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Travelling to Ireland wasn’t too difficult from Iceland. The last few hours in Iceland meant a couple episodes of Stranger Things in the car because we couldn’t get into the Blue Lagoon, (reserve your tickets online). I chilled in the small airport of Reykjavik before boarding to Stockholm for my stopover. I was happy to be the only one in my row! But instead of sleeping I watched the film Eddie “the eagle” Edwards, because it took place the year I was born and it was about the Olympics. It was really uplifting and exactly the kind of thing I needed to see as I started the next chapter of my travels. It was good to get further affirmation that its okay to go against expectations, to defy them, because its important to you and your own happiness and life goals.
Getting to Dublin and over to Belfast was pretty painless, (even though they did ask me a few questions as I was going through customs and even wished to see me and Karen’s text conversation), Karen scooped me from downtown and we grabbed a car back to her adorable and very nice apartment that she shares with her man Jonathon. We chatted for awhile over some wine and caught up on life stuff that we’d missed out on over the last year. We went to meet Emma and got some food – Boojum – the Irish version of Chipotle that locals are obsessed over. We had some drinks and got ready to go out and about. We met up with Karen’s friend Marie for one in her neighbourhood before heading to the city centre to meet up with Carol. We went to this lovely bar called the Harp, it was huge, and beautifully decorated, and with live music! The musicians just happened to be a pair of sisters that Karen was friends with and had even showed me a video of while we were in Korea! They played so many great covers and it was really great to watch them! After awhile, we went across the way to the Duke of York bar. It was lovely and I had a really good Chieftan IPA and we poured our drinks into plastic and went outside to chat with some old friends of theirs. We headed home to order pizza, after having a conversation with our uber driver about how much he dislikes driving for uber, but he warmed up to us.
Saturday we went to St. George’s Market, a great indoor open market with foods and crafts and live music of course. Karen’s sister came with and Carol met up with us. It was good fun to wander and sample and check out the goods. We went to the coast after that, to Ireland’s Newcastle, and had a good stroll and a drink. It was a lovely beach front, mountainside little town, and it was actually sunny despite a few clouds that were teasing us. Also, the bartender was excited I was from Chicago because he liked basketball and the Bulls! Also, they had a big ball along the shore that was similar to the Chicago bean. Random.
We went back to Belfast and went out to a nice local dinner with Jonathon and had some excellent food and drink. Afterwards, we went to a craft beer bar, Woodworkers, (delicious!) that was also connected to this other bar and club, Lavery’s, that had multiple levels and terraces. It was the biggest variety of bar atmosphere that I’ve seen in one connected location. We wandered up to the top floor club and out to the terrace and back down through the middle floor rock pop fog machine scene and back down to the lower level terrace, spending a bit of time at each. We met some boys, very nice, one of which looked like a dark haired Heath Ledger but was really pretty awkward, and Karen explained how the Irish country boys are pretty backwards and want the girls to do most of the work in the conversation and won’t be very direct, (a bit like a passive aggressive midwest boy… not completely unfamiliar with those types). His friend Conner was really fun though and we had a good time just dancing around with them. It was fun just to meet some friendly guys who could then keep the others and slightly more creepy ones at bay. I think the Irish are typically pretty gentlemanly. We went home to ramen and sweets and Karen and I tried to stay up for the fight that was happening in Vegas with a Dublin boy – McGregor, we couldn’t, but he won! So that’s exciting for Ireland.
In the morning, Emma had to catch a flight back to her Newcastle in England so after some croissants and coffee we took her to the bus station. Jonathon drove us around Belfast a bit, showing me a bit of their industrial shipping containers, the building where the Titanic was built, and the warehouse where they do a lot of filming for Games of Thrones. Karen and I got brunch at Maggie Mae’s and I had a traditional fry, it was so good. Soda bread is yum. We had a nice stroll through the botanical gardens, too. It was a really nice weekend and a great introduction to Belfast!