So, I woke up this morning feeling like I’m coming down with a cold. I’m not happy about that, but I’m glad it held off so long. It’s going to make the flight home unpleasant, but at least it didn’t really cut in to my trip very much.
I hauled myself out of bed, and got moving with a fair bit of effort. The breakfast put a much nicer light on the day, and I went off to wander Belfast on a last rainy day.
My first stop was the city centre, because I knew where there was a pharmacy, and I needed cold medicine and ibuprofen. While I was down there, I went back to Victoria Square, because it’s a very cool shopping centre.
After that, I headed out to see the Ulster Museum. The bus stop was right in front of Queens University.
The rain let up for a little while around then, and I took the opportunity to take a wander around the Botanic Gardens that surround the Ulster Museum.
I also managed to have lunch at The Crown, the oldest bar in Belfast. It’s a glorious place, full of etched glass, stamped tin roof, gold trim, and actual gaslights. It was way too packed for me to get a picture, but you can see one here.
I also tried walking out to the area where the Titanic was built, but it really started raining again, and I lost my motivation. Sorry, gang.
So, I made it back to the Old Rectory. Tonight is my last night here, and then I’m back to Dublin on the bus. I want to hit Grafton Street one last time to pick up some last-minute gifts for folks back home.
Y’know, I’ve stayed in some really good places on this trip: Ariel House, Garnish House, The Moorings, Saddler’s House. Now, I’m at the Old Rectory and I have to say I like it best of all. This is not to denigrate any of the other places I’ve stayed – they were all great – but the Old Rectory is absolutely amazing.
Mary and Gerry are both great people – friendly and helpful and very welcoming. My room is great, and breakfast this morning was the best I’ve had in Ireland. Again, this is not to say I haven’t had good breakfasts in other places, but this one tops it.
So, if you’re coming to Belfast (and you should come to Belfast – it’s a wonderful city), this is the place you want to stay.
Today I took a tour of the Antrim Coast with the Black Taxi company. Norman was my driver, and he was a really good guide. Unfortunately, it rained pretty much all day, so we didn’t linger at a lot of places, and where I did go, I got soaked. This also meant that some of my pictures didn’t turn out because of water on my camera lens. But I got some.
Our first stop was the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.
The next stop was the Giant’s Causeway. It really started raining and blowing out there, so I have fewer usable pictures than I wanted.
Then we were on to Dunluce Castle.
At that point, cold and wet and tired – there was a lot of walking, and a lot of that walking involved steep hills and slippery stone steps – we headed back to Belfast. I spent some time drying off and warming up, and then went out to dinner. I had planned to go to a restaurant called The Barking Dog, which Mary had recommended, but they were booked. Instead, I went around the corner to a place called Abacus and had some very nice chow mein.
Tomorrow, I’m going to hit the Ulster Museum, Friar’s Bush, and The Crown. My trip is almost done.
This is going to be a short update. I spent most of the day getting from Derry to Belfast. I’m staying at the Old Rectory, which is not really within walking distance of the bus station1, so I broke down and took a taxi rather than try an suss out the bus schedule.
The Old Rectory is amazing. My room is large, comfortable, and beautiful, and the welcome was warm and helpful. In no time at all, I had all the information I needed to find my way back to the city centre on the bus – and then back to the B&B, which is the important bit. Also, a list of good places to eat.
So, I headed off to the city centre to take a look around. Not a lot of pictures, but a couple.
One of the things I find I really like about every city I’ve seen in Ireland is that they all have a pedestrian-only shopping district near the city centre. Belfast is no different in that regard, but it also merges the shopping area into a large shopping centre that is open to the air except for a dome. It was a very cool place, and I’m upset that the pictures I took are all crap. I’ll have to head back there and try again.
While I was there, though, I noticed that the theatre was about to start showing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I had been wanting to see. And I went and saw it.
And that’s why I don’t have more to show you today. Tomorrow, though, is my tour of the city and the Antrim coast. Should have plenty of pictures for you from that.
Well, it kind of is, but not when I’m carrying my luggage. [↩]