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Jacqui’s Travel Diary

Monday, 16 Jul 2007

Location: Belfast, Ireland

MapFor once we didn’t have to take a ridiculously early flight… we were in heaven!
Got in to Dublin by midday so could wander around the city for the afternoon. Saw the sights of the old city, the old walls, cathedrals buildings etc from Viking Times. Found temple bar, the main drinking and eating area of the city and the place I had a feeling we would be frequenting a bit! Its really busy and touristy but had some cool shops and lots of nice pubs. At about this time we got absolutely soaked in a really heavy downpour…. Luckily it wasn’t a sign of things to come (except for one other time which I will get to later); we had really really good weather and were so lucky. John an Irish guy on our tour kept saying ‘this is not Ireland… it should be raining!’
First night in Dublin and of course I had to have an Irish stew and a Guinness. This was also the night I was meeting up with Eva for the first time. She is my pen friend from when I was 8yrs old and I was really excited about meeting up with her. Unfortunately she had to work (she’s a nurse to) but she met up with us after work one night and took us to a nice pub where we could catch up. It was great, it was like we already knew each other (which after writing for so man years shouldn’t be so surprising), and we got along really well. We are already planning for me to come back and stay with her so she can show me around some more.
The next morning we saw Trinity College and the Book of Kells. There was a really good exhibition about the book and how it was made etc. This was good cos you only actually see 2 pages of it! But that was enough to see how beautiful it is and how much work went into illuminating and writing it.
Walked down busy Grafton St the main shopping street of Dublin on our way to Dublin Castle. We had to take a guided tour here, but it gave us a good overview of Irish history and the Irish/English relationship. There were some nice state rooms, and some underground areas where the original Viking castle has been excavated.
Monday was the first day of our Paddywagon tour. We had a really funny tour guide from Dublin, who half the time we couldn’t understand, but we could laugh at him anyway! Had a bit of a driving tour around Dublin before heading out of the city and into the GREEN! It really is as green as everyone says it is, it’s a green I had never seen anywhere before. We were heading for Belfast for our first nights stop. On the way we stopped at Monasterboice where we saw our first Celtic crosses and the round tours the monks used to build to protect their treasures (until the Vikings discovered they acted like a chimney and would then smoke them out). Lunch was in Drogheda where the battle of the Boyne took place (one of Cromwell’s infamous slaughters). It is also where St Peters Roma catholic church is, its pretty unremarkable except for the fact it has the mummified head of the martyr St Oliver Plunkett (died 1681), which is a bit gory!
Made it to Belfast in time to have a wander around the town for a few hours and then ad a big group dinner for our first night. Had another Irish cuisine… potato pancakes!