When I was copying and pasting this roundup into this post, I couldn't believe how much happened. It was an insanely busy week, yet full of exploration and learning.
Last Sunday left off with me heading up to Belfast ...
Monday, 24 Feb: On Sunday when I was chatting with Heather and Susan about what I'm going to do in Belfast, Heather mentioned maybe just having a rest day -- and I'm so glad she suggested that! I'm not sure I would have given myself permission to do it otherwise. But I realized quickly that that was exactly what I needed. I slept really really well on Sunday night and ended up taking a nap after lunch. We met up with Christine (one of the sisters) and her son for lunch and actually went to her place for dinner too. Thomas (the son) was adorably shy at lunch and then ridiculously cute and outgoing at dinner -- I guess he warmed up to me! It was a relaxing day with no pressure to do anything or be anywhere.
Tuesday, 25 Feb: I had a tourist day in Belfast. I hadn't slept well at all with not falling asleep until 3:30 (my two hour afternoon nap came and bit me in the butt as I was wide awake!). However, I was up and at-em around 9:30 and out the door by 10:15. I went to the Titanic museum and surprised myself by spending 2.5 hours there! I realized that I like the historical museums much better than the art museums. I then caught a bus tour around Belfast and then wandered a bit. I met up with Susan (another sister) and went to her family's house for dinner. Their son, Toby, is 15 months old and so stinking cute. I then got picked up by Graham (Heather's husband) and taken back to George's place for the evening. It was a busy day, but also relaxing and low key. Not too much touristy things to do in Belfast, but it wasn't raining and it was nice to walk around a bit.
Wednesday, 26 Feb: I was going to do another tourist day today, but decided to get laundry done and stay close to the house. I was taking advantage of being a homebody! George recommended going for a drive to Newcastle and taking a wee dander on the beach. I was of course up for that! We picked up his friend Seamus on the way too. I had a great time with them as they have amazing senses of humor. George accidentally left the keys in the house, so we were locked out for about an hour after we got back. I took another dander while George ran some errands and we waited for his friend to arrive with a key. I chatted with Rebekah for a bit and then packed up my stuff and went to bed early.
Thursday, 27 Feb: I was able to have a great night's sleep again last night, which was definitely needed. George and Heather took me to the train station headed to Coleraine and from there I took a short city bus to Portstewart. I was now officially in the North Coast and my oh my what a beautiful place! Jeez, I just can't get over it! It seems everywhere I look is just beautiful countryside... 50 shades of green, indeed. I dropped my bag off at the hostel and left pretty much right away for Giant's Causeway. I thought it was a little closer to the hostel, but instead I had to take the bus back to Coleraine and then hop on another bus to Bushmills and the Causeway. I felt a little rushed due to it being almost 2pm and not knowing how long I'd take at the site -- I didn't want to miss the last buses back into Portstewart. I did kind of rush through the Causeway, but I'm okay with that. My hands were frozen by the time I got to the bus and any more time would have just taken that much more time to thaw out. I did get the bus and got off a stop earlier to have dinner at the Anchor Pub. It was a perfect night for Beef and Guinness Stew. The walk back to the hostel was lovely as I walked along the boardwalk with the waves crashing to my left.
Friday, 28 Feb: My time in Portstewart was short as it is now time to head to Derry. I was determined to take the train as I heard the ride from Coleraine to Derry is one of the most beautiful in the world. Yep, it didn't disappoint! I wish I had two head so I could see from both sides of the train ... just magnificent. The sea on one side and rolling hills and farms on the other. Can't get much better in my book! It was indeed too short though and I was in Derry in about an hour. I found my hostel and got settled before finding some lunch. For the most part it was a good afternoon -- I did have an instance where I just wanted to go home and was incredibly lonely, but that story was for another post. My evening was quite nice though as I saw a poster for a concert of The Kilkennys who were having a concert tonight. For 14 pounds, I was up for listening to Irish music for a couple hours. It was a great time! I met some American students too, and it was nice chatting with them for a while. It was funny, they asked where I was from and thought I was American because when we were in the bathroom I called it a faucet instead of a tap. Had to laugh at that one... things I have to get used to, I guess!
Saturday, 01 Mar: I had a long trip to Galway today -- 5.5 hours on the bus... it was long, but at the same time, absolutely beautiful. I booked a room through airbnb.com and while I could have walked, it was raining pretty hard and a 15 minute walk and large possibility of getting lost justified a taxi ride. I was dropped off in front of a simple looking house and met the couple who opened their house to me. They were super sweet and the room was perfect. Despite sitting on a bus and dozing on and off, I wanted to take a nap, which meant watching two episodes of Covert Affairs and texting with Anna. I needed a meal, so around 8pm, I headed to a local gastropub and ordered a burger. After a while I got to chatting with the fellas next to me and had a few drinks with them and then went to a place down the street for some traditional Irish music. I had a good time and it was nice to see a different part of the city. I got home around 1am and saw that Suzanne was available to chat, so we video chatted for a while. I started out sitting and then ended up laying down, so we called it a night around 2am. I popped four ibuprofen, drank as much water as possible, and fell asleep.
Sunday, 02 Mar: I made it to church! Despite my late evening, I woke up around 10am, stayed in bed until about 11am and got ready for church. Want to know something funny though? When I was on the bus, I was searching for churches in Galway. I found one that looked to be near where I was staying. I didn't find out how near until I left for it -- yeah, two doors down! Crazy. It was a very small church that met in a community center, but they were very kind and welcoming. I hadn't really eaten much since the night before, so after the tea, biscuits, and small talk I went to find food. I wandered into the city centre and found the Kings Head pub. I had an amazing Sunday Roast of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies -- so good. After lunch I wandered around the city more and ended up getting really turned around and headed in the wrong direction for quite sometime. I then picked up some dinner and made my way back to the house. I got back around 4pm and stayed up in my room for most of the evening. It was just what I needed after a couple nights in the hostel world. I did a short video chat with Tip, Jaelithe and Suzanne before the internet went down, and then I called it a night.
My first full week of Ireland is in the books!