Well lovelies, this post is about our last day in Ireland, or Northern Ireland, depending on whom you ask. It has been so much fun recounting this trip and sharing the memories here, so I am feeling rather nostalgic.
Alex is a massive Game of Thrones fan, and he had really wanted to book a licensed tour so that we could see the stunning locations that the GoT cast and crew filmed at. So after we returned from our afternoon tea at Blarney Woolen Mills, we were cruising the internet for deals and dates. Unfortunately, all the tours for our last day had all sold out, and we were disappointed and ready to think of something else to do when we came across a non-licensed and fairly new touring company, Finn McCools. Did we want to chance it? Yes, we did. So he booked the tour, and I booked a cab with Hailo (now MyTaxi) for very early in the morning. And by very early, I mean that I had booked it for 5:15 am (boarding the tour bus was at 6:30 am), to make allowances for getting to the car park, traffic, and the cab not showing up or showing up late, etc.
Well our taxi came precisely on time. In fact, our driver showed up 15 minutes earlier, while Alex was still fiddling with the pay machine for the parking. We were so impressed and happy, because… well, perhaps it’s just me but when it’s chilly and dark, and you’re in a foreign country (even if they all do speak English), it’s sort of an unsettling feeling waiting around in unfamiliar surroundings. Thus, we ended up a whole hour earlier in Dublin, and found ourselves walking around the city in the dark. This terrified me even more. Folks, I hate to say this, but the smell of Dublin in the wee hours of the morning smells a little bit like pee and vomit. We actually did see someone relieving himself, and several times had to watch where we stepped or sat down, because… yay for nature calls whenever, wherever. We also encountered several staggering drunks. Most were quiet, others were rowdy and would shout something unintelligible when they passed another person. Having heard over the radio of several stabbings at pubs throughout the week we were there, I was very much on the alert for avoiding trouble. I don’t know if Alex caught on, but I would be scanning the streets rapidly, and if I thought I saw a shady figure, I would pretend I had seen something interesting across the street and just had to go take a closer look, thus avoiding any encounters. At one point, Alex said that it would take us forever to get to Dublin City Gallery if I kept up these meanderings, but he good-naturedly tagged along. Darling, if you’re reading this, I pretty much saved. your. life. *ahem*
No coffee shops were open at such an ungodly hour, so we finally sat down in front of the gallery, cuddled next to each other, and took turns lightly napping, as a neon lady in an art fixture a few feet away from us kept on walking and walking in her frame. About ten minutes before boarding time, other folks taking the tour started to show up, the dark sky was starting to lighten, and everything felt more friendly and cheerful. Finally, we were on our way!
Our driver gave us lots of interesting facts about Northern Irish and Irish history, as well as a quick rundown of our schedule. Everyone in our group was pretty much on time, and that made the experience so much more pleasant. It’s no fun waiting around and having tour stops cut or shortened because people are running late! The driver also put on traditional Irish tunes for us to listen to, while explaining their origins, and I had to explain what he said sometimes to Alex. I think growing up on the BBC has helped me understand thick UK accents tremendously!
When we arrived in Belfast, we were told we had only a short amount of time to go for a restroom break and to stock up on drinks and snacks for the drive. We didn’t feel like juggling food and drinks in the tour bus, so we looked around for a nice place to sit, and found the cutest café/cake shop — Patisserie Valerie!