A Travellerspoint blog

Day 5: A Perfect Pint and Trip Up to Belfast

in which your author discovers untold powers of willingness to let an itinerary shift, almost certainly annoying his travel companions on the way!

semi-overcast 45 °F

Due to the previous evening’s shenanigans – is it appropriate to use clichéd Irish slang when describing things that occur in Ireland? – Day 5 began with its front end significantly lopped off. Dan and I walked down the Liffey to put change in the meter at 6:15am and he would venture out twice more over the course of the next six hours to add time. We’re not sure what getting a parking ticket with a rental car would entail, but we’d rather not find out.

Graci and Amy join us and we’re faced with our first daytime group decision – should we visit Kilmainham Gaol, Trinity College/Book of Kells, or the Guinness Storehouse? Give ya one guess.

We make the not insignificant walk to the factory, pausing for a few group shots along the way.

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I’d been to the Storehouse on my first visit in 2008, and as an amateur brewer myself am pretty familiar with the brewing process, so Dan and I whip through all floors fairly quickly while the two ladies relax in a cafe.

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We all meet up in the famous Gravity Bar at the very top, where one will find one of the finest views of the city of Dublin. (It’s even more impressive during the day.) We all enjoy a “perfect pint” – which somehow, is a true claim; the pints at the factory ARE perfect – and plot our next move.

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On the ground floor of the factory, Graci and Amy take mini-naps next to where the original 18th century lease for the building lies encased in glass.

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Our itinerary had us going to Belfast that afternoon and I push to keep this intact even though we’re behind where we wanted to be. As I drive us the 2 ½ hours north, the car resembles a mortuary – everyone is passed out in deep slumber and I supply music of gorgeous Irish singer Iarla Ó Lionáird as background. (I packed both CDs, an iPod, and an iPod cord, and all were used at various points. Yay for that!) The driving presents no difficulties on the highway, but navigating the numerous roundabouts (back home we call ‘em “rotaries!”) coming into Belfast are challenging and rather frightening. I'm beeped at at least four or five times, usually for driving too slow!

We arrive in Belfast at about 9:00pm, staying at a house owned by a woman named Romy whom Danny has found via the Couchsurfing site. As we drive in I play some Van Morrison, native son of Belfast. Romy greets us outside her house in a packed residential neighborhood and based on a claim on her profile, I shout out “Are you the Queen of Belfast?!”

Romy is a Belfast native of the town (pronounced here something like "toyun"), as is her fifteen-year old daughter Seren. She sets out a delicious feast of vegetarian stew, and though we’re all exhausted there’s a lively conversation at the table, comparing Irish and American school systems and hearing about what makes Belfast tick. In 2007, I performed in a Solas Nua-produced play set in Belfast called Scenes from the Big Picture – a production Peter Marks of the Washington Post called “One of the 10 Best Plays of the Decade” – and so I’m really interested to hear the distinctive Belfast upward twang we worked so hard on – and probably still never got perfect. The dipthing for the vowel sound in "house" and "town" is closer to how Americans would pronounce "ice" – Romy and Seren humor me by demonstrating a few of these sounds, which really don't exist in American English. All the while in Belfast, I'm reminded of Daniel Day-Lewis's magnificent performance as falsely accused Belfastian Gerry Conlon in the 1993 film In the Name of the Father.

Unfortunately we’re all too tired to go out and explore the city, so I write a bit and the others pack in to sleep at various locations around the ornately decorated house. We particularly fancy the “One Direction Sucks” scrawled on the living room wall.

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Probably our most crunched-in day overall due to our late start and ambitious travel plans, but we’ve met more good people and I’m excited to see at least a little bit of this city in the morning!

Posted by coolmcjazz 13:57 Archived in Ireland Tagged dublin guinness belfast

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