Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In Dublin!

Time for my usual apology.

Dear Blog,
I'm so sorry I haven't written in so long. I promise I won't do it again.

Most Sincerely,

Good. Got that out of the way. Now on to Ireland.

I arrived in Dublin earlier today, after a very nice stay in Belfast. I got to Belfast on the "rail-sail" route from London via Scotland. After not sleeping all night (I had a final project due and then I had to pack up my life up before leaving Oxford), I took a bus in to London, the Underground to Euston Station, and then sat in Euston Station for a bit. The train was supposed to leave a few minutes after I got there, but they had to clean up some sort of vandalism on the tracks. That set us (and all the other trains leaving from Euston) back quite a while. From there it was a 5 or 6 hour train ride to Glasgow. Because of the vandalism, we arrived late, missing the connection to Stranraer. Virgin Trains (or whatever it's called) arranged for all the people who missed the connection to get taxis (on them) to Stranraer. For the next couple hours I chatted with a talkative old lady who lives outside Belfast. We talked a lot about Belfast, how she had been to Palo Alto, her kids in college, Glasgow, and other stuff. We got to Stranraer and took the ferry over to Belfast after that.

I have pictures of the ferry. It wasn't exactly what I expected. Apparently it's the largest ferry in the world (built by Scandinavians, of course), but there wasn't much to see on the water, nor was the puny observation deck very interesting. I took pictures of the inside though. It was really impressive.

I got to Belfast. I shared a cab with a Chinese couple from Shanghai. They were staying at some hotel in the center of the city, and I was at the Vagabonds Hostel, also in the center. I don't know why one would choose to go to Belfast, of all places, all the way from Shanghai.

Despite not sleeping the previous night, I had trouble sleeping. There was a massive group of teenagers wearing all sorts of black, goth-y clothes (including cloaks) and partying loudly in the hostel. I know I wasn't the only one annoyed. Some people told me they had been there a few days already, never even doing their dishes. Eventually I got to sleep, but it took far too long. They left in the morning. And there was much rejoicing.

The next day was pretty awesome. I went on a bus tour of the Giant's Causeway and other nearby Northern Ireland sites. I'll just let the photos speak for themselves when I upload them. The Chinese couple ended up being on the same tour, which was pretty funny. I didn't really talk to them, though, because only the wife (I assume they were married) could speak broken English. There was a friendly Australian girl, maybe a few years older than me, from the same hostel on the same tour, so we sat next to each other on the bus and talked. Most of the people were quite a bit older than us, which sort of necessitated our bonding.

This morning, I got up and did a "black cab tour" of Belfast. They tours are so called for the taxis you get driven around in. Three of us in the hostel, including the same Australian girl, took the same tour. The drivers of these taxis are usually men who grew up in Belfast during "The Troubles." Our driver, Paddy, grew up on the Catholic side of things. He went over the fascinating history of the Troubles, as we drove around, stopping at various historical sites and many of the famous murals. I took pictures of those too. I don't remember all of the history, but I remember more than what I want to write tonight. Look it up on Wikipedia or something. I'll post pictures with descriptive captions later (or never).

After the tour, I got my stuff together at the hostel, got lunch, got on a bus, and headed to Dublin.

After a bus ride through miles of rolling green hills and farmlands, I got to Dublin at around 4. Elliane's flight didn't come in until 9, so I spent a few hours exploring the center of the city on foot and eating dinner. I took pictures. Some highlights were Trinity College (I'll be back to see the Book of Kells soon), St Stephen's Green Park, and the giant spire thing. Photos to follow.

I waited around for Elliane at the hostel. She came about an hour ago (so like 10:45ish). She's super tired, so she just went to bed. The plan is to wake up tomorrow and see Dublin!

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