I spend a few days with Mark and Ricky in Dublin and Belfast.
The trip begins on Friday with an Aer Lingus flight from Heathrow to Dublin (same flight as Karen), where I meet Mark, Karen and Ricky at the airport. We catch the bus into town and wander around Grafton Street looking for Karen’s hotel, La Stampa Hotel & Spa (clearly the wrong street). While Karen checks in, we line up the first round of Guinness’ at the hotel bar. Karen joins us for a few drinks until hunger takes over, so we head for the Temple Bar district for an Irish stew at Oliver St John Gogarty. The first day over, the boys catch a cab to our Travelodge hotel a couple miles away.
Saturday we begin with a full Irish breakfast and coffee (same as full English) a few doors down from our hotel. We finally work out the correct change for the bus back into town, where we walk across The Ha'Penny Bridge, around Christ Church Cathedral (wrong cathedral) and then Saint Patrick's Cathedral where we meet Karen. After a quick drink at a pub opposite, we head for the Guinness Brewery. We tour the brewery which explains the beer’s ingredients and origins before enjoying a pint at the Gravity Bar with fantastic 360° views of the city. In the evening we have a Thai/Indonesian curry and then head back to the Temple Bar district where we find (finally) some traditional Irish music.
The boys begin Sunday with another full Irish breakfast and coffee before catching the bus to Belfast (with a surprising lack of border control). Once there we see the Europa Hotel, known as the "most bombed hotel in the world" 28 times. We stop for a drink in The Crown Bar, the most famous in Belfast, where Mark’s dad picks us up and drives us to Bangor. We then walk to Ricky's, picking up some beer and Chinese takeaway on route, spending the evening watching episodes of The Inbetweeners.
We begin Monday with sausage and soda bread before a day out in Bangor. We visit a couple pubs, eat Burger and chips, visit a few more pubs, before a quiet Monday night out in Bangor made us retire to Ricky's for more episodes of The Inbetweeners.
Tuesday is all about the Giant’s Causeway. We begin with a cooked breakfast at the Pit Stop Café, before Ricky drives us an hour north to the coast. Once there, we drop into the Causeway Hotel so Ricky can have a drink (sober for the drive home), before walking down to the Giant’s Causeway for a climb, a sit, and a few photo opportunities. After such strenuous exercise, we drop back into the Causeway Hotel for refreshments, before Ricky drives us back for takeaway pizza and yet more episodes of The Inbetweeners.
My last day begins with a takeaway sausage and egg soda bread sandwich from the Pit Stop Café. Ricky drives us into Belfast where we walk around the Titanic Dock and Pump-House at Harland and Wolff. A driving tour around the city ends with me being dropped off at George Best City Airport and a flight to Gatwick and home.
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