A Travellerspoint blog

Northern Ireland

Belfast birthday party bonanza


Happy birthday to Emma! We celebrated with a diverse selection of Belfast adventures. We started with a black cab tour of the murals and memorials around Falls Road and Shankill Road. Our guide, Sean, answered any questions we had and helped us attempt to make sense of the long, long history of unrest and conflict. Hard to believe how recently it became a 'peaceful' city. Can you imagine having a 45 foot wall in the middle of Melbourne to stop people killing one another?
After that, it was time for a look at the lighter side of Belfast. Birthday lunch was at Same Happy, as recommended to us by last night's waiter. And what a recommendation it was! We had a huge selection of Hong Kong and Thai style foods, plus neverending cups of tea. We had been warned that the service may not be overly friendly, but that it would be worth it for the food. I was quite happy with the service - the waitress assumed we were all students and wanted to know what we were studying! It's been awhile since someone thought I was young enough to be at uni...
With full bellies we trundled off to the "let's surprise Emma" component of the day. After all our 'hints', I think she was quite relieved to find out we were only doing the segway tour of the Titanic quarter! Neville and The Very Hungry Caterpillar took to segwaying rather easily, putting the rest of us to shame. Let's just say that some of us could listen to the Titanic tour information, and some of us needed to concentrate more on the act of segway. Belinda must have looked the best in her fluoro safety vest and helmet because she was stopped for a photo - at the top of a ramp, no mean feat on a segway!
After that bit of silliness, we strolled around the Titanic Quarter and basked in the sunshine. The Titanic Museum looked glorious against the background of a bright blue sky - Emma's wish for birthday sunshine was definitely granted!
Dinner was at a bistro near our apartment - again, you just cannot beat the friendliness of Irish people. They were amused (and a bit confused) when we tried to explain our evening's activity (Escape - again!), but then it was our turn to be confused when we tried to find the place. Confused, and a bit cautious, as it was located in the Protestant area of Belfast - Union Jack flags everywhere. I know two Catholic boys who would have quite happily turned around and walked away, but I was sent ahead and managed to make in there alive. The lady running the show was exceedingly friendly and talkative, and seemed very excited to be running her escape/wedding planning business from the big warehouse she was in. She was definitely the entrepreneurial type - her baby had even been paid to be 'sacrificed' in an episode of Game of Thrones!
Anyway, I am pleased to report that we managed to 'escape' this time - even if we did have to get her to put the batteries back into one of the clues. We deduced 3 of the 5 code numbers using sheer brain power and brilliance, and Simon worked the other two out using persistence and a trial-and-error approach. Freedom!
After that, we hurried out of Protestant-land into somewhere we all felt comfortable - a bar. Desserts all round (had to do something cake-like for Emma), and a cocktail and 'shorts'. The music sounded promisingly 90s-esque from upstairs, but downstairs the distinct lack of d-floor was disappointing so we called it a night.

Posted by Buccas 07:53 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (0)

Dealing with our baggage

(literally, not metaphorically)


This morning was a battle of the suitcases as we tried to get under the 20kg luggage limit. My 'precious' suitcase came through with the goods by being the lightest - an interesting turnaround from the initial situation!
Neville bid a teary farewell to McSporran, vowing to return as soon as he could. And then we were on the road, and Belinda and Alison FM really kicked in. The MIA version of Loch Lomond was pretty special, as was the Harry Potter version of MIA. Remix bonanza!
We arrived at Glasgow airport with plenty of time to check in. We were a bit apprehensive about dropping off our possibly-slightly-over-the-limit luggage, but either we made it with 100g to spare, or the lady loved our Aussie accent so much that she didn't want to charge us.
The flight was short and sweet, and featured a fairly lacklustre safety demonstration from our air hostess-man (flight attendant, if you want to be politically correct). We arrived at the Belfast International Airport, which is nothing like you would expect an international airport to be. Somewhere on the scale between Mount Gambier and Adelaide in the airport scheme of things.
We didn't have to wait long for luggage to arrive, but it was a bit disconcerting the way the suitcases flew down the chute onto the carousel. Hypothetically, if you had bottles of whisky in your suitcase, you would want to know they had been well packed. My 'precious' suitcase got some serious momentum down the chute and absolutely hurtled onto the carousel - nearly leapt off and knocked over a nearby family.
We picked up Hanz the VW and found our way to our apartment, where we caught up with two friends - Emma, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. After a bit of a planning session (which featured a confusing charades demonstration from Simon), we hit the town.
We started at the Crown Bar - very ornate pub with very private booths in which to consume one's beverages. We accepted lollies from a stranger, but since he was a) working behind the bar and b) had an Irish accent, we figured it would be fine.
We had a fabulous dinner at Ginger Bistro (not to be confused with Gingeroot, just down the road). Not only was the food amazing, the service was brilliant. Our waiter was called Seamus, naturally, and spoke rather rapidly, leading to a communication breakdown. At one point, after collecting our plates with great prowess, he turned to Pat and sad "hevyevehplehedbukehroo?" We all smiled politely and nodded as he walked away. I just had time to translate in my head and explain the concept of the game "Buckaroo" before he walked back, said it all again slowly and clarified that he wasn't hitting on Pat. Brilliant.
Before we left, we also made sure to get some recommendations of other places to eat and drink. But more about that tomorrow...

Posted by Buccas 23:43 Archived in Northern Ireland Comments (0)

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