Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tales of Bangor #18 (rhif un deg wyth) - Sticking out thumbs, sipping Guinness and sleeping on benches

The last week of my Easter holidays brought some more travels and visitations of and by friends: Nina and Kathi started their little Odyssey in Austria, picked up Katie on their way through Nottingham, and all three of them eventually alighted from the train in little rural Bangor where I met them with open arms.
After transferring the limited floor space of my room into a big camp that hardly left any piece of floor clear to stand on (the bike got displaced for the night) I showed them everything noteworthy in this little town before we eventually gravitated towards the kitchen table and started a fierce battle of Uno.

The next day we decided to leave Bangor and walk to Beaumaris. After about 2km we doubted that we would reach our destination within reasonable time (it was 12 already) and made up our minds to take the bus. So we went to the next bus stop and waited.
No bus would come and I suggested to hitch a ride. Us being four people and therefore more than the average car could take on, we were afraid that nobody might stop, but eventually someone did. The Belgian woman and her husband offered to take two of us, so Kathi and Katie got in. Nina and I were left standing with our arms outstretched, thumbs hopefully pointing skywards. A few minutes passed and I just started to get annoyed, when an elderly lady pulled up and offered to take us to our destination. She was sweet: apologised for the mess in her car and on dropping us off told us to give her a thumb next time we'd see her. Thanks for the offer, I might.

Beaumaris Jail is not my friend. For the second time I was trying to visit it was closed. So we snapped a few pics of the exterior, had lunch in a pub, walked around town and finally back to the mainland (i.e. Bangor). Walking back took a bit longer than it would have, due to my unique talent of getting lost when people rely on me (let me walk on my own and I will immediately find the right way).

Beaumaris Jail: Open every day - but closed every Friday

We got back to Bangor and in total fatigue collapsed in my flat to gather some energy for our next adventure: our bus to Dublin was scheduled to leave Bangor shortly before midnight.

00:00 The bus was late and we started to get worried, but friendly Welsh tacsi drivers assured me that we were waiting at the right place. Finally we got on the bus and fell asleep for the first time that night.

02:00 We woke up in Holyhead, got out of the bus to have our passports controlled, got on another bus and with it onto the ferry. There, we ascended to Deck 7 where we found a big, quiet lounge area with well-cushioned benches. Katie immediately went on an explorative trip to familiarise herself with the surroundings and reported back to us: The ferry had a restaurant, a VIP lounge, playing areas for all ages and even a cinema! When our first excitement had subsided we made ourselves as comfortable as we possibly could on benches that were about half a metre too short to prevent aches and stiffness in various places and dozed off again.

~05:30 A voice over loudspeakers brought us back to life and we trudged back to the bus.

06:30ish - Arrival at the bus station in Dublin. I went off to ask directions while the others became acquainted with an unkempt, bearded Irish lad who urgently needed to tell somebody about the benefits of owning a bicycle. Luckily, he also knew where we had to go.

07:00ish: We reached the hostel and were permitted to leave our stuff in the luggage room. The friendly receptionist offered that we could stay in the common room until check-in at 2pm. We gladly took the offer, only to lie down on the sofas and sleep for a couple of hours. (Comfort-factor: benches were long enough this time but sagged, so that the already existing stiffness and pain were doubled).

Hostel room... erm: luggage store

Later we rose, fresh as dew, stretched and went for a nice oily fry-up (or Irish breakfast) and brainstormed on what to do with the day. The Writer's Museum caught our eye by clever marketing: unobtrusively, a little voucher was lurking in the corner of our map: 2 for 1 on entry fees. Lack of sleep and better ideas makes people susceptible to offers of this kind, so we directed our steps to the museum.

An interpretation of this sculpure is welcomed - I failed.

The girl behind the counter of the Writer's Museum handed us Audio guides and we began our tour only to be interrupted after 5 minutes: The fire alarm went off and we were kindly asked to hand back the audio device and evacuate the building. So we did.
After about 10 minutes of waiting the alarm had not stopped but we were let in again and resumed trying to process the abundant information on the panels. (The audio guides were rubbish.) An information-packed two hours later we emerged from the building just in time to witness a general demonstration against racism and all kinds of other bad things.

The Spire: highest sculpture in the world with lots of interesting nicknames (the Stiffy at the Liffy, Stiletto in the Ghetto &c.)

The day passed and in the evening we went to The Academy to see and listen to Laura Marling live. The location was rather small with not too many people and the whole concert was absolutely great: The Australian support act Boy&Bear were one of the best supporting acts I have seen perform so far and Laura Marling is not only a really good singer with an amazing voice but also comes across as an amiable, witty, down-to-earth girl.
The pint of Bulmers for €5,50 was less impressive.

Katie and I decided we could not visit Dublin without going out and went on a quest for a suitable bar. Following our intuition we found our way to Temple Bar - Dublin's cultural and artistic quarter. Pubs and bars galore! And all equally crowded. Foggy Dew was the one we chose and on entering we had this little Tardis-moment, when we realised that the place was much much bigger than it had looked. We found a nice little corner and I finally got my Guinness.

I stared at it for a minute or two, taking in all it's aesthetic value before I actually took a sip. Mmmmh.


The next day I found a flyer advertising free guided tours through Dublin. I had already taken this kind of tour in Edinburgh (twice) and persuaded the others to give it a go.

Us and that guy:
"Could you take a picture of us?"
"Can I be on your picture?"
...I was joking, he wasn't ...

After a bit of morning sunbathing at the Liffy we met our young guide Chris and for three hours looked at sites and listened to the stories he told us. The funniest moment was when he informed us about the Vikings' lifestyle. He was just telling us that no Viking helmets have ever been found with horns attached, when a yellow boat on wheels shot round the corner: it was filled with tourists carrying cameras and wearing plastic helmets WITH horns. Hilarious!

Dublin castle: Lego style blended with Georgian architecture and medieval structures

Justice: unimpeded eyesight, back turned to the city, ready to strike - a masterpiece...

other acquaintances

No comment.

After the tour we wanted to get into Christ Church Cathedral, but failed. Twice. Because at first it was closed for a rehearsal of some kind and when we returned after dinner it was already closed again for the day. We were gutted: So badly had we wanted to see the cat and rat that once got stuck in an organ pipe and were mummified by the metal and dry conditions. They are now on display in the crypt. Maybe next time...

Christ Church Cathedral from the outside

After some more sunbathing and a few more games of UNO it was time for Katie and me to pack our stuff and get on our bus back. This time we left at 8pm, a slightly more humane time than two nights before. On the ferry we gave the cinema a chance and watched the terribly bad movie "Jennifer's Bones".

2 am: Arrival in Bangor. The busdriver was so nice as to drop us off just 50 metres from my house. I like Welsh bus drivers.

Conclusio: Dublin is a nice city, although extremely expensive, and Ireland is probably the country with the best marketing and most souvenir shops. Haven't seen enough of it yet but there are already plans for returning...


The Plashing Vole said...

You are having an exciting time.
Dublin's OK, but so touristy, and more than half of the country's population lives there, so it's too crowded for me (I'm from quiet County Longford). Try Galway (good music and food), Donegal, Mayo and Connemara for wild landscape and the Irish language, or Cork and Kerry for a very cool city, excellent mountains and the sea.

kathi said...

haha. vikings with horns. situationskomik ist die beste!!

dAnath-alÁvye said...

Wales & Ireland. Trips. Guinness. Users.

Sounds simply stunning. *want*