I will finish this part of the recap if it kills me. Lessee, I was last in West Belfast, yes? After our self-styled tour, we took a bus down to the university area. We went to Lisburn Road, the supposed Fifth Avenue of Belfast. It's cute, rather like Park Slope, but underwhelming. Maybe we didn't walk far enough.
We did find a really lovely park with amazingly clean public restrooms:
The University area is quite nice, with tons of pubs and beautiful archicture, as well as a botanical garden:
We ended up at a massive pub with a beer garden and a bathroom dispenser with not only condoms and lip gloss, but thongs for purchase as well (I wonder what the market is for that, for women who forgot to wear any or suddenly fancied a change?)! We sat in the beer garden and started talking to a very nice but very drunk, self-loathing, gay man from Derry/Londonderry. We hadn't a clue what he was saying half the time, but he was very friendly, if a bit maudlin. He did advise us as to what cheap off-brand of cigarettes were most palatable, a useful tip when most brands cost $10 US.
On the advice of the drunken Derryman, we headed over to the very promisingly named Sailorstown in search of the Rotterdam Bar, which apparently still has outdoor toilets, live music, and booze. An honest-to-goodness dive bar, nothing fancy, not for the squeamish. We could not wait! I've read that it used to be a holding pen for prisoners enroute to Australia. If something involves prison, you have my attention. Sailorstown is pretty bleak and run down, we were there just before dusk, and I wouldn't advise wandering around there after dark, but it's really interesting. Sort of a hard core Red Hook, with old drunks instead of hipsters:
There was an amazing abandoned church down the street which is fortunately being renovated and not being razed for luxury loft condos or some shit:
However, much to our chagrin, the Rotterdam was closed. An old man standing outside a nearby bar told me the roof had caved in, but I see that it is going to be reopened. Will have to go back! With the development all over the city and the authentic character of the neighborhood just aching to be exploited, I'm sure they'll be bitching about IKEA Sailorstown next time.
As much as we wanted to sample one of the seedy bars in the area, it was getting dark and there were no signs of food in Sailorstown, so we hotfooted it back to the Cathedral District, walking under highways and passing empty lots and surly teenagers up to no good. There's probably a nicer way to walk to the docks, but we didn't find it. For dinner, we ended up across the street from our hotel, to the awesome Potthouse, which is very clubby and hip, but has an amazing deal for two courses for two people and a bottle of wine for 25 pounds! Good deal, and good food. We had the odd experience of watching music videos with entirely different music playing over them while we ate. We were pretty much the only customers in the restaurant:
It was pouring rain like the end of the world when we left the restaurant, so we went across the street to the Cloth Ear, the public house bar of the Merchant Hotel. It's a really cool bar, a successful mix of traditional pub and modern bar:
I was thoroughly impressed with the bathrooms, the ladies' has freaky mannequin heads in the stalls and photos on the door which I took a ton of photos of:
The men's room has robots, apparently: