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  • From Our Perspective

Ireland - Get Your Raincoats

You will not need them for the rain.....


 

This trip may be victim of the peek/end rule but what was sold as a lush green, semi-peaceful, oppressively religious, beer and whiskey guzzling, sing-songy, hearty food loving, winter hellscape….you know what that’s exactly what we had. I am struggling to find the right tone and angle to recap this trip, on one hand it was lovely and worth the experience. On the other it wasn’t great.


Let’s get into it.


The Good -


We might have found a good travel timeframe for the future when trying to plan where to go. When we left Virginia, it was still quite warm here. It was high 80s and high humidity. We also tend to travel in September because the kids go back to school so foot traffic is down in most places .Plus, the weather is starting to break in a lot of places. We had been watching the weather in Dublin as we knew that the weather over there was known to be not particularly wonderful. I am a cold weather baby and absolutely love the Fall and Winter. Spring is fine because it comes right when I am over winter; and truthfully, I would abolish Summer given the power to do so. Now that we were several weeks into an abysmal mosquito and humidity filled summer I was well looking forward to some cooler temps and Ireland was giving me what I needed.50-60s degrees daily temps, clearly the weather there had turned towards the luxurious fall nectar that I was craving. The unfortunate thing about Ireland is that well known and discussed lush green color comes from rain. They tend to get a lot of it.


Turns out, the weather was ABSOLUTELY FUCKING BEAUTIFUL the entire time. Even the one day we had some light drizzly weather it was still nice out. It was not too cold towards the end of the day the sun had come back out and was brilliant. This might be the best, part for me anyway, of the whole trip. It was just spectacular weather the entire time. In California the only thing everyone agrees is “great” (In SoCal anyway) is the weather. You hear so often “Yea, but you can’t beat the weather”. I contest this is not necessarily true, 345 days a year of sunshine is depressing. A good rainstorm is cleansing. But I am getting off topic. What I realized on this trip is what the spirit and emotion these people are trying to convey is their passion and feeling towards the weather of California that I had in Ireland. I am sure Elizabeth was tired of hearing me say over and over again how great the weather was. Now I realize she probably found it fine at best, but it was absolutely wonderful to me. If we asked Elizabeth what her favorite part of the trip was, it would probably be the great coffee. Every time we have been outside the states, she has had some very good coffee. This trip would be no exemption; it was chilly to her and the coffee shops are everywhere and serve good coffee for cheap and she indulged.


The food was also amazing. Believe it or not we only had one lunch stop that had blah food. Every other meal that we actually ate, was very good. This was somewhat surprising given their proximity, history, shared genealogy to their UK neighbors. Let’s be honest, the Brits are not known to have the best palates. The Scots just deep-fry everything. I know this is improving, so please excuse the derogatory remarks to the lovely UK folks. We had Irish stew, fish and chips, great breakfast foods, pizzas, donuts, tea and cakes, Guinness in a couple of pubs, more donuts, avocado toast with perfectly cooked poached eggs and so much more. All of the food was lovely. The only one that was just ok was our stop at a Mediterranean shop that served a mediocre falafel wrap and cheap frozen chips from a shop in Galway.


One evening Elizabeth wanted to get fish and chips from a chipper and since that basically all they sell I had planned on getting a takeaway pizza along the route, getting her fish and chips, walk up to the park and eat our takeaway in the park. That did not go quite as planned but that was on us, not the food. After we got our food that is meant to eat straight away, we walked to two different parks that were gated and closed for the evening. We then had to walk back to the temple bar area looking for a nonexistent bench or place to sit. We eventually just sat on some dirty steps and tried eating our rapidly cooling dinner.


Our Hotel in both Belfast and Dublin could not have been more perfectly located. In Dublin there is the temple bar area where all the tourists go to hear Irish music in the pubs and drink a pint or two. This area is home to a lot of restaurants as well. Our hotel was like two blocks away from this area but across the river Liffey which was perfect because it was still quiet and nice but very close to the goings on. It was right near the Ha’Penny bridge (named for the price to pay to cross it back in the day was a half penny) The accommodations were very nice, we slept with windows open and the weather was great. Our room overlooked the courtyard and it was so quiet. There are a few strange we noticed about the room though.


One, they put us in a handi-capable room the first night, maybe they knew these old 40-year-old bones could use those handy bars to extricate myself off the toilet or out of the shower? But there was also a slip and fall alarm on the ceiling with a red pull string. I assume if you fall, you drag your naked ass over to this string dangling from the ceiling and yank on it and they come running? They also have 230V circuits near water sources. 120v is enough to kill you, they thought “Nah we like challenging death daily around here” and put the high voltage at the sink.


The lifts (Elevators) have their lobby’s as 0 on the buttons. Having experienced it now, I guess that it makes sense but I could also argue that this could have been the garage or something else, if you didn’t know. I found that a bit odd especially considering they also had an “M” and a “-1” level, so exhausted from a red eye and trying to work this equation out on 30 sleepless hours was a real mind bender.

 

Since our room was not ready yet, we checked our bags and went to find a breakfast/coffee and a place to hang out while we waited. We usually do some research on places to eat and try while on location. Just before we left home, I found a donut shop that looked great and it was only a few blocks down the street. We set off and the trip was underway. We shortly found “The Rolling Donut” which specializes in large sugary topped fried dough balls of goodness. We picked up a 3 pack to split and a coffee that Elizabeth would exclaim to be the best one she had on the trip. We kept walking down the street and boom… a Starbucks. This is great news for me as I do not drink coffee, I would be able to get a tea that is on par with what I get back home. Well or so I thought. It was not quite the same, you see they are really sugar focused there. They do NOT sell the same products or sizes available in the states. At home I will get a 90oz triple syrupy ladened lemonade filled fruity juicy drink and NO ONE bats an eye. My usual drink now-a-days is a Trenta half/half Strawberry Acai/Pineapple Refresher. Which is a 32oz split of two fruit juice which I am sure is full of added sugars. But They only had “Venti” here which I swear was only a 12oz and there was only option for the juice called a “Strawberry Refresha”. Not the same, but it worked. We quickly set off to find a green space to indulge. But after a good walk we only found another Starbucks to sit at and eat our food. The donuts were delish. We also purchased sim cards from Tesco to use while we were there. (Amateur Tip - When traveling abroad, purchasing a SIM card for data is a very simple and inexpensive way to use your phone to look things up and not having to rely on shady or poor-quality Wi-Fi connections. For $10-30ish you can get a data only sim card and use your phone as much as the plan allows. Couldn’t be easier)


We wandered about for a bit before we got back to the hotel just in time for our fully “accessorized” room to be ready. We checked-in dropped our bags, pulled the shades and took a nap. (Tip 2, do your best to keep a normal routine when traveling several time zones this will help limit the jet lag. Stay awake/sleep when you normally would even if you are exhausted) We only took a small nap even though we just wanted to sleep; that way we could go to bed at a normal time to keep our bodies somewhat in that routine. It is not going to eliminate the jetlag but will help keep your times somewhat on schedule. Red eyes are the hardest for us because it such a disruption, unless you can sleep 6-8 hours on the plane. I cannot, and neither can Elizabeth. That upright seat is killer to getting good Zzzzs.


We took two walking tours on the trip. The first was a high-level history lesson about Dublin from a local guide but he was also a comedian who was also part of a nightly drag show. Vis-à-vis he was pretty funny. He told us about the sights, the potato famine, the wars, the troubles, and more. We like doing these because you learn about those things but you also get an idea of what else there is to do, where else you might want to see or not see and you get a good compass reading on where you are located. You get a chance to ask a local for their opinion on things locally or nationally etc. (Amateur Tip – If available take the “free” tours, these are setup so you don’t have to pay for them to go. Instead, you tip your guide. This means you get someone who wants to put on a good tour so you tip better. They are more likely to give you good information. i.e., What you should be paying for a pint of Guinness, or where to get good food, or what pub to stay away from {Temple Bar})


The second walking tour was a three-hour walking tour in Belfast. This was an informative tour telling all about the history of “The Troubles” told by an Ex-IRA combatant, and an Ex-Loyalist Combatant. The first part you walk the West side of Belfast and through the sites and historical areas where events took place during the conflict. You hear the thoughts and opinions from his perspective, and his experiences during that time. Midway through you walk through a peace wall that separates East and West Belfast that they still open and close at 7pm and 6am daily. This is where we exchanged our guides and then heard the stories again from the opposite perspective. We saw the bombing sites, and images of the war on their side of the conflict. We stopped several times to discuss the progress or lack thereof, and where things stand. Seems like things could pop off again at any moment. Brexit did them no favors in terms of settling old issues. Seems like there are a lot of old wounds that will need a lot of time and therapy to help heal.



 

Our younger selves used to put together full itineraries trying to ensure we did not miss anything. In our rapidly decaying meat sacks, we have found its much more enjoyable to have an idea of what there is to do, and just go with it. This has severely cut down on the stress, expense and tension on what is supposed to be time away and decompress. Jamming your schedule full may sound good because you “want” to see and do all of those things. But you just end up chasing start and stop times, you get a few pictures of the thing you are doing before rushing off to the next thing. The last full day in Dublin prior to our train trip up to Belfast we booked a 12 and Half hour coach tour out to the “Cliffs of Mohar”. Yea you read that right, 12.5 hours on a bus to go see some rocks. Buckle up folks, get your coveralls on, roll the sleeves down this one is going to get messy.




While not having a rock-solid itinerary works for us (if you have ever gotten a last-minute text or call asking to do something in 20 min this goes to show you how we roll) it is not for those who cannot handle this type of commitment level. The evening before while back at the hotel Elizabeth was looking at ways to get us out of the city because while we were enjoying ourselves, Ireland was supposed to be green and beautiful. This was not the experience as of yet. We tossed around the idea of renting a car, this immediately brought back anxiety of Scotland, but worse because its left side drive, and Manual cars are like $4 for the week, and Automatics were $7,865.23 a day. I can drive manual, but crazy twisty roads, wrong side of the car, wrong side of the road, gear shift on wrong hand. Was not really something I was looking to getting caught up in. I emailed a private tour guide to take us out and about but it was 9pm at this point for the next day was going to take a miracle and be very expensive more than likely.


On one of the walking tours, we were told that the Cliff of Mohar are a crap shoot because the weather on the West side of the island is prone to severe rapid weather changes. They say you have a 50/50 chance of seeing the cliffs if you drive out there which if you drive out on your own its about 2.5 hours each way. That is quite the risk to spend all the time, money, fines, car crashes, increased insurance premiums to not even see the cliffs. Elizabeth found the coach tour, and they have several tours on offer but the only issue was at 1130pm for a 645am departure the only tour left was the 12+ hour excursion. Off we go. We also try to repeat to each other and ourselves, “It is all part of it”. This helps recognize any situation and be present for it. This really helps acknowledge a shitty situation and you can start working towards moving past it. E.g. You miss your connecting flight and now have to stay in Miami? “This is all part of it!” It also helps appreciate the journey for the journey’s sake.


The morning came quickly and the departure point was not close to the hotel which meant an even earlier rise to walk the mile walk to get to the bus on time. We walked swiftly towards the meeting spot passing nary a soul along the route. Given the typical nightlife activities of the locals not unexpected that there were not many people on the street at 620am. We managed to find a 7-11 style store along the route that had a shit cup of joe for Elizabeth to get the blood moving. Few more blocks down, and a check of the tickets later we were positioned fortuitously near the unoccupied section to our right with the open windows for a grand view. Or so we thought. The open seats to our right were the stairway down to the side exit of the soon to be bus from hell. This upon further examination was also the area of the shitter. Quick introductions were had, a brief overview of the itinerary, a forced joke or two about the driver which I am sure is said on every tour and off we went. Shortly into the trek the guide along our tour mentioned the lavatory and mentioned for everyone’s sake, the bathroom was great for #1 was not really the most ideal place for #2’s. A bit of foreshadowing maybe?


Off we sped into the countryside on silly roads like M3’s and A1’s, bebopping along on the wrong side of the road. I cannot stress how weird this is when you have been on the other side your entire life. Along the route while passing farmland and old ruins, our Dublin walking tour guide had said, when asked about visiting castles; he could not think of a place because 99% of them have been destroyed due to the 100s of years of wars and occupations basically sacked most of them. Along the route there were almost all in ruin. We did see one or two that were standing but mostly were just rubble or only walls and pieces left over. The greenery was very pretty in some places, and the tour was going well for the first two hours. This was the point in which the coach turns off the main motorways and onto the curvy bits. It was this exact point the guide made a grave error.


The morning came quickly and the departure point was not close to the hotel which meant an even earlier rise to walk the mile walk to get to the bus on time. We walked swiftly towards the meeting spot passing nary a soul along the route. Given the typical nightlife activities of the locals not unexpected that there were not many people on the street at 620am. We managed to find a 7-11 style store along the route that had a shit cup of joe for Elizabeth to get the blood moving. Few more blocks down, and a check of the tickets later we were positioned fortuitously near the unoccupied section to our right with the open windows for a grand view. Or so we thought. The open seats to our right were the stairway down to the side exit of the soon to be bus from hell. This upon further examination was also the area of the shitter. Quick introductions were had, a brief overview of the itinerary, a forced joke or two about the driver which I am sure is said on every tour and off we went. Shortly into the trek the guide along our tour mentioned the lavatory and mentioned for everyone’s sake, the bathroom was great for #1 was not really the most ideal place for #2’s. A bit of foreshadowing maybe?


Off we sped into the countryside on silly roads like M3’s and A1’s, bebopping along on the wrong side of the road. I cannot stress how weird this is when you have been on the other side your entire life. Along the route while passing farmland and old ruins, our Dublin walking tour guide had said, when asked about visiting castles; he could not think of a place because 99% of them have been destroyed due to the 100s of years of wars and occupations basically sacked most of them. Along the route there were almost all in ruin. We did see one or two that were standing but mostly were just rubble or only walls and pieces left over. The greenery was very pretty in some places, and the tour was going well for the first two hours. This was the point in which the coach turns off the main motorways and onto the curvy bits. It was this exact point the guide made a grave error.


Elizabeth and I have a system in which if you notice something that will inevitably cause annoyance or harm to the other, we do not mention it. No need to call attention to it if you do not have to. This is where the guide mentioned that the bus was about to go down the curvy bit for the greater part of the rest of the day, and that if you get motion sick just try and hang in there. If it gets bad to go and see him, and he will try and help. Big mistake.

(*Quick sidebar, in our house shortly after moving in I was going mad for about 6 months. I was not telling Elizabeth how fucking impossible it was sitting in our living room because there was this intermittent hum. One day she said she heard a hum and I was like THANK FUCKING GOD! Now I can mention it and we can try and fix it maybe. But the risk of saying something before is maybe she didn’t hear it, now she can’t unhear it, and it drives us both crazy like Poe’s -“The Raven”. She had already heard the hum I was hearing it’s the refrigerator when its cooling, the one she was now hearing was something new. LUL)


Up and down. Left and Right. Stop and Go. We trucked on and on and on. Suddenly about 20 min out from our stop at the cliffs, I get an elbow jab to the ribs. I look over and Elizabeth gives me the wrinkled nose face. I could not smell anything at this point in time. But suddenly the thinly framed man from the rear hastily made his way to the front of the bus. Things were whispered before frantic gatherings of bags and wipes and cleaning supplies were collected. Then the sharp smell of stomach bile enriched the recycled air in the AC ducts that were opened and blowing directly on all of us. We tried our best to ignore the situation as acknowledging it could introduce the need for additional cleaning supplies.


The cliffs were magnificent. Again, the weather was SPECTACULAR. We walked out along the rim where a misstep could send you plummeting 200 or more feet to your most likely demise. We walked up and down and found them awe inspiring. We walked the path trying to find some good shots to bring home or frame above the toilet. There was a point in the cliffs where the take a sudden left-hand turn, and this I thought would make a great panoramic shot as you would see the entire left to right cliffs from this spot. Unfortunately, there was a person in this spot taking pictures. He also seemed to have the same idea I did, so I casually mentioned it’s a good spot for panoramic shots. To which he responded in a bewildered “What?” Lengthy explanation later about my misinterpretation of his actions, he agrees that that would make for a good panoramic photo and now wanted to take one for his wife back home.


After the photo he asked where we were from and we had one of those pleasant stranger conversations you do when meeting someone. The ones that go, where you from, oh I have a 2nd cousin Marleen who lived there in the 90s blah blah blah. We returned the inquiry as required in such situations. Where are you from? Montreal the man replied. We mentioned how we have been and it was lovely there. Then things got weird really quick. He swiftly and without provocation mentions how the city just isn’t the same. “It’s like America now with all the gangs and shootings everyday” He continued on with explicit racist language and it was now time to go. Before I could even give Elizabeth and exasperated glance of “WTF is going on?” She was off and away from this loser. I sarcastically told him to watch his step near the cliff edge and carried on about our business in utter disbelief at how completely bonkers that just was. Just a quick reminder, we told him before all of this, where we were from yet he felt completely comfortable just talking some shit out of the blue.


Moving along we were trying to find the balance of time left on the cliffs and the lengthy walk back to the bus for the time allowed. Me managed to make our way around a few more bends before we had to make our way back. We were stunned by the beauty and weather especially given the likelihood of this happening. The front-end manager from the restaurant the night before was talking to the lady at the bar next to us. She mentioned going to the cliffs, and he said that he had been out there 3 times in his life and all 3x he wasn’t able to see them because of the weather. I would be open to the suggestion of having a horseshoe up my ass for the luck we have been having with the weather but the back half of the trip would say otherwise. We loaded up on the coach and headed up the coast. More bendy roads and twists and turns. We stopped at a photogenic location or two for a quick stop where we saw glacier flows, and old churches. Before we stopped at a town called Galway. This was our last long stop before the 2-4 hour trip back across the island to Dublin.


Homeward bound we go. Where the events that are set to unfold in just a bit were set into motion. As immediately as the coach driver set the bus into motion the traffic gods slammed on the breaks. Leaving Galway was a 45 min delay as the 2 lane road was closed down to a single lane for no reason at all. I don’t mean there was ultimately NO reason, I am sure there was some reason for the lane closure, yet on this day there was no cause for the reduction. We and thousands of others were destined to burn fossil fuels while jockeying for position whilst slowly making our way to the choke point. All because profits dictate that it would be more expensive to pick up and replace those cones from a month ago, so instead we have to increase carbon emissions and global warming because profits before everything. This delay would be an correlative cause of my loss of dignity.


On the road home, about 2 hours out, I get that first initial pain in the tum-tum. You know the one where you go…oh fuck. I have about an hour. Then I look at the clock above the driver. I am immediately concerned. Maybe this will be ok. Where I errored, was we brought upset stomach pills just in case this happened along the way. I should have taken one right now. I missed the window. As we scooted down the highway at an unbelievably slow 60 MPH, I was doing the math. It was not going to go well; I just knew it. Then another 45 min or so later I was DYING! Time was standing still I was checking our route and ETA every 15 seconds as if magically the time had fast forwarded and I was reading it wrong. Now on the way out I think a single person had used the bathroom, I knew I was going to have to breach the trust and agreement set forth at the beginning of the journey. While we were warned the strength of the restroom was not in the more solid deposits I not unlike Newtonian theories, I was going to have to challenge the world around me. Another few minutes goes by and well folks, there was no more time.


If you have ever been in an airplane bathroom imagine that, except it was as clean as a McDonalds bathroom on the New Jersey Turnpike. There was somehow during the lack of use there was water everywhere. It smelled so bad, again surprisingly as it had not been used much. There were those dirty shoe prints on the floor from a mix of I assume piss, and shoe dirt permanently stained in the flooring. Additionally, there was a hole in the floor where you could see roadway zipping beneath you, just as fast as your dignity leaving your soul.

As fast as humanly possible I was out of that death trap. Hoping to have spent enough dignity and humiliation points to buy time to get back to the hotel I sat back in the seat directly across from this disaster. Unfortunately, I think I started a trend because as soon as I sat back down, a steady stream of other passengers began their shameful trek to the same shitshow that I just had to use. This was now hour 4 of the ride back to the drop off point, which for us was another nearly mile walk back to the hotel. Guest number 7 or 8 shuffled up to the Host and advised that there was no more tissue in the bathroom. To which he made his way back to the toilet with a small pack of travel tissues. AS IF THIS WAS A SOLUTION to anyone’s future needs. I mentioned there were several women probably in need of a bathroom break, and that since the 2.5-hour drive back was now pushing 4 hours in we might do well to stop at a rest stop and allow (Me) others a chance for a break. You know since there is no paper to use and we still had an hour into the drive back. He thought about this for a minute and said “We have never done that, not sure how we would do that”. WHAT THE FUCK do you mean? You drive this thing we are in, into a rest stop. Like we had done earlier in the trip!


Well, I don’t think I have to tell you why my thinly vailed attempt to get the bus to stop was so pressing. Yea I was fucking struggling again and I knew I was going to have to go back in that tiny ass shit box, now after 6-8 other folks have also used it. That is exactly what ended up happening. This time now with heavier use the smell had increased, the water had somehow gotten wetter. The cabinetry was now banging around and exposing the underbelly of the plumbing system. The singular paper roll was nearly soaked through making dispersing the needed materials about as easy as wrangling feral cats. Disaster.


What seemed like forever later we pulled up to the drop off spot and Elizabeth and I ran back to the hotel. She, having to pee since we left Galway and refusing to use that disaster. Me needing a shower to feel human again we needed to be as far away from that bus as possible we nearly ran back to the hotel. 12.5 hours is too long. We knew it, you knew it, but “It’s all part of it”. Take a minute and go wash your hands.


 

Modern train travel is a pretty neat way to get around. This is how we would shift to our second half of the trip in Belfast. This was my first real train ride I do believe. I mean of course we have taken Metros here in DC and Paris, T’s in Boston, Subways in NYC, Trolley cars in New Zealand. But I don’t think I have ever been on a legit train ride. Today that would change. It was smooth, efficient and cheap. It also was supremely conveniently located at the door of the hotel in Belfast. We legit walked out of the station around one corner and into the hotel. That was perfect. Arriving into Belfast there was an Immediate difference from where we had just come. There was a distinct dialect change and a mid-shift towards a British accent. It was still very much Irish but tones of the Brits in there for sure. Later I would ask someone if it was just my ear or they did in-fact have a touch of a British accent, and he said laughingly “Yea of course, they’re fucking British up there” (They are not, they are Irish, with loyalty to the UK) Other immediate differences were noticed. The city was cleaner, and felt more British. There were a lot more trash cans, and benches.


Belfast is an interesting place it is in Ireland, but is in Northern Ireland which is part of the UK. But on the island of Ireland. This goes back to the religious make-up of the two separate sections of the country. VERY Simply, without getting caught up in worldwide diplomacy and international intrigue like Billy Mumphrey. The North is/was Protestant and the Republic of Ireland is/was Catholic and the two didn’t get along and this led to a lot of conflicts and wars you know like Jesus would want. There was an agreement in 1920s to subdivide Northern Ireland as part of the UK and the South as Republic of Ireland. This was further Broken down during the Troubles where a localized civil war raged between The IRA/Republicans and The Loyalist for 30 years resulting in a lot of bad stuff that was finally stopped fighting as recently as 1998. When we were Sophomores in High School. Meaning a lot of the people around here are still very familiar with the events of the time and it is apparent.


We walked around city centre here and had more good food. We had good Mexican food there. A decent burger joint was also imbibed. We found a pub or two to listen to some traditional Irish music, enjoy some drinks and the atmosphere. We did see one guy standing at the bar in what looked like his work clothes, cozy up to the bar and put away 4 large tall boy glasses of Coors like it was nothing. This portion of the trip was the shorter end of the trip, and we only had one full day there. We spent it on a 4 hour walking tour learning all about “The Troubles” Which is a good point to lead into the bad parts of this trip. We enjoyed Belfast and after walking a lot on the tour day we headed in early and rested up before our train trip back to Dublin the next day.



 

The bad-


Let’s talk more about another mechanism that is at play when traveling. We have a biochemical response to positives and negatives. We are 10x more likely to remember a bad situation more than a good situation. I bring that up because again, if you are aware of this you can work towards letting it go, or focusing more on the good things. With that being said, this trip was not all peaches and cream. Truthfully this was probably not a top destination for us.


Dublin was a grimy city, I guess not surprisingly so given the preferred activity here is drinking. The biggest downside was the amount of piss and human shit we encountered.

During the Dublin walking tour our guide stood at the steps of some important piece of history whilst standing in a large puddle of piss. How do I know it was piss? The undeniable aroma that was wafting up and a vaguely familiar amber color. Hard to focus on the cool or funny information when someone else’s piss is surrounding you. Another evening while out and about exploring we turned down a corner to find a man just pissing on the side of a building. I am not talking about down some alley way, by a homeless man. No, a grown adult, in broad moonlight, in the wide-open street. He did apologize to us after he gave Mr Winky a shake and zipped up.


There was SOOOO much human shit on our walking tour in Belfast the tour guide was warning us to “Watch the pile of shit there”. We had to walk to the tour and passed a homeless facility in which they provide assistance to homeless people. This we applaud as they are humans and need help too. BUUUUT We walked by no exaggeration 10 piles of poop. This was before the tour in which a participant stepped full footed into a large pile while wearing these knobby shoes we all are forced to wear because fashion or some shit. You know he had poop stuck all in those cracks and creases.DO NOT feel bad for that ass hat, as he had just lit a cig and smoked it in all of our faced while the guide was telling us about the death of school kids. Just then Smokey the bandit, turned and stepped right in it. Karma.


That leads me to our next gripe, SMOKING. I know Europe on whole, is way far behind on the ill effects of smoking. But it was almost like the Irish are challenging cancer to a bare-knuckle fight. The cigarette smoke was rampant, pervasive, and maddening. There were so many people smoking right outside the entrance door to all kinds of places. Three and four people deep hot boxing the entrance to the restaurant, hotel, train station, Starbucks, and even the NICU. It was obnoxious. The kids were also already on the path to unnecessary disease and health effect, as we sat next to a table of uniformed middle school or early High school kids all vaping.


Lastly. There was very little green space. Even fewer places to sit and enjoy the city that was not inside a café or pub. Generally speaking, this is ok I guess but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy the time not inside, or taking up a table for someone working and possibly working for tips. There was just nowhere to enjoy the city not in some place that required money to rest. The lack of trash cans and benches was more of a problem in Dublin than Belfast but both kind of lacked in this area.



 

The Ugly -


Upon landing Back in the states, I had started to develop cold like symptoms. When I got home, I tested positive for COVID. While we were there, I had read about COVID cases and hospitalizations were currently higher than they were in 2020. Also conveniently left off the brochure. Thankfully the course of the sickness has been mild, and Elizabeth had managed to stay negative for a few more days until…. She didn’t. She also having an ok time with it, mild symptoms similar to a head/chest cold.


Looking back this one is probably suffering from Peak/End Rule but a good trip. Just not a stellar one, glad we went, we enjoyed ourselves, and appreciated the time away and explore. Time to plan the next one. Panama....No we probably wont be going to the grease trap of a canal.


Cheers,

D&E




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