There was more to Belfast than the travel.
It’s a lovely city. Loads of hotels, places to eat, museums and tours. And I don’t think I’ve ever come across a nicer, more polite, generous people. Really, every single person we spoke to was surpassingly nice.
We did the open top bus tour (the open top was full, so we were downstairs). While it was interesting, it was also very warm, and the guide’s voice was monotone. I kept drifting off to sleep…
But when I was awake, I saw the many murals that cover the city. Each details some aspect of the ‘troubles’ they have there (the word everyone used was ‘troubles’ which seems quite tame when considering what’s actually happened there). I took several pictures, and put a few on FB. S nearly had a heart attack when she saw them, and I took them off right away. In my mind, I was sharing what I was seeing while traveling. But she reminded me we have many Irish friends who might be extremely offended by those murals. If you are one of those Irish friends, and I insulted you, I’m really sorry. I find it fascinating as an outsider, but realize now that you may have utterly different feelings on the matter…
We took an all day bus tour as well. I’ve wanted to see the Giant’s Causeway pretty much all my life, and it’s a definite bucket list thing. That was the last stop on a great day of castles, ocean scenery, the Bushmill’s Whisky factory and the amazing rope bridge at Carrick-A-Rede. I wasn’t sure if S would make it across, as she gets vertigo, but she grabbed hold of the ropes and set off, on a mission. If any old ladies or children had been in her way, she probably would have just gone right over them.
When my turn came I have to admit I got a bit waffly in my tummy. There’s a hundred foot drop below you, and the thing bounces like crazy. But it was well worth it. The views from the other side were really beautiful.
The Giant’s Causeway was just as surreal and exquisite as I had hoped it would be. To think something so exact was created through the chaos of a volcanic eruption. The weather was beautiful and as crowds go, it was pretty empty. (We managed to get lots of pics with no one in the background, which is probably impossible in high season).
The conference went really well. I realized after I could probably add a bit of bookish stuff to it to make it sound a bit more academic, but there was some really good conversation after, and I met some really nice people.
S and I finished off the night at a great place called McCracken’s, which we found down a little side alley. The service was good, the music lovely, the food perfect.
So, that was the last four days. The weather was extremely cold, but blue skies stayed with us. (I had on three layers under a thick sweater covered by a ski jacket. That kind of cold).
Today, I’ve put together the PowerPoint for the conference I’m presenting at in London on Thursday. Tomorrow I’ve got a business meeting in the morning and physio in the afternoon. Tues is my business course all day and theater in the evening (Pygmalion). Weds is my PhD course, all day. Thursday is the conference in London. Friday is the conference in Cambridge.
My question for you, readers:
Have you been somewhere where you felt like a true outsider, and didn’t really understand the undercurrents native to the culture? How did you deal with it?
Song: Take it off by Kesha
Book: Writing without teachers by Peter Elbow