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the following occured on the days of February 2nd, 3rd, and 6th, but I wrote it on the 5th and 6th in Dublin. Yeah, confusing I know. I just kinda wrote whenever and didn't break it up much. You'll get the fill in days, though.

I asked my very friendly proprieter (who I also found out is a Lord of the Rings nerd - yay!) to wake me up at 8:30 because the alarm clock I had bought refused to work sensible. I'm never getting an analog alarm clock again. Geez. The checkout time was 10am so I ate breakfast made by Richard, which was very hearty and nice, then just finished getting everything together before I headed out. I thought I'd be cheap and walk across town to the train station hauling my luggage behind me instead of getting a cab or bus. Bad idea. My arms ached and it took me what seemed like forever to get to the train station. However, my flight to Belfast wasn't scheduled until 4:50pm so I had plenty of time to haul myself wherever (in Swansea, that is).
The train to Cardiff was uneventful, except that I had wasted my money by buying a return ticket on the 30th that I deluded myself into thinking would work on the 1st. Had I been running on more sleep, I suspect I would have realized that all day return trian tickets are only valid on that same day. Sheesh.
So when I was on the train I had to pay for a single to get me to Cardiff central station. Once there, I entered another phase o fwaiting, which would continue long throughout the day at the airport. Finally, my flight left and I got in Belfast without much delay. Then I just went on the express Bus to the bus station and met up with Michael. We got to a pub where I ate and he sustained himself with a couple pints of Bass. Strange man, that one.
It was nice though to put a moving, breathing person to the internet persona that I have seen around on the same community forum for so long. I just went to bed after the pub venture (at this place near Queens called the Eg. It was pained a neon green. When we walked there, it was at night and the moon was full. There was this one church across the street and behind the spire, the moon sat nestled in the patchy clouds. It looked soooooooo coool!). The next day, we just planned to meet at 1pm. So, after waking up late, I wandered around the main streets (Great Victoria STreet, Dublin Road, and Wellington Pl) and went to the tourism office where I got some postcards to send to various people. I sent them and went back to meet Michael. He showed me the Maths department and the rest of the university. Very pretty buildings, a lot of them (cracks me up, btw, that they use Maths as a plural word, when the word Math I thought was understood to be a plural word...you know, like sheep? or deer?). I liked the circular windows on one of the buildings (forgot the name of it now). That one also had these gargoyle things that looked like they were coming out of the side of the building. I really wanted a picture of them but my camera sucks. I would totally own those gargoyles with 10x zoomage if I had it. Yeah. Big qualifier there, I know.
We agreed to meet up again to pick up Emily when her bus got in. We walked around for awhile (after checking her in. She's really awesome, btw. We all got on immediately) looking for a place to eat and due to my tight budget I'm afraid, we ended up at the same brightly colored pub where Michael and I had been the night before. I had vegetable Lasagne, which wasn't quite what I was expecting (nothing ever is when I order from the menu at pubs) and Michael bought me another drink. I felt bad because my budget was so tight, though I did buy a couple rounds for everyone (which wasn't too much).
It may seem strange that the pub we were in was neon green, but I noticed a lot of buildings in Wales and Northern Ireland painted really bright colors. I suspect it's because they don't get much sun so they need to have something cheery to make it through the day. ;-)
After the Eg, we moved across the street to get more drinks. I tried this one Beer -- Belfast Ale, and it was all right. The previous night I tried the Magner's cider and I didn't think I liked it as much as Strongbow, which I had in Swansea. But then later, I had another half pint of the Magners and it grew on me. At the Eg, I had a half pint of Bass cuz I wanted to try it. Was all right. But a little more acidic than I liked. Before I forget, here is the complete alcohol list I consumed while on the trip:
- Strongbow cider (1 pint total)
- Magners cider (1 pint total)
- Bass (1/2 pint)
- Harp (1/2 pint)
- Belfast Ale (1/2 pint)
- Guinness (2 1/2 pints)

As you can see, the winner is Guinness. I am officially in love with the draught. I don't care if it's a huge brand in Ireland that stomps out local flavors. It's damn good. I just tend to drink it too fast. I think the best pint I had was at the Davy Byrnes off of Grafton street. The guy really took his time in dispensing it. I love how you have to "wait" for it to settle a bit and they they take it to you like an ordered dish or something like that. Well, right now I'm writing from the Mad Hatter at Blackrock, a suburb of Dublin. It's sunny outside so I should be there, but I've been walking a lot and my back hurts. I think these boots are really bad for my back.
I ended up here because I was directed here by the postgraduate English office at UCD (which took me forever to find, I might add. I asked four people and went around in circles. And it's so weird, the arts building is connected to the library and each sub group of the arts/humanities is in a different section by alphabetical order. And, to get to the certain letters -- such as JK, which was what I needed to find -- you have to follow a colored line painted on the ground. Isn't that weird? I think so)
Apparently UCD has two campuses, or at least a very spread out one. To get to Blackrock, I'd either have to walk for a ways or go back to Dublin and take the DART. I just decided to do the DART because I didn't want to have to navigate a different bus system....and it was kinda scary to think of going to yet another new place on my own, but I had loads of time to do it so I just figured, what the hey. Round trip fare was cheap so I got there quickly. The DART line runs alongside Dublin Bay, so it was really pretty with the sun out on the water, and whatnot. So Blackrock is a seaside town, basically. Geez. So I could go here as well. But ultimately, I think I'll want Swansea the most, even if it is a little rundown in parts. However, once in Blackrock, I couldn't find the actual building where the creative MA program is run out of. I'll see if I can call the people later so I can get the info I need.
This Mad Hatter place is cool, though. It's two story and gots a cool light fixture thing.

I'll tell more about Belfast later....

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Rachel

September 2007

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