Friday, February 11, 2011

Belfast & Dublin

Belfast is 4 hours from Galway back across the country to the opposite coast then straight north.  Misty, John, Jeff and I got there with daylight to spare to walk a bit around the downtown area.  Despite the dreary day(s) it was a beautiful downtown.  Nothing like what I expected.  I was expecting all the turmoil Northern Ireland has had to be evident all around, but it didn't really show through.  We ate lunch at the Kitchen Bar right downtown where I had potato and leek soup and Jeff had the Irish roast of the day, which was pork chops, potatoes, and vegetables.  It wouldn't be a meal in Ireland without potatoes and I am a bit potato'd out to be honest.  I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked the city.  The architecture was lovely and it was easy to navigate, which always makes me like a place better.  
We got all gussied up that night and went to hear some live Irish music.  It was pretty good, but my heels were killing me and I am not much of a night owl so I was happy to return to our nice hotel for a good nights sleep.  We ate a big Irish breakfast of bacon, beans, eggs, and potatoes the next morning at the hotel then set off to do a little sightseeing.  We went in search of the famous murals depicting the troubles between the catholics and protestants.  On our way we passed a couple of riot police vehicles riddled with bullet holes.  Finally some colors were showing through.  The murals were extremely interesting.  The one that stood out the most was the hunger strikers.  They were prisoners who refused to eat and wiped their feces all over.  There is lots more to the story, but you'll just have to google it.
After the murals, we headed down to the docks.  The very docks where Titanic was built!  We drove around for a bit looking at the boats and the ship building stuff, but in order to get to Dublin before too late we soon headed back south.  Misty and John dropped us off in Dublin where Jeff and I spent the next day exploring.  We stayed in the Charles Stewart Guesthouse, which had a great location near the city center but far enough off that it wasn't loud at night.  We spent the next day walking all over!  We went to the Temple Bar district where there are lots of cute pubs, St. Stephen's Green, a well known park, and visited the Dublin castle, not that great, and ChristChurch Cathedral.  
Later that afternoon while walking to a restaurant they put in an old church (yep a church, weird) I saw a shake place with millions and millions of ingredient choices.  Oh my my my was I in heaven.  I made Jeff take me back there after the Church restaurant thing.  We shared a brownie banana shake, a large even.  If I lived there I'd go every day.  After I was blitz'd on sugar we headed to the Jameson distillery where we took a tour of where they used to make Jameson whiskey.  Since I love factories and getting to see just about anything being made I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see the real process, but they made it fun and had good replicas, so it was good still.  Dinner was Supermacs, which is a lot like McDonalds, but the Irish version.  I had to try it just once, but once was enough.

The next morning we woke up and packed as fast as we could so we could get to the Archaeology Museum right when it opened.  We were supposed to leave for the airport that morning so we had only 1 hour in the museum and had to walk across the city and back before time to get on the bus for the airport.  The museum was a bit of a whirlwind but it seemed like an excellent museum that I could have spent all day in.  Next time.  (I've got lots of next times)  We jumped on a bus to the airport as easy as can be and flew to Spain, where we are now...