslan CD and one of Irish Jigs and Reels. I still listen to both a lot. The students mostly bought trinkets like claddagh rings, necklaces, four-leaf clover merchandise, sweatshirts, and t-shirts. We did an impromptu tour of Trinity College while the students were wandering the campus and saw a huge library there as well. When it was time to pack it up and head back to our apartments I can honestly say we packed in as much as we could of the ambiance the city had to offer.
The next day was our free day, and some people had signed up for a real tour of Trinity College, while others were just hanging around the apartments, treating it as a lazy day. Me, I was up for more Dublin sightseeing, so I took a huge group of chaperones and students back in on the tram and we checked out the Guinness factory, visited the Temple Bar District again, had a blast at St. Peter’s Cathedral, and ate at another fancy restaurant that had good thin-crust pizza. I know, I went to Ireland to eat Italian food. Shame on me. By the time the day came to a close I was really sad about leaving Dublin, but we had a date early the next morning with a ferry that would take us to our next destination: Wales.