Day 8 – The road to Belfast

21 Jun

Now one thing I won’t do is come over here driving again without a GPS. That was kind of wishful thinking. I rented a USB dongle that connects to the cigarette lighter in the car and provides a shared wi-fi access point. Using that wifi connection, I figured I could use the GPS feature on my cell phone. Well….it works, and it doesn’t work. Not sure why. And it runs on a cellular network, so it’s not a real big bandwidth pipe when the girls are doing their Facebooks and I’m trying to drive. And it doesn’t work in Northern Ireland putting us “on our own”. Anyways, fortunately, Michelle was able to get hers working well enough to at least get us in the direction of where we were headed. And that is to Brú na Bóinne.

Jenny in the Irish countryside.  Beautiful!

Jenny in the Irish countryside. Beautiful!

Now Brú na Bóinne, also known as Newgrange, is a collection of monolithic burial grounds dating back over 5,000 years. That’s 1,500 years older than the Pyramids of Giza. The site had a great visitiors center that gave us a lot of insight into these stone-age peoples way of life, how they got along, and their truly awesome burial monuments. Unfortunately, what is known about this people is not much. A lot of it is speculation. However, the burial mounds construction 5,000 years ago with that technology is quite incredible. That must of been some undertaking. We were even able to enter the chamber in small groups. To be able to step that far back in time was quite incredible and I am really glad we stopped. I don’t think I would return again, but it was great to have done this and add to my travel resume.

Jenny in front of the entrance to the Newgrange mound.

Jenny in front of the entrance to the Newgrange mound.

Michelle in front of Newgrange

Michelle in front of Newgrange

Now getting there was a different story. We had set Michelle’s GPS to take us to Newgrange which is the name of the largest and most popular mound. And it worked, it took us directly to the burial mound. Through backroads and all over, but we got there. The unfortunate thing was you can not get on the grounds this way. You must go through the visitor center which was an easy 15km back through those narrow irish roads. Well, at least I got some more expereince driving on the wrong side of the road and navigating some of these tricky passageways.

Once we got there, all was well, but we spent much longer than we thought we would. There is a shuttle that runs tours out to the mounds and is a mere 2 minutes from the visitor center as we recognized all the roads we had just been on navigating.

Anyways, it was oool. Then being close to Slane Castle, we decided to stop by. Bon Jovi had just played a massive concert on the grounds a few days eariler and they were still cleaning up. We had a quick walkabout the grounds and we were back on our way.

These castles are fantastic!  This one is in pristine shape whereas many are just ruins.

These castles are fantastic! This one is in pristine shape whereas many are just ruins.

Decided now, as we know longer have any “plans”, merely a route and things we’d like to see, that wee should stop off and secure accomodation somewhere up the road. Stopped in Jimmys Pub in Dundalk. We himmed-and-hawed about exactly where-to-go what-to-do, and I decided I don’t like not having some plan. Anyways, found a hotel in Belfast that was reasonable priced and booked a room for 2 adults, 2 kids. A room with two beds. Get into Belfast, now in Northern Ireland, a different country and part of the UK, not Ireland, and it took us a bit, but we eventually worked our way through the poorly signed streets and found our hotel. I only turned into the wrong lane once, and went up a one-way street once, and fortunately corrected my problems before they turned out badly. I finally find the hotel with a lot of help from Michelle and pull into the alleyway next to the hotel to send the girls into check-in and find a place I can park.

During the time they’re inside, a hotel staff member comes out to tell me I can’t park there, and she’s very nice. I explain what’s going on and she’s fine. I figure I better turn the car around in this very narrow alleyway so I’m all ready to go when they return. And then I proceeded to have my Austin Powers moment where he backs that cart in between two walls in one of the movies. I turned my car in the same manner. I didn’t get it stuck, but it probably wasn’t pretty watching me get it turned around with my 13-point turn. Glad nobody saw that!

The girls come out and tell me there’s some problem with the reservation. I go in, while Michelle guards the car, to find out I booked a room for 2 adults, 2 kids. As I said, I figured Michelle could sleep in the other bed, and Jenny and I would take one. It’s their policy to not allow more than 2 adults in any room. I didn’t argue or anything, just asked how do we fix the problem. The only way is to get another room, so long story short, we’re paying twice what we figured for tonight, but the good news is we have our own room, Jenny’s buzzed, so I’ll probably get laid. Jury’s still out. I’ll let you know tomorrow. Oh, and we get in the room to find a beautiful queen bed, and two perfectly fine single beds right next to it. Silly, but it’s not my town. I’m on vacation and really don’t care either way.

Oh, also, I find out there’s a video camera right there at the check in desk so everyone was able to enjoy my 13-point alleyway car turnaround. Michelle even video’d it. Anyways, once the check-in was done, we had to put the car somewhere for the night.

They tell us it’s no problem and give us directions to an easy 24/7 car park very nearby. The only problem is I can’t tell what the hell these people are saying! 🙂 It took me and Michelle about 30 minutes to find the place (which is 2 blocks away). However, we know every street and have personally drove every street within a 6 block radius all without crashing, getting on the freeway accidently, and only pissing off one person (that I know of.) He squealed off in annoyance of my Irish driving ineptitude. Fuck him…

Anyways, finally got the car stowed safely (I hope!) and checked into our rooms. Dropped the bags and to the bar where we had drinks and dinner and a loverly night watching the young sluts walk down the street to some club that must’ve nearby. The girls couldn’t believe “the shoes” on them, but I’m not sure what that means. Men don’t look at shoes. But they were very entertained.

Went to the bar to order dinner, to find out the kitchen had closed a few minutes earlier. But they were kind enough to call in takeaway food for us, which upon delivery, they told us we couldn’t eat in the bar. So we went into the hotel lobby and sat down to what looked like a trailer park Thanksgiving feast! Pizza and Chinese food!! Mmmmm….

Off to bed now and another day tomorrow. Have a couple of sites to hit on our way to Galway. Tomorrow should be our longest driving day. Figuring about 7 hours, but then it’s peanuts after that. Again, I hope!

Well, that’s all for tonight gang. Be back tomorrow. Pray for me as I continue to learn how to drive in Ireland! I think I did pretty good.

Brentallica

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2 Responses to “Day 8 – The road to Belfast”

  1. JoAnne Z. June 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    This is SO awesome that you posted something about Newgrange. The book I just read has Newgrange in it and I had never heard of it. So too cool to actually see pictures of it after I had a made up image in my head!! Thanks for sharing B!!

    • Brentallica June 28, 2013 at 6:01 am #

      Hell yeah. It was a blast. Glad you liked it!

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