We’re back from Belfast, where we had an absolutely splendid time. We didn’t get pirate pictures, because we were in the wrong place at the necessary time, but we walked approximately 45207 miles and took an equal number of photographs, some of which I’ll post soon. And I had all kinds of clever thoughts and things to post about regarding the weekend, but I’m too sleepy now to type them up and I’m afraid I’ll sort of not get around to it later in the week. Maybe I should give it a shot now…
There were a couple of perfectly horrible women on the train going up. They had two little boys with them, whom they sat in a double-seat together and sat themselves at a four-seater with Ted and myself. The little boys, unsurprisingly, behaved like hellions, and the women took turns getting up and yelling at them and telling them they’d have no holiday, they were giving everybody on the train a headache, and that they were “sick of the both of ye’s”. Eventually they separated both themselves and the boys, who were thereafter much better-behaved. The women, however, were not, and when the poor girl with the drinks cart went by they yelled at her for nearly running into the sleeping head of one of the boys and then when she asked the other to get her feet out of the aisle so she could pass, read her the riot act. The boy’s head had been in no danger, and the woman was in fact slopping in the aisle and the poor girl was perfectly within her rights to ask, but next thing we knew a conductor-type was there (he’d been there once already over some other imagined slight on their part), and after a while of soothing them he went away and they continued to snarl. I was becoming convinced the one sitting with us would ask me what *I* thought of the whole situation, and couldn’t decide if I would tell her or simply assure her she didn’t want to know what I thought. Anyway, they were horrible, and it was not an auspicious start to the weekend.
Fortunately, pretty much everything else made up for that. Well, except for the nightclub situated near the hotel, which disturbed our sleep on Thursday and Saturday. I don’t know if it wasn’t as loud Friday or if we were just more exhausted and slept through it. :) Belfast is a beautiful Victorian city (Ted and I somewhat grimly postulated that the reason it’s so wonderfully Victorian is that in the 70s and 80s when much of the rest of the world was knocking down old buildings to build new modern ones, the Irish were too busy trying to kill each other to mindfully destroy their city’s Victorian legacy) in an utterly beautiful setting, even though it’s currently undergoing an enormous amount of street work and isn’t at its best. Even the City Hall, which is supposed to be a great tourist thing, was closed for renovation, so we only got to go around outside it.
Which is what we did Thursday. We went out and explored–we had a vague intention, inspired by a signpost in the city centre, of going to see St. Anne’s Cathedral. However, since we were trying to navigate a city we didn’t know at all and had already gone off the beaten path by the time we made this decision, we ended up having sort of a wander through what appeared to be a red light district and then went into what was very clearly a nationalist stronghold (turned out to be Falls Road, where among other things lie the Solidarity Wall of murals, because we were tracking a pair of spires which we determined must be St. Anne’s. It proved they were actually St. Peter’s Cathedral, which we were very glad to have found, because it was absolutely beautiful. And then we staggered back to the city centre.
Completely worn out from all that walking, we went to the restaurant attached to the hotel (Olio: it was not very good at all), then went back to the hotel room and considered not going out again at all, but then I decided that nah, we should, because we’d talked about going up on the Belfast Wheel, which is Belfast’s answer to the Millennium Eye, and we weren’t sure we’d have another evening to do it in. So out we went again, and scared the beejeebus out of ourselves on the Wheel, which is some 60 meters high. But it was pretty damned cool, in a mind-gogglingly terrifying way. :) And upon landing again, we made a second effort to find St. Anne’s, this time with more attention to the signs and less striking out on our own. We figured we could at least locate it and go back on the morrow, when it would be open, since it was well after 8pm by then.
We found it. It has, despite the fact that the tour guides referred to it differently, what I believe is accurately called The Biggest Motherfucking Cross In Christendom. (The tour guides said it was the biggest Celtic cross in the world. I’m sure that’s true. But I’m hard-pressed to believe there are other crosses as impressively large, and until I see one with my own eyes it is and shall remain The Biggest Motherfucking Cross In Christendom.) And we got to watch the Tall Ships celebration fireworks, because we were out and about and happened to be at a good crossroads to watch them once we were done admiring TBMFCIC. So we were actually quite pleased with ourselves for having gone to Belfast by the end of our first afternoon there, which is as good a way to start a holiday as one can ask for.
I shall write about Friday and Saturday tomorrow. Hopefully there will even be pictures to go along with the writing, but I took about two hundred of ‘em, so they’re gonna take some Going Through.
miles to Morannan: 39.8(x-posted from the essential kit)