Belfast, Redux

I’m having a bit of a lazy evening in Barcelona, so I figured it’s a good time to blog!

Last Wednesday I made the long journey (12 hours!) from Venice to Belfast. I got up and ready at the horrific hour of 5am, walked through Venice to the Grand Canal to catch a boat bus to the bus terminal. I then spent half an hour wandering around the terminal trying to figure out how to get tickets (the office was closed) and where the bus was. I spent 2 hours on a bus to the airport where I learned my bag was too heavy, and I wan’t allowed to check in unless I paid 70 Euros. So, I threw anything I possibly could away. I figured, if I can replace it for under 70 Euros, than it’s worth it. I then went down to the worlds smallest terminal (1 tiny room that housed 4 gates. Ridiculous!) in which there were already 2 groups of passengers waiting on delayed flights. Granted, this is an airport entirely run by Ryanair, so, I shouldn’t have been surprised! I sat there for hours, until well after the plane was supposed to leave, never hearing a word (or even seeing) anyone who worked there. Eventually the plane showed up and we flew the two hours to Dublin. At the Dublin Airport I was stuck in immigration for an hour, thought I lost my passport at baggage claim, and got lost trying to find the bus terminal. After an hour of waiting at the bus terminal the bus for Belfast arrived! That took another 3 hours. But, I finally made it to Belfast! I walk about 15 minutes through the city centre to Orla’s apartment and wait in front of her door (she was at work still, and I was stealing her Internet from in the hall!). Her room mate arrived home, says hello to me, and then leaves me in the hallway. I don’t think she likes me very much! No worries though, Orla soon got home, we went inside, and I collapsed on her couch.

See, this is why I hate the travelling bit of travelling! Granted, I did have the worst possible experience 2 days ago upon arriving in Barcelona. Ugh.

Moving on… I had a wonderful time back in Belfast! On Wednesday night we went to see Iron & Wine in concert. The show was graet, but the people sitting around us were not. He also didn’t play Boy With A Coin, which upset me a little bit… 😉

After the concert we took in some of the sights on the way back to Orla’s apartment. Such as…

The big mosaic fish:

And the big iron lady holding a hula hoop:

On Thursday when Orla was at work I filled up my backpack with all my clothes, hopped on a train across town, and did some laundry. Exciting! It was actually a pretty good time. At one point this very strange man saw the Canada flag on my pack and started asking me questions like: “Is Canada that wee country by Australia?”, “Is Canada dear?”, “What is the current unemployment rate?” and “Does Facebook exist in Canada?” It was just like I was at work! As soon as he left the girl working there ran over to me and asked what he was saying. I told her and she started going on about all the crazy things he’s said to her in the past, and we had a good laugh. Apparently he has plans to take over the UK, build his own exclusive hospital, and produce his own line of rainbow fake eyelashes. After that a really nice girl from Texas came in and we started chatting. She got a job in Belfast and just arrived. I’m so jealous of her! It’s such an awesome city.

That night Orla and I went to dinner and then to see Modest Mouse in concert. What an amazing show! They are so great live!

Sadly, after, we had to walk home in the rain…

On Friday when Orla was at work I went into town. I needed some things, and then decided to do a bit of window shopping. Big mistake! It turns out when I haven’t been shopping in a month, it kind of builds up. I did tough it out though! But a few things, but not a lot. And only from H&M. Which it turns out I am totally in love with over here! I really don’t like the store in St. Catharines. It smells and is too expensive and rarely has anything I like. Here, totally different story!

Orla got off work a bit early, so we went to grab a late lunch, and that evening saw Wilco!

On Saturday Orla, one of her roomates (not the one who left me in the hall!): Lisa, and I did a hop on, hop off bus tour around Belfast. It was a pretty good tour. Went to the Titanic Quarter, lots of different historical places relating to The Troubles, Parliament, downtown. We saw quite a lot!

Storment Castle (on Parliament grounds) and Parliament:

One of that many, many murals located around Belfast that reference The Troubles:

Cave Hill (This was the inspiration for Gulliver’s Travels, as the mountain shape resembles a mans face):

I can’t quite remember what we did on Sunday. Not much, I guess! Orla made me an Irish breakfast called an Ulster Fry. It was delicious! I think we just went into town and looked for shoes, actually! And then we went for dinner. And I came back and packed, which took hours.

And then I left bright and early Monday morning and am now in Barcelona! Just to clear up, I am actually having a wonderful time here, despite the horrificness of Monday. I know not everyone knows what I’m talking about, but I’ll save that fun story for my next blog.

Thanks for reading!

Ireland, Part Two

We hiked around the area, which was lovely:

Lying in the giant’s boot:

On our last day in Belfast we went for lunch at the Crown Bar, a famous pub in Belfast. They had little booth/rooms, which we so cool! And I had my first taste of Irish Champ.

On Thursday we headed down to Dublin. Bright and early! We arrived to the hotel too early to check in, so had to kill a couple of hours. When we went back there was still no room available, and since we were too exhausted to move, we sat ourselves down in the lobby. I think to get rid of us the desk clerk gave us the first available room, which turned out to be some sort of suite. Worked for us!

That afternoon we toured Dublin Castle:

The following day Aideen was kind enough to take us on a mini road trip into the country. I believe the entire area was called Wicklow, but I could be wrong. I know some of it was definitely in Wicklow!

Our first stop was a beautiful park with an old monetary on site:

After that we drove to Enniskerry (the town where P.S. I love you was filmed) for lunch:

And then we drove to a mountain region that was beyond gorgeous:

Continued in Part Three…

Ireland, Part One

Finally! An Ireland blog!

Sorry for the lack of updates. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks! Between non-stop touring, and a lack of Internet, blogging has not made it onto the agenda. Things have calmed down the past couple nights, so, here I am! In Prague, by the way. It’s rainy and cold, but still insanely beautiful.

Jumping ahead of myself though! Back to last week: I had an amazing time in Ireland.  We flew from Edinburgh to Belfast where we spent the next few days. Granted, we didn’t actually spend that much time in Belfast. Day one was a bit of a write off. Bumming around Orla’s apartment and some shopping. The following day, however, we rented a car. I was pretty terrified about this, since I was the one driving. Everything was opposite, roundabouts, miles, strange versions of automatic vehicles, no shoulders, rain- It was quite the experience! No, no, I’m making it sound much worse than it was. I think I did alright. On one or two turns I pulled into the wrong lane, but Orla quickly said something, and the roads were never busy.  Since we’d already been in the UK for two weeks, I’d been making a point to carefully watch which ways cars were driving. But by this time I was actually starting to confuse what I knew with what I’d gotten used to! It was a very odd feeling.

The car:

Anyway! The first day with the car we drove inland to the Marble Arch Caves. It was a good two hours, but I got to see a lot of the countryside, which was nice. And the caves were so neat! There was supposed to be a bit on a boat, but there had been so much rain that the water levels in the caves were too high, so we didn’t get to do that. It was still pretty cool though!

On the second day we drove a coastal road up to the North, which was incredible. We visited Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Giant’s Causeway, and thankfully the weather held out for both.  We were both getting quite nervous coming up to the rope bridge because it was very windy. But, the bridge was sturdy and not as long as we had expected (yes, yes, TWSS).

We were both very excited after making it across!

On the island the bridge crossed to:

Giant’s Causeway was amazing! It’s a rock formation on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It was so beautiful, and I’d never seen anything like it:

Continued in Part Two…