This post is a sort of extension of my last post with pictures. If you didn't get the vibe from my last post, it was so amazing having Zen here for a too short two weeks, and I'm already counting down the days until he visits again! It was a great opportunity for us both to see new parts of the world, which we took advantage of.
As mentioned, we first went to Belfast. We were so lucky with the weather we had (what happened to typical Irish weather?), especially for visiting the Giant's Causeway. This was probably my favourite part of our holiday, and was something I looked forward to seeing for a long time. We were not disappointed with the Causeway or any of the other parts of the tour; we had beautiful coastal scenery to look at for the entire day.
|Zenon at the Giant's Causeway|
The Black Taxi tour was very moving and like nothing I'd ever done before. I was completely ignorant about the "troubles" before visiting Belfast, so it was an absolute eye-opener. I never realized that part of the city was still divided - the wall dividing the Protestant and Catholic parts of West Belfast has been up longer than the Berlin Wall was. The murals on the Catholic side were my favourite, and they're constantly being updated to showcase current issues. The picture below was of my favourite mural: there was a curfew on the Catholic part of West Belfast at one point, which essentially meant that the people could never leave their homes. After a few days of this, the women banded together to try to end the curfew by marching in the streets, pushing children in prams and carrying bread and milk to feed the hungry Catholic. The gardai (police) couldn't do anything to stop them since they weren't being threatening, and this effectively ended the curfew. Moral of the story: women are capable of anything!
|The Protestant side of the wall, covered in encouraging messages of peace|
The next weekend Zen and I went to Glasgow; neither of us had ever been to Scotland, so it was a real treat. We were only there for a few short days, but we made good use of our time. The first day we had a few hours before we could check into the hostel, so we did a hop-on-hop-off tour. I can't remember too much of the history from the tour, but it was a great way to see the city initially because it helped us get our bearings. That night we went out to a local pub (Zen wanted an "authentic Scottish experience") and ended up meeting four Swedish business men and two Scottish men and had a grand ol' time drinking with them! Quite the bizzare experience!
A little groggy the next morning, we woke up early to go on our tour of the Highlands and Loch Ness. The weather was quite awful that day, so we didn't get too great of views of the mountains. The landscape was really unique, though; the mountains looked like huge ski moguls to me (but maybe that's just me). The tour ended up taking a bit longer than anticipated because of an accident en route, but it didn't throw us off too much. We weren't thrilled with the tour - we didn't stop too much even to take pictures. The driver would sometimes point something of interest out, but would hardly slow down for us to take a look at it. It was a 13 hour day, which is far too long for a tour, so I think next time we won't be quite so ambitious with our sightseeing.
|Zen in front of Loch Lomond|
|Me at Loch Ness|
Our last day in Scotland we went to Greenock, which is about half an hour away from Glasgow and where Zen's grandparents lived before moving to Canada. His Grannie has a picture on her fridge of a particular intersection in Greenock in the 1970's, so we spent most of our time there searching for the crossing so Zen could take an updated photo of it. We had lunch there, where Zen tried haggis (what a bad vegetarian, eh? But a good Scotsman, I suppose), which looked nothing like I thought it would (probably for the better).
The last few days we spent in Dublin were great - we had beautiful weather and were able to visit Howth and Bray. In Howth we went on the same hike I had done a couple of months ago, and in Bray we sat on the beach for an hour or two. Zen was adamant about swimming in the ocean at least once this summer, so he crossed that off of his to do list - even if it was freezing. While he was swimming in the Irish Sea I was bundled up on the beach.
|Me (top left) in breathtaking Howth|
|Zen going for a dip in Bray|
All in all, it was a fantastic holiday, but like always it was too brief. Hopefully the next few months go by quickly and it won't be long before my family (and possibly Zen) is here for Christmas.
Hope you're having a good start to your fall :)