Thursday, July 6
We had originally planned to continue along the Antrim coast to Belfast with time possibly to see a bit of Belfast, but our plans had changed when Lorraine realized that she had left her light jacket behind at the coffee shop where we had stopped earlier on the other side of Derry in the Republic. It was the jacket she had bought to replace the jacket she had earlier left behind at LaGuardia in New York. Are we seeing a trend here? We called and arranged to retrace our steps, pick up the jacket, have some more delicious treats there and carry on directly to Belfast. I drove the first leg and only managed to kill us all only once when everyone got caught looking the same way for oncoming traffic entering the road following our first stop at Dunluce Castle near our condo. Dunluce castle is one of the largest castles in Northern Ireland and is beautifully located on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, but now lies largely in ruins. story has it that on a stormy night in 1639, half of the kitchen, and some kitchen staff, fell into the sea during dinner, although this may not be true since the information centre indicated that the kitchen may have still been intact into the 1800's.
Leaving the castle, we also found that me driving also deprived us of a navigator familiar with our GPS, which resulted in us initially getting off track and wasting time getting our proper bearings. Once we got organized, we retrieved Lorraine's jacket and proceeded to Belfast, arriving in rush hour. The only way we knew we had crossed the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is the fact that highway numbers changed and kilometres changed to miles. The two countries are similar geographically, but the north has somewhat better roads and more cattle pastures with far fewer stone walls. Our apartment for the night was an older townhouse in a rather gritty part of Belfast between the city centre and the university. It had a trundle bed in one bedroom, only one bath and mold on the walls. Fortunately our host eased our pain somewhat by leaving us a bottle of wine and snacks and providing phone advice on places to eat and somewhere nearby where we could print our Boarding passes for our upcoming flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, avoiding Ryan's exorbitant costs to print them at the airport. We tried to book a recommended Black Taxi tour through the formerly troubled Catholic part of Belfast, but nothing was available that night. We took a short walk through the neighbourhood, had a very nice supper at a pub recommended by our host, who was actually in London when we phoned him, and returned to our flat to watch what may well have been drug dealing behind the store across the street.