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Leg 6.1 – SPRING BREAK – We Begin in Belfast 04/24/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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Hello!

Between the end of the semester and its impending due assignments and the fact that I have managed to contract ANOTHER unneeded cold/flu/pain in the neck this semester, I have been slow in many things blog related. Particularly because the next posts will surely have to be for the EPICNESS that was SPRING BREAK!

So I first had to motivate myself to get all of my photos off the memory card and onto the computer. No easy feat, as I took truck loads of them! And then I had to upload them onto Photobucket, which I like even less than putting them onto my computer. Photobucket: if it weren’t so gosh-darn useful, I’d have metaphorically punted it out the metaphorical window by now. But it keeps my pictures linkable, so I put up with it.

And THEN, of all things, I had to actually START WRITING about break itself! Oh horror of horrors! It felt like sitting down to write the condensed War and Peace*: it was just such a daunting task in my head, I often said to myself, “SELF! Do it later! You have homework now!”

*Warning! To assume that my blog is on par with any piece of classical literature is a dangerous assumption! You want classics…well…I suppose you could read War and Peace. :P

Anywho, for the safety of you the reader and the sanity of me, I’ve decided to carve this trip down into more easily managed parts. Today, we start with…the start! In Belfast! Yay!

Because I am a huge ninny and booked my flight to Cardiff at around 10:00am on Sunday, I realized almost too late that I would almost inevitably have to go into Belfast the day before and stay overnight so I could wake up and make the flight on time. Meh. So I booked a hostel and, since my friend Declan was heading to Newry that same day (a trip that involved him practically taking the train to Belfast anyway), I decided to tag along with him and take the train to Belfast at around noon.

Easier said than done, unfortunately. I forgot just how horrid I am at packing and ran around like a certain farm-yard bird who has misplaced its cranium trying to get everything ready. Things I didn’t think about suddenly loomed enormous: that curry chicken I had in the fridge would most DEFINITELY be rotten after two weeks! So after clearing the fridge, turning off all of my electrical sockets, and marveling at just how FULL my suitcase was (I thought I had packed light–apparently NOT), I ran madly down the stairs and to the bus stop.

And waited. And waited. Until, glancing at my clock, it seemed more likely that I had missed the bus. Oh. Em. Gee.

So I had to call a taxi. Like you do. And that taxi had to take me school first to print some important travel documents. And because it was close to 12:00 now and time was running short, I had to take ANOTHER taxi to the station. Ugh, big sigh, money go bye bye. But I MADE IT and caught the train to Belfast without further incident.

Except for…perhaps…OCTOPUS ATTACKS!

OMGOCTOPUS!

OMGOCTOPUSATTACK!!!!

Declan and Otto.

Heh, well maybe not an attack so much as a...face cuddle? Sure, why not. Here's my friend Declan with Otto on the train to Belfast.

So, anyway, Declan got off at the stop before me to switch to the Newry train, and I rode on to Victoria St. Station to figure out the location of my hostel, thus starting what would become a trend for the rest of the trip: after studying the map thoroughly, I exited the station…and went the EXACT opposite direction up the road. Yeah. I didn’t stop until I got to a hotel which, according to my mini map, was the EXACT opposite direction from the location of my hostel. Awesome.

So I turned my giant suitcase back around and dragged it back to Victoria St. Station and then continued to drag it back the other way to my hostel, which I checked into without further incident. It wasn’t a bad hostel, either, especially for £12.00 a night! So after securing my luggage, I decided to go explore.

Here's a picture of a pub from out the window of my hostel!

Here's a picture of a pub called The Royal from out of the window of my hostel!

Well…kind of. See, I don’t know that much about Belfast, and like a fool, I left all of my “Belfast brochures” that I’d grabbed the last time I was at the airport at home in my haste to leave the house. So…I mostly wandered. After studying the map, I decided it might be nice to go over to Victoria Square, a huge shopping center with a glass dome roof, and look around.

So I started walking…and realized I was STARVING. Lucky me, though, the route I took appeared to go through China Town, and I quickly found a delicious looking Chinese restaurant called The Water Margin.

Otto and a RAINBOW!

Though, on my way to the restaurant, I encountered my VERY FIRST IRISH RAINBOW. Can you see it over Otto's head?

The inside of The Water Margin had almost definitely been a church, at some point. Now, however, it had been made up like a very nice restaurant: there was even a koi pond at the front! So I sat down at a table, a solo diner in a COMPLETELY DESERTED restaurant, and waited patiently for my food to come.

Otto with the chicken sticks I ate.

Otto can be seen here with the chicken satay skewers that I ate. Yum!

In the meantime, I was texting some of my friends in Belfast. I didn’t know what I wanted to do that evening, and the more I looked at my mini map, the further away Victoria Square looked, so I decided to call around and see if anyone wanted to do anything that evening. The idea of a movie came up; Kick-Ass had just come out, and we, of course, HAD to go see that one. So after I finished my meal, I headed back over to the movie theater…sorry, the CINEMA to grab tickets for Kick-Ass.

Otto with a mural.

And on my way back to the movie theater, I snapped a photo of Otto with this mural here. This is a mural for the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Unionist organization that is fiercely loyal to the Crown. South Belfast is an interesting place, lol.

Unfortunately, one of my friends was unable to attend, and the other simply never texted back. Oh well. More movie for me!

But to kill time before the movie started, I wandered around a bit more in what turned out to be the city center. Awesome!

Otto at City Hall.

Here's Otto at Belfast City Hall. See the ferris wheel?

I went back and saw the movie and it was EXCELLENT! REALLY quite good! Violent as all get-out, and very funny! It was a fun movie to watch! ^_^!

And then I left the cinema…and I looked around. And…there was not much around to do. Mostly everything had closed by then except for the pubs, and I didn’t feel like drinking with strangers that evening, as there would be enough of that in the two weeks to come, surely. So I did what any other nerdly character would do: I went back to the cinema.

And I saw I Love You, Philip Morris, which was…eh, it was okay. It reminded me a lot of Catch Me if You Can, but with a love story attached. It was one of those movies which I’m sure could have been great with some minor tweaking, but it just didn’t sail off for me. Ewan McGregor, though, was great as always in it, so if you’re a Ewan McGregor fan…go. ^_^!

Weird store front.

I don't know what the heck was up with this store front, but I wanted a picture of it. ^_^!

And after that, it was just about time to go back to the hostel and sleep so I could get up early and head to the airport! Unfortunately, Daylight Savings Time made it complicated: would my phone reset automatically? When did the change happen? It made sleep very difficult that evening. But it would all work out anyway, and the next morning I DID get up in time to make it to the airport…sort of.

See, I DID get up, and I DID walk to the station with an Australian backpacker named Frank who was heading to Dublin. BUT! I had forgotten the curse of Sundays in Ireland: CRAP. SHUTS. DOWN. And that airport shuttle I had been banking on to whisk me away to Belfast City Airport every 20 minutes? Wasn’t coming again until 9:30. My flight was leaving at 10:40. It was far too close a margin!

So…I had to take another taxi. Grrrr. But at least this was an experience in and of itself! I got to take one of the famous UK black taxis to the airport!

Otto in the black cab.

Not that you can really tell from the interior, but we are INSIDE a black cab here! Neat, huh?

And thus, I made it to the airport on time, I got on the plane on time, and I arrived in Cardiff about an hour later ON TIME. YES! But Cardiff is a tale for another day, because NOW I have to go write one of several papers that are due by the end of next week! But I will try to have the Cardiff tale done as soon as possible! Thanks!

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