07.13.2009 18 °C
Well, highly unfortunately, the bachelor-party bus never showed, so I had to race to the other side of town to catch the last bus to Belfast. They must have changed their plans. But I did get a very scenic, hilly, green, 7-hour bus ride to Belfast, through Sligo and Enniskillen.
I got into my hostel at around 9, and there was a crazy commotion going on outside. First off, the hostel is on a sketchy road, hence it being super cheap. Second, there was a sign on the door saying “DO NOT open door for ANYONE under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. ONLY staff can open the door.“ Third, there was NO ONE out in town. So all a very good start to Belfast. I hopped on my computer by the entrance door and next thing I know the doorbell is ringing like mad and the staff are trying to filter guests in and keep this crazy, drunken old Irishman out. There were 7 cops there escorting him away, a couple with HUGE military guns. Me and the girl next to me keeping looking at each other like “Holy crap!“ and “What the HELL is going on!“ Good times! A few minutes later 3 guys from my last hostel walked in. I had met them at one of the breakfasts in Galway, and properly introduced myself. Brett, Donny, and Adam were from Pennsylvania, and were all super cool guys. Brett wanted to stay in for the night, but it was Adams birthday so we decided to head out for a drink. We walked down the street and saw a beautiful city hall, amongst other things (Timmy's Ho's doughnuts anyone??), but it was DEAD. Nothing was open, no one was in the streets, and apparently some “Orange Day” holiday was going on, and there were going to be bonfires set around the town for the holiday. Also, the cop cars here are hilarious! This one actually stopped and "posed" for us haha, but they are ridiculous looking! The rubber at the bottom of them are to prevent the petrol bombs being thrown under them from the "troubled times" as everyone calls them, when the Catholics and Protestants were really fighting.
The bonfires were starting at midnight, so until then we stopped at the one open bar we found and had a drink and watched some live music. Then we headed out to one of the bonfire sights. Apparently the Irish know how to do a bonfire; there were hundreds of pallets stacked up into a huge pyramid, with Republic of Ireland flags all over it and signs reading “Fuck the I.R.A.” and the like. Some religious holiday! We didn’t know then, but the holiday symbolizes when the 6 northern counties of Ireland joined the UK in 1690. It’s a very Protestant holiday as they are the ones who want to stay separate from the south, so the Catholics don’t come out on this day. There is still so much religious separation over here it’s crazy; I couldn’t imagine participating in something like this! It felt very eerie and cult-y and hateful to me, especially after being in Dublin and hearing their side to the separation and the wars and rebellion and stuff. Lots of people were out and wearing the union jack and the UK colours. And just after midnight the fire started and the tri-colour Irish flags burned away, and everyone yelled and chanted! It was crazy.
The heat off of the fire was unbelievable. Everyone had to stay really far back, and we felt like we were being burned by the sun! It was so hot that the streetlights near the fire were curling downwards and melting. Unreal!
This morning the three boys and I went on the Giant’s Causeway tour. I woke up at 7:55 and we were leaving to get breakfast at 8 so good times for Kelsey! Literally ran downstairs! Got some breakfast and headed out to Bushmills on the bus. Our first stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It was a GORGEOUS day out so the pictures were outstanding. The rope bridge was 4 pounds, but the views were totally worth it.
One little clutz move: I fell down these stairs and cut my leg and foot… highly embarrassing in front of the boys! But something I would do for sure lol.
Our next stop was the Giants Causeway. We took the long way around and got some beautiful photos. It was suuuuper hot out so we had a really nice walk around the cliffs and hills, and got some good pics.
We walked down to the Giants Causeway next. It was really neat; they were formed by volcanic rock like 55-61 million years ago when the pressure from underwater tsunamis forced the rocks upwards in these weird formations. It totally looked handmade but it’s not! Also got some greats photos here, and met a really nice girl, Heidi, from Las Vegas, who’s on her last week of 3 months of travel.
I also got some pictures of some of the fields in Ireland and some sheep. Normally I'm on a bus so I don't get to take the pics but here they are.
The last stop on our trip was in the town of Derry. The boys and I opted out of the guided tour to grab a very late and needed lunch. We stopped at one of the only places open and got some food.
Tonight I’m definitely going to take ‘er easy! Nothings open, there’s crazy people and parades and madness going on outside, so I’m staying in. Actually the tour group in Derry said that they watched police stopping people from throwing petrol bombs! I can hear the parade from the room, as well as two very drunk men yelling at each other outside. It’s a touchy subject and a big deal to these people, so I figure I’ll stay out of the way and I’ll wait till the mall’s open tomorrow, thank you!