Short post tonight. Need to get some sleep before tomorrow. Also, nothing much new to report. I’ve spent the day traveling on the buses to get from Belfast down to Doolin. I checked out of the Old Rectory around 9:00 this morning, and got to Doolin around 8:00 this evening. So, not much to show you from the trip – pictures of bus stations aren’t all that interesting. I did manage a few pictures, though:
All the above pictures were taken with my iPad, because I was too tired to dig my real camera out of my bag at the various times. Tomorrow, when I1 take the ferry out to Inisheer, I’ll have my camera with me, and I’ll bring it into the pub for better pictures.
Bedtime, now. It’s about a two-mile walk to the ferries tomorrow, so I need to get started early.
Now, I really wanted to have only one stop on this flight1, and I spoke to some other travelers last time who recommended Aer Lingus, so I tried to make that happen. I was successful, but ran into a couple of snags. First, I had to travel through the US. Not a huge deal, but I’ve heard far too many TSA horror stories to be completely comfortable with flying through their jurisdiction2. Still, if it saves me four to six hours sitting in another airport or on another plane, I’ll take it.
The second hitch is that all the Satruday flights, which I had intended to take, were full3. After thinking long and hard4, I decided to fly on Friday, instead. That’ll cost me one more vacation day, but I can live with that. So, I booked the Friday flight, with a return flight on Sunday three weeks later.
That gives me a total of 23 days in Ireland.
Once I had the flights confirmed, I e-mailed The Old Rectory in Belfast to book my stay there. I was very flattered that Mary remembered me (and this blog), and am just waiting for final confirmation of that booking before I check it, too, off my list.
I’ve still got eight and a half months before my trip, but even doing this little bit of planning has got me excited to see Ireland all over again.
Flying non-stop from Winnipeg to Dublin is still just a fool’s dream, but I really didn’t want to go through London or Amsterdam. [↩]
Of course, I happily drive down into the US at least once a year, and never have any problems. It’s really just the TSA I’m scared of. [↩]
According to the Aer Lingus site, anyway. Some reseller sites still listed seats on the Saturday flight, but didn’t offer little things like being able to choose my seat. I wanted to be able to choose my seat. [↩]
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. [↩]