Tag Archives: northern ireland

Day 7: Out of Northern Ireland and into Donegal

After I had recovered my composure about my second potential nude sleepwalking venture, we headed out of town, stopping at the glorious beach.  Way too cold to swim, of course, but lovely to walk along:

A few hours drive from Portrush brought us finally to Londonderry/Derry, where Bloody Sunday happened.  It's also one of the oldest walled cities in Europe and very pretty.  We spent some time walking around the wall before we got our day's fix of political murals.

Uh, yeah, this is blackface.  Pretty offensive blackface, at that.  There must be some explanation?

Meg atop the Roaring Meg:

Stopped in this pub briefly, where an old drunken lady sang along to the Westlife music video and asked H if she could kiss him:

We spent a long time watching this car get repo'd:

Finally, we got to the Bogside, home of the nationalist murals and the Free Derry corner:

There are many more where that came from, but I feel I've been overselling these murals.  Finally, reluctantly, we left Derry and Northern Ireland.  You could tell immediately when you crossed the border into the Republic, as the road got suddenly much narrower and shittier.  We stopped in a supermarket for supplies right before Donegal and saw this notice by the bathrooms:

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Oops, I did it again.

My greatest travel story ever has to be from Buenos Aires, two and a half years ago.  It was H's birthday, but as we were getting up really early the next day to head to Uruguay, we had a fairly early night and didn't drink too much.  The next thing I remember, I'm having a weird dream about walking naked
in the hallway. I really, really have to pee and it's really bright. I
start walking down the hall outside our room until I see a guy in
uniform (hotel employee) down the hall and I stop and walk back. It is
then that I realize that this is not a dream. I am actually walking down the hall in Buenos Aires naked.  As I start to wake up, and the horror of the reality sets in, I start
banging on our door to be let in. H is sleeping soundly and I'm
vaguely aware that the guy is asking me if I need some help and I tell
him this is my room. He didn't come very close, but I'm sure he saw
plenty.  Finally I hear our room phone ringing and H saying that yes, there is
someone knocking on the door and he will go answer it, but his first reaction was apparently, "Yes, there is someone knocking on the door, could you make them go away please?"  I get back in bed and we go back to sleep, I pray that
this is just a dream and I will laugh about it in the morning. Next day
arrives, and nope, it was no dream.  As far as I can explain, I must have been sleep walking, which I have
never done in my life, and must have gotten up to go to the bathroom
and opened the wrong door. What boggles me is how I did this asleep, as
the door was heavy and probably deadbolted from inside. I was grateful
that we were checking out that day and no one was giggling at me in the
lobby, but I'm sure the story got around. It has to be the most random
thing that has ever happened to me and every time we think
about it, we crack up laughing. H said to me, "You realize that's
most people's worst nightmare, right?"  Fortunately it was the middle of the night, as a few hours later an entire tour group was getting up to check out and the hallway would have been crowded with people.

As I said, I'd never to my knowledge sleep walked before and I never did it again.  Until Portrush.  After we left the pub that night, I remember getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  This time, I had the presence of mind to put on my fleece, but, uh, nothing else. Though our bedroom had an en-suite bathroom and I was unable to unlock the door even wide awake, I remember going out of the room and down the stairs.  Somehow, I found a bathroom not attached to a bedroom, and went back to bed.  The next morning, I told H that I was fairly certain that I had sleep walked again.  He thought it was just a dream, due to my recollection of the events and the fact that I opened the door and re-locked it.  As we went down to breakfast, I noticed a hallway with several doors separating it from the main part of the house, a hallway we had never been in.  I told him, "I bet you that there is a bathroom in that hallway, separate from a bedroom."  Guess what?  There was.  Fortunately, this time no one was a witness and no one at breakfast looked at me in sheer horror or threw me out.  But again, we were fortunately about to check out, and I hightailed it out of there before anyone asked any questions. 

Maybe I should start packing pajamas?

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Day 6: Death-defying Antrim Coast

So…I left off at the Carrick a Rede rope bridge and my imminent death.  Actually approaching the bridge and seeing how high it was above the water, I started to get quite a bit nervous, but I was determined to do it.  The guide/ticket collector told me it took her several days of trying before she could cross it and not it ain't no thing.  My strategy involved: no other people on the bridge to make it bounce, looking straight ahead and not down or to my sides, and a low center of gravity.  To wit:

I literally shook like a leaf when I got to the other side, and it took awhile to get the feeling back in my legs, I was so freaked out.  It is gorgeous on the other side, but I would just assumed see it from the other side and not cross the bridge again.

Getting ready to go back was almost worse, knowing how it really was.  H insisted on going first so he could photograph my face for later mocking.  Bastard.

But I did it!  A small step for most people, but a giant leap for me.  Speaking of giants, we pressed on to the Giant's Causeway, another supercool feature of the Antrim Coast.  Photos speak more than my description:

It was after 5pm and we had no hotel room, so we decided to head to Portrush for the night, a resort town on the coast rather than drive further to Derry.  Portrush is pretty but nothing too exciting, but we did see this cool abandoned castle on the way.  The story is that the kitchen fell into the ocean in the middle of dinner.  It's also on a Led Zeppelin cover!

Arrived in Portrush, where after 4 or 5 tries, we found a room for 50 pounds with a sea view at the Ramona Lodge.  Portrush is a cute harbor town with a lot of nauticalness:

We ended up making more sandwiches in our room and avoiding have dinner out, but we did go to a great pub that was tiny and most untouristy:

We spent the evening drinking pints and watching a fascinating program about home makeovers, one of those when someone British comes over and yells at your housekeeping, but you get it together and make dinner for your girlfriend and you get a crown and a ceremony!  Fun!  Then some local boys came in and complained about the TV, so we watched American COPS again and they asked us if it was really like that in the states.  Not having been busted for running a meth lab, I can't say, but it was another surreal moment.  We made friends with one guy, Dave, who goes by Booger and is horrified that his sister has just become a cop in Northern Ireland.  Here's me and Booger:

His shirt "Zoo York" is a Yankees tee, not some racist comment as I feared.  We were invited out with Booger's peeps to a nightclub, but decided to make it an early night, perhaps to our detriment.  Good times, though!

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Day 6: Mo’ Northern Ireland

Our first stop out of Belfast was the charming town of Glenarm, where we stopped for food and ATM.  Very picturesque:

Cool old cemetery:

Lacking any sort of place to get food to go, we bought bread and sandwich things and I fashioned some sandwiches in the car.  We also succeeded in setting up my iPod so that we could listen to some music rather than more obscure talk radio, so I had the surreal experience of listening to Snoop Dogg's P.I.M.P. while sitting in the car on a street like this (actually, I think that little red car is ours):

Sandwiched up, we got back on the road.  Here's what our view looked like most of the time:

Next stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  Now, I have a pretty decent fear of heights, but I was assured by many that it was "not that bad" and as long as there weren't other people shaking the bridge, it felt pretty steady.  I was confident that I could do it, as long as I threated bodily harm to any people who looked like they might shake the bridge while I was on it.  You have to walk about a kilometer to get to the bridge from the car park, and the views were amazing.  This is Sheep Island, which begged the question: Can sheep swim?  Consensus: yes, if they have to, but not that well.

Clearly, I'm alive to tell the tale, but I haven't time now to do so, as I'm late to go somewhere. For now, I'll leave a taste of what's in store:

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Day 6: Northern Ireland

Before leaving Belfast, we decided to have a stroll around the (amazingly stinky) river and check out East Belfast, where we saw, wait for it…more murals!

Another peace line:

Guess what this is?  Not a fortress or a prison, it's just a police station, and we saw many in Northern Ireland that looked like this:

Nearly the opposite of West Belfast, the Protestant area of East Belfast was more cheerful than the Catholic section, but again, not at all scary.

The cranes that helped build the Titanic. They are called Samson and Goliath:

If you need more mural photos (and who doesn't?!), I made a handy dandy set of them.

On our way out of the city (actually, it was the opposite direction, but not far from Belfast), we went to the awesome Ulster Transport Museum.  With tons of old cars, trains, motorcycles, and some Titanic stuff, I called it the zoo for boys, but actually I was more excited to go than H!  I took a gazillion photos of everything, which proved less interesting when I looked at them later, but here are some highlights:

The De Lorean, another Belfast product, looks way uglier in person.  Ah, the 80s, they thought it looked really cool:

Cute recreation of a train station newsstand:

Thought this was cool and a bit dangerous:

Funny diorama of the Night Bus, the late night bus that traditionally takes all the drunkies home.  See, the old ladies are all shocked and disapproving, the dude on the left is having smoke and the woman next to him is checking out her ripped stockings:

More neat things:

For the Deadwood fans:

We spent far too long at the museum, but it was a really fun outing and got us wondering why no one is making cool cars anymore.  What happened to the bubble car and other odd but fun designs?  Why do Europeans have so many more cool tiny cars than Americans?  We saw cars there that made the Mini Cooper look like an SUV. 

We planned to drive up the Antrim coast, loosely following the route taken by my esteemed former colleague, and land somewhere for the night in either Portrush or Londonderry.  If I had it all to do again, we would have spent more time enjoying the glens of Antrim and the coast, rather than just trying to get from point A to point B before dark.

Paranoid I might lose this, so posting…

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