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Long Weekend in Ireland
Rating :

Dublin, Ireland
Feb 15, 2003

Pros: Guinness and dancing
Cons: dangerous(bombings and quarrals)

When most of the passengers headed to Dublin reached the departure gate, the announcement came through.

“Attention, all passengers headed to Dublin on the 11pm flight. Your flight has been delayed.”

A dozen disgruntled would-be passengers moaned a collective grunt.

“What? Still delayed?” I heard a young female Irish voice say from behind me.

“Shit, I left a half full glass of beer back in the lobby!” she continued as she laughed.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s still in there.” someone consoled.

As we waited by the departure gate it seemed that every conversation I’d overheard had something to do with Guinness or a pub.

I chuckled and whispered to Linda, “You know your on your way to Ireland when…”

--- “What was that?”

When we arrived in Dublin, it was 2am. We had had a hard time finding a B and B to stay in because of the marathon which was set to take place that weekend but we’d luckily found some accommodation for that night before leaving.

We jumped into a cab and headed for the hotel.

“Rryya Shtttiia Ffrrr Llllnngg?” a mushy string of what seemed to be English came streaming from the cabby.

I flicked a glanced over to Linda as to say “did you get that?”.

“Umm, what was that?” I asked the cabby.

“Rryya Shtttiia Ffrrr Llllnngg?” he tried again

I tried not to laugh as I realized that a) yes, it was English b) him repeating did nothing to help me understand what he was saying and c) I’d have to ask him, for a 3rd time, to repeat.

I leaned in to ask him to repeat just as Linda kicked in. “No, just for 4 days”

Linda had been in Ireland before and seemed to have a much better grasp on the accent than I did. I let her do the talking with the cabby until we arrived. Even though Linda and the driver spoke for over 20 minutes, I jumped out of the cab without a clue of what the conversation was about.

The Irish accent was something of an art to decipher and this poor bastard would need some serious art classes before being able to make it by here alone.

--- Tourist stuff in Dublin

With only 4 days, 2 in Dublin and 2 in Belfast, we packed in the Dublin sights back to back. In all I crammed in the Trinity College, the 1500 year old “Book of Kells”, the Guinness Brewery and the Jameson Distillery with enough time left over to fully soak in the world class Dublin pubs for a long series of creamy Guinness’.

Probably due to a late night of Guinness and dancing, Dublin flashed by quickly and before we knew it, we were on our way north to Belfast.

--- Trouble in the north

When Linda proposed that we fly into Dublin and out of Belfast, neither of us even thought twice about it. Once we’d talked to an Irish girl staying at our BB who was from Belfast, we, or I at least, realized just how little I knew about the troubles in the north.

When we arrived in Belfast, a short train ride north, the first thing we did was to take a Black Cab tour of Belfast. The tour would fill in the blanks and highlight the danger still looming in Ireland.

Throughout the tour, the driver explained the history of the conflict between the IRA and rivaling groups. Protestant vs Catholic, loyalist vs separatists, same old conflicts. It reminded me of the middle east.

Murals of fallen rebel heroes decorated houses, scorch marks from napalm scared fenced walls, flags of allies flew high and sidewalks were painted with colors to make sure you would not forget which part of Belfast you were in.

“Hey, when was the last time there was an attack in Belfast?” I asked the cabby realizing that the conflict was still very much alive.

“Just last Monday”

“What happened?”

“Oh, big bomb. It was in a van but the trigger failed. It was a big one too, would have taken out the entire block.”

I looked over to Linda and whispered, “Monday, that was 3 days ago.”

“Where was the bomb?” I continued

“Just over here” he said as we passed the place which was targeted for annihilation.

When we got out of the cab and began walking around Belfast I confessed to Linda.

“Wow, I had no idea that the conflict was this fresh”

“Me neither…”

We walked around Belfast a bit, with a slightly different view of the city, and dipped in and out of pubs for the rest of the day and the next. As with any other conflicted regions I’d visited, we did the only thing one can do in order to enjoy themselves which was to forget about any potential dangers and we enjoyed the rest of our time in modern Belfast.

Once again, before we knew it, we were on our way back to London, another side trip finished and that much closer to my flight home.