28 April 2005

almost exploding with want

[aside] it happened... something great, lost... and then recreated, never the same, but i'll try.

we woke up early, but not early enough. gray mist fog. dampness and maybe not the best of days for a scenic drive. an all day pass would be the least expensive option to travel the northern coast, so she told me yesterday...

but today... on this april day... on this day we discovered that the bus from the belfast europa bus station only ran during the summer months and we would need to take the bus from larne, an hour by road longer by rail away, so he told us today. hanmin was right and i doubted him yesterday. the 252 bus which drove up the northern ireland coastal road departed from larne at 10:15 and we would have had to take the 8:15 train to make it in time.

'is there _any_ way to make it up to larne in time?' desperate and guilty for having given hanmin incorrect information which may have cost us this day. and every day is precious on these trips... none should be lost. none _should_. try.

'they are doing some work on the rails right now and so the train company is running buses up to larne in the interim.' ah! a chance.

run to the other end of the terminal where the trains depart.

'last call for [somewhere], [somewhere], larne [LARNE], [somewhere]'

larne! that's us. blast!... a line. er, a queue.

'hello, look at us, we're going to larne.' yes, we're going to larne... while you wait for another destination, those of us who are larne-bound shall defeat your queue. and a gesture around... those queued were defeated. six pound fifty... run... sign to point the direction... to larne... we're the last to step aboard. running and out of breath.

hello business man type. 'is this train going to larne?'

'no.' AH!

'you'll have to get off at central and switch trains.'


'three stops.'

three stops to central and we follow the herd out of the bus station and then down in falls comes the rain [a la bruce dickinson in rime of the ancient mariner]. it wasn't that bad, really, but it was drizzling damp the kind that seeps through your clothes. the herd dispersed and hanmin and i were left alone at a random bus stop. something wasn't right.

'sir, does this bus go to larne?'

[three very very nice older irish gentlemen discuss amongst themselves... larne you say? hmm. the nicest ever and almost exploding with want to help us, but they didn't know. we'd walk back inside the bus station and ask. thank you, have a nice day sir.]

'we're trying to get to larne.' [and we're in a gigantic hurry help us help us now and quickly]

'down those stairs... see that... that's your bus.' it was. OUR bus. the bus to larne.

mist and rain. blurry. blurred. sit and wait five and then the bus leaves. the windows useless... wipe... nothing. gps track track track trying.

first stop. [question mark]... do we transfer?

'does this bus go the entire way to larne?'

'no, you need to transfer in whitehead.'

whitehead... outside at a small bus stop stand with wind screaming. screaming and sending the rain sideways and threatening to push over the stand. actual screaming and rain and where the hell is the bus. and it was _that_ bad. hanmin with hood drawn tightly and swaying. i'd only known him a few hours and i grabbed his camera from him without asking and snapped a picture which i wish i had right now. and the time passes... thinking thinking the 252 leaves larne at 10:15...

bus comes... no more stops... straight to larne. windows still covered and tracking tracking. and it's 10:00 and traffic and clouds and blur. and still wind screaming and 10:05. and 10:10 and then 10:15 and then 10:18 and as we pull into the larne bus station we see it... we see IT... through all of the dampness and through the watery windows... the 252... OUR bus... pulling away.

defeated by three minutes. THREE MINUTES of something... anything little. we, who had come this far. WE! and i make excuses like the weather and other things and plan for another day as our bus rolls heavily lumbering through the bus station mazes. and all that rushing feeling gone... all that transferring and here and there for nothing now. but our bus wasn't stopping at the larne bus station... but the train station... and we get off and see:

the 252 bus. rolling in behind the bus we just got off. it. there. right there. right THERE[period]. that instant... right as we get off... the bus we were seeking... THE bus... IT... THERE... FOR US. board. pay. sit... and an hour later like a dream the clouds cleared and the fog unblurred and the sun shined and for the first time that day we could see the ocean to our right. and cliffs and green green fields and sheep and fences. and the ocean.

giant's causeway. wind still overpowering... not screaming but fun. giant columns of rock and a walk along the cliffs. unstable ledges of falling rocks closed and a magic marker used on the wood. some expensive, expected, food. and before the bus came back the best part... another walk and some walking on the rocks and a cave found by hanmin... a great find. seemingly tiny but not once inside. out of a book where those would hide treasure... you could imagine the map almost. fulfilled and tired; fatigue a very important part of the fulfillment, a slow stroll to the bus stop and with the sun shining. i mean the look up and the bright sun squint sun. the RAIN. cold but not the type of cold that's bad... a refreshing cold like spring water on a hot day... not even time for the umbrella to be effective especially with the wind. there -> a rainbow. ha. and so many more on the way home. a RAINBOW. in ireland. one of the many more a complete arc. COMPLETE.

posted by paul at Thu 28 Apr 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (3)

27 April 2005

i walked out the other side


i found a great fare down to brazil on the internet and decided to take a quick three day trip down to see the rainforest.

not really. i woke up early to explore belfast. the city tourist center is always a good first stop and any type of public park is always a fun destination for me... trees, flowers, fountains, people who can watched. the morning weather was beautiful and i relaxed on a bench right outside the park entrance and very near queen's university for about an hour. watching people and listening and feeling the sun. in the botanical gardens, i found tropical plants and tropical humidity and when i walked out the other side of the greenhouse, a light rain was coming down. i stand prepared on these islands with my umbrella... some type of black covert quick and ready umbrella always there and i broke it out and walked over to the ulster museum. nearby. what a great little museum with a bit of everything... paintings, ceramics, rocks and minerals some radioactive and flourescing, dinosaurs some american, irish history, milling machines. a lot packed into a tidy little building with a helpful staff on hand to assist. she asked me to put my umbrella away, but didn't call it an umbrella... more research.

it had stopped raining when i got out of the museum. i had picked up a flyer at the tourist center that outlined several musical happenings in the city... every other wednesday... metal at a local club. my first foreign metal. i was definitely going to attend. what time do the bands go on? half nine. i believe that's 9:30. back at half nine... no bands. back at half ten... preparations for metal, and yes, there was a fog machine. the first band came on and i was pretty happy with the first 10 minutes and then a little sleepy with the last 20 minutes. the singer whipped out a tamborine... that would never fly with an american metal band. iron maiden and black sabbath are english... don't think a tamborine would fly with them either. maybe things were different in northern ireland. the headlining band turned out to be some yngwiesque screamo and i departed quickly after about two songs. did anyone see me leave? the familiar ringing. eeee. excuse me, did you just say 'eeee'? i need to protect my hearing.

the pizza place across the street from the hostel, 'bits and pizza'... love it... was still open. there weren't any customers in there and i chatted with the woman and man working behind the counter. the guy was a turk who had been living in belfast for two years... giant belfastian accent. he was really psyched i was an american... tried to copy the american accent while saying 'yeah, baby. okay, baby.' apparently americans say 'baby' a lot. told him i'd make a point of visiting turkey... said istanbul is beautiful. i showed him some american money. 'wow, looks like monopoly money.' gave him a one dollar bill... so happy... which made me happy. cheers.

in the hostel, a new roommate... hanmin from taiwan milling about and looking through pamphlets and such. told him i was planning to take a bus up along the northern coast to giant's causeway... he the same... we'll wake up early and both go.

posted by paul at Wed 27 Apr 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (2)

26 April 2005

admin entry: belfast, northern ireland

i'm in belfast, northern ireland!

i decided not to visit the isle of skye in northern scotland after researching transportation options down to ireland. skye is fairly remote and transportation costs there from inverness and then down to northern ireland were prohibitive. so... £25 later, i'm in belfast. just got in. i'm planning to stay here two nights and am going to try to make it up to the northern coast tomorrow.

here are some random thoughts:

. the lake in the gallery pictures from drumnadrochit, scotland, is none other than loch ness. if you look very closely, you'll be able to see a shadowy beast in one of the pictures. just keep looking... it's there.

. internet access in inverness and here in belfast... hell, everywhere in the uk... is ridiculously expensive. £1 for 20 minutes? i can't even check my email in 20 minutes let alone update the site. i've been coming across mostly locked down systems which take coins like arcade games. no usb access, no ssh access, no admin access... how am i supposed to load the virus with conditions like this? blah.

. the mullet hawk... mulhawk... mollet... not sure what it's called, but it's coming back in a big way in scotland. i'm growing mine out.

. i've seen four boston red sox hats and one pittsburgh steelers shirt in the uk. more popular... nyc gear.

. what happened to the simple 'brrrring' ringtone on cellphones? today i heard the muppets theme song on someone's cellphone.

. in inverness, someone incorrectly guessed my age as 22. yes, i was born in 1983.

. i have never seen more open green fields than i have in scotland. who mows all this grass? apparently the sheep do. i'm talking miles and miles and miles of fields filled with short green grass...

. on the tv behind me, there is a special on the hell's angels... quote from former hell's angel: 'the hell's angels... when i was there... in the 60's and 70's... were ten times worse than your worse nightmare. it was pure evil.' ha. speaking of tv... watched a steven segal movie in the hostel last night. not sure what movie it was... he's in japan... doesn't really matter... but the bad guys kept talking about killing the american. i was the only american in the room filled with about twenty other people.

okay... i have some entries to add from saturday through monday. those will be coming as soon as i have 'real' internet access.

posted by paul at Tue 26 Apr 2005 at 17:46:01 EST (-05:00) | comments (3)

new city walk in the dark

i spent almost the entire day in transit... mostly on a bus in scotland... inverness to perth, perth to glasgow, glasgow to stranraer... and then a ferry over to belfast from stranraer. almost an 11 hour journey. i've tried taking pictures while on the bus and occasionally one will come out without window glare... but mostly i'll just keep the scenery to myself. see [digression] below.

the ferry was much larger than i'd expected. onboard burger king, sports bar, lounge, smoker's lounge, quiet room, and 'find nemo' on several tv's. the ride was very smooth... no waves, no turbulence. the ticket i'd purchased from citylink had a final destination at the europa bus station in belfast. upon arrival at the ferry terminal, i bypassed the swarm of taxi drivers and followed a group of people outside the terminal to a stand labeled 'citylink taxi'. after about 15 minutes, a nondescript white bus pulled in and i waited while everyone piled on. still uncertain whether or not this was indeed the citylink shuttle to the bus station, i stepped onto the bus and just as i was about to address the bus driver, a man behind me said 'what are you doing, mate? this is a private coach.' ah, yes sir, i'm an idiot trying to hitch a ride on your private coach. back in the ferry terminal, the information agent told me citylink didn't provide a shuttle down to the bus station and that i'd have to call for a taxi. i'd been deceived. blah! and i'd let the swarm of taxi drivers swarm away. i considered walking, but it was already dark and i wasn't up for a new city walk in the dark to my hostel. i made a quick call using a direct dial taxi line and about 15 minutes (and seven pounds) later i was at the hostel.

the hostel was a bit bland. in my room, i met a couple from uraguay who told me that there's nothing to do in belfast. i would prove them wrong.

[digression] in general, it's very hard to capture the magnitude of an experience through photos. well, i'll restate... as an amateur, beginner, photographer, _i_ have a difficult time capturing some moments in pictures. for example, the pictures from arthur's seat next to edinburgh in no way show what a great view of the city that vantage point provided.

now that i think about it ... i'll restate yet again... you can't capture some experiences in photos. there is no way a photograph will ever compare.

posted by paul at Tue 26 Apr 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)