Well, we didn’t make it to the Crown Liquor Saloon for dinner…walked across the street and it was packed so we ended up next door at Robinson’s Spirits Shop, Pub, Bistro, and Restaurant where it was much less crowded and noisy. We ended up just having a beer followed by checking out another couple of Irish whiskeys that we had not had before…and shared a Toffee Sticky Pudding with Cream Sauce and Ice Cream for dinner. The pudding was outstanding…pudding here is what we would call cake although it’s really moist and is steamed rather than being baked.
While we were there we ran into two characters…the first got the Connie Attracts the Town Drunk Counter updated to 5 and the second was actually just a character.
OK, we’re sitting at the bar and talking to the both the other folks sitting at the bar as well as the random people that walk up to order a drink. Connie was to Neil’s left and on the other side of her was this guy who turned out to be named Robert. Neil noticed he kept staring at Connie every time Neil looked over that way and he looked really skanky. He told her about it and she immediately moved her backpack pocketbook (she’s using a small day pack as a pocketbook over here) to the opposite side of the guy. She had a couple of “other people at the bar” conversations with him but was otherwise ignoring him. About a half hour later she’s looking toward Neil and talking to Ronnie (the other character) and feels this strong tug on her ponytail. She turns around and it’s Robert letting go of it and she asks him what’s going on. He says “Sorry.” like that’s supposed to make it OK. Both of them gave Robert a glare and he sort of backed off. A little while later Neil went to recycle beer and while he was gone she got this really creepy feeling…turned around…and Robert was staring at her from a foot or so away. That freaked her out so she grabbed Neil’s credit card as we were in the middle of paying and high tailed it over by the door to wait for him. Guy even gave Neil the creeps.
The second character was Ronnie…who came up and was talking to Neil. He thought it was important to announce that he was gay and was looking for our opinion on gay people and how they are perceived in the US. Neil couldn’t decide whether he was hitting on Neil or not…likely not as Neil clearly had a woman already sitting with him. Ronnie disappeared after awhile and that’s when Robert started to really creep Connie out as above.
With that we headed back home and got up this morning for breakfast in the hotel. After that we caught the Belfast Hop On Hop Off bus and basically just did the riding part of the tour as it was raining most of the time. We did get off at 2 of the 20 stops to visit the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals in town.
First up was the Anglican one…Saint Ann. It was the larger of the two and was clearly organized as a money making operation with admission for tours, a gift shop, and a large panel asking for donations as well. We passed on all but the admission (3 pounds total) and wandered around for about 20 minutes before heading back across to catch the next bus (they run on a 30 minute schedule).
From there we hopped back on the bus for another 5 stops and got off at Saint Peter’s Catholic cathedral. It was on the Catholic side of the city and was generally in a poorer, more run down neighborhood…that’s because back during the issues here in Ireland in the 70s through 90s catholics sort of got the short end of the stick economics wise from the government…this was a large contributor to the desire of the republicans to separate from the UK vs the other side which was mostly Protestant and wanted to remain with the UK. That’s obviously not the only reason of course…but condensing the tour bus spiel down into a couple of sentences that’s the gist of it…as an American I’m completely not qualified to provide any detailed knowledge on another country’s internal political situation. I barely understand ours…much less somebody else’s.
St Peters was not originally built as a cathedral but since the bishop and later archbishop lived there and said Mass there it was elevated to being a cathedral back in the 1980s. What a beautiful organ though…we wish we could have heard it played but alas, not today. The only person we found inside except for us was the fellow polishing the floors.
We got back on the bus and despite pushing the bell to get off near our hotel the driver and tour woman kept right on going to the final stop…making us walk about 5 times as far as we would have otherwise. She was pretty rude when we asked to get off and again when we disagreed with her.
Our conclusion on Belfast is that it isn’t nearly as friendly a city…or as pretty a one…as Dublin was. People seem much more in a rush and impolite here compared to the south. Neil wondered whether that was because they were still part of the UK and not part of the Republic…or whether the attitudes here influenced the country staying with the UK instead of separating when the Republic did. Who knows…I’m sure some social anthropologist could write a long book about it, but not me.
Tomorrow we’re off to Dublin for our return flight on Sunday.