It’s been a busy week since I left Belfast, and leaving Belfast proved no small challenge.

Last Monday Carol left for Prague for the New Year celebration. I too was supposed to depart, but because I had stayed up the entire night before scouring the Internet for flight deals to Bangkok and various other travel tips I stayed behind an extra day. Sooo… Tuesday morning I woke up bright and early and headed down to the store to grab the rest of the money I owed Carol (she spotted me to buy my flights) and to get some batteries. Getting back to the house I entered the back gate like I’d done a bunch of times before – but this time something was different… something was VERY different. The key didn’t work! Alright, don’t panic. There’s a reasonable explanation. There MUST be a reasonable explanation. Turns out a key was inserted in the inside lock, which (for some UBERSECURITY reason that is beyond me) negates the openability from the outside (even with a lock). Shit, shit, shit. Carol’s in Prague, ALL my stuff is locked in the house (including phone numbers, etc.) and I don’t know ANYONE in the neighbourhood.

After retrying the lock about 10 times, then checking all the windows, then retrying the lock again, I approached a woman across the street, who after her suggestion of trying a knitting needle (I didn’t even know where to begin) she enlisted the help of her neighbour, Steve. We attempted a non-violent resolution, but in the end we had to bring the hammer down. Yep. That’s how I repaid the kindness Carol extended to me. I broke her front door window to get in. And that was the beginning to what turned out to be the worst day of my trip.

After I got into the house, I left Steve to sort out the piece of wood we now needed to fill the hole in the door and I made the obligatory phone call to Carol. I only got her voicemail, but it was still a tough conversation to have. I had missed the first bus to Belfast, but could still catch the 11:10 bus and get there in time to get the bus down to Dublin. Not wanting to be locked out again in case the bus had already come (or my schedule was wrong), I waited at Carol’s front door until I saw it coming over the hill. The bus stop was right across the street so I slammed the door and hustled across the road. About 10 feet away from the stop (constantly signalling the bus that I wanted a ride), I watched the driver wave as he passed me by. Needless to say, I had some choice words for him, even if the empty street was the only thing to hear them.

Now locked out again, I headed down to the bus depot in the centre of Comber where I discovered the next bus wasn’t until 1:30. So, two hours in the cold and I was finally on my way to Dublin. I got to Dublin, and being three hours late, I was unsurprised when Gerard wasn’t home to greet me. So, I got comfortable in their apartment hallway and waited. And waited. About an hour and a very numb ass later, I decided I’d attempt to call Julie’s mobile (something I’d not had much luck with to date) and grab some food. About 1/2 hour later I was back in the hallway (VERY secure building) eating a stale bagette stuffed with a whole packet of dry chicken/ham loaf. Mmmmm. Yeah, my spirits were high. Thankfully Carol’s friend had given me a small bottle of Bushmills Irish Whiskey, which quickly found it’s way into my Pepsi Max. Soooo… about five seconds after explaining the whole ordeal to my video camera (just to kill the time), they came home – with beer.

Alright, flashforward to the following night – New Year’s Eve!!! We ended up back at Roddy Bolands, the same pub we spent some amount of time at on my previous jaunt to Dublin. The night was a blast! It was full of singing, dancing and of course Guinness. We got there at about 8:00 and met up with Gerard’s friends Rico and Tom as well as Julie’s friend Leona (and her friend Michael). We all just sorta hung by the bar. Midnight came, balloons fell, kisses were given, fun was had. We met these two girls, whose names I have NO idea about… I also remember the one girl saying I could have some of her Champagne (like proper Champagne), I just can’t for the life of me remember what I had to do to get it. Regardless, I got the Champagne. I also got a dance or two.

We stumbled out of the bar at about 2 and after trying to get a cab, we ended up walking home. Well Gerard and I did. Julie chose poorly when picking her footwear for the night, and ended up crashing at Gerard’s parents’ house. Gerard and I walked the rest of the way home eating a donar-kebab and discussing the finer points of inner-city security – nothing finer for 4:30 a.m. convo.

Thursday (New Year’s Day) we went to Gerard’s parents. They kindly invited me to come for New Year’s dinner, and it was awesome. They offered me wine and I objected, so imagine my surprise when, two/three hours later, there was an empty bottle of wine in front of me and Gerard and I were working on our second bottle of Irish whiskey. Oh the meal was great too. Oh the family was great too!

A common sight of the Dublin skyline.

A common sight of the Dublin skyline.

Friday I headed to Galway. Julie gave me two free passes for stay in an Irish hostel, and my Eurail pass came into effect, so the trip didn’t cost me anything. The train trip to Galway was really cool, not for scenery, but for the company. I spent the ride chatting to this girl named Becka (I think, damn my memory) from Northern England who was going to school in Brighton (just south of London) for Pharmacology. She was really great and really interesting. She spent time in Africa and so had some interesting things to say. I on the other hand am about ready to shoot myself if I have to explain my situation one more time. I am so tired of hearing about myself. See… the people around me change so I hear lots of great stories from them, but I keep hearing the same story from myself. Maybe I’ll start making things up.

Upon arriving in Galway I checked into the hostel and then just wandered around Galway. It was grey and I was tired, so I just called it a day and spent the rest of Friday in the common/TV room. I met a couple people, but mostly just kept to myself. I returned to my room at about midnight and out of the four beds in the room mine was still the only one looking to get use. As I finished the thought three Spaniards walked in. They were cool, though I only chatted with them while getting sorted for bed.

Saturday morning I hit a low point sitting in the dinning area of the hostel. I was beginning to feel the pangs that come with travelling alone – and I was starting to doubt my ability to meet people. The rest of the day was spent meeting people. Yay me. I’ll not go into all the details of who I met, but for a couple from Winnipeg named Renee and Dave. They had just completed travelling around Europe and shared TONNES of great information on places to stay and things to see. Also, in a weird coincidence, I had just finished explaining to someone how much I missed my guitar when I found a guy in the stairwell playing, so we traded it back and forth for about an hour – it was great fun, but now I miss it more than ever.

Saturday night I headed out with Renee and Dave, along with a girl named Leisel, to a bar called Richardsons that had an NFL game on that Dave wanted to see. I’ve been writing this entry for EVER and I want to go get a movie, so I’m going to sum this up. Had fun Saturday night, returned to Dublin on Sunday putting to use the best thing Renee gave me (an eraseable pen – out of fear of legal action, I’ll not say why it’s the best thing). I spent today (Monday) walking around Dublin in search of the Thai Consulate, only to discover that it would take 5 days to get my visa (I’ll get it in London or Paris or London). I decided to splurge and buy a travel guide called Europe By Rail. It’s sorta like a Lonely Planet guide, but designed specifically for users of Eurail passes. It was about 19 euro, but I think it was worth it. Now I think Julie, Gerard and I are going to go rent a movie and then I’ll get some rest. I have a long day of travel ahead of me tomorrow (today by the time this is posted), as I’m off to Paris. I can’t beleive I’m going to be in Paris tomorrow night. Well good night folks, and Vanessa, thanks again for the phrase book, it’s going to come in mighty handy!!!

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