Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Friday, September 12th, 2003 Dublin to Belfast

Up early, breakfast and on the bus by 8:15 am. Martha went to her sister’s room before breakfast and found that Mary had on a white shirt and red over blouse. Martha had on a red shirt and white over blouse. Shades of high school…yes, we’re twins! Such fun and provided lots of fodder for conversation during the day! At breakfast we discovered that John and Barbara didn’t get their wake up call until 7 am! We got our calls at 6:15 am. Then they discovered that John was missing his credit cards and driver’s license! Jim went for a walk and the manager was doing the receipts at the restaurant where we’d had dinner the night before. He stepped in and explained that his brother-in-law had lost his wallet the previous night. She found the lost and found envelope and pulled something out…he began to spell their very Irish last name and she smiled and gave it to him. John was so happy that he announced that Jim could do no wrong for the entire trip! Such luck…no one expected the restaurant to be open before we had to leave on the bus! Have I mentioned that both of the brother-in-laws are very Irish and definitely full of the blarney?

Jim and I sat on the left side of the bus across from the other two couples. It was our only day together as unbeknownst to us they would have us move one seat back each day. They rotated together as we moved further and further away. We left for Northern Ireland with a stop across the boarder for tea and scones at 11 am in Warrenpoint; a bathroom stop and chance to exchange some money. Euro in Republic of Ireland but English control Northern Ireland still uses Sterling Pounds. Our driver’s name is Gerald and the tour director is Bernard. He’s got a great sense of Irish Humor and talks most of the time. One of the guests asked a question (rocky fields’ verses green) and he really took her to task for interrupting his flow of Political History with a question about agriculture! Certainly kept the rest of us from straying from Bernard’s topic of conversation! We crossed over the Boyne River, famous for a battle, continued on entering the Ulster area. Made a stop in Downpatrick to visit the church and graveyard where St. Patrick is buried. Norma, a local guide gave us a nice history of the church. Sun came out by the time we arrived at Downpatrick; it is much warmer than we’d expected.

Arrived in Belfast about 3 pm and picked up a local tour guide, Hilda, who gave us a running history of Belfast as we drove about the town. She pointed out many examples of things that still have not changed from the days of conflict that only ended a couple of years ago. Many of the walls are still topped with barbwire and there are military guardhouses in many areas. We then stopped for a short visit at Queen’s University. Mary & Phil found a wonderful enlarged photo of Dunluce and Barbara convinced them to purchase it. At 4 pm we stopped in the center of town near the City Hall for an hour and half of free time to explore the City Hall and central shopping area. By 5:30 we were on our way back to the hotel. We checked into the Stormont Hotel, a member of the Hastings chain, that is located on the edge of Belfast. We found it to be a very nice four star hotel. King size beds, twins put together was a nice change from the double bed of the night before. We quickly changed for 7 pm dinner where we sat with fifteen of our fellow passengers. Jim and I both had a wonderful broccoli soup, chicken dinner and nice dessert. News at the table was that the country singer, Johnny Cash had died. Also dead of an unknown heart condition was the popular John Ritter, only 54 years old. Jim went straight to sleep by ten but woke at 2 am and stayed awake most of the night. He even went out for a three-mile walk about 5 am. He couldn’t get into the park surrounding the government Parliament building across the street from our hotel as the gates were locked during the night. .

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