Belfast, Very Fast

KK and I caught up on the drive up the Irish coast to Belfast.  It’d been two years since we’d seen each other.  Admittedly, we made a few detours between Dublin and Belfast as we were gabbing so much we forgot to check the GPS.  Lori and her colleague, Gabe, in the car behind us were likely shaking their heads the entire way as we veered away from the mapped route that showed we would be driving on one highway the entire time.  We arrived ready for lunch and filled up on Irish stew, steak & Guinness pies, and pints.  Then we made our way to the Belfast Titanic Museum.  I wasn’t sure what to expect in a museum dedicated to this tragedy especially since the gift shop seemed so bright and cheery, selling Christmas baubles of the infamous ship.

We learnt the linen industry was booming in Belfast and workers came from all over to find work in Belfast.  The ports and shipping canals were re-dug numerous times to continue to make room for larger liners shipping goods out of Northern Ireland.  The Titanic Museum was founded on the same site of where the ship was built.  It was backbreaking and deafening work on the rivets.  We heard audio of the ship’s survivors, and there was portion of the museum dedicated to the deep sea exploration that has uncovered more of the Titanic’s mysteries.  I didn’t care for the last room of the museum that was dedicated to the movie stars, films, and Hollywood narratives of the Titanic.  It seemed a bit out of place and insensitive.

After a quick rest at the hotel, we set out for the SSE Arena for a U2 concert.  I was unaware that U2 hailed from Dublin, but I surprised myself with the number of songs that I knew.  With a small but energetic crowd of about 12,000, the band used the space very well for being four middle aged men.  I enjoyed the political elements of their show and was curious to know how their messages landed with a Belfast audience.  A few fans behind me were definitely complaining “Enough already, just play the next song”.  The messages were EU-centric, and anti-Trump, anti-dictator, and about breaking down barriers between nations.

We said our good-byes to Gabe, Lori’s colleague, and found our way to the Crown Royal pub for a late night pint before calling it a night.

We ate our fill at the hotel breakfast bar before driving out to Ballycastle to see Fairhead, the tallest cliff in Northern Ireland.  Our cliff walk was stunning in more ways than one.  We were stunned at the start by attack from the local farm’s sheep dogs!  My heels were actually nipped and bitten as we attempted to scare the dogs away.  Once free to roam, the grassy path  along the perimeter trail was gorgeous and we couldn’t have planned for a better day.  The loop took us over the Game of Thrones terrain of Dragonstone with the sun shining, and no wind to speak of.  We encountered much friendlier wildlife in the local cows, and laughed at ourselves as we hiked into mud in some of the path’s grassy patches.

We sang to the Hamilton Mixtape, and continued to share stories on the drive back to Dublin’s airport.  Though we had separate flights, we would all meet back in London! It was a treat to have a quick weekend hangout, and then still get more time with the Kozens in N1 before wishing them well on their travels back to the Bay.

U2 video 1 & 2: Opening montage and first song in the elevated ‘cage’