ginger: (my take on the world)
[personal profile] ginger
Okay. I pretty much have my brain back together now. It is good to be home.

Trip roundup begins! I kept a journal of sorts as I went so I could piece this together when I was back. I haven't decided yet whether I want to scrapbook the trip, do a Shutterfly-esque photo book, or both.

Thursday, 9 May - 7:40am. More or less.

I am currently somewhat south of Iceland, still over the North Atlantic. Altitude 37001 feet, traveling at 549 mph, and a little over an hour to go before we land in Dublin. My body doesn't seem to have caught on just yet that while I slept between the dinner served and the breakfast served, they were actually only about 3.5 hours apart, so at least for now when the clock tells me that it's 7:45am, that seems right.

I left Lansing Tuesday morning via Megabus to head down to Chicago. Aside from being 40 minutes late, the bus ride was uneventful. When I got there, I read on a street corner until Laurie got off work, then we went back to her place, chatted over pizza and called it an early night.

Wednesday morning, she dropped me off at the Field Museum on her way to work. I've been there quite a few times now, but I love it. I opted to see one of the 3D movies this time, about the discovery of Sue, but otherwise just wandered around the usual exhibits for a while. Around 3pm I headed out to catch the train to O'Hare, got checked in and security scanned and a bite to eat and all that jazz. The plane boarded with no fuss, the two seats to my left (I am in the right-most seat in the four-seat section of a 2-4-2 plane) stayed empty, and there's only been one kid screaming the whole time who won't shut up. Alas, the armrest does not go up far enough to let me stretch out :-P but I did catch some nap on and off, and like I said, I'm not feeling the jet lag yet. Also, I don't remember the last time I was on a flight that served a meal, let alone two.

Should be landing in about an hour.


Thursday 5/9: I got to the hostel, checked in and dropped off my luggage, then headed straight back out to keep myself occupied during the day and ward off jet lag. I figured I'd start with someplace I'd been before, so headed over to Kilmainham Gaol for their (very moving) tour. After the jail, I went back to O'Connell Street to check out the An Post museum at the GPO - a fairly small museum focusing on the postal service in Ireland and the role of the GPO in the 1916 Easter Rising - then took a green bus tour round trip. I planned to return to hostel for dinner, as they'd told me there was a restaurant attached, but "the restaurant" is not a restaurant, just a self-service kitchen. So I went out for fish and chips, then came back to the dorm room and met Jakie, a Vancouverite on a similar European tour. We chatted and went to bed. (As it turns out, Jakie and I would overlap on our travels in London and again in Rome, so we friended each other on Facebook and got on splendidly.)

Friday 5/10: I went to breakfast with Jakie, then set off on a day of tourism. First was Dublinia, an exhibition in a side building attached to Christ Church Cathedral focusing on the Viking origins of the city. It was neat, though definitely oriented toward little kids, and I was in between a couple of school groups on my way through. After that, rain was coming down in buckets, so I popped into Christ Church Cathedral to look around a bit. By the time I was done there, the rain had lightened up a bit, so I went over to the Guinness Storehouse for that tour and some lunch, almost left my jacket in the cafeteria, and went to the Guinness Academy to learn how to pour a perfect pint. I got a certificate and everything! Then I choked down the pint (I don't actually LIKE Guinness, but damned if I was going to waste it) and went over to the Jameson distillery. However, their line was something like three hours long, so I figured I'd try that another day. Instead, I went over to Trinity College to wander around campus a bit, then check out the Book of Kells (meh) and the Long Room (holy wow awesome), walked into Grafton Street, saw Molly Malone (the tart with the cart, the dish with the fish, the trollop with the scallops -- the Irish like their rhyming references), walked back through O'Connell Street, met new roomies (Lauren, Heather and Chelsea), chatted for a while, wrote postcards, went to Madigan's Pub for dinner cider chatting and music, bed.

Saturday 5/11: I went to breakfast with Jakie, then we rode the tram to the Jameson distillery. We still had an hour and a half wait at 9:45, so we went to the bar and had hot apple drinks - steamed apple juice, cinnamon syrup and Jameson with fresh apple slices floating in it. Then we got our Jameson tour and free samples at the end. Adding Jameson is the only way I've found to make ginger ale drinkable :) While waiting for the bus, we played on the playground a bit. Once the bus arrived, we went our separate ways. I went to the zoo, and omg the lions. Mr Lion and Ms Lion were hanging out in the sun, and just as about fifteen sets of parents and children came over, decided it was a good time for some afternoon shenanigans. Cue fifteen choruses of "Mommy, what are the lions doing?" and fifteen replies of "They're uh playing leapfrog, let's go look at the elephants!" After the zoo, I went back to the hostel, hung out a bit with people in the room, went to Temple Bar with Jakie for dinner and cider, walked back, hung out more while she packed, bed.

Sunday 5/12: Jakie left. I rode the red bus tour around, went to St Stephen's Green and walked around a bit, saw the art show, and went to the Little Museum about the history of Dublin during the 20th century. Then I planned to go to St Patrick's just to look around, but as I got there, they were turfing tourists out because a service was beginning soon. Upon reading that the service in question was an Anglican evensong service in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia, I decided to stay for the service, so I went to church at St. Patrick's. The priest gave a lovely sermon railing against homophobia within the church hierarchy and pointing out that Jesus was pro-loving people and not that picky about it. After the service, I went to Dublin Castle, then stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe on my way back. Since the new Star Trek movie came out a week earlier in Ireland than in the US, I went to see it. When I got back to the hostel, there was a Finnish mixup of some amusement. First, the door opened and there was a large Scandinavian looking man in the doorway looking very confused.

Him: This looks like a women's dorm.
Us: Yes, yes it is.
Him: I suppose my wife is upstairs looking at a men's dorm.
Us: Probably.
Him: *leaves*
A few minutes pass.
Door: *opens to reveal a Scandinavian looking woman in the doorway.*
Her: This looks like a women's dorm.
Us: Yes, yes it is.
Her: Oh good.

As it turns out, she and her husband were a pair of Finns on their honeymoon. Which confused the heck out of most of us, because it seemed odd that you would go on your honeymoon and opt to stay in two separate dorms, but hey, not my honeymoon.

Monday 5/13: I went to the Garden of Remembrance honoring those who died in the 1916 Rising, then went down to the train station to pick up my train ticket for Wednesday. Then I walked through Temple Bar a bit, had cocoa at Butler's, and went on a 1916 Rising walking tour with a guide who was holy crap Republican Socialist and very funny and knowledgeable. After lunch I rode the red bus tour around with a different hilarious guide and made Tuesday's to-do list, walked around the Henry Street shopping district, had dinner at Flanagan's, and went back to the hostel to plan for Belfast and London and knit and read and go to bed early.

Tuesday 5/14: I walked to Trinity College, returned the too-small t-shirt I'd bought (boo), walked to National Museum of Archaeology, museumed, took the bus to Collins Barracks, went to the National Museum of Decorative Arts and [military] History (weird combo, but awesome museum), took the tram back to O'Connell St, supper, back to the hostel to clean up and pack, read Inferno, bed.

Wednesday 5/15: breakfast, finished packing, walked down to O'Connell Street to take LUAS to Connelly Station to catch my train to ...


Wednesday 5/15 continued: arrived Belfast 1:40. No passport check, weird. Bus into city centre, train to hostel. Later discovered the train trip would have been a five minute walk :-P checked in, dropped off, walked back to the city centre. Took a red-bus sightseeing tour, made notes for Thursday. Tour guide was awesome. Very informative. Went to a pub for dinner and wifi, came back, organized, read, went to bed early. Until two jerks came in at midnight and kept the lights on for an hour taking frickin sponge baths at the in-room sink, rather than the shower across the way. I think they're gone now.

Thursday 5/16: breakfast, Titanic Experience, Crumlin Road Gaol, Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens (including the Palm House and the tropical ravine), supper, laundry, reading, bed. The two jerks are not gone and, now that I am not trying to sleep and they have apologized, are actually two very sweet Chinese girls (Sunny and Joanna) who had a panic about their missing visas until it occurred to me that if they both lost their visas at different points, maybe they both left them at the reception desk and forgot about it because they came in so late, because this hostel holds either a membership card or some form of photo ID as a key deposit, which is what turned out to be the case. Then I chatted with one while the other went to the shower and had a pair of very funny conversations.

Joanna: How old are you?
Me: Guess.
Joanna: 25? Just graduated college.
Me: 32.
Joanna: 32? Like three two?
Me: Yep!
Joanna: Were you married?
Me: Twice.
Joanna: Do you have kids?
Me: Nope, just dogs.
Joanna: Wait til Sunny gets back.
Sunny: *returns*
Joanna: Guess how old she is!
Sunny: 25? Just graduated college.
Me: 32.
Sunny: 32? Like three two?
Me: Yep!
Sunny: Were you married?
Me: Twice.
Sunny: Do you have kids?
Me: Nope, just dogs.

Deja vu.

Friday 5/17: breakfast in the cafe, mailed my postcards, got on the bus for the day tour. Photo op at Carrickfergus Castle, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (I did not go on it - 60 feet long, 100 feet up, over the crashing Atlantic Ocean? I do not THINK so -- but I did make the hike down to see it and then back up), Old Bushmills Distillery (for lunch, no time for touring, alas), photo op at Dunluce Castle, Giant's Causeway. Lots of very nice scenery, but I think I'd have had a better day and a better use of my money if I'd stayed in the city. I'm just not that gung-ho for scenery, and the multi-million pound educational visitor's centre at the Causeway was really quite disappointing. Has me rethinking the Louvre when I go to Paris -- I'm even less interested in art museums than scenery, I think, and again, I think I can get better tourist bang for my buck elsewhere. Got back to the hostel, grabbed take-away fish and chips for dinner, and packed up to head out on Saturday morning for Glasgow. I think this is the most complicated of my travels - it was all booked together, but it involves a ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan, a bus from Cairnryan to Ayr, and a train from Ayr to Glasgow.

Saturday 5/18: woke up, finished packing, headed down to catch a bus to the ferry terminal to catch my boat full of pirates and princesses and amazingly unobservant parents to Glasgow.

Next: Part Two - Glasgow and Edinburgh, London, Paris!


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