Two weeks before departing Edinburgh (which I have now done– more on that later), six of our friends went on a trip to Ireland. We flew Ryan Air into Dublin, where we spent two days before taking a bus to Belfast, and then back down to Dublin two days later. It was a really successful trip– the weather was gorgeous, we did a bunch of really neat stuff, and none of us slaughtered each other from over-proximity. Win!
I know, I know, lemonade does not seem like a noteworthy part of an international holiday. But dear goodness, this was some good lemonade. It’s from a store called Avoca, which they have in a number of Irish cities. It was recommended to us by our friend Athina, and we just happened to stumble upon it while lost– we spent a lot of time lost. However, all the good things we discovered were found accidentally while looking for something else. So I suppose it worked out. Anyway, Avoca is a multi-floored shop whcih sells all sorts of cool crafty stuff, knick-knacks, clothing, and food. Upstairs is the restaurant, where this lemonade so happily inhabits. Seeing as it was 25 degrees and sunny, it was absolutely a lemonade day. Our friends all sunburned. In Ireland. Shocking, but true. Anyway, this fresh strawberry lemonade came in a big pitcher with fruit bouncing among ice cubes at the bottom. It was pretty darn good. AAnnnnnd moving on…
We happened to stumble upon a free funk/jazz music festival in a Dublin park. There were tunes and sunshine and ice cream and all manner of wonderfulness. We played a good deal of cards in the grass, and did our fare share of dancing.
There is a tiny pharmacy/bookshop in Dublin called Sweny’s If one enters this establishment at the correct time of day, a bow-tied gentleman named P.J. (as seen above), will hand you a mugful of tea, sit you down in a chair, and thrust a volume of James Joyce into your hands. He will then proceed to read aloud, and then you will read the next page, and the pattern will commence for about an hour. Connor, Rebecca, and I read Finnegan’s Wake during our visit. The pharmacy itself is the same one in which Leopold Bloom stopped to purchase a bar of lemon soap for his wife Molly in Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, and Sweny’s still sells lemon soap, today. I picked up a bar to give to my Joyce-enthusiast friend Shannon back in the states.
Belfast & Titanic Museum
Leaving Dublin, we headed north to Belfast. The town of Belfast itself isn’t much to speak of. However, there was a really awesome pub called Filthy McNasty’s– yes, the name sounds questionable, but I promise you, it’s great. In the back, there is an open courtyard with a gazebo and long strands of fairy lights tangled around the tables, and indoors bottles dangle from the ceiling like chandeliers.
The best part of Belfast, however, was visiting the Titanic Museum, perched on the very harbor from which the mighty ship departed for its ill-fated voyage. As this is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, a new, very thorough, and super high-tech museum was erected. It included an imax style theatre with underwater footage of the ship, interactive touch screen exhibits, full recreations of the different class cabin rooms complete with holographic residents, and even a full mechanical ride through the building process of the ship. I must say, it was one of the cooler museums I have been to in my life– and for a historical museum, they really got creative.
While staying in Belfast, we took a Paddywagon Tour day trip bus up to the Giant’s Causeway. The tour guide told terrible jokes; he was basically that guy you get stuck talking to at a party, who traps you in some severely boring anecdote and refuses to let you leave. But with this guy, they gave him a microphone and let him trap you on a bus for six hours. Even so, the trip was free with the hostel we stayed in (Paddy’s Palace), and the Causeway was breathtakingly gorgeous, so it was actually pretty great.
Eventually, we headed back to Dublin for a last two days. We read comic books by the river (a series called Saga, with which Rebecca and I are currently obsessed), made an overabundance of pasta, drank Guinness at a Temple Bar folk session, watched Eurovision on the hostel TV, played cards, argued, hugged each other, took photos of Gavin falling asleep in inappropriate locations, wandered the streets, and finally, flew back home to Edinburgh.
Twas a good trip, I say.