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    • Day 4

      Myths and Legends

      June 5, 2022 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 52 °F

      Another packed day. Sunshine has prevailed all day, so we have been taking advantage of that. A drive through the Catholic neighborhood in Belfast. Saw the Sinn Fein headquarters and a tribute to Bobbie Sands before heading out of town. The Dark Hedges were impressive beech trees with winding branches, made famous in The Game of Thrones. Next was Carrick a Rede Rope bridge. Long hike down to the bridge and long line to wait to cross but worth it - one of our bucket list items. Weather was perfect so no excuse! Rounded out the afternoon with a hike at Giant’s Causeway. Crazy crowded but our driver, Pat, got us in the parking area. Several hundred people joined us, learning the legend of Finn MacCool. Pictures can’t capture the beauty. Ended the day at our next stop in Donegal. The Mill Park Hotel after a drive around Derry and a walk across the Peace Bridge.Read more

      Traveler  Game of Thrones!!!! I’m dying right now.


      Traveler  Did you do it?? I have dreamed of it and I might make it to the edge.


      Traveler  Oh yeah. A bit of panic when a kid was shaking the bridge. But made it! Have to go back too….sometimes I had chosen to not think about


      Traveler  Tell Finn MacCool I said 👋 another dream

    • Day 23

      Belfast: Most importantly Lord Kelvin

      September 19 in Northern Ireland ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

      Last week, our group took a day trip to Belfast. This is where the Titanic was built so we went to the Titanic Museum there. It was pretty cool. Sarah, Mitchell, and I enjoyed breakfast and coffee at a cute little place. We also went by Queens University and ended up going to a cookout with some of the students. That was super fun and gave us the chance to meet some local students our age. Glad we happened upon it! Most importantly, I saw a statue of Lord Kelvin who created the absolute temperature scale (ah chemistry hehehe). I sent a picture to all my chem professors, and they loved it. I’m in London now and will update soon!!Read more

      Traveler  I missed this post earlier! So glad your chemistry heart got a little love!!

      Traveler  Yes!!

      Traveler  Food-art!

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    • Day 86


      July 8, 2022 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      Today was a travel day to Belfast as we start to wind down our European journey with eight nights to go.

      Rather than taking a direct route, we decided to check out a few of the many Game of Thrones film locations. While we enjoyed the series, I think we were equally drawn to the unusual features and beauty of the locations.

      We passed by Binevagh, a beautiful mountain on the edge of County Derry. We had been in the area the day before, and it was fun to get another look at the mountain. This site was filmed as the mountain where Daenrys is rescued by her dragon and taken to his lair. Visitors can travel to the top of the mountain although we just appreciated it from the base.

      We passed by the beautiful Downhill Strand, a beautiful beach that we first saw yesterday franed from above through the window ruins of Downhill Dumesne. Melisandre burned the old gods on Dragonstone here.

      One of the sites that we were most interested in seeing was the Dark Hedge. The Dark Hedges is an avenue of large mature beech trees, which were planted around 1775 by James Stuart to frame an avenue to his home, Gracehill House. Originally there were about one hundred and fifty trees and about ninety still stand today. The tunnel image created by the trees is quite eerie and beautiful. I would have loved to have seem then with sunlight effects and in the evening.

      In GOT, the Dark Hedges were used as the "Kingsroad", the fictional road that traverses across the land of Westeros, from Kings Landing in the south to “The Wall” in the north.

      We learned that artists had created doors from the wood of fallen trees depicting GOT scenes. The doors are distributed around different pubs and other locales. One of the doors was supposed to be at the nearby gold course, but it had instead been moved to a nearby closed hotel, and not open to the public. I hope to see one of the doors as they are quite intricate. I joked that the area industry had failed to "HODOR"; a single utterance of a GOT character who could only say that as we later learned meant "Hold the door".

      Our final GOT destination was to Cushendum Caves, where Melisandre the witch gave birth to her "shadow baby" in an area portrayed as the Stormlands. It took us a few minutes to figure out the location of the caves which were located around the corner from two closed hotels. The caves were a little tricky to get down to over an eroded path, but it was worth seeing them. Someone has created a humorous Iron Throne out of a dilapidated armchair with swords protruding from the back. It conglomerate stone and erosion of the formations of the cave were spectacular. It must have been interesting to film here.

      We made our way to Belfast, and we were greeted by Kevin who is hosting us in his apartment for the next three nights. We are located about two miles outside of the center of the city. Belfast has about 350,000 people and it serves as the capital of Northern Ireland. It's the birthplace of C S. Lewis author of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in his "Chronicles of Narnia" and its shipyards built the Titanic. It's also been the site of severe sectarian strife and violence in the early 1920's and also in during "The Troubles". In my early teens, I remember news about the viokence in Belfast, but I didn't really understand it. We are hoping to learn more about the city in our time here.

      After a nap, we made our way to C.S. Lewis Square to see a community concert. Enroute, we noticed many murals depicting fierce Protestant sentiment, not unlike the Catholic murals in Derry.

      We watched a community performance of a local fife and drum group, the Gertrude Star Flute Band; local choir and guest performers who are famous artists from the area. This performance was sponsored by an East Belfast Community organization.

      When we bought tickets for the performance, it was with little background about it. We thought that it would be interesting to see a community show, and we had listened to Spotify tracks of the featured performers, Matt McGinn and Duke Special. Matt reminded us of Pete Seeger as well of a community performance of sea shanties in coastal Maine where he joined the local community singers and dancers. Duke Special has a beautiful voice, and it was fun to hear him sing.

      The similarity of the coastal Maine performance and this one was the strong sense of community pride. But here there is also a sense of palpable anger, resentment and worry about losing a sense of identity. There was also an incongruous selection of songs: some held onto the grievances and loss of the past while others proposed peace and kindness. There were also a few that were very sentimental about returning to Belfast. And there were references to the 12th of July that we didn't understand until we looked it up.

      The 12th celebrates the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange over the Catholic King James in 1688. The day remains a holiday in Northern Ireland and is alternately known as Orangeman's Day. Over time, the day was often marked by violence, particularly during "The Troubles". In my research, it appears that there are some efforts to draw tourists with parades and family-friendly pageants.

      Our take on the evening in this one snapshot is that there is a very strongly held sectarian pride, and that battle remains to hold onto identity. Some still seem to be fighting a war of the 17th century. This is just how we're making sense of it as witnesses. And it's a point of reflection back home about our own schism and comparative narratives.
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      Traveler  Although our acquaintance has been brief, I’m really going to miss reading these updates!


      Traveler  We will just have to find other ways to stay in touch, friend. I'm glad that you are enjoying them. I've never kept a journal before.

    • Day 87

      CÚIG GHRIANGHRAF-Ireland Day 22

      July 9, 2022 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      We woke up to another overcast day, but we wanted to make time to wander around the city. We didn't have a specific destination as we've learned that our unplanned excursions have made for the best trips.

      We observed area art sculptures, including a series of colorful elephant sculptures that are designed as a fundraiser to support children's hospice.

      We were in search of lattes (yes, addicted) and we landed at a breakfast spot with sensory overload wall placards including a promotion for Maine Lobsters. While walking I approached a young man who was wearing a University of Washington sweatshirt, and I asked him if he was from Seattle. I think I startled him a bit as he was struggling with my accent, and I struggled a bit with his. He finally figured out that I was asking him about his sweatshirt, and that we had lived in Seattle. He remarked that he bought the sweatshirt for four quid and that it was easily worth 20£ now as a collector's item. He recommended that I try selling them here if I had any to spare. I guess I should think about retirement supplemental income schemes.

      As we continued our walk in the city, we briefly wandered through St. George's Market, the last covered Victorian Market in Belfast. It reminded us of a hybrid of Maine's Craft fairs and Seattle's Pike Place Market sans enthusiasm.

      In our continued walk in the city, we found City Hall, a grandiose structure with a statue of a dour Queen Victoria statue to greet us. We learned that City Hall was open and free to the public and we only had to provide surnames. The receptionist did not ask for mine, apparently Carroll was sufficient for double admission. He is from nobility after all.

      We first noticed several beautiful stained glass windows with accompanying descriptions. One panel that through me a bit was a memorial to families whose deceased loved ones' organs were stolen without their knowledge. I'm relieved to say that there were nothing in that specific window portraying livers, brains or Frankenstein.

      After we passed the windows, we moved through a series of sixteen exhibition rooms that portrayed various aspects of Belfast's history. The rooms varied from displaying the Belfast Charter, to Freedom of the City Awards to people ranging from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Thomas Ismay (Titantic builder) to Van Morrison. Bill Clinton and George Mitchell were recognized in their support for the Good Friday Agreements that brought an ostensible end to the lengthy civil war between the IRA and Unionists.

      There were portrayals of games children played in the mid-60's; I would have been about their age. I enjoyed panels recognizing specific idioms attributed to the people of Belfast. Some of my favorites include:

      "Would you not have a titter of wit?" (to a stupid person)

      "Who ate the sugar of your bun?" (to a grumpy person)

      "Her head's full of sweetie mice." (to an ungrounded person living in fantasy land)

      The one notable absence in the museum was the absence of reference to "The Troubles" with the exception of a brightly lit "Reflection Room with quotations of local people's experience. There was no reference or use of the phrase "The Troubles". For me, it would be like going to the Holocaust Museum with only the sanctuary and no other references to the atrocities of the time. The quotes were moving, but I did wonder if it's still too painful to talk about. Perhaps I'm over projecting, but it feels like the efforts of some politicians making the effort to block the history of white supremacy in the U.S.
      Having said that, I did appreciate the exhibits.

      We have noticed the existence of rainbow and Progress flags around the city. It was heartening to see these displays, particularly in establishments and businesses that were not GLBT owned.

      In the early afternoon we ventured to Crumlin Road Gaol, a Victorian era prison that operated for one hundred and fifty years. The prison tour reminded me a bit of touring Alcatraz, particularly with the escape stories.The displays and tour guides information were interesting. At one time the prison housed men, women and children. Our guide told us about the heightened difficulties of housing IRA and UFF prisoners at the and time that other prisoners during the period of The Troubles were described laughably as "Decent Ordinary Criminals".

      We enjoyed the tour and we caught an Uber back to our flat. We enjoyed a conversation with our host Kevin. We did enjoy a brief apoearance of the sun before it drifted back behind the clouds. Later this evening we went to get a pizza and we dropped by a small neighborhood gay bar for a drink. A curious experience the that we have had here is bartenders cut off making cocktails well before closing time. You can still order beer or wine, but no mixed drinks. It makes you wonder if Guiness corporation has lobbied for such a rule.

      We enjoyed a walk back to our flat, and we realized that tonight is our last Saturday night in Europe. As I get ready to sleep, I'm listening to very chatty seagulls. I think one is boasting about perching on a very not amused Queen Victoria's head. She did look like someone ate the sugar off her bun.
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    • Day 91

      94ème étape ~ Belfast

      November 1, 2022 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      Après avoir découvert Belfast de nuit le soir d’Halloween (nous avons même eu droit à des feux d’artifices), nous l’avons visité de jour.
      Nous avons visité le fameux musée du Titanic. Il faut savoir que le mythique bateau y a été construit. Il a été mis à l’eau le 31 mai 1911 à 12h13. C’est aussi de Belfast qu’il a entamé ce qu’on attendait comme un prodigieux voyage. Malheureusement, tout le monde sait comment ça a fini…
      Le musée se visite en 2h. Il y a beaucoup de choses à voir et à découvrir.
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      Traveler  Vous vous êtes pas maquillés🌚🦹🏼‍♂️😂😂😂


      Toietmoiegalvoyage  Nos têtes naturelles suffisent 😂


      Barbara Zanutel  🤣🤣🤣🤣

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    • Day 20


      September 19 in Northern Ireland ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

      *queue Van Morrison*

      This past Tuesday the gang drove up to Belfast! During our visit, Halle, Joel, and I were in change of giving a report on the Civil Rights Movement. This movement was led by students at Queens university in the 1960’s, and advocated for the rights of the Catholic population who were being discriminated against.

      Belfast has been the site for many historic and gruesome conflict, but much of that would not be apparent in the way the city has continued to develop and progress. When walking by the school back ti the coach, a few of us were invited by students to a church BBQ, where we got to talk to many Christian students from Queen’s about their mission to build community.

      We also visited the titanic museum, as it was built and docked in the Belfast lochs.
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      Traveler  That’s awesome!

      Traveler  Epic! 😂

    • Day 30

      Derry Drive, Belfast Boat, Go2Glasgow

      May 26 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      Pretty much just a day of transport and transiting, our goal was to get to Glasgow.

      This entailed a 1.5hr direct drive from Londonderry to Belfast, boarding our slightly delayed ferry back to Cairnryan and then making the 2 hour drive to Glasgow.
      We bid farewell to ‘the land of 40 shades of green’ under blue skies and mild temperatures without having experienced a drop of rain.
      Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite wrangle our way into first class on the very full ferry - business class was the best we could manage this time.

      Having suffered the deprivations of the business class experience onboard, the drive from Cairnryan to Glasgow was quite enjoyable along a fairly scenic coastal route for the first part.

      Some few years ago, we had employed a lovely young Scottish dental assistant by the name of Zoe who had worked for us for 2 years before returning to Scotland with her partner Sean. I had lost contact with Zoe, but with the help of Steph Leckey, we were able to make contact a few days ago and arranged to meet them at their apartment in Glasgow for dinner this evening.

      After driving directly to our rented apartment - of course located on the top floor (again) with no lift - we settled in then headed off to the Southside of Glasgow - about a 12 minute drive away.

      It was delightful to see Zoe and Sean again after not having seen them for such a long time. Sean was cooking up an amazing dinner, Zoe showed us around their apartment which they are part way through renovating (including their roof top space) and we had an excellent meal with lots of conversation stretching late into the evening. They plan to be visiting Sydney in late November for a friend’s wedding in the Blue Mountains and we have made arrangements for them to come and stay with us for a few days either side of that date.
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      Mish Gell  I'm loving following your trip!!


      Traveler  Oh glad you’re enjoying it Mish. It’s always a great adventure with Mark as the tour leader😳…. but never a minute’s rest till you climb into bed for what seems like 10 minutes and then up at the crack of dawn to do it all over again the next day 😱😆 but oh such fun. Sending love to you and Peter xx


      Traveler  Thank you Mish👍

    • Day 94

      98ème étape ~ Belfast

      November 4, 2022 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      Retour à Belfast suite à un changement de planning.
      Nous allons visiter le musée gratuit Ulster Museum.
      Ce n’était pas une visite très passionnante.
      Nous avons ensuite profité de notre dernière journée en lrlande pour boire un cidre et une guiness. 🍻Read more

      Traveler  Santé🥃


      Traveler  et voilà que vous quittez ce beau pays au climat très rude. faites bon voyage


      Toietmoiegalvoyage  Pas sûr qu’il fasse meilleur en Écosse 😂

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    • Day 10

      On to Belfast

      July 3, 2022 in Northern Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      Today was a travel day. And our most complicated travel day. The trick was trying to get to Dublin to catch the train to Belfast that would get us here early enough in the day to get to our place and go out of we wanted to. In order to do that, we started by taking a bus from Killarney at 9:30 to Cork. We had about an hour to walk from the bus station to the train station and print off our tickets. No real rush but when you are dealing with so many firsts, you don't know what to expect. But we made our train and enjoyed a nice ride across the country to Dublin. When we got there, that is when things got tricky. We arrived at the Heuston station where we had 30 minutes to catch a train that was outside the station that world take us to the Connoly station. From there we had 10 minutes to find and board our train to Belfast. We got lucky and caught an earlier train to Connolly which gave us more time to find our Belfast train. And we needed it.

      Once we managed to find our train, it turns out our seats weren't our seats. They were given to someone else. And it appears that this happened to a bunch of people. The conductor guy just said to make our way down to the dining car and when the train starts, just go find some empty seats. So on our way we were seeing enough empty seats that we figured we would be fine. And in the end it turned out fine. The kids got to sit together and we were right behind them. So... we were good. It is still weird though.

      Anyway, we arrived in Belfast around 6:30pm. By the time we walked to our place and got settled, we were tired so we ordered food again and just relaxed for the evening. Tomorrow we are doing a hop on hop off bus tour and hopefully do the titanic museum. Weather is supposed to be good so cross your fingers.

      Ok. Off to bed. Check ya later.

      p.s. For those who care I only had a measly 12,025 steps today. Feels like I was slacking off...
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      Traveler  door fail ha ha... the others were better 😊🤣


      Traveler  wow!!! that's a confusing trip.... good thing you're amazing at figuring things out! Hope tomorrow is amazing

    • Day 17

      The Merchant Hotel

      July 23 in Northern Ireland ⋅ 🌧 55 °F

      Wow! We lived like Kings and Queens here! A beautiful hotel. When we checked in, we instantly felt out of place. When we went to the bar to get a drink on our way to our rooms, and we definitely looked like poor people. Lol!
      The beds were so comfy, and the blackout blinds worked really well!
      Our room was haunted. The first night the motion light went on for no reason!
      I have ran these two ragged. We were knackered. So night one, we walked to the store, got some liquor and snacks and went back to our rooms. After jammies, we met in our room to play games, order room service and drink.
      We canceled our black cab tour for the next day because no one wanted to sit in a car for 3 hours.
      The room service was to die for! Yum! Cory even ate the truffle Mac n' cheese!
      We played dice and 31, then off to bed.
      We all slept in, which felt devine. We went to breakfast, and this was one of those places where they put your napkin in your lap for you.
      After our Titanic trip, we came back to the hotel to enjoy the roof top hot tub and sauna. Lovely! Just what we needed!
      We ordered Uber Eats for dinner and went to bed at 8! So lame! Hahaha! So we really saw nothing of Belfast.
      We slept in again, had breakfast, and Red picked us up for our last night in Ireland.
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      Traveler  Sounds divine.


      Traveler  This hotel was fancy! We came in the wrong door looking like wet dogs off the street 😄 oh well, we head straight to the bar for a drink to take up. My room was awesome. Taking it easy here was fun. We made the most of this beautiful hotel. The rooftop hot tub was just what we needed. No way could we have enjoyed a 3 hour taxi ride around the city for history. Great food, fun and company!


    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Belfast, بلفاست, Горад Белфаст, Белфаст, বেলফাস্ট, Béal Feirste, Belffast, Μπέλφαστ, Belfasto, Beul-Feirste, Beeal Feirshtey, בלפאסט, Bèlfast, Բելֆաստ, BFS, ベルファスト, ბელფასტი, ಬೆಲ್‌ಫಾಸ್ಟ್‌, 밸파스트, Belfastum, Belfastas, Belfāsta, बेलफास्ट, ဗဲလဖတ်မြို့, بیلفاسٹ, பெல்பாஸ்ட், เบลฟัสต์, Belpas, Bélfast, בעלפאסט, 貝爾法斯特

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