For years I’ve been trying to get my family to go to Ireland, ever since our first trip to London in 2012. I love Ireland, it’s one of my favorite places, but I am not enough to convince my family to take a trip to Ireland. But college football is. Besides being the weirdest reason to tell people you’re going on vacation for (“You’re going to Ireland for American football?”), the trip came with plenty of perks.
An Airplane Full of Nerds
My dad is a Georgia Tech grad, so the thing that finally convinced him in the end to take us to Ireland was the Georgia Tech vs. Boston College being held in Dublin as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. And since the only people who can afford to go to an international football game are alumni, Tech offered some nice alumni packages, which always makes travel easier.
As Georgia Tech is an Atlanta-based team, our Delta flight from Atlanta to Dublin was packed full of engineers decked out in blue and gold. They played the school’s fight song over the intercom during boarding. These nerds had a good ol’ time.
And so we were off, traveling 4,000 to take over a foreign city for a football game.
Package Perks: Gift Bags!
As part of our alumni package perks, we received gift bags! Included were commemorative game day drinking glasses for holding your Guinness, a cute new scarf for the chill of a rainy Irish day, a little pin for the subtle Tech fan, a poncho for if you want to be the ultimate tacky tourist, a drawstring bag for the athletic types, and a game day lanyard for holding all of your necessary tacky tourist alumni package tickets.
Seriously though, I love my scarf.
Package Perks: Dinner at the Guinness Storehouse
Armed with our lanyards and tickets, we boarded a complimentary shuttle to the Guinness Storehouse for dinner. This was just one of many times the tour coordinators did a wonderful job organizing a bunch of potentially drunk fans and getting them where they need to be.
While we didn’t get a proper tour, they did loop and wind us through the seven levels of the storehouse in route to one of their many dining areas they had set up, so we did get a pretty good look at the place. We dined on one of the top levels of the storehouse on Irish stew and pints of Guinness (okay, I only stole my dad’s Guinness for a photo opp; I much prefer cider). Then we were treated to some live music and Irish dancing, including dance lessons for the brave ones near the stage.
At the end of the dinner, we were bussed back to our hotel, some of us earlier than others because we had an 8am tour to catch the next morning.
Package Perks: Guided City Tour
When you get up for an 8am bus tour of Dublin, you really get to experience Dublin rush hour traffic. Not something most tourists get to experience, and not something I would suggest adding to your itinerary. The traffic was only worsened by the construction the city is doing to input a streetcar transit system all through the middle of town.
Our tour consisted of a drive through the city, a stop at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, and a trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. For me, the only thing new to see were some of the parts of the city we drove through. Since this was my third time to Dublin, I was already very familiar with Trinity and St. Patrick’s. I also could have given the tour guide a run for his money at pointing out statues around the city and naming their Dubliner names.
The tour had us back before 1pm, and we were free the rest of the day to do whatever we pleased. The tour package itinerary was nice in the fact that it didn’t overwhelm you with things to do and left you plenty of time to explore the city on your own.
Package Perk: Game Day
The game was held on Saturday morning at the Aviva Stadium. We received a complimentary shuttle from the hotel to the stadium, another instance of the tour coordinators being excellent at wrangling all the rambling wrecks.
Because of the package my dad bought, we had excellent seats to cheer Georgia Tech on to victory, which they did finally pull out in the end. It feels good to have traveled 4,000 miles for a victory, though only one half of the stadium gets to feel that way. It would have been an excellent trip whether we had won or lost, but for my dad I know it was more enjoyable because of the win.
Dublin got a nice few hours break from the thousands of college fans in the city during the game, but after the game was won, the streets were filled with uproarious celebration of Tech fans in the pubs. We joined them for a pint, and then went to bed content with the knowledge that our package perks were well put to use.
Have you been to Dublin? Tell me about it in the comments!