Saturday, March 13, 2010

Almost like home...

After a particularly long week that included me getting ANOTHER cold I decided that Chris should take me out for dinner. I called him around 10:30 in the morning to share my decision. The conversation went like this...

Me: Hello, You need to make reservations.
Him: I do? Why?
Me: Because I took the time to look cute today... really cute. And it's Friday.
Him: Okay

I love my hubby!
After a crab cake with mango salsa, a 12 oz USDA sirloin with crispy onions, garlic green beans and cottage chips and a chocolate fondant cake with vanilla ice cream at The Palm, I REALLY love my hubby!
Nothing like an American style steak dinner with a bottle of Sonoma Pinot Noir to take care of my nagging homesickness!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Heart Northern Ireland

After the better part of an afternoon in Belfast we headed for Portrush along the A2/Antrim Coast Road. Not sure what we were expecting but were amazed at how beautiful the drive was...despite the rain, snow and hail we encounter along the way!

It was freezing! And windy! But gorgeous!!

The water was crystal clear and when the sun was out it was blue like I have never seen! Parts of the drive reminded me of Highway 1 in California. Every 2 or 3 miles I was begging for Chris to pull over for a photo opportunity... eventually, he just stayed in the car while I froze! But the pictures were worth it ;-)
All these pictures were taken on the same sporadic day. So far we've had some dark clouds and a little rain... still to come heavy rain, snow and hail!

Seems like all our trips within the UK include graveyards and sheep. Now where are those sheep???

Happy Sheep!

And here comes the snow...

This is the view of Portrush Harbor from our B&B. Please note the snow on the roofs.
We got in to Portrush around 5 and met my friend Steven for a quick drink. Within 20 minutes of heading into the pub there was a full on hail storm! Hail the size of marbles was pouring out of the sky for about 2 hours!!! And when we woke up the next morning there was about 2 or 3 inches of snow!

Steven and Ray... on the snow covered beach!

Look at the smile on my face.
A Florida Girl standing on a snow covered beach in coat, gloves, and scarf.

Steven and I.
We travelled to Northern Ireland to see Steven off to Australia. But then he decided to stay in London. I think the whole thing was just a ploy to get us to his hometown ;-)

While the snow made driving and walking a bit treacherous... it sure does make for pretty pictures!

Where is my coat?
Silly Florida Girl, just because the sun is shining does not mean that it is warm!!!

Dunluce Castle. Picture Perfect!

The Giant's Causeway. Built by the Irish Giant, Finn McCool, to get to Scotland to fight the Scottish Giant. The Scot was so much larger than Finn that he was horrified and ran away. His wife dressed him as a baby and when the Scot Giant saw him he thought that it was Finn's baby and that the father must be gigantic so he ran away destroying the causeway as he fled! Or it was caused by the cooling of volcanic lava... whatever.
Whatever or whoever built the causeway, it was impressive. Steven was a brilliant tour guide... he told his own version of local folklore which I found entertaining... even more entertaining was when he heard the more accurate versions at the visitors centre!

The morning after the "Going Away" party, Chris and I headed back to Belfast. Our plan was to tour Bushmill's Distillery and then take the less scenic but faster route back to Belfast. However, Bushmill's had other plans for us so we just retraced the original route but detoured through a forest road. It was a lovely ride but true to my nature I was asleep for about an hour!

Before my nap, we stopped to check out the beach. Try as we might we couldn't find the pot o'gold at the end of this rainbow!! Maybe on our next trip!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Afternoon in Belfast

About 2 weeks ago Chris and I headed over to Northern Ireland for a long weekend. We spent the early afternoon in Belfast before driving along the coast to a little town called Portrush. Several people recommended a black taxi tour of Belfast that would take us through the history of the "troubles" as well as tour the hotspots. The sky was only slightly ominous...
Apparently back in the 70's when things first started to kick off, people started painting murals as a way of marking their neighborhoods. This practice continues. Our tour guide insisted the murals are now peaceful and positive but the neighborhoods are about 100% segregated and the murals are specific to the neighborhood...

I don't think a man with a rifle in a ski mask is how I would depict a positive and peaceful message! To each their own!!!
The picture to the right is the peace wall. It is one of 6 or 7 walls that divide a Catholic neighborhood from a Protestant one. This one is just about covered in grafiti. Most visitors sign their name on the wall to show their support of the peace process. However, am not so sold on the idea that they have peace. Things are clearly better than they were in the past but the country still has a long way to go to be at peace. The Monday or Tuesday after we got back there was a car bomb outside a courthouse in Newry. The bomb was apparently in response to a decision to return policing responsibility to the capital of Belfest from London...     
The wall on the left is covered in murals in support of "troubles" in other parts of the world. Irish refer to the fighting as the "troubles."
Downtown Belfast was pretty small and fairly rundown but we did visit a pretty awesome pub. The original plan was to have a pint but since we had a couple hours worth of driving ahead of us so we just took a look around the loos and then headed on our way! The capital was impressive and looked very similar to St Paul's Cathedral in London...they even have their own mini-Eye!
Next post... pics from the drive and Portrush!!!
Until then...