March 27, 2019

The last time I visited Ireland was July of 2016, so it’s been a little while. It’s the time of year when most people around my age (early 20s) are on spring break from school, which for Minnesotans usually means partying on warm and sunny beaches in Florida or Mexico. However, I’ve graduated from university, and my ridiculously fair skin doesn’t like the sun, nor am I one to party.

With it being spring break season I anticipated getting through airport security taking forever, but I was through in no time. With a few hours to kill between getting through security and boarding my flight I got something to eat and then settled in at my gate and read my book.

March 28, 2019

My flight landed in Iceland and my flight to Dublin was already boarding. My flight from Minnesota had been delayed and my layover was already on the short side. Instead of getting a coffee like I had planned to I went directly to my gate. With the less than restful sleep on the flight I was desperate for a cup of coffee. I got a coffee eventually on my flight from Iceland. Once it got going after sitting on the tarmac for an hour for deicing.

As my flight into Dublin was about an hour late I had missed the train I had planned to take to Belfast, so I figured I’d get the next one two hours later. When I went to purchase my ticket for the Airlink to city center I found out I could get a bus from the airport to Belfast and it was leaving in less than ten minutes. So, bus it was. I got to Belfast at the time I had originally planned to and at half the price of a train.

After a two hour bus ride I finally made it to Belfast! I checked in at my hostel, turned myself into an almost presentable person, and off I went to conquer the afternoon. First, food. I hadn’t had a real meal in about 15 hours, and at this point I was hangry. I chose Moll’s Yard since it was on the way to the museum and the menu seemed reasonably priced. I had venison stew, and a brownie and a cup of tea for dessert.

I kept heading south along Botanic Ave through Queen’s University to the botanic gardens. The garden was packed full of people enjoying the afternoon sun. Tons of flowers were in bloom and the smell of the flowers was almost overwhelming. I walked through the tropical ravine green house that’s been open since 1889. The green house had a waterfall on one wall and more varieties of ferns than I thought existed along with other tropical plants. I certainly hadn’t anticipated seeing bananas growing in Belfast, but there they were in the green house.

Within the botanic gardens is the Ulster Museum. The museum has everything from dinosaurs to present day interms of history. The focus is on the history of Northern Ireland.

There’s a fairly large room in the museum that focus on the violence and conflict from the late 1960s to 1998 that became know as “The Troubles” with maps of centeral Belfast showing the restrictions for leaving cars unattended, and all kinds of posters and newspaper clippings. The Troubles is something that I think most people have at least heard of, even if they don’t know it, songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 and “Zombie” by The Cranberries are just two songs about The Troubles.

The museum has a ton of artifacts from the neolithic era, the vikings age, oh, and a mummy. There was a lot about the natural history if Ireland as well. They had a skeleton of the now extinct giant Irish deer.

The museum has the Game of Thrones tapestry, which I thought was stunning! The tapestry was woven and embroidered by hand by team of people depicting the plot episode by episode. Once the last season is done and added to the tapestry they anticipate it being around 90m long! Even as someone who doesn’t keep up with the show I thought it was worth seeing.

The top floor of the museum is an art gallery. I was running out of time by the time I reached that part of the museum so I walked through most of the gallery pretty quickly. There was a room in the gallery that was very dimly lit, and in that room there were twelve Leonardo da Vinci drawings. My favorite was the anatomical drawing of a skull from 1489. I spent as much time as I could in that room, and I wish I would have had more. I’m amazed by how well they’ve been preserved.

Once the museum closed I went to get some groceries, and then back to my hostel for the night.

Until next time, safe travels!