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Vacation Day 10 (Ireland Day 1) – Belfast, driving adventures, Donegal, and Serenity

Today was a long day! I woke up around 2:45 this morning to take a shower and then woke up Amanda to do the same while I packed up our stuff. We had to be at a spot near Earl’s Court by 4:50am to catch a bus to Luton airport, where our flight to Belfast left from.

The instructions from the EasyBus site said the bus stop was right behind Earl’s Court. Try like a half mile! So, we got to Earl’s Court with a few minutes to spare and then found we needed to go farther, so I was running, pushing Amanda in her wheelchair. We made it, though! Bus ride was smelly (people getting up early, not bathing, and drinking too much coffee or something), but quick to Luton, and we got through security like a breeze. They segregate people with mobility issues, so we ended up getting loaded on the plane first.

Flight to Belfast was about 55 minutes, which went by quickly… We got of the plane and it was COLD! London’s wind chill got cooler at points, but without wind Belfast was much colder. It was nice, though, and beautiful. It took us a while to get our rental care from the Enterprise, because I switched from a manual to an automatic after our harrowing adventure trying to get back into London yesterday… No biggie, though…

From Belfast, we drove north west to the Northern coast and looked at the scenery and took it all in. On a random part of our trip, the Google GPS instructions took us down a rather narrow road, but we ended up in front of this amazing old church turned cemetery. We didn’t walk into the cemetery, but took a lot of pictures from outside. It was beautiful. From there, we started hopscotching cities along the coast, looking at what was around, looking out at the water, and keeping an eye out for castles and other fun things… Eventually, we decided to plot Donegal into Google Maps. Did you know if you’re not specific enough, it actually will route you to the center of an Irish County? We didn’t know that… We put Donegal, thinking the main city in the county… No… We followed the instructions for about two hours, thinking we were heading in the right direction, down these winding and narrow roads, dodging oncoming traffic (though sparse), and seeing these breathtaking prairies, flocks of sheep, etc, and then we arrived at our destination… A random house in the middle of Donegal County and we lost our network connection on our TEP. Luckily, the GPS was working on the phone and we had a map, so we saw a nearby street that was on the map and followed it back toward civilization. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it where we wanted to go, but fortunately, we drove around some places Yanks like us probably never get to. I’m certain people thought we must have been locals with how we were navigating (cough cough).

The trip set us off course, so we didn’t make it as far South as we were hoping today, but we’re good with that. After trying a few cities along the way to find a place to sleep and specifically going into one that just sold out, we hopped on the TEP in one spot we had a signal, and booked a room a couple of cities away.

Tonight, we drove into Sligo to find the Glasshouse Hotel, which isn’t really what you’re picture as an authentic Ireland hotel or B&B, but it worked and the food in the restaurant was AMAZING. Irish beef…. wow… locally produced goat cheese…. double wow…. My first Guinness IN Ireland… triple wow! What, Guinness isn’t GF? DOH!!! Yeah, not smart, but worth it. Seriously, the Guinness here is 100000% different from the US. Part of it is the freshness and part of it is the fact that the Irish know how to pour a drink. They put it in the glass, poured slowly, wait for it to settle naturally, top it off, and you’re good to go. If you ask the Irish, they’ll say it’s the water… I say maybe it’s the water, the proximity to where it’s produced (Dublin), knowing how to pour it, and that it’s just plain well made.

Anyway, after dinner, we started planning a bit for our day tomorrow to try and prevent the GPS issues from today. I know I said a few days ago never again on Google Maps, but what can you do? At least we have real maps to back ourselves up…. We are planning to pre-book a hotel for tomorrow night, so we don’t have to drive from place to place to get shut down or find prices are too steep!

Pictures to follow once we get caught back up in London!

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