We are here, arrived last night. We could tell we were landing in Ireland just by looking out of the plane. It is all green, just like in the pictures. We came from near 40 degree heat in southern Turkey to 13 degrees, wind and rain, so did a quick costume change at the airport.
Our little hire car is bright yellow, and looks like a hot cross bun on wheels. It even comes with a spongy clutch! With a strong tail wind I think it would become airborne. It nearly got blown over by a strong gust of wind as we went down the motorway, I think it was only our heavy luggage that saved us. L’s parents both drive vintage racing cars and L’s training was in that environment so I think she has gotten worse culture shock from driving the little hot cross bun than she got in the whole of Turkey. It is costing us about 200 Aussie dollars a day once you add ‘extra charges’ for driving over the border and do the conversion from pounds.
L was organised and printed off directions from google maps ready to go. Small problem. The streets here seem to have different names to the ones on google maps. In fact none of the maps, we collected a few, seem to correspond with the roads. So quite funny trying to find our way. L did the driving while I sat there surrounded by all our useless maps, cracking myself up with my own witty comments. L is now expert at spongy clutch hot cross bun turns, which happen when you realise you have gone the wrong way and the little hot cross bun has to do a fifty-five point turn to go back because there is not much road space. Eventually we found our lodging by accident, or maybe the little hot cross bun knew where to go – because we randomly flashed past a building with a sign out, and that turned out to be it!
On the way we passed Lough Neagh. On ebay I found this intriguing little book called ‘A Secret Map of Ireland’ which has a chapter for each county and is full of bizarre tidbits of information. For instance. Lough Neagh is the largest lake in Ireland, it is privately owned by an English Lord, there are five different county borders that meet somewhere in the middle of it, and it is home to precisely two hundred million eels that go to the Bermuda Triangle to breed. I informed L of this as we zoomed past. She is not as fascinated/creeped out by this as me.
Our meal last night was amazing. Lamb with Guiness and mustard mash. I am going to make it when I get home. I vowed that I wouldn’t drink Guiness till we get to Ireland-proper, so last night I tried “Belfast Black” which is boutiquely-brewed here in Belfast and not readily available outside the local area. Yum.
This morning we awoke to clear skies, green hills framing the city, a full moon pale in the sky, and a complete rainbow smiling away. What a beautiful Irish welcome!
13 September 2011, Belfast in Northern Ireland