Rather than taking a direct New York - Edinburgh flight, I decided to make cross Atlantic travel a wee bit more interesting by stopping in Belfast Northern Ireland.
I landed in Dublin, promised to return, and grabbed a train to Belfast. Found my Lonely Planet hostel. Based on a recommendation by William, the hostel owner, I walked to a pub called Fibber McGee's that is famous for live traditional music. Everyone was friendly. I sat by the bar with my sketchbook and no less than 5 people asked if I was an artist (yes).
Belfast at dawn
Two locals chatted me up for a long time. They thought that the way I said Ireland: "Ay-er-land" - was just great, kept asking me to repeat. I like the way they said it better: " Oyer-lind."
Both of them were married, wedding bands, but completely content talking to me, not exactly flirting, but paying for my drinks, as my new friends. They said it was the Irish way that a girl should never pay for anything. I wasn't about to argue so had some whiskey and some Guinness. I like Jameson better, but knew better than to order that in Bushmills territory.
Friendly as the married dudes were, don't trust anyone when traveling alone so after a few hours, took a cab home and slept reasonably well, considering the small, cold, unadorned room.
Next morning, I went in to the hostel lobby for my "Full Irish Breakfast" and found William looking the kind of hungover one can probably only achieve in Northern Ireland. I asked him where breakfast was. He handed me £2 to go buy it at the nearest cafe.
Anyway, I was out the door for my day's adventure, and the true reason for coming to Belfast- to visit the Giant's Causeway, a geological phenomenon of over 40,000 hexagonal protrusions jutting into the ocean. Many call it the "8th Wonder of the World". The stones show up on the other side, in Scotland, which makes locals believe the Causeway was actually formed by a Giant or other mythological creature who wanted to get across.
It became clear that getting to the Causeway might be impossible on public transit during the Christmas season, so I got on a tour bus. The kind of tour bus that sort of sucks because you suddenly feel more alone than you do when you are just by yourself doing your own thing. You become "that lonesome traveler who has no friends so has to go on tour busses alone, god that must suck!"
Anyway, not that bad, at least I didn't have to worry about directions or bus schedules or maps in a new place.
The bus went through some very sweet towns of Antrim County before arriving to the site of the stones. The trail leading down to the ocean was very peaceful, a solid walk, and we landed there at the perfect time of day when the shadows are stretched out and the frost glistened on every surface.
The stones themselves were really interesting and beautiful, worth the journey, though slippery and hard to walk on! Very inspiring. I will make a painting about them, and really you just have to go, but for here are some pictures to get the idea:
I almost got left at the bottom, the bus driver was mad, but it wasn't my fault. Long, boring story. Essentially I got back to Belfast just fine and went to bed for the early ferry ride across the sea.
One last thing to say is the ferry was awesome! The best part was they HAD A MOVIE THEATER on board. Funniest thing ever? They played "Mall Cop" which is about as American as you can get. I was the only one laughing in that theater. Laughing way too hard.