My cab to the Kolkata airport was set for 5, but I left 15 minutes early. Got to airport around 5:15 with AMPLE time...3+ hours until my plane departed. Went to get my itinerary and sent my bags for an initial x-ray before entering the airport. My bag was tied closed with a plastic tie and I proceeded to get my e-tickets are the Jet Airways India counter. I checked my bag, which no weighs 16 kg and took a seat and wrote in my journal, it was not even 6:00 at this time. I had to wait until 7:30 before I was able to enter through security. I was hungry but had no money since I had changed all my rupees to euros, except for the exact amount required for my taxi. I waited and people watched and read a good chunk of my lonely planet for Ireland. Went through security, which is much different than how we do it in American and Europe. Everybody gets patted down and a guy or girl waves a metal detector over your entire body. Shoes don't need to come off either. The process was actually quite fast. The man who was at security asked me a few questions about my trip and the intent. We started talking and he was telling me how he thought America was 'odd' because in India people hold a job for their ENTIRE LIFE. He inquired about my shirt, which was of the Laos alphabet and when more people started coming through I had to go on my way. I waited and got ready to get onto my plane. I had been upgraded to business class since they were overbooked and I had had my ticket for a long time. It was quite nice. I had juice and a cool towel offered to me as I sat down and the seats were HUGE. My meal was good as well. I got Lamb Sagwala (lamb w/ spinach) along with a fruit dish, salad, roll, and some Indian dessert. I got some sleep, maybe an hours worth? We arrived in Mumbai and I had to go to the kiosk to get my bus transfer ticket. I took this to the side of the airport and got a transfer to the international terminal, which was a 30 minutes ride. I was 'hoping' my luggage would make it. I got to the international terminal and had no idea of what to do, but i figured it out. I filled out an emigration slip and went through emigration to stamp out of the country. I had to pass through security again. They had given each of my carry-on a tag and stamped it as well. I waited for a little then got on my plane, which departed around 2:45 am (Indian Time). I had an aisle seat in the center section. I wanted this, but didn't realize I would be sitting next to a man who had me get up at least 4 times during the flight, I wanted to punch him in the nuts so he wouldn't be able to get up and ask me to move a 5th time. We got two meals, the first being a lighter meal. The flight was around 9 hours or so and each seat had its own wide screen TV (maybe 9 inch or so, quite nice). It was on demand and we could chose from 10s of movies and 10s of TV episodes. I watched an episode of some British comedy, which was very funny, an episode of Friends, and another of How I Met Your Mother. They also had some games, which I played, since they were free. I got 4 hours of sleep perhaps even less. I arrived in London by 7 and had to go through customs since my luggage was only checked to London. I had to wait in a long enough line that it could have taken hours to get through. Surprisingly I was through within 25 minutes. I got my bag and had to get to terminal 1 (I was at terminal 3). Mind you the handle of my roller suitcase had been broken for 6+ weeks so I had to carry the entire thing, all 35+ lbs of it. I do not know how I made it to where I was supposed to go, as Heathrow is huge. I shlept the damn bag, along with my day bag and my other over the shoulder carry on for 30 minutes. I was sweating my the time I got to terminal 1. I took out my passport and checked-in and got my boarding pass. I proceeded to check-in my duffel bag and then got some food in the airport. There was no minimum charge to use my credit card, unlike in India where they ONLY accepted cash. I went through security, which was of the western style and walked another 15 minutes to my gate, No 84. I was flying Air Lingus, which was VERY budget. I had an aisle seat, but no one sat beside me or in the window seat. Nothing was included and all refreshments were expensive. I read some more of my Lonely Planet and was taking notes.
I arrived in Dublin airport and the pace of life was much different than what I've been living for the last 2 months. I got my luggage and went through immigrations. Went to the ATM and took out some Euros... conversion rate as of now 1 EURO = 1.29 USD :(. Took an airbus shuttle to my hotel (which was only 7 euros), but forgot to get off at the right stop. I was probably only 2 km away but my duffel bag was too heavy and I had gotten almost not sleep in two days. I walked for 30 or so minutes and finally sucked it up and hailed a cab. I paid 8 Euros for a 3.5 minute ride...shit! I went to my hostel and paid the 82 euros (106 USD) for my three nights and dropped of my bags in my room. I have a room with 5 bunk beds, 10 people. We have all share one bathroom. I went out to explore the city some. I walked for hours, through St. Stephen's Green, a park which you can see on the right. It was very beautiful. I say couples, tourists, and businessmen walking through. Next I proceeded onto Merrion Square, which only a brisk 20 minutes away. On my way I found a carnival just to the right of Merrion Sq. I entered Merrion Sq. and initially noticed it was not as popular as the other park. There wasn't as many grass flats, and the plant life was less managed. It felt more of a nature park. I walked and looked for the Oscar Wilde Statue, which was allegedly in the park somewhere, as was a museum dedicated to him--I would go if I had an infinite time here. I absolutely love Oscar Wilde (which is Irish if you didn't put two and two together) and his book (the first and last he's ever written) titled The Picture of Dorian Gray, touched me and is on my top favorite 10 books. I took a self portrait with the statue of the genius play write as you can see on the left. Afterwards I strolled back towards my hostel and walked along college green and Trinity College, which I plan to take a tour of tomorrow. I was reading my Lonely Planet on my walk back and looked for one of the popular 'typical' pubs it had suggested. I went into the Palace Bar. I ordered myself a nice Guinness and sat and wrote in my journal. I tried to make some small talk with those around me, but nothing stuck. Finally I started talking to a man named Larry. Larry was in his 60s (probably) and was a primary school teacher in a Dublin suburb. He doesn't come to the city to drink too often. We talked and I told him about my experiences in India and Lao, etc. I was enjoying myself and had nowhere to go so I ordered myself a second pint. Each pint was 4.60 euros (6.50 USD). After some time and talking to some other people a man who introduced himself as Liam came in. He had overheard me talking about Vietnam and said he's been there. In the war it was I presumed he meant. He said he was 80 years old. He had lived in St. Louis for a while but has been living in Ireland for the last 60 years. All three of us chatted and they were enjoying hearing from someone like me (both an American and someone with such different views and so much younger). I guess it's not typical for people to backpack around south east Asia and India? I don't see this because that's the only type of people I've been around for months. Some people are too comfortable with their lives they never want to venture out...quite sad if you ask me. Liam, I guess is short for Bill. I had the bar tender take the photo of the three of us, seen on the right. Bill had bought me a third pint of Guinness and I tried to refuse, but hey after a while I just went along with it. Before I knew it I had been chatting it up in this pub for 3 hours. I got back to my hostel around 6 or so and was tired. I met the others in the room, or at least a few of them. There turns out to be 8 girls and one other guy. He's there with a girl and their both from Germany. There are three girls from the Netherlands, one of them looks like Claudia Schiffer. I am on the top bunk, she's on the bottom...so cute :)! There are two girls from Tel Aviv, Israel, but they're quite weird. One girl is from England and has orange hair, while another girl just finished University (or Uni as they call it) and is from Australia. She's traveling much of the UK and western Europe over the next 4 months. Dublin is her first stop and is taking tours mostly everywhere else. She's the only other person I've met that is backpacking, everyone else just seems to be traveling to one or two places for a short vacation. It makes sense that Ireland is just a week-long trip. The Germans and Dutch girls asked me to come out to the Temple Bar with them, but I was WAY to tired. I went out to see get some food and walked around for almost an hour looking for a 'cheap' place. See a photo on the right, I took it while looking for dinner. My hostel is a little walk away from the city center, but not too bad. Food is SO expensive here, I miss Asia already. I miss eating whatever I wanted wherever I wanted. Living like a king no more. I went to a place called Eddie Rockets, which is a clone of the US's Johny's Rockets and got a Cobb salad for 9.5 euros (12.5 USD). It was good and I was starving. I got back to my hostel and unwound and passed out. Woke up the next day at 7:15 and was quiet as not to wake the others. Everybody else was still asleep. My bed is the one in the bottom closest to the window in the photo on the left. I had plans with the two Germans to go to the Guinness Storehouse this morning after breakfast. Our breakfast is free in the hostel and includes a toast, jam, butter, and coffee/tea/hot coco/orange juice. It's quite lacking, but will do for now. We made plans to meet up with the Dutch girls a 12:30 outside Trinity College to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade together. We walked to the Guinness factory, which was probably 3 km away and took just over half an hour. They were both relying on me for directions, which is quite the contrast to how it typically happens, but I've gotten great at 'understanding' city layouts and making my way around. I mean I'll have been to well over 30 main and diverse cities in 2 months times. We paid the 11 euro entrance fee (it would have been 15 if I didn't have my student ID) and went around the factory. It was large and fun. It was a self-guided tour and we got samples of Guinness Stout throughout the levels. On the 6th level there was an all-girl band playing some music. I loved it, purely instrumentals, no vocals. They were from Italy and it was quite sexy watching 5 women playing instruments. I took a photo, which you can see on the right. We proceeded up to the top floor, which was a 360 degree glass panoramic gravity bar. We received our free pint of Guinness and then set out to meet the girls for the parade. Check out the photo of us on the 7th floor are the Guinness Storeroom. The roads were blocked off by this point and as we walked father and farther into town the sidewalks became increasingly difficult to navigate. The parade had started (at noon) and it was hard to make it back. We tried to squeeze our way by and the Germans gave up. I was being compressed from all sides and it was impossible to move any closer to town. I watched the parade some, but it's not my thing. It kinda sucked actually, compared to the one in NYC and everyone I've been to. I took a side street to get out of the commotion (as were many people trying to do as well) and tried to get back to my hostel. The problem was that the parade was going through the main part of town from the north going south, which divided the city in half. I couldn't make it to my hostel since it was on the other side. I needed to walk completely north of the parade and it took more than 2 hours of brisk non-stop walking to make it back to my hostel. I got back and was very tired. I say Courtney back in the room. She's the girl from Australia. I asked her out for a drink tonight and we agreed to meet in the room showered, dressed, and ready to leave by 8. We're going to go to Temple Bar, which is going to be crazy and I know I won't love it, but I need to experience it. From what I understand it will be like a huge spring break/fraternity party. If you know anything about me you would know that's not my scene. I enjoy entertainment a little more cerebral. It's going to be very hard to communicate tonight with Courtney because she's completely deaf and I have trouble hearing what she's trying to say alot of the time. It must be hard for someone like her to travel for 4 months, by herself too. Good thing she's sticking to the western world though. I already miss India and SE Asia. I miss the 'typical backpacker' and their mentality of the world. Here in Ireland everyone is so superficial and ignorant (I mean on average). In Asia the priority was respect, even when sale people where ripping you off. Here they put on a smile and play the game of 'hello', but they have no desire to talk with you and get to know you. Some of the girls are very sexy, but most of them dress like whores, are grossly overweight, have trampy piercings, and are just ugh! Not to draw any conclusions or imply anything but this is how I see many of the Catholic girls in America as well. Not so much the girls in Solon or higher income families but the girls I've met that go to all-girl Catholic school fit the same bill. I'm just relaying the facts, but I DO see how the oppressive sexual teachings of their religion influence their lifestyles. Ireland had among the highest percentage of under 25 years old in all of Europe... they might have the highest. So many young people with children and not in the 'family unit' that is desirable in western culture (and almost every other culture as well). OK, enough for now, cheers! Tomorrow I'm taking a bus (need to figure that one out) to the outskirts of town to see a famous jail.