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Published: April 4th 2005
Belfast City Hall
At night in Belfast!
Belfast: Really cool. Quite an unusual feel with a mix of cultures and cultural history. We left Limerick early Saturday morning and arrived in Belfast by the afternoon. Unlike years past, there are no longer border checks or anything, so you don't even know when you cross from the Republic to Northern Ireland. When we got up there, the bus driver dropped us off at the Linen House Hostel where I stayed in a room of like 20 people, fortunately all from the International Society at UL. Then I went out with Chris (Dutch), Dimitri (Belgian), and Kelly (US) to explore the town. First, we went to the Belfast City Hall, which was quite an impressive building (especially when we saw it lit up later that night!). There was a Titanic exhibit there (the Titanic was built in the Belfast shipyards) which was cool too! Then, we saw the Albert Memorial Clock (which actually is a leaning tower reportedly due to wives and girlfriends waiting for their significant others, leaning out the windows toward the water), the Belfast/St. Anne's Catheral, and the rest of downtown Belfast. We took a break in a long-standing pub (opened in 1630) called White's
Tavern. The tavern was nice and cozy, with low ceilings and a continually burning peat fire that really warmed the place up nicely! Later that night, we ate at a nice cafe and spent the rest of the evening in another old pub called The Duke of York.
Sunday, we jumped on the bus again and headed north. We saw the Giant's Causeway (a set of hexagonal rocks formed by volcanic activity that looked incredible-- just on the coast) and went to the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery for a fascinating tour. Then, we headed back to Belfast, found another place to eat, and hit another pub (The John Hewitt). It was really cool, because about an hour after we got there, a bunch of traditional Irish musicians showed up and just started playing around a table. Like, how awesome is that?
Monday morning, we took a bus tour of Belfast and then headed south to Dublin. We only spent a couple hours in Dublin and took a tour of the old Guinness Factory. Well, it was a lot of flash and sound without too much substance, but it was still pretty neat, and there was a great view of
the city from the top of the building. And it was fun hanging out with folks!
And now for Rachel's visit and London (so far):
Tuesday: Rachel arrived, I skipped some class, and we hung out in Limerick and caught up.
Wednesday: Rachel and I ran around Limerick all day, saw St. Mary's Cathedral, King John's Castle, ate at Enzo's Cafe (a little local joint with tasty, greasy food), and tried to find traditional Irish music at a variety of pubs. Rachel wanted to try Guinness in Ireland, so she got a half-pint at Nancy Blake's Pub and I got a half-pint of Guinness and black currant-- better than Guinness straight up, but still not my favorite. No trad players had shown up after being there awhile, so we tried some other places, but basically nothing was going on in Limerick on a Wednesday night. Oh, well!
Thursday: We went to Killarney National Park and hiked all day. It was rainy, so we got really wet, but the park was absolutely gorgeous, and spending time with such nature was very relaxing!
Friday: We went to Dublin early morning, walked around Dublin all day, saw the
Spire, O'Connell's Monument, the Temple Bar area, the James Joyce Bridge, the Jameson Whiskey Distillery, the Quays, the parks, Trinity College, the Oscar Wilde statue, the Dublin Castle, all the shops-- just loads and loads of sights! It was really fun, and we were exhausted by the day's end. We headed by bus to the airport, flew to London, took another bus and then met Karla on Baker Street in London. Believe me, did we sleep well!
Saturday: Karla led Rachel and I on a tour around some parts of London: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, St. James Park, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery (almost all of their museums are free-- how cool is that?) with loads and loads of art pieces, Covent Garden, the London Tower, Tower Bridge, the Thames, and probably more I'm forgetting! We ate dinner at a noodle bar called Wagamamas with Karla and some of her friends and ended the night in Leicester Square eating Ben and Jerry's-- woohoo!
Sunday: Rachel and I headed out on our own mid-morning to go wait for the box office of Lion King to open. It opened at noon and we were 2nd
in line, so we got standing tickets (we were at the back of the theatre the whole time). Then, we ate traditional English pasties and tracked down some Krispy Kremes (Rachel had a craving after seeing a guy with them on the Tube the night before) after going to Chinatown. Then we saw LION KING which was so amazing. The set design and costuming just blew my mind. The opening scene alone was utterly incredible! I'm so glad I got to go see it! That night, we just hung out with Karla and her buds and got an early bedtime because Karla and I had to walk Rachel to the bus stop at 3:20AM. We got back to bed around 4:15. Poor Karla had a 9AM presentation. But we made it okay!
Monday: Today, Karla and I went to the British Museum where there are loads of historical artifacts and stuff. We even got to see the Rosetta Stone! Like, whoa! Then, she let me loose and I toured St. Paul's Cathedral, going all the way to the top of the dome, and took a tour of Shakespeare's Globe (the re-creation, of course). St. Paul's was gorgeous, and the
view at the top of the dome was awesome. And The Globe-- GASP-- an English major's heaven! It was so fun, and the exhibit after the tour all about the theatre's re-creation and history was something I was totally into. Then, I tried to find the Rose theatre, but failed, so went to the Tate Museum of Modern Art instead. It was interesting, but I must say I preferred the National Gallery!
Okay, that's it for now. I think Karla and I might go out on the town, so I must get going. And Rome's coming up-- I hear there are thousands upon thousands there already and their expecting more. Who knew this would happen? I suppose it will be an incredible, if hectic, time. I'll update more soon!
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