A Week In Ireland (part two)

Off to Belfast on the train we went. My husband had made many trips up north during the conflicts in the early to mid 90s, and told me many stories. A Catholic cop was recently killed, disrupting years of peace, so I was a bit uneasy to tell you the truth. At the same time, Ben said it was one of his favorite cities, so I was about to find out what the deal was — he was about to see how much things had changed!

The most bombed hotel in all of Europe…

Swag in Belfast looks like swag in downtown L.A. So really all swag is universal…

Basically everything revolved around shopping. Shopping shopping shopping! At least around the city center. The last time Ben was here, there were tanks and military guards everywhere. Not anymore obviously. The malls were packed, the cupcake store was packed, the coffee shops were packed, and the tourism seems to be doing well. In fact, many American cities could learn a thing or two from the tourism bureau in N. Ireland. Although I still didn’t understand why highlighting the fact the Titanic being built here was a selling point; I guess there are history buffs into that kind of thing. Over all people were more helpful and friendly about stuff than most places I’ve been. I’d say Belfast was sort of like an equivalent to Cleveland or Pittsburgh in terms of size, weather, and neighborhoods. We checked into an Ibis — fun and all Japanese efficiency style inside it was — and proceeded to find a good old pub with the standards. The Crown was overrun, the staff seemed a bit surly, and although pretty, wasn’t what Ben was looking for. Robinson’s down the block however, oh man, they win the internet at pub food at the happy hour special on Guinness was awesome. Why everyone was drinking Coors, I’ll never know. In fact, Belfast had better food overall. Cayenne (yes where Anthony Bourdain went) was quite awesome and attracted a fun crowd. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a group of slutty women sitting in a booth with champagne and one of them pulled out while eating dinner — no, not a hair brush, but an eyebrow brush and proceeded to groom her eyebrows over her meal in front of everyone. Ew.

Here’s the ceiling at Robinson’s, it was classy-pants…

A shopping mall…

A grocery store…

I should also say that jeggings and what I am now calling bad “Bananarama hair” styles are everywhere — even up in Bushmills — and they won’t go away. One fashion trend I noticed in both countries was women who appeared to be 50+ all had dainty little nose piercings. A diamond or gold stud, never a ring. I kind of liked it! Somehow it looked chic on the older women.

If it weren’t for airline security nonsense and the fact I don’t check bags, I would have brought home many goodies! I’m also now hooked on Border biscuits.

Anyways, we enjoyed much coffee, beer, I’m in love with the Boots stores and wish we had them in the US. Belfast is like Dublin in that it is compact and very easy to walk around. Truthfully we would have covered even more if I didn’t have a mildly gimpy leg. Incidentally, I saw a total punk rock girl on the train with a mohawk who had a cane just like mine! We’re starting a trend.

There were a few nights we slept to the sounds of drunken singing in the streets; a late night taxi stand was below our window and everyone pouring out of the pubs were smart and got a lift as a line of cabs down the block got ready for closing time (again, some American cities should adopt this practice — I’m looking at you Lakewood!) We walked through one Catholic neighborhood a bit, steering away from the Shankhill because Ben was wary about going there, even though he used to wander those streets by himself at the peak on conflict like a dummy! Mind you, I’m not Christian in any way, so I don’t really get the whole deal in that respect. I don’t want it to seem like I’m promoting or taking sides by posting photos of these particular murals, I just found it interesting.

Former IRA headquarters tower…

Wandering around, debating on hitting up the karaoke bar…

Train to Coleraine…

See, sunny-rainy-sunny-rainy…

The main purpose of our visit was to get to the Causeway. Lemme tell ‘ya, it ain’t easy. If it weren’t for the fact so many tourists go there, I think it would have been an even bigger pain in the ass to get there. Because really, it is up near the top of the island, you feel like you are at the end of the earth once there. After getting completely soaked (you’d think we would have bought an umbrella at this stage), we found that the Causeway Hotel was a nice place for a lunch and coffee…

View from our table…

Moar Coffee!!! Seriously, we got so drenched it was ridiculous…

And now, we walk down the path into the cliff side. There was a bus from the hotel top, but despite my little handicap, I still walked it. If I remember correctly, according to one of the Unico movies, the end of the earth is where puppets go to die. So yeah, this is where puppets go to die, even though I’m sure some vikings and celts have too.

Almost there…

Obviously I couldn’t climb anything or get up on the really high rocks with my leg, and he nearly gave me a heart attack when he slipped getting up there. Only disappointing part was the amount of tourists climbing on everything (no good natural shots were to be had) and all the photos Ben took of me on the massive rock formation side were out of focus or cut-off at the top. He’s not to great with the camera. Thankfully the lady we met from Spain was, so we got this shot, totally drenched still. I would have been pissed if I actually got married there and got rained on like we did…

I didn’t get any great “spiritual” feelings or hoo-ha while there. Mostly it just feels isolated, well, except for the women climbing around wearing jeggings and leggings as pants. That kind of killed any mood you had for this being a sacred spot. There’s the legend of Finn McCool about this place, and fun fact: we had two Irish Setter dogs named Finn and McCool when I was a kid. They were father and son, the father hated the son and was happy after he got hit by a garbage truck. Yep.

Got rid of our leftover UK money here…

In any event, climbing back up that hill to the hotel just about killed me. I think that did more than any physical therapy could ever do in regards to my leg. I’m just glad I didn’t do the whole “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” bridge that some people opt for — screw that! Anyways, I think we’d like to go back, there were a lot of little hotels on the sea and I’d like to not feel rushed to catch the next bus and train back to Belfast.

Bushmills was a tad depressing, although there were some fun spooky abandoned houses that I fantasized about fixing up. No we didn’t do the distillery tour even thought I love hat stuff. The funniest part was watching the kids getting out of school who rode our bus and the teenage girls tormenting the young boys who then proceeded to chase the bus while flipping us off. Before leaving N. Ireland we tried hitting up a record store in particular but found out it had closed, and sign of the times I guess. We quickly surveyed the town of Coleraine again, and had several drinks while there because that’s how we do it. There were more things on my list, but it was a busy few days and I think we did the best we could considering we didn’t have a car and walking great distances is still hard for me.

Stayed tuned for part 3!

Here’s part 1 if you missed it.


6 Responses to “A Week In Ireland (part two)”

  1. 1 Cookbook 05/24/2011 at 3:11 pm

    I loved Boots when I was in Cambridge back in college. Best drugstore beauty products ever.

    Target has a Boots-branded line of stuff in health and beauty but it’s just not the same.

    • 2 vendettabella 05/24/2011 at 4:36 pm

      I use some of the Boots stuff you can get at Target, but I just would like being able to stroll in an get Lancome lipstick or fancy-pants perfume without having to go to a department store or Sephora.

  2. 3 London Caller 05/24/2011 at 3:33 pm

    Ireland is such a charming place!
    Been there twice. 🙂

  3. 4 Veronica 05/25/2011 at 9:20 am

    I want to go. Beautiful pictures!

  1. 1 A Week In Ireland (part one) « Trackback on 05/24/2011 at 11:09 am
  2. 2 A Week In Ireland (part three) « Trackback on 05/26/2011 at 7:06 pm

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