Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

Last day driving and getting out of Belfast

14th May 2013

Titanic centre Belfast and original Harland &Wolff building

Titanic centre Belfast and original Harland &Wolff building

There were only two of us for the walking tour around the Titanic site this morning, a young Austrian, Julia and myself, an Australian, Julie – coincidence huh?. I wouldn’t be surprised if the guide was trying to get us to quit, she asked us about three times if we were sure we wanted to continue and be wet through by the time we finished an hour later. It was fairly miserable, cold, windy and wet, but she wasn’t getting rid of either of us that easily. This is when I actually got to see the drawing offices, they’ve been empty for more than 20 years now apparently. It’s quite sad to hear about the glory days of places like this and then see them lying idle and deserted. The tour was totally captivating, well worth the £9 fee – and it only drizzled a little!!

The Thanksgiving Statue, Belfast

The Thanksgiving Statue, Belfast

I felt bad not having seen anything of Belfast so caught the hop on hop off bus and did a circuit before I left – and learnt more about the troubles in Northern Ireland in that hour than I’ve ever known before. Once again my lack of knowledge left me feeling rather ignorant – I had never known what the fighting and fuss was all about, or even who was fighting for what. I also learnt that the Peace Walls in Belfast have stood longer than the Berlin Wall, and judging by current events, they won’t be coming down any time in the near future either.

It was all very well choosing somewhere to stay based on the ease of navigating my way there, but I didn’t give a thought to finding my way back out again, so when I got in the car to head off and realized this fact, I just about lost the plot. You know the classic scene where someone is banging their head on the steering wheel and wailing about some major catastrophe? Well, I was just about there – but, instead I just drove off and hoped for the best – oh, I also kept my eyes peeled for signs too. You wouldn’t believe it, but, I soon found signs that actually read, “THE SOUTH” and “THE WEST” – wootwoot!!

Gorgeous facade, Belfast

Gorgeous facade, Belfast

Who’d have thought driving from Belfast to Rosslare would take so long, it doesn’t look far on the map but took me four or five hours – huge drive over here! I’m so pleased to be car-less when I go back to Dublin, it was bad enough trying to bypass it let alone drive through it. I did my normal trick when I got to the little village of Tagoat near Rosslare, had to ask where the B&B was; the old guy at the pub came outside with me and pointed back the way I had come and across the road, on the side of the hill was Coral Gables B&B – in plain sight if you were coming from the ferry, not so much from the way I’d come. Well, that’s my story, anyway, hahehehe. I was the only guest there that night so took myself out to the lounge and had a fine old time cutting up brochures and sticking bits and pieces in my journal – you couldn’t really call it scrapbooking but it’s the closest thing I’ve got at the moment.

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Filed under Mid-life travel, Northern Ireland, Travel

Derry and the crazy drunk guy

12th May 2013

After driving over the same bridge and back three times, I stopped and worked out from google maps that I had come in the opposite side of the river to what  I thought! Fuck, I’m sick of trying to navigate without maps of towns or a GPS!!!! Sorry, but it is soooooo frustrating and then when I did find the correct street name I couldn’t find the actual place. So, one frantic sounding phone call to the owner, and she said she’d be with me in a few minutes. You wouldn’t believe it but I was actually less than 10 meters from the place and didn’t know it. Turns out she was having bathroom troubles so I stayed in her sisters B&B next door! Oh, by the way, I’m in Londonderry, or Derry, as it’s often called by those who live here.

Cannon along the Walls of Derry, Londonderry

Cannon along the Walls of Derry, Londonderry

Went for a walk along the top of the old walls of Derry for a bit then called in to a pub recommended by the B&B owner and listened to some great Irish music for a while before heading back to catch up on some journaling. I even spent some time sketching the band, and then regretted it, because after a while I realized they were looking at me strangely – my habit of checking what I’m drawing every few seconds must have looked pretty strange. Or maybe they thought I was just having a good perve!!

I’d not long dropped off to sleep than I woke up to some guy knocking on the front door of the B&B, calling out to Mick to let him in. He just kept knocking and yelling, then he started banging and swearing, I was a bit scared because the owners weren’t on-site and I didn’t know how many other people were there. Then I heard someone talking to him but he just kept yelling. All I could think was, oh crap, everyone at home will say I shouldn’t have come to Northern Ireland and I haven’t seen Europe yet! A while later I heard some other people come along and they, along with the drunk guy, came inside and stumbled upstairs – I dead set had my head under the blankets but straining to hear what was happening. Then, such an anticlimax, they must have gone to their rooms, doors banged and peace descended!

If I’d been a bit braver I would have banged a few doors myself in the morning to wake them all, but thought better of it. So, the big topic at breakfast amongst the oldies (and I’m including myself here), was the nocturnal happenings – and none of us were any the wiser when I left than we’d been last night. But it just goes to show I guess that staying in reputable places and areas is not necessarily going to keep the crazies or drunks away.

Donegal Castle Ireland

Donegal Castle Ireland

I just realized, I was so peeved about my navigation problems when I started writing this that I haven’t said anything about my day before then. A few people have told me that Donegal is a lovely place, so I made sure to go through there today. I didn’t have a very good look around, (it was raining again), but I did pay to go through the Donegal Castle. Parts of it were kind of cute but some parts looked out of character, like they were too new or something. Not that I particularly cared, I was out of the car and out of the rain – what more could I ask for.

Abbey Hotel restaurant, Donegal

Abbey Hotel restaurant, Donegal

It was Mother’s Day at home today so I decided to treat myself to lunch at a gorgeous old fashioned restaurant in the centre of the town; The Market House  Restaurant at the Abbey Hotel. I’d have to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve had for ages, roast with all the trimmings – even a Yorkshire pudding. and a huge selection of desserts to choose from afterwards.

Sometime during the day I had spotted another great ruin in the middle of a paddock, and couldn’t resist doing a U-turn to try and get a photo – I ended up having to do three u-turns, park up a side track and run across a busy highway – but I got the photos. Sometimes, when I look at them later, I think no-one will believe the colours are really that vivid, but the greens are truly so, so bright.

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Filed under Mid-life travel, Northern Ireland, Travel