Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Belle of Belfast City

After I left London, I flew to Belfast to visit Alan, Laura's flatmate. The flight was pretty short and very easy, which was nice considering I had to wake up around 4 am to get to the airport on time. I also got to finish the book I was reading, Nicholas Sparks' The Last Song, and ended up just bawling my eyes out on the plane. Luckily the flight was pretty empty, so not many people got to witness the scene I made. When I got off the plane, Alan was waiting for me and, since Laura wasn't going to get there for another hour or so, we drove around and then went for a walk by the sea. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so it was great to just relax and walk by the water. After our walk, we got back in the car and went looking for somewhere to eat. Unfortunately, it was Sunday so nothing was open before noon, so we just went to Spar to grab some snacks and sat in the car eating them. When Laura called to say that she had finally landed, we went to start the car up to go pick her up, but since we'd been sitting in the car for so long, the battery had died! Thank goodness Alan's mom was in the area and came and picked us up so that we could get Laura from the airport.

After the car fiasco, we took the train into Belfast and walked around the city. We went for a ride in the Wheel of Belfast, which is a lot like the London Eye, but much smaller. We also saw the Belfast City Hall, an absolutely gorgeous building. Then we did a little shopping when we stopped in TopShop, where I bought a few things including some Converse sneakers that I had been wanting for a while. Then we took the train back to meet Alan's dad to get the car started so that we could drive to Islandmagee, where Alan lives. Once we got to Alan's house, we cleaned up a little bit and then went to visit his uncle's house because his uncle's sheep had just had lambs, so we got to see the newborn lambs. After we visited with the animals and Alan's cousins, aunt and uncle, we went to the The Rhinka to get some ice cream. I tried honeycomb ice cream and loved it.

Belfast City Hall

The Wheel of Belfast

A Lamb from Alan's Uncle's Farm

After our ice cream, we went to the beach and got some gorgeous views of Islandmagee. It was an absolutely beautiful day, so we just hung out and played around on the beach, spending as much time outside as possible. When we were done on the beach, we went back to Alan's house to enjoy the traditional Sunday roast his mom had cooked for us. It was incredibly delicious and we were surprised in the middle of dinner when Alan's dad told us that one of the cows was calving, so we dropped our forks and knives and headed outside to the barn to watch a cow being born. It was truly something I never thought I'd witness, but was still very cool to see. When that was over, we just went back to the dinner table and finished eating the homemade pavlova that Alan's mom gave us for dessert. That night, we went out with Alan and his friends. We spent the night at a bar, sitting outside under the heating lamps, drinking cider and getting to know everyone.

The next day, we woke up and began the journey to The Giant's Causeway, which is the UK's fourth greatest natural wonder. The Giant's Causeway is created of a bunch of basalt columns, which are formed when lava cools after a volcanic eruption. The legend behind the area is that an Irish warrior named Finn McCool built the causeway to go fight his rival in Scotland, but when Finn got to Scotland and saw who he was supposed to fight, he got scared and went back home to his wife. When the Scottish warrior went looking for Finn, Finn's wife dressed him as a baby and pretended that Finn was her son. So, when the Scottish warrior arrived, he took one look at the "baby" and thought to himself that if the baby was that large, the father of that child must be an absolute giant. Thus, the Scottish warrior fled the country and tore up the causeway behind him so that Finn could never come and fight him. We hiked in the area for over an hour and took in some extremely amazing views. We also had lunch at the cafe there before we made our way to the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, which is the smallest bridge in Northern Ireland.

The View from our Hike at Giant's Causeway
Laura, me and Alan at The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway

When we got to the rope bridge, I was pretty nervous because I have a huge fear of heights. We started the hike to the bridge and then I decided that I was absolutely not going anywhere near it. It had started to rain and everything was getting pretty slick, so it was definitely not an ideal condition for crossing a tiny rope bridge. While Alan and Laura walked to the other side, I relaxed and took in the beautiful sea, which, surprisingly, was clear and blue, just like any water you'd find in a tropical location. It was absolutely gorgeous. When Laura and Alan were done crossing the bridge, we got back in the car for the nearly three hour drive back to Islandmagee.

Laura and Alan crossing the rope bridge

View from the rope bridge

When we got back, we went to The Rhinka to get some more ice cream. Then we headed back to his house to get ready for dinner and another night out with Alan's friends. Alan treated Laura and I to dinner at a restaurant near his house and then we went back and hung out at his house for a while until his friend picked us up and drove us to a bar where Alan's other friend works. Since it was a Monday night, it wasn't very crowded but we enjoyed ourselves. We didn't stay out too late because Laura and I had a flight in the morning, but when we got home we did enjoy the movie PS I Love You and Laura and I obviously wished for our own Gerard Butlers.

In the morning, we got up and flew back to Glasgow, where we'd have one day before the rest of our spring break journeys would begin.

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