Northern Ireland Explorations

Zumba + Burpees = Insane! (4/2/14)

So, I’m part of a workout program on campus (the Get in Gear program) where we can take a number of various types of classes as part of the program. Last semester, I enjoyed it every much and was rather excited by the workouts given by a guy named Tom Dalton.

This semester, I’m rather disappointed he’s not coming back. So, I’m taking a lot of Zumba, which my Maryland girlfriend had introduced me to during the summer. Today, I had my first REALLY intense Zumba class. Our teacher was crazy enough to add burpees into her Zumba routine. I swear she must be crazy. On the plus side, I’m actually getting a workout.

My lovely homemade minced pork with some veggies over rice. YUM!

Homemade Minced Pork (5/2/14)

Because I’m getting really into this “cooking from scratch” thing, I have to share my excitement over successfully making my Asian/Chinese minced pork. Sure, it’s not COMPELTELY from scratch, as I used the juices of some store-bought cucumber pickles, but I’m still proud of myself nonetheless. Yay!

The Giant’s Causeway (8/2/14)

Today, was my first great, big adventure in the travels of Ireland – outside of Dublin. My flatmate and I woke up at 6am in order to catch our bus for the Giant’s Causeway trip with an international students group on campus. Our driver introduced to me a vital event in Irish history called “the Troubles”. Then, he told us of his adventures of being a butter smuggler, smuggling butter from Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland during that time. Apparently, it was THAT bad.

A view from the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge area (taken with my phone’s camera).

Anyways, our first stop on the trip was at Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It’s essentially an old rope bridge that was constructed in the past by salmon fishers to connect the mainland to a tiny, tiny island. Over the years, it has been replaced by steel ropes instead of the biodegradable rope. It wasn’t anything too spectacular, minus the views of the steep cliffs. But then again, I’m quite afraid of heights, so being on the bridge was rather nervewrecking.

Part of the Giant’s Causeway (also taken from my phone’s camera).

The second, main stop on our trip was at the Giant’s Causeway. The Causeway is legendarily built by an Irish giant, Finn Mac Cool, during his conflict with a Scottish Giant, as wordless depicted in this hilarious video or you could read the story on Wikipedia. Anyways, geologically speaking, the place came to be due to some volcanic activity that occurred loooooong ago. Either way, I decided it’d be a good place to visit partially because I had thought it a peculiar place to visit with the way the rocks had formed, and also because one of my professors had talked about the discovery of stromatolites at the location. It was a beautiful place indeed, too bad I forgot my camera on accident that day and took a bunch of pictures with my phone instead. However, I feel sort of lucky, as the salt water mist often splashed onto other people’s cameras and it was rather humid, so it didn’t dry on the lens, but it did leave water streaks on lenses.

On the way back to the bus from the Giant’s Causeway, I bumped into two of my Brazilian friends from another school. It was quite a surprise to bump into them, but it was nice too, getting the feeling that I have a sense of community among international students even at different schools. Then, the bus driver took us to Belfast for an hour, for a rest stop before heading home. On the way to Belfast, my new Brazilian girl friend and I saw a sheep hiding in bush on our way there. It was SO CUTE! Belfast wasn’t much to explore without a guide, but it was definitely a good place to take a break, especially since we were going to be back tomorrow anyways.

My lovely, lovely package of tea things from Tevana. ❤

Upon arriving home, I went to go fetch a package that had been delivered to the offices earlier in the week. Upon receiving it, I was elated upon discovering what I got and was absolutely shocked who had sent it to me. It was like the Christmas I didn’t have. This package was absolutely the most unexpected, thus making it the most wonderful gift I’ve gotten in a long time.

Belfast + Titanic?! (9/2/14)

Today, was Belfast day. So, I keep hearing about the Titanic tour in Belfast – it’s been ongoing since I got to Ireland. I had no idea what the big deal was. Turns out, the Titanic was BUILT in Belfast. OOOOOHHHH!!!! Suddenly things made sense.

One side of the model of the Titanic.

Anyways, so our first stop of our Belfast trip was – in fact – the Titanic Tour. I had a wonderful time learning about ship building and the history of the Titanic and the people who survived it – and a bit about those who died in it. The best part of the tour though, was definitely the penny press. I was so excited when I found that they had a penny press there. Then, I realized I had no pences, pounds – whatever they use in the UK. Thankfully, my flatmate came to save the day because she had coins! Luckily, she had enough for BOTH of us to get a pressed penny each. THAT is what I call “grand”!

The peace wall along Cupar Way in Belfast, separating the Catholic and Protestant communities – part of the “Black Cab Tours”.

After the excitement at the Titanic exhibition, we went on Harper’s Belfast Taxi Tours – aka the “Black Cab (Political) Tours”. It was rather intriguing learning about the history of the Troubles in more detail and hearing about the conflicts that occurred between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. What a crazy history there is there. I think my group got pretty lucky, we were driven by the owner of the “company” – the guy who started this idea of the tour – Ken Harper. Oddly enough, when he found out I was American, he asked me if I knew who Rick Steves was. Um, YEAH, I know who he is – only the most well-known man to write travel guides for Americans who like to travel! Apparently, Mr. Ken Harper is one of Rick Steve’s informants, one of those things Rick Steves tells people to partake in when they go to Belfast. Crazy stuff. All in all, it was a wonderful day in Belfast.

Things I Learned “today”

  • Parthenocarpy (watermelon and cucumbers)
  • There’s a “Welcome to Northern Ireland” sign, but not a “Welcome to the Republic of Ireland” sign because the people of the Republic think of the island as one whole country, rather than two separate countries.

Words/Phrases of the Day

  • (Sports) pitch = field
  • “Don’t go, you’re a great laugh.” = something you say to someone when they’re leaving, funniest if they were the most boring person

More pictures:

A panoramic taken from the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge area (excuse the change in color on the left – I took these pictures on my phone).

One of the statues in the front of the Titanic Exhibition building.

The Albert Memorial Clock – aka the Leaning Tower of Belfast – which leans about 4 feet off the perpendicular.

Inside the Crown Liquor Saloon, the oldest pub in Belfast – or something like that.

The Europa Hotel – aka the most bombed hotel in the world. It’s been bombed 28+ times, mostly during the Troubles.

A panoramic view from The Dome at the top of the Victoria Square Shopping Centre where you can see a good deal of Belfast.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s