Playing tourist in Belfast
I set off from Achill about 4.00pm , intending to ride until I felt like stopping for the night. On the way through Charlestown, I spotted a Chinese restaurant, and impulsively stopped for dinner. Very expensive by Australian standards, and nowhere near as good as the price indicated!
I continued on, heading for a large, multi-sectioned campground on Lough Key, which turned out to be absolutely chokkers with families, as it is now school holidays here. Barely even room to put the tent up without stumbling over someone, so I hightailed it out of there and went looking for somewhere else, along more tiny little one lane roads. Bewdy! An "adults only" campground, the only one in Ireland, so the owners believe. No, it's not what you're thinking!! It just doesn't take kids, only adults - peace and quiet!! Heaven! Hmmm, I'm getting to be a grumpy old bugger, aren't I?
Off relatively early in the morning, northeasterly then north, towards David's home in Coleraine near the north coast. Camped in Coleraine as David wasn't yet home from the Mourne Mtns south of Belfast. He took a half day off on Monday to attend to some things on my bike and to go shopping for more bits, then we set off for Belfast, where I would play tourist while he was at work.
David suggested I do the free tour of the Belfast City Hall, as he'd heard it was well worth doing, and that is definitely correct. The City Hall is stunning!! The marble, all four types of it; the gorgeous stained glass windows; the furniture; the chandeliers; the murals. Beautiful.
Below: The Council chambers
Below: And I got to sit in the Mayoral chair, too.
Below: the famous painting of "The battle of the Somme" spoilt by reflections behind.
Above: In the Titanic room, a model of the Titanic, built here in Belfast and below: the Great Hall
Then I had to literally run through the CBD streets to catch the prebooked/paid tour of Belfast by double-decker bus.
Below: The Odyssey, a stadium for all types of events and sports.
Below: Stormont, the parliament buildings and entrance.
Then we got into the areasmost effected by the Troubles between Catholics and Protestants. Below: Crumlin Road Gaol
Below: The high barriers between the warring factions, now known as the Peace Wall and covered in murals.
Below: The two yellow gates that are closed to keep some in and some out in the troubled areas.
Shankill and Falls Roads, with murals memorialising those who fought and died.
Below: The International Peace Wall
Below: The offices of the Sinn Fein
Below: One of the oldest pubs in Ireland
Below: Absolutely loved the messages on this taxi! Should be more of it.
So after a day of playing tourist, it was home to David's to do some more work on the bike, then into Portrush for dinner.
The previous evening we'd gone into Portrush for a drive, and had ended up at a bar on the docks. This bar, together with one in Dublin, is reputed to have THE best Guiness on tap in the world. Before I knew what was happening, I had a glass of Guiness in front of me, and was told to drink it.
" But I don't drink beer and stuff like that", I complained, as I took a small mouthful - and screwed up my face as it went down.
" Put some blackcurrant in it" David asked the barman, who did so. Blackcurrant apparently takes away the bitter taste. It does, too.
" Errrrr, it's a little better" I mumbled, and proceeded to slowly drink the whole glass, by which time the pub was closed!! So I've now had my first ever full glass of Guiness. I won't become a devotee.
The next morning, David had to leave early for work, so I packed up and headed south again, to visit Safron Thomas, daughter of friends in Tasmania, whom I'd metin Tassie previously, at her home in Moy, south west of Belfast. It was good to talk to an Aussie again, and we had a great time, together with Saf's partner, Chris.
Thanks, David, for your generous hospitality, greatly appreciated, and for working on the bike for me.
My time in Ireland was almost over, so I headed back to Belfast, to catch the 11.45am ferry over to Stranraer in Scotland, then make the run down to Ripley, in Derbyshire, for the Horizons Unlimited meeting there over the weekend..
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